Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birds In Review Part XIII 'Living Bird Feeders' Throughout the Year



In my last few posts I have been focusing on winter feeding. Now lets see how the crabapples play an equally important role in feeding birds throughout the growing season. This may be a familiar view to many of my readers, for it is the eastern corner of the Crabapple Orchard, where numerous Robins, Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings were revealed feasting on the tiny crabapples in my last several posts. Now we are stepping ahead into spring . . . whilst in the middle of two severe winter storms . . .  a profusion of spring blossoms unfurl and it is not long before birds begin harvesting insects the flowers attract. Of course countless bees depend on the nectar too . . .  there will be an upcoming post about the bees that live here.


It is so magical coming out of the long winter months to the sudden symphony of birds calling, singing and flying in and amongst the numerous shrubberies and tress. Thousands of fragrant and colorful blooms fill the little orchard and delight both the gardener and a variety of wildlife. Here a Scarlet Tanager is not only admiring the beauty but seeking out his lunch too.



I am not sure who this fellow is . . . perhaps a flycatcher of one sort or another. I do not believe it is a Phoebe. It must be lovely up there with the copious canopy of florescence. 



Indigo Buntings return with the unfurling Crabapple blossoms, for as the flowers awake so too many morsels of protein in the forms of tiny insects that reside in and about the flowers. Many birds are seen in the flowering trees gleaning the abundant arthropods. What great garden helpers they are!


All through the spring, summer and fall months birds harvest insects that favor the dense foliage of Malus . . . the mystery Crabapple. I wish I could share the species with you. Today I would buy native crabapples . . . then again . . . perhaps my orchard is made up of hardy native stock, for they were grown locally and planted over twenty years ago. The bird pictured here appears to have something in its beak. Alas I cannot be sure of what to call this bird either. Any suggestions much appreciated. Maybe a young Vireo?



In the winter months the apples are a vital food for many birds. This Goldfinch watched other birds eating crabapples and then one day . . .  well . . . this molting fellow seems to be enjoying his snack. It is always good to be open to trying new things. 
The Crabapple's fruit hardly looks like a 'crab' so how it came by this name is another mystery to me. All apples are in the rose family . . . that is no mystery to most of us. Here at Flower Hill Farm the orchard grows right across from one of its distant cousins.


Rosa rugosa 



During the summer, roses spill a delicious perfume within the gardens and are a great feeder of bees. I have often seen Hummingbirds visit these lovely flowers too. Perhaps they were the youngsters attracted to the beauty and sweet fragrance.


In a good year with plenty of sun and rain Rosa rugosa will produce a bounty of hips rich in vitamin C. As we saw in my last post, the Cardinals will enjoy dining on the fruit during the winter months.





The hip will turn bright red when fully ripened. I never notice the birds eating them until the hips are dry and somewhat shriveled up as they are in the winter.




The prickers of Rosa rugosa do not seem to bother this female Northern Cardinal.


Spreading sumptuously out beside the Rosa and a Lilac is a favorite Viburnum showing its splendid habit of stretching horizontally with an abundance of bloom. Butterflies and bees will sip these then later the berries entice a medley of birds. I have two planted in this cluster of shrubs to assure a hearty crop of fruit. I believe it is a variety of Viburnum plicatum tomentosum. 



It is rare that the berries last this long for the fruit to mature to its black color. The two photos above may be from another doublefile Viburnum that lives out in the front garden . . . the leaves do look a bit smaller than those on the shrubs below. The flowers and fruit are very similar.



The second Viburnum shrub in this cluster planting peeks out from behind a Viburnum burkwood and an old fashion Hydrangea bush. The red berries make quite a stunning show . . .  but one must not get attached, for after all, they are food for the birds. I do enjoy both the drama of the color and the birds coming and going as the vibrant berries disappear. 


Gray Catbirds are extremely fond of these clustered shrubs and often build their nests inside the leafy cover. They are then most conveniently located to these luscious berries. You may have to look carefully twice, but there is a Catbird in this photo.


I have not noticed the Indigo bunting eating them often. It is possible he was just checking the berries out to see what all the fuss was about. Note that I have left a dead branch on the Viburnum . . . this gives the birds a place to perch and is a great spot for me to see and photograph them.



Cedar Waxwings find these berries very much to their taste buds delight too! The fruit is ripening just at about the time the blueberries are going by. Or I should say about the time the birds have eaten all of their share of the blueberries! The garden is an ongoing living bird feeder. I will share more shrubs, trees, and plants in my next posts that are also great food for birds. 

24 comments:

ann said...

I just did not realize how much birds rely on crabapples. we have probably 10 on our property. I'd plant another 10 if I could attract cardinals! I think we are bit out of their way here. I love your bird pictures, your lessons, and your flowers. Thanks for taking the time to create such beautiful entries. cheers. ann

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Lovely images and such a variety. I too have a viburnum that I posted that gets the berries eaten in a week. They really are bird favorites. My grower grows all the viburnums and has fields of them. I have to make sure I get photos this year of the feeding frenzy. I can imagine the birds will be so busy picking the berries on the shrubs that I will not even be noticed.

One said...

