Berries

August 2014

Illustrated Answer August 4, 2014

Does It Matter To Birds Which Berries I Plant?

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UPDATE: A lot of people have asked for the scientific names to be included in the lipid mass graph on the final page of the illustrated answer. These are not all plants that are suggested to be good for birds, only a reference to the graph on aforementioned page in the graphic above.

Natives
  • Southern Arrow-wood : Viburnum denatum
  • Spicebush : Lindera benzoin
  • Silky Dogwood : Cornus amomum
  • Roughleaf Dogwood : Cornus drummondii
  • Arrow-wood : Viburnum recognitum
  • Red Osier Dogwood : Cornus sericea
  • Bristly Greenbrier : Smilax hispida
  • Gray Dogwood : Cornus racemosa
  • American Pokeweed : Phytolacca americana
Invasives
  • Autumn Olive : Eleagnus umbellata
  • Amur Honeysuckle : Lonicera maackii
  • Multiflora Rose : Rosa multiflora
  • European Cranberry : Viburnum opulus
  • Buckthorn : Rhamnus cathartica
Sources
  • Whelan, CJ and MF Willson. 1994. Fruit choice in migrating North American birds: Field and aviary experiments. Oikos 71:137-151
  • Smith, SB, SA DeSando, T Pagano. 2013. The value of native and invasive fruit-bearing shrubs for migrating songbirds. Northeastern Naturalist 20:171-184.
  • Watson, DM and J Rawsthorne. 2013. Mistletoe specialist frugivores: latterday ‘Johnny Appleseeds’ or self-serving market gardeners? Oecologia 172:925-932.

This Month’s Articles

Top Five Native Berries For Birds For Your Yard

Take Action August 28, 2014

Eat Like a (Frugivorous) Bird

Interactive August 20, 2014

Attract Birds With These Berry-Bearing Plants For Your Container Garden

Take Action August 11, 2014

Does It Matter To Birds Which Berries I Plant?

Illustrated Answer August 4, 2014

22 Comments

  1. Colleen says:

    Are Choke Berries a “good” berry for birds?

    • Kevin Ripka says:

      I can’t seem to find lipid content in a quick search of the literature, but they do seem high in polyphenols which is great for protecting birds when they’re going through their cycle of bulking up and then working out at levels higher than an olympic athlete during migration. Aronia melanocarpa is a native species, which we like to advocate for. I’d say all-in-all it seems like a win for birds.

      • Laurel says:

        Aronia melanocarpa, Black Chokeberry, is salt resistant and native so I have planted quite a few along my yard fence, next to the road. They are not high wildlife value so I felt o.k. about putting them right along road edge. The berries are too large for birds to comfortably eat. Almost no birds have tried to use them. Grouse ate the bud tips during winter.

  2. Gloria Fester says:

    Siberian crabs, they can eat all of these they want and the Waxwings clean them off quick in winter.

  3. Laura Richardson says:

    I wish this graphic had more information, and more plants found in the west. At my house, we have skunk bush (sumac), wax current, chokecherries, sand cherries, and bitterbrush setting fruit at the same time as the alien nanking cherries. The nanking cherries are eaten first– all the birds love them. Robins, bluebirds, waxwings, house finches, tanagers, and magpies worked these shrubs over until they were stripped. The Russian olives, on the other hand, retain their fruit nearly all winter– it is a food of last resort at my house. Very early robins and bluebirds eat the Russian olive when snow is on the ground. They may not get much from the olives, but they do get something. Is there a good alternative that would hold fruit all winter? The trees, long promoted for windbreaks, are now classed as noxious weeds in the west.

    • Kevin Ripka says:

      We’ve just started our month on berries! I don’t want to give it all away, but I will tell you that we’ll be creating a new berry page on YardMap featuring some good native berry choices by region and we’ll feature it in an article here on the blog later in the month. Sign up on our subscribe page to get notified when new articles publish.

