Want To Attract Wildlife To Your Property? Here Are Michigan’s Top Tree Choices
If you like looking at wildlife out of your window or you like hunting wildlife, there are some trees you can plant that can help attract wildlife to your property.
I look out of my picture window every morning to see if there is any wildlife outback. I often see deer, turkeys, rabbits, coyotes, squirrels, grouse, woodcock, and a variety of birds.
I also get some guests each spring that are sandhill cranes. They make sounds that remind me of Jurassic Park. Every time someone visits me in the spring and has never heard sandhill cranes before they are always asking what the heck was that?
The property that I have been hunting on for the last three years, fortunately, has a lot of trees that attract wildlife. I do know I can always use some more and have cleared an area to plant a variety of trees.
1. White Oak
If you want to see some deer, there is no better acorn than the ones that fall from white oak trees. There are 10 different pieces of oak trees in Michigan and if you have all ten when the acorns fall, the white oak will be the first choice for deer. I actually have a treestand set up in a white oak just for that reason. Acorns from a white oak can turn into 25% of a whitetail's food consumption in the fall. These take a long time to grow and can grow between 50 and 80 feet tall so keep that in mind if you are planting one.
When it comes to attracting deer, any apple tree will do except a crab apple tree but when times are tough they will eat them too. Plus there are a lot of varieties of apple trees that taste better for humans in case you want to eat them and whitetails will eat them all. If you are looking to plant a specific plot of apple trees for deer, liberty is my top choice. They hold up under most conditions and you don't have to do a lot to maintain them. Liberty apple trees do a good job on their own against mildew, handling apple scabs, fire blight, and cedar rust. I am going to plant some liberty apple trees for the deer and I will plant some granny smith apples that the deer and I will share.
You always hear about apples for whitetail deer but I have found deer have a love for pears that is very strong. When I live in Indiana I had two pear trees and when they would start dropping, deer would lay in the woods nearby, and when one would drop they would hear it and walk over and eat it. Deer will eat any type of pear. For hunting purposes, the Kieffer pear is an excellent choice since they get real big and drop late in the season and last on the ground really well until the deer and bears scarf them up.
Persimmon trees typically grow best in southern states but will grow in Michigan but the fruit does not get as big. Deer and almost all small animals love them. When the fruit is ripe they are very sweet. What is nice about persimmon fruit, is they don't fall all at once, just a few at a time and it is usually around late archery and early firearm season for deer when they drop and are their sweetest. Like pear trees, deer will set up close to these when the fruit is dropping. There is not a small animal that won't eat these so they will set up shop or make the persimmons a part of their daily rounds in search of food in the fall. Legendary hunter Fred Bear recommended these trees as well for good whitetail attractors.
Serviceberry trees are sometimes called juneberry trees. These are really pretty trees for your yard. They have white blooms in the spring and in the fall the leaves turn red and gold so you get some great yard color from these. The spring blooms provide nectar for bees and you can't do enough to help attract bees because they help our ecosystem so much. Butterflies love them too. Serviceberries ripen in the early spring and all animals and birds love them and they are pretty good for people to eat as well.
6. Eastern Redbud
The eastern redbud is an absolutely beautiful tree and can really make a lawn look spectacular. I have seen these in people's yards for years and had no idea what kind of tree they were so last summer I saw one in a yard and there was an old guy near the tree and I pulled off the road and ask him the name of it. He knew all about the tree and I got a pretty good lesson just for asking for the name. I will definitely be adding one of these to my yard for the sheer beauty but these trees offer a lot to our wildlife.
Eastern redbud trees are a favorite for bees and butterflies because they offer nectar early when other plants are still dormant. Again I just think we cannot do enough for bees and that is another reason one is going in my yard. Many small birds enjoy the seed pods as well as small mammals and game birds like ruffled grouse and bobwhite quale are attracted to them also.
When most people think of pecan tree's they think of Mississippi where these trees are everywhere but they will grow in Michigan. My Indiana buddy Brian turned me on to the pecan and persimmon trees. I couldn't believe what I was seeing when I saw them on his property. Deer and small animals love them. The pecans won't get very big in Michigan and you need to plant them on a hill or ridge because moisture can destroy their roots. The shells are easy for deer and squirrels to break and because they are kind of sweet, you know the animals will be back. I have the perfect place to plant these behind my barn. There is a ridge of high ground that was made from cow manure from when the property was a dairy farm. I know the pecan trees will thrive there.
8. American Elderberry
The American Elderberry is a small tree/shrub that grows relatively fast and careful where you plant these because they like to take over. On the other hand, these provide a plethora of good things for our wildlife like nectar for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They offer cover for small wildlife and even birds nest. They have pretty white blooms in the spring and summer and eventually provide berries. Animals and birds will eat them but from what I have seen they are not high on the list of favorite foods. Often they make it through an entire season untouched. People can eat the berries and are used in jelly's and pies and some even call them a superfood. These trees/shrubs will grow in almost any soil condition so you will have to contain them or they will spread.
9. Mountain Ash
Mountain Ash will grow anywhere from 10 to 30 feet tall so keep that in mind if you plant these thinking they will be a small bush. These start off in the spring with white flowers which again help out the bees and butterflies. They eventually grow a small berry that is a great food source for birds and small animals in the winter. They look pretty sweet in the fall with a variety of leaf colors from reddish/purple, orange, and yellow.
10. Wild American Plum
Wild American plum trees can be great for whitetail deer because it is not only the plums that offer food for the deer but the leaves are digestible as well. Wild American plum trees will grow just about anywhere but do take some work. They do make good food plots but also have beautiful flowers in the spring.
I hope you find these selections helpful. There are definitely some trees on this list that will be planted on my property.
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