Berries for birds

Planting shrubs that fruit during the cool season creates a much-needed buffet for hungry birds. Bluebirds, cedar waxwings and mockingbirds, for example, are species that depend heavily on fruit and berries when insects are scarce. While hundreds of species feed on fall, winter and early spring fruits, certain plants are choice for particular species. The crimson red berries of dogwoods, for example, are a favorite food of bluebirds. One of the most fun parts of backyard bird-watching is noticing birds you might not expect to see gorging on certain fruits and berries. Red-bellied woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, for example, will cease their drilling for a while to frequent hollies and dogwoods for fruit fare. Appealing but lesser-used fruiting trees include hawthorn, cherries and crab apples. For more information about plantings for birds, visit Going Native at www.ncsu.edu/goingnative and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at www.allaboutbirds.org.

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