Birds and berries

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The berries of the cedar (juniper), wahoo, and winterberries are quite popular with a variety of birds. We didn’t plan for the visibility of the berries when we planted the shrubs, however it’s great fun watching the birds feed while we stay warm indoors.

Cedar - wahoo and winterberry shubs
Birds started feeding on the abundant small blue berries of the cedar (Juniperus virginiana ‘Glauca’) in early October. Along with this house finch, I observed a yellow-rumped warbler, a field sparrow and several robins.

House finch and juniper berries

By the last of October, the birds began to feed on the wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus) seedpods. Since then, the seedpods have dried and are somewhat smaller, but the birds don’t seem to mind. Cardinals and other birds continue to feed on them.

Cardinal eating wahoo seedpods

Robins seem especially attracted to the winterberries (Ilex verticillata). These are decidous hollies, which means they drop their leaves. In this December 2nd photo, they still had green leaves. Now, after a wintry week, the leaves are gone and the bright red berries create a bright spot, especally on dark, cloudy days (see top photo).

Robin eating winterberry

We like to do what we can to help the birds through the cold winter months. I’m especially glad we can offer them some home-grown berries. And in return, we get to watch them enjoying the bounty.

14 thoughts on “Birds and berries”

  1. It is so satisfying to give back to the birds – berries, seeds, insects, caterpillars, water. What a difference it would make if everyone’s gardens included lots of native plants! I have a deciduous holly but the birds seem to wait for a while to eat the berries. Whether they need a bit more freezing weather to sweeten them or soften them I don’t know. But when they’re just right, the robins swoop in and they’re gone very quickly.

    1. Yes, Ann, it is good to give back to the birds and when we do, the birds give back the immense enjoyment of watching them. I’m amazed that these small creatures can withstand winter weather and I like doing doing what I can to help them a bit.

  2. Beautiful, thank you, Betty!
    Suspect Pogo correct in identifying “Enemy” as “Us” decades ago.
    Kudzu concerns me.
    Any Zebra swallowtails this year?
    Very few here – no nesting Blue Birds.
    Have read Ben is leaving PMSS…

    1. Donald, I guess it’s Kudzu for you and Japanese honeysuckle for us – seems an ongoing battle. Only Zebra Swallowtails I saw were a few in the woods in early spring. Sorry you had no fledgling bluebirds. Yes, I know Ben and Pat Begley will be leaving Pine Mtn. Settlement School next August. They’ve done wonderful work there and will be missed.

  3. Oh wow Betty these are some gorgeous photos!!! Great job!!! May I share a couple on my FB page?

    I love the variety of shrubs and trees you have. You obviously put a lot of thought into what birds like when you selected these beauties. According to The Arbor Days Foundation Winterberry will grow here. I am still skeptical because there isn’t any holly of any kind in this entire area. I’m willing to try though because I miss it coming from Western Washington.

    Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks for the credit, Ruth. Actually I put in the cedar (juniper) to help screen a utility pole and its berries have been a nice surprise. And the Wahoo was planted before I knew much about the value of natives. The winterberries were chosen because I do so love seeing the red berries and I also knew the birds would also enjoy them. I keep thinking how beautiful it would be this time of year, if most everyone had a couple of winterberries in their yard. (The female trees will have berries only if there is a male nearby). I hope you can have some in your yard by this time next year. Happy holidays to you, too. And I’d be quite glad for you share on Facebook.

  4. Betty – these are absolutely beautiful. I especially liked the house finch in the cedar. Cedars are a favorite of mine.

    1. Keli, I’m guessing you don’t have them in Utah? The males certainly add a bright spot – especially in winter a very common and welcome sight in the back yard.

  5. Hello Betty, I have really enjoyed your blog, all the wonderful photos, and especially these beautiful “Birdies”. Your Finches differ from ours in the U.K., we have no Cardinals, and your Robins also differ from our “Robin Red Breast” ( Christmas Card Robins). But isn’t it wonderful to have such a diversity in these breeds of birds!
    God bless you,

    1. Thanks for taking a look, Pauline. Glad to know of the differences in birds in Kentucky and the U.K. And yes,the diversity of birds (and all of nature) is indeed wonderful.

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