Not the Great Bird Plant People Used to Think It Was
Autumn olive was widely planted by farmers and homeowners to attract birds and provide cover for wildlife, but is it really a great wildlife plant? Many resident birds like robins and mockingbirds eat the sugary fruits, but because autumn olive tends to push out native plant species, it lowers the diversity of foods available. Migratory songbirds need high fat fruits provided by native shrubs such as viburnums and spicebush. Birds also need many insects for protein and to feed to their young. Autumn olive supports very few insects compared to a diverse planting of native shrubs.
Photo courtesy of James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Bugwood.org