Sweet Attraction: Offering Fruit for Backyard Birds



Fruit for Backyard Birds

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The allure of fruit – ripe, sweet, and juicy – isn’t exclusive to humans. Many bird species, from the vibrant Baltimore Orioles to the charming American Robins, also enjoy a fruity treat.

Offering fruit for backyard birds is a delightful and simple way to attract a variety of bird species. It’s a joy to watch the birds relish the sweet treats, and you’ll be rewarded with a vibrant, thriving, and diverse bird community right in your backyard.

Key Takeaways

  • Fruits such as apples, oranges, grapes, grape jelly, raisins, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, currants, and blackberries can attract some colorful summer birds that do not eat seeds.
  • Trees and bushes such as mulberries, elderberries, holly, Oregon grape, and juniper produce berries that birds love, and some of the birds that eat fruit include cardinals, catbirds, grosbeaks, mockingