Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, February 18, 2013

Whose there eating the cherry blooms?

Winter is a hard season for birds for many reasons and feeding them is an important activity that can help our feathered friends conserve energy when they need it most. Donna over at Garden Walk Garden Talk has an excellent post on how beneficial it is to feed birds during our cold months. Do go take a look (here).

Many avid birders decidedly don't feed birds during warmer months with feeders opting to provide food in in the form of plants. After all, birds and blooms are a natural team. They need one another to survive. Birds consume fruits, berries, nuts and seeds that flowers produce and in return the birds pollinate and spread seeds.

Spring comes early to our garden; beginning in February when the ornamental cherry trees burst into bloom  followed by the plum and pear trees. This puts a skip in this gardeners step but did you know that the blooms are also beneficial to some of the birds?


Have you ever witnessed a bird eating the buds or blossoms from your flowering trees? Plant favorites of bud and blossom eating birds are pear, apple, peach, plum, crabapple, cherry, red maple and forsythia. So, the bees and our overwintering rufous hummingbirds are not the only ones visiting our cherry blossoms on a sunny February day.


The trees are also filled with finches who are eagerly eating the blossoms. Some have even nested in these trees making their next meal just a hop away. But why are these birds eating the buds and blossoms? Well, it turns out they are highly nutritious. According to the Georgia DNR some experts believe that the flowers have even more food value than buds. This gives the flower eating birds an advantage in late winter and early spring when food is often scarce.


If you are one to get upset when you find your first signs of spring being eaten, not to worry, this natural pruning of excess blooms actually aides the plant. In fact purple finches are credited with helping fruit trees produce larger fruit.

Cedar waxwings, which still elude my lens, seem to eat blossoms in spring during their spring migration. In fact, spring is the most common time for blossoms to be eaten by birds. Other birds that share this habit are northern cardinals, house and purple finches, northern mockingbirds, blue jays, evening grosbeaks, and American goldfinches. 

So, if you see birds eating your early spring buds and flowers, I hope you don't mind sacrificing a few blooms for your feathered friends.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post! A couple years ago we watched a flock of cedar waxwings in our apple orchard devouring the blooms. At first I thought they were eating bugs but no it was the flowers. Could not figure out why in the world they would do that. Now I have my answer.

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    1. Indeed it is an unusual habit but it is amazing how resourceful and adaptable some animals can be.

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  2. Great photos but the bee being out was surprising.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. February is a month of extremes for us. When we have sunny days over 50 degrees the bees come out. The cherry trees sound like hives. You can hear them from several feet away, it is that loud. Then we can have nights down in the 20's like this past weekend which really puts a damper on some of the blooms, like the cherry trees that come out this early.

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  3. There must be true about the early spring this year, because birds are in the air!!!

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  4. The early bird catches the worm needs to be revised to include buds and blooms too. My pear gets its share of feeders too. Thanks for the link to my post. Your seasons are so different than ours and I will not see bees until late April the way the weather is going now. I really hope you catch that Waxwing!! They are such beautiful birds. Really good post Karin!

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  5. I encourage the birds to eat the plants...i planted a crabapple and black cherry so once they are big enough and start blooming I hope to feed the birds with their flowers.

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  6. I had no idea birds ate blossoms! Thanks for the info! I'll be looking a little closer at my birds when they're sitting in my flowering trees from now on!

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  7. One of my favorite images is seeing Cedar Waxwings eating fruit tree blossoms in April and May (up here in the north)! I haven't captured them with my camera either, and they seem to prefer sunnier gardens than mine. But they are so beautiful! Your little finches are cute, too!

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  8. I also love that bee which almost insert all of itself to get his loot!

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  9. I didn't know birds would eat flowers, I don't think I have ever seen that - but I don't have any fruit trees in my garden or neighbouring gardens. The ornamental cherry trees in the street would possibly be suitable bird dessert too then? What kind of birds in London would be interested in ornamental cherry?

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  10. Karin, what an interesting post! I've never seen birds eating our blooms, but now I'm going to keep an eye on our apple trees. I think I'll also make sure our feeders a full! ;-) (Lovely photos!)

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  11. Hi Karin, I had no idea that birds ever ate flowers. I think I will be happy to share a few spring blooms with featured friends who make it through our tough Canadian winter.

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  12. I had no idea that the blossoms were so nutritious for the birds. Glad you have some in your area and that they are blooming. My crabapples haven't bloomed, nor do they look like they are close to bloom. Have no cherries, though there was one in a magazine last month that I keep drooling over....a sour cherry.

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  13. Great post!--and photos :)
    I look forward to the blossoms and hummingbirds returning to my garden this spring!

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  14. Very interesting!! I've never heard of birds eating the flowers. I feed my birds all winter and even buy a more deluxe seed mix to help them through the winter. I also put out a heated bird bath. :o) I'll keep an eye out when my Yoshino cherry blooms to see of the finches are munching it.

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  15. Your title, "Whose there . . ." should be

    Who's there .....

    Who's is a contraction for who is.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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