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Birds and Berries
© Don Spencer
Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Our little mountain-ash is all alive with [birds.] A dozen robins on it at once ... plucking the berries... A robin will swallow half a dozen berries, at least, in rapid succession..." If you, too, enjoy watching birds eat berries, then consider planting trees and shrubs that produce berries to attract birds (like this American Robin) to your garden. Learn more about "Garden Basics" at Audubon.org.
Birds and Berries
Written by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[American Robin “whinny” or other autumn call]
Around this date in 1861, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Our little mountain-ash is all alive with birds. A dozen robins on it at once, busily reaching after and plucking the berries, actually make the whole tree shake. A robin will swallow half a dozen berries, at least, in rapid succession before it goes off, and apparently it soon comes back for more.” [Calls of a small flock of American Robin]
In fall, large numbers of American Robins and sleek, handsome Cedar Waxwings consume fruits and berries. They can strip a pyracantha bush of its fruit, consume holly berries, and peck away at apples. By consuming these fruits, they also contribute to the dispersal of the plants, voiding the seeds as they move about the countryside.
Some berry-eating birds may become intoxicated with ripened fruits that contain alcohol. When they do, they may flounder on the ground or even collide with windows.
If you, like Thoreau, enjoy watching birds eat berries, then consider planting trees and shrubs that produce berries, to attract such birds to your garden. You’ll find information on our website about native plants that are favored by birds in your area. Plant them now, and the birds will begin coming next year and the next, and the next – they don’t forget. [More American Robin calls]
Thanks for listening. I’m Michael Stein. You’ll find us at birdnote.org.
Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. American Robin “whinny” and Cedar Waxwing recorded by G.A. Keller.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org October 2014/2015 Narrator: Michael Stein