I encountered something strange recently. Folks had homes built in a fairly typical mixed Oak, Pine forest in Wisconsin. They had removed most of the trees to put in turf grass, and then replaced the Pines and Oaks with Colorado Blue Spruce. I haven't quite wrapped my mind around bringing the suburbs to the wilderness, but here's a thought for Midwestern homeowners: forget the Blue Spruce and plant something that would naturally occur locally in your yard.
The Colorado Blue Spruce is a very popular conifer. They have vibrant color, and spruces planted together make excellent wind blocks. However, their native range is a corridor of the American West, and Blue Spruce has little ecological value in the Midwest. It's even become somewhat invasive in places where it's grown for Christmas trees, having escaped some plantations in the Northeast.
There are a number of evergreens native to the Midwest which are commercially available including: Eastern White Pine, White Spruce (sub species - Black Hills Spruce), and Eastern Red Cedar which should be considered in place of planting Blue Spruce.
All plants bring some value to our yards; that's why we plant them. In some cases, it's aesthetic like color or texture, in other cases it's functional like shade or barriers for privacy. All of the plants in our lawns also have some ecological value and function, some more, some less. All of these evergreens will establish roots that will help with water infiltration, and all provide cover for wildlife including nesting birds.
Eastern White Pines can be found in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and northern parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. These Pines have good wildlife value and are a food source for both birds and mammals. Pine Warblers, Crossbills, and Pine Siskins, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Woodpeckers can all be found foraging in Eastern White Pines. White Pines have low salt tolerance and are not necessarily good candidates to plant along roadsides.
White Spruce (subspecies Black Hills Spruce may be easier to find commercially available) is native to the northern part of the Midwest including parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. White Spruce is an important food source for many animals including Red Breasted Nuthatches, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Siskins. White Spruce is also an important part of the Red Squirrel diet, and Snowshoe Hares rely on White Spruce as a winter food source. White Spruce is a salt tolerant species and can be planted along roadsides.
Red Cedars procedure "berries" which a host of birds eat, most notably Cedar Waxwings. These berries can be an important food source in late winter or early spring especially for birds like Robins who may arrive to find colder than expected conditions. It is also a fairly salt tolerant species so it can be planted along roadsides.
When next you decide to plant an evergreen, consider one of these three before you purchase the Blue Spruce.