do birds eat juniper berries

Although they go by the name “juniper berries,” the female seed cone is actually a berry, with scales that are fused together to give it a berry-like appearance. The female seed cone is fleshier than a regular cone. Berries from the juniper plant don’t have a lot of energy or calories (compared to an acorn for example) They are valuable in the winter when all the other really desirable food is gone, which may be the reason they are overlooked in the beginning. For the species that depend on juniper berries, the difference between survival and starvation could be significant.

The common juniper, or Juniperus communis, may be the most extensively distributed tree worldwide (U S. Forest Service plant database). This species is circumboreal, which means it lives all over the world’s northern regions. It is fully circumpolar, with the exception of a small area around the Bering Sea. They are found throughout North America, reaching above the tree line in the north. Common juniper grows well in many different environments, including the gentle slopes of a field or meadow and more difficult ones. You can find them nestled among rocky outcroppings, on ridges, ledges, and cliffs. Because of their durability and ability to withstand strong winds, they shield animals from inclement weather. With their stout, sharp needles they are almost browse-proof. When there is nothing else to eat in the winter, deer will nibble on the foliage, but it must be a prickly mouthful. The berries, however, are a different story.

Junipers have a long history with humans. They are among the few spices that come from a conifer. Ripe blue berries were (and still are) used all over Northern Europe to flavor meats, especially wild game, and sauerkraut. The most well-known use of the green, unripe berries is to flavor gin. The online Etymology Dictionary states that the word “gin” comes from the Dutch word “genever” as well as Old French and Latin words that denote juniper. If you’ve ever had gin, you’re familiar with the flavor of a juniper berry. Additionally, the white, powdery coating that some berries have is a type of yeast that you can use to create a sourdough starter. Although they are very flavorful, juniper berries shouldn’t be consumed in excess. Eating more than a few of them can result in severe diarrhea and cramping in the abdomen due to the strong diuretic they contain.

There are many potential winter foods to discover on a stroll. Middens and other concealed areas are home to acorns, nuts, and seeds that are still bearing on grasses and old wildflowers. Some are still even hanging in the trees. Tree buds are now all fully-formed and loaded with nutrients. Numerous animals, including birds and mammals, will nibble on these as a winter snack. Dried-out huckleberries and winterberries still cling tenaciously to their branches. While hiking on Farmington, New Hampshire’s Blue Job Mountain prior to the recent snowfall, I came across a juniper bush that was still producing an abundance of vivid blue berries. These low scrubby bushes are covered with snow by now. The last time I looked, I was unable to locate them, but I’m sure the local animals can

For many birds and mammals, juniper berries are one of the best wintertime foods. The deep blue berries are sought after by foxes, rabbits, and a variety of birds, including chickadees, waxwings, bluebirds, robins, and turkeys. I have observed a group of cedar waxwings land on a juniper patch and quickly strip them.

FAQ

Do bluebirds like juniper berries?

Mostly insects and berries. Insects make up majority of diet, especially in summer; feeds heavily on grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, ants, also many other insects. Berries and small fruits are important in diet especially in winter; among those eaten are fruits of mistletoe, juniper, and elderberry.

Do Robins eat juniper berries?

Description. American Robins eat large numbers of both invertebrates and an enormous variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, and sumac fruits, and juniper berries.

Can I eat the juniper berries in my yard?

Juniper berries have a strong, bitter, slightly peppery flavor and gritty texture. Instead, just a small quantity of mature juniper berries is added to recipes as a flavoring or spice. They can be added whole and fresh off the shrub to marinades, meat rubs, wood chips when smoking meats, or added to pickling meats.

Are juniper berries poisonous to animals?

Are Juniper Poisonous to Dogs. Juniper berries, needles, and stems are all classified as being minor toxic to dogs and puppies. Eating juniper will most likely not be fatal, but it will make your dog sick. Common symptoms are vomiting or diarrhea.