  4. Val says:

    Tapping the research I gathered prior to planting my own yard, I recall the following: Berried plants feed birds and mammals in summer as well as fall/winter. Summer fruits are high in sugar and low in fat and gobbled up to sustain growing families (eg blackberries, rasberries,dewberries, elderberries,sumac, curreant, gooseberries et al) Migrating birds benefit more from hi-fat/low-sugar berries, like Flowering Dogwood, Gray Dogwood, Sassafras & Spicebush. Winter fruits persist into the winter and have low-fat and low-sugar content. Hollies, Hawthorns, Red Cedar, Beautyberry, Hackberry Viburnums, Persimmon and Rose come to mind here. I really wanted to help sustain birds and mammals throughout the year, but I have to admit I most enjoy seeing migrating birds strip various dogwoods and pokeweed as they rush through!

  5. Mechele says:

    Nice graphic and very informative but please, please, please include the botanical name in addition to the common name on plants. In the case of this particular list, seeing Buckthorn listed as invasive gives the impression that all Buckthorns are invasive. There is a big difference between the invasive Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn) and the native Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn). I know it is a balancing act between providing too little information and providing so much that people won’t take the time to read it all but botanical names really help to cut down on confusion and make follow up research so much easier for those seeking to learn more on their own.

  6. david weiner says:

    While I like your blog very much, I was very disappointed to see that not once were the real names of trees and shrubs used, only the very confusing and mis-leading common names. Too many folks end up buying the wrong plants because unscrupulous vendors sell them any old thing with a common name tag hung on it. Aside from that the article is very helpful but I did miss seeing any on the Amelancheir family : serviceberry, shadberry, or Junebery. Our native mocking birds and robins love them to pieces and its always a rush to get our couple of pints for jellies and sauces ahead of the feathered onslaught. :-)

  7. Mary Jo Adams says:

    WHAT the heck!!! Putting invasive plants on this list does a huge disservice to the many ecosystems that are losing diversity due to these plants. In the Midwest, Autumn Olive, Amur Honeysuckle, and Multiflora Rose are simply horrible plants to suggest. They are non- native, invasive, and much time, money, and sweat labor is spent removing them. Seriously, do your homework first before you suggest a list of plants. “Bringing Nature Home”, by Dr. Douglas Tallamy is a great reference. Plant NATIVES!

    • Robyn Bailey says:

      The post actually does indicate the differences between natives and non-natives. Click through to the interactive list, which contrasts lipid-rich native berries with lipid-poor invasive berries. If you can click through the “pages” here, I think you’ll see that you actually agree with what it’s saying. But some mobile devices might not make it obvious that this is an interactive, and the list of scientific names refers to information within the post.

  8. Lynn says:

    Yikes! Not Autumn Olive or Multiflora Roses. They are INVASIVE SPECIES!!!

    • Robyn Bailey says:

      The post actually does indicate the differences between natives and non-natives. Click through to the interactive list, which contrasts lipid-rich native berries with lipid-poor invasive berries. If you can click through the “pages” here, I think you’ll see that you actually agree with what it’s saying. But some mobile devices might not make it obvious that this is an interactive, and the list of scientific names refers to information within the post, so you have to click through to notice that this list of scientific names under “update” is not the whole story.

  9. Sadie says:

    Have to agree with the negative comments on the invasive plants. I don’t care that the original post was interactive–that requires a significantly more involved reader than should be expected given the medium. The impression given is that the plants on the list are “good” to add to the landscape. Invasive exotics are destructive to native habitat.

    • Kevin Ripka says:

      The post IS interactive. Please look through the pages in the book-like graphic. The list doesn’t suggest anything other than that these are scientific names of plants within the article. But I have tried to make the list even more clear to delineate natives and invasives.

  10. Pat says:

    Kevin, your drawings are pretty awesome! One suggestion — try to include the botanical names and not just the common names next time.

  11. Donna Rae says:

    I think this is a great site. I am starting out with an empty, brand new backyard. I look forward to additional information.

  12. joanne says:

    I live in the city and my chokeberry attracts all types of birds.

  13. Val says:

    PLEASE supply a link to sources for lipid et al content for berries not on this list! Some listed do not require the very dry conditions on my site. For example, Cornus racemosa, Gray Dogwood, stands up to drier condition, but I understand the lipid content is very inferior to those listed. Is their a link anyone has that lists nutritional content for some others not on the list?

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