Welcome to my Bird Blog!

Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spicebush Berries Are Important as Fuel for Migrating Birds

Spicebush Berries and Birds

Leaves of the Spicebush Shrub
image from agriculture.purdue.edu

Common Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)
Lemon-spice fragrance emanates from this spreading bush, which is a member of the laurel family.  It grows from 5 to 15 feet tall, and has bright green smooth-edged pointed leaves that are 2-6" long.  To produce wonderful spicebush berries, you need both male and female specimens, and insects that will pollinate the plants.

In the spring, clusters of fragrant globe-shaped light greenish-yellow flowers appear before the leaves come out, and pleasantly scent the air to attract early insects.
Spicebush flowers
image from psu.edu

In the fall, beautiful spicy berries make their debut in groups along the stems on female bushes.  This fruit can be cleaned, dried and chopped in a grinder, and used anywhere you would incorporate black pepper and allspice.   Store any extra whole berries in the freezer because of their high oil content.  That way they will not become rancid. 
Robins are one of the many backyard birds that love Spicebush berries
image by Grandma Pearl

But more importantly, your migrating songbirds will quickly spot the ripe spicebush berries as they fuel up for their long journeys southward.  I have seen robins, kingbirds and catbirds foraging deep inside these dense bushes in autumn.
Spicebush Berries are a favorite of migrating birds like Wood Thrushes
image from nc.audubon.org

If you live near a wooded area that contains elderberries and or yellow poplar trees, it is very likely that you will see these native bushes as well.  Spicebushes are host plants for the Swallowtail butterfly families, which include Tiger Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
image from Grandma Pearl

Spicebushes love moist woodland settings, and are quite happy growing in the understory of larger trees.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
image from Grandma Pearl

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