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Attracting Fruit-eating Birds

7-11-16  birds and oranges 519.jpgThere are many birds, such as waxwings, that have a frugivorous (strictly fruit-eating) diet.  The only time they usually expand their diet to include insects is during the breeding season, when growing hatchlings require high amounts of protein for proper development.  Others, such as orioles, show a marked preference for fruit but also eat significant quantities of other foods.  All of these birds play an important role by spreading fruit seeds to distant areas either by caching food or distributing the seeds through their droppings.

Bird lovers often put out seed to lure birds in for a closer look (a practice discouraged during the summer in black bear country), but there is an equally effective magnet for some species, and that is fruit. (Due to the high sugar content, little nutrition and potential bacteria growth in jelly, it may be best to provide fruit over jelly.) Grapes often attract Northern Mockingbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Gray Catbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, House Finches and American Robins.  Raisins and currants (soaked in water overnight) appeal to Northern Mockingbirds, Gray Catbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings and Eastern Towhees.  Species that find orange halves hard to resist include Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Gray Catbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  (Photo: Gray Catbird (left), female Red-bellied Woodpecker (middle) and female Baltimore Oriole (right) enjoying breakfast at The House On The Hill Bed & Breakfast, Greenfield, MA.)

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9 responses

  1. Bettybike

    I thought that was a red bellied woodpecker in your photo before I read your commentary. Are they moving north? My Peterson’s book map shows New England out of their range.

    July 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

    • Hi Betty,
      Yes, I’ll have a post on them next week. Their range has definitely expanded northward during the past 50 years — they now can be found in Vermont year round, and breed here.

      July 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm

  2. Marilyn

    Nice shot of the avian trio!

    July 11, 2016 at 8:42 am

  3. NIna/Roy

    What a great picture today (7/11/16) Mary! I will try some of those fruits…………. Nina

    On Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 8:05 AM, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “There are many birds, such as waxwings, that have a > frugivorous (strictly fruit-eating) diet. The only time they usually > expand their diet to include insects is during the breeding season, when > growing hatchlings require high amounts of protein for prope” >

    July 11, 2016 at 9:38 am

  4. Anne Donaghy

    We had so much trouble this late spring with red squirrels consuming the orange halves that we put out for the orioles that we had to stop putting out fruit. There seemed to be no way to squirrel-proof fruit. I’d love to hear any solutions to this problem that others may have!

    July 11, 2016 at 10:44 am

  5. Ruth Sylvester

    Beautiful!
    But I would think the fruit would appeal to bears too? Is that a problem?
    –Ruth

    July 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

    • I would be surprised if, when fruit and herbaceous plants are plentiful in the wild, if bears were lured to oranges, but I honestly don’t know if they would be. My guess is not — fruit doesn’t have the protein that sunflower seeds do…

      July 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm

  6. Wonderful photo with such vivid colours. Very interesting point about putting fruit out.

    July 11, 2016 at 1:41 pm

  7. Diane

    Thanks for this information!

    July 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

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