Sisters Country birds


Last updated 5/9/2023 at 11:42am

Photo by Douglas Beall

Chokecherry helps sustain local birds and wildlife.

Bitter cherry, bird cherry, chokecherry, or bitter berry are all common names for Prunus virginiana. My neighbors have several in their yard that are of the Canada red variety of chokecherry. Deep burgundy-red leaves, prolific whitish blossoms, and dark red berries grace the spreading branches.

It was a prized food source for Native Americans as the berries contain many disease fighting antioxidants, anthocyanins, and flavonoids which possess properties that fight allergies, viruses, and cancer causing elements. The berries were widely used in pemmican mixtures for a long-lasting food supply.

Fragrant two- to four-inch tall blossoms open in May with a bouquet that can be experienced hundreds of feet away. Many bees and other insects feed on these florets. This bloom can last for two to three weeks depending on the weather. Profuse production of cherries ripen in August and then the feeding commences. While observing and capturing images of wildlife for four hours over two days, 13 different species of birds came to feed on this chokecherry: Western Tanager, Audubon's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Northern Flicker, Black-headed Grosbeak, Mountain Chickadee, Townsend's Solitaire, Rufous Hummingbird, Robin, Western Wood Pewee, Chipping Sparrow, Red-headed Sapsucker, and Cedar Waxwing.

A chipmunk and a Douglas squirrel also made an appearance. Within three days all the cherries had disappeared with the Robin consuming the largest proportion.

The chokecherry will brighten up any yard for many years and help to sustain our wild creatures.


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