Attract Songbirds with Fruiting Shrubs: I love the birds but...

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Attract Songbirds with Fruiting Shrubs

By Newyorkrita
October 21, 2015

Many of us put seed out to attract backyard birds, but we can bring even more birds to the garden by adding summer fruiting shrubs.

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Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
Region: New Hampshire Vegetable Grower Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tomato Heads
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robertduval14
Oct 20, 2015 6:26 PM CST

Plants Admin

The blueberries are mine. I net my blueberry bushes every year to keep the birds out of them. They can pick those things clean pretty quick and they have a very keen eye for ripe berries. I also have TONS of wild short-bush blueberries that grow all around my property...those they can have, if they can beat out the skunks and bears for 'em first.
Name: Angie
Concord, NC (zone 7)
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Hemophobic
Oct 21, 2015 6:15 AM CST
I agree Rob. If I ever get my blueberries established, they will belong to me!

Rita: What are goumi berries? I've not heard of these before and no proper name was given. Is the sambucus nigra
invasive? Some of the sambucus species are.

Nice article, well written and informative. Thank you.
I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day. ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Oct 21, 2015 9:03 AM CST
Goumi (Elaeagnus multiflora)
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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farmerdill
Oct 21, 2015 1:56 PM CST
Birds don't bother my blueberrys, But there are lots of others that birds do enjoy. Fall-winter berrys are most popular. My mocking birds have two favorites Poke berry, (Phytolacca americana)and Pyracantha. Of course the poke weed serves two purposes as I love poke salet as an early spring green. Many birds like Mockers, Catbirds, Blue birds, Robins etc are insect and fruit eaters that are not attracted to grain. It is a great idea to cater to these types by having fruiting plants . Of course they can be a real nuisance when you are growing cherries or grapes. A flock of Robins can strip a cherry tree in short order.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Oct 21, 2015 3:04 PM CST
I've read that mulberries are more attractive to birds than either cherries or blueberries, but so far I've not been able to get one established. There are several varieties that are non-staining, which the darker ones are notorious for (both from dropped fruit and bird droppings).
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Oct 21, 2015 3:08 PM CST
We have Mulberry trees around the neighborhood and really the birds here are far more interested in eating the other fruits such as blueberries, serviceberries and Goumi rather than the mulberries.

None of the elderberries I have ever grown in my yard were invasive at all.
[Last edited by Newyorkrita - Oct 21, 2015 3:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Oct 21, 2015 3:20 PM CST
Rita, goes to show one can't always believe what one reads. I've been trying to get a mulberry established inside my chicken yard primarily for them to snack on, but so far all I've done is kill them, and they are somewhat difficult for me to locate. I have a cousin on the Jersey shore who seasonablly curses the purple ones used as street trees, so perhaps they are more of a east-coast tree.

Re elderberries, my native Sambuca racemosa might be considered invasive - they pop up regularly at the edges of my woods and occasionally within my garden beds. Some I let grow, others not. For some strange reason, my husband dislikes this plant and regularly mows them with his brush hog, but they just come back up somewhere else, so I quit trying to stop him. For me, they are a great summer screen, growing to their full size in just a few years. I've never tried any cultivated sambucas, although I've sure seen some pretty ones.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
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farmerdill
Oct 21, 2015 4:04 PM CST
Different birds have different tastes even among the fruit eating ones. Had purple mulberries in Virginia and they were highly desired by birds who painted everything in the vicinity purple. No mulberries here, they have to paint with pokeberries. Fortunately mockingbirds are territorial so we don't have numbers at any time.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Oct 21, 2015 5:09 PM CST
Mulberries--of the purple staining variety--
I had an 'orchard' of them in MN and they volunteered everywhere, including the chicken pen. I also inherited two large trees here with the house in UT--so I wouldn't say they are east-coast trees.
I can say that I do not get the hoards of mulberry seedlings in UT that I did in MN for which I am grateful. Still though, they propagate themselves very well.
Here, the birds do concentrate on the mulberries. That, along with cherry tree guard cats, allows cherries for me (if I can keep the western fruitflies from setting up their maggot nurseries).
Blueberries--sadly, I cannot keep them alive here because it is far too alkaline. I have a couple of 'honeyberries' (Lonicera caerulea) but so far I am not impressed and they really don't replace blueberries
Name: Rose Keppler Moradian
Santa Barbara (Zone 9a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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awesomeblossom
Oct 22, 2015 1:13 AM CST
Make sure your Felines ( Kitty Cats) don't kill the very same songbirds you attract!
They are Burderers!
Rosey Posey
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Oct 22, 2015 4:34 PM CST
awesomeblossom said:Make sure your Felines ( Kitty Cats) don't kill the very same songbirds you attract!
They are Burderers!


