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Staghorn Sumac to the Rescue

3-5-13 A. robin eating sumac IMG_4893They may not be sweet, plump and juicy, but the fruits of staghorn sumac play a crucial role in the lives of many birds that overwinter in New England. True, they’re not a preferred food for these birds, but because they persist through the winter, these fuzzy fruits are an important source of food in late winter and early spring, when very little else is available. Ruffed grouse and wild turkeys rely on sumac fruit as a source of food throughout the winter, and bluebirds, robins, cardinals, mockingbirds and starlings are frequent visitors to staghorn sumac shrubs this time of year.

5 responses

  1. Marcel Duhaime

    So glad you mentioned bluebirds!!! I saw two fly by yesterday in Manchester, NH and thought I was going crazy…I didn’t think they would be up here at this time of the year. I looked them up and I guess some doing winter over. Your mentioning them confirms that I actually did see them!!

    March 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm

  2. A beautiful photo Mary!

    March 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm

  3. Grady

    Is there any reliable evidence that birds eat more, especially at feeders, in advance of winter storms? It seems to be true from observation of my feeders, but that’s a pretty small sample. Two days before a winter storm forecast for DC area, a flock of robins stripped all the berries from both a holly tree and a hawthorn on my property in DC and they’ve returned to my feeders with a robust appetite after a short hiatus I think caused by my economizing on seed that appears below the standards of edibility of birds local to me!

    March 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    • Yes, Grady, birds can detect changes in barometric pressure, and prepare for storms by feeding voraciously as well as finding shelter.

      March 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm

  4. Cindy

    Grady – I would bet that is true. I have also noticed an uptick of bathing before a storm.

    March 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

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