Whose there eating the cherry blooms?
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.