Just one heron and I get all excited. If you were to invite me to your garden, I think I'll never leave.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Carol, I loved to see your doublefile viburnum loaded with berries. I didn't think mine produced berries, but maybe they are just produced and eaten very quickly while I am busy. Carolyn

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

These lovely spring images of birds and your garden have brightened my day.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Wonderful post and advocacy for planting more bird-friendly shrubs, Carol. Right now the berries are pretty much gone from everything but some of the barberries, but the birds are using many of our shrubs for shelter--or for visiting our feeders.

Larry said...

I always say the same thing to you.... wow, wow, wow... and I love the viburnum... absolutely beautiful... I haven't had luck with this variety, but did give it another shot this past fall. I presume our blizzard will reach you shortly. Many of the small trees that I have wrapped to a height of three feet to protect from the rabbits, now have totally exposed tops with drifts covering them to 4 and 5 foot. I suppose we'll have to try and dig or flatten a perimeter around their drip lines. They will be cozy though against any sub freezing temps for the next month or so however. Have a great day... Larry

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

A beautiful post Carol. Two years ago, I planted three crabapples with persistent fruit in my upper pasture where both people and birds could enjoy them.

I already have a peach tree, sour cherry and three apple trees in the front garden. They are very popular. I also planted an American beautyberry, in fact two of them in the lower garden. Also, the roses and so many other things. We do well to give the birds cover, water and food what every living thing needs.

PatioPatch said...

Dear Carol - though I've not always commented have enjoyed reading all your recent wildlife posts. Am so awed by the diversity of your birdlife and the fauna and flora that provides them with everything from homes to larders. Oh for a dress the colour of an indigo bunting!
Laura x

joey said...

So lovely, Carol, and perfect reading for this snowy day ... I especially love the 'copious canopy of florescence' and your favorite viburnum.

Bom said...

As always, I am amazed at the biodiversity that you have in your backyard. Thanks for sharing these photos with us, Carol.

Sarah Laurence said...

How nice to see bright color on a white day. We are in the midst of a blizzard. It’s hard to believe spring will ever come. Beautiful images! I love how you capture both blooms and birds. Your blog is a complete ecosystem.

Edith Hope said...

Dearest Carol, I do so love Crabapples but, to my shame, I have never realised the extent to which they can contribute to the feeding habits of such a wide variety of birds.
Your Viburnum looks very similar to my Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii'. I always refer to it as a wedding cake since that is how it appears to me with the flowers sitting so prettily on top of the leaves. I do think that Viburnums are very underrated shrubs.

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Gorgeous blooms, gorgeous birds, lots of lovely writing to accompany them all;-) A nice flash of brightness on a Feb. day--thank you Carol;-)

sandy said...

Just came in from shoveling, our storm is over, I hope. I am cold and wishing for spring. It would be so nice to be transported to your lovely orchard for a few hours.

Noelle said...

Hello Carol,

I enjoyed your post very much. I was actually doing some research about birds and learned quite a bit. But, I would rather learn from you since I get to enjoy your gorgeous pictures :-)

sweetbay said...

My favorites are the shots of the Tanager and Indigo Bunting among the crabapple blossoms. Gorgeous! Your Doublefile Viburnums are magnificent.

Gail said...

I found myself wanting to meld into the monitor~The birds are beautiful~The goldfinch eating the crabapple was especially wonderful. To think it was learning from the other birds. Isn't nature grand! xxoogail Keep warm and safe Carol.

Meredith said...

Incredible photos, Carol. I love the idea of seeing the garden as a "living bird-feeder." We should be renaming our entire environments this way, helping kids to reconceptualize their worlds as truly interconnected. I am really working on teaching "interconnected" to the 8-year-old I tutor, and your post now gets to go on the list of extra educational resources. (A couple of your other posts have already made that list.)

But you're making me dream of spring now, you know...

Bird Feeder said...

Viburnum shrubs are a great addition to your yard if your a bird watcher. The birds love them. These are great photos. Thank for sharing them.

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Wow - I just love that first photo, the colour is just amazing! Your post is fantastic too, so much information - thanks for sharing!

Gardeningbren said...

We've had a huge amount of snow here in Nova Scotia so would like you to know what a joy it was to come inside and find your great photos and have the opportunity to visit your orchard. What spectacular birds you have visit...for instance I have only once seen a scarlet tanager! and only on a few occasions visiting south have I seen cardinals (although they sometimes visit our province and it is reported even overwinter) so you can understand how lovely it is to view your lively orchard especially on such a winter day. I didn't see anyone comment on the bird you were not sure of, and although I am no expert by a long shot..is it possible the bird above the goldfinch is in fact an immature goldfinch? I looked online and it seems possible.

Thanks again Carol...great photos as always and a great connection to spring.

Eva said...

As I visit each of your recent series of posts, I'm struck with not only the beauty and charm of your images and stories, but also the hard work over the years that I would like to address. I've lived, now, through three years in western Massachusetts, and I know how eagerly I await each of my "charges" growth. To see your mature crabapples, rosa rugosa beautiful viburnums and all the many species you have planted and nurtured over the years is truly inspiring. And what's equally important is the home you've created for so many birds who return to a gracious hostess who probably knows them by name!

VW said...

I just scrolled through several of your posts and LOVED the gorgeous pictures of mature shrubs and trees . . . those scenes are what I dream about for my garden in a decade or two, though on a smaller scale since my plot is smaller. That doublefile viburnum is so showy.

Related Posts with Thumbnails