Best to keep the cats inside. nodding
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Oct 22, 2015 5:38 PM CST
My cats are barn animals and live exclusively outside. Although I do feed them twice a day, they also eat a fair share of small rodents and birds, but I don't worry about upsetting the natural cycle.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Arturo Tarak
Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentin
hampartsum
Oct 22, 2015 6:38 PM CST
Hello Rita, do you have any cotoneasters in your garden?. I have six different species, ..(.I'm having difficulties in Identifying the species in the data base, although mine are each quite distinct). A few are evergreen, but most are deciduous and have lovely autumm colors with standing crops of red berries that are cherished by my owerwintering families of thrushes. They seem to hop from one bush to the other., all during winter. Since the red berries are long standing they shine out during snow covered moments. Other wintering birds also stop by to the cotoneasters. The thrushes' droppings aid the germination of the seed so some species ( three of mine) are definitely bird dispersed. I have seedling bushes growing nearby , under trees where birds fly for cover . One species is the herringbone cotoneaster ( Cotoneaster horizontalis). Another is a fairly tall species with scented flowers soon in late spring. It has reddish berries that droop in clusters and turn purple as they ripen. This species is particularly easy to propagate with bird droppings. Once you have a single specimen then eventually you will have many. It has beautifull red fall leaf color.
Name: Rose Keppler Moradian
Santa Barbara (Zone 9a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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awesomeblossom
Oct 22, 2015 7:58 PM CST
Here in Santa Barbara, Ca, we have tremendous Cotoneasters. Beautiful fountain shaped large shrubs with bright orange berries. The old nomenclature was Pyracanthus. They grow exceptionally well under oaks, olives and on the side of the roads. Impossible to get rid of.
The common myth is that the more berries in the autumn the colder the winter...Ha! We've had dry hot crispy drought weather for 4 years! I'm sure the birds eat them, but not for the cold.
Rosey Posey
Name: Arturo Tarak
Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentin
hampartsum
Oct 23, 2015 5:06 AM CST
Hello Rose, I am surprised that same myth is used in our hometown, Bariloche, . I just checked out with wikipedia and as far I can understand botanists are still keeping Pyracantha apart from Cotoneaster. Locally the Pryracantha are also used as trimmed hedges since they quite large prickly uninviting thorns. They definitely attract birds in winter. They do very well with cool winters and can survive even -20°C. I may even want to add perhaps a yellow fruited cultivar that will go well with my Cornus stolonifera ( that is yellow twigged in winter). Cotoneasters are all thornless. My 1977 ed. of Hillier's manual of trees and shrubs quotes" this important genus includes amongst its members some of the most indispensable of hardy ornamental shrubs"(p.84) and then goes on listing species and cvs. reaching somewhere into 70 or more Sighing! . I'm sure that my Armenian grandmothers would have made its fruit into some sort of jelly or marmalade. This fall I will venture into that!
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Oct 24, 2015 10:51 AM CST
hampartsum said:Hello Rita, do you have any cotoneasters in your garden?. I have six different species, ..(.I'm having difficulties in Identifying the species in the data base, although mine are each quite distinct). A few are evergreen, but most are deciduous and have lovely autumm colors with standing crops of red berries that are cherished by my owerwintering families of thrushes. They seem to hop from one bush to the other., all during winter. Since the red berries are long standing they shine out during snow covered moments. Other wintering birds also stop by to the cotoneasters. The thrushes' droppings aid the germination of the seed so some species ( three of mine) are definitely bird dispersed. I have seedling bushes growing nearby , under trees where birds fly for cover . One species is the herringbone cotoneaster ( Cotoneaster horizontalis). Another is a fairly tall species with scented flowers soon in late spring. It has reddish berries that droop in clusters and turn purple as they ripen. This species is particularly easy to propagate with bird droppings. Once you have a single specimen then eventually you will have many. It has beautifull red fall leaf color.


That sounds lovely. Nope, I don't have any here in my yard or around the neighborhood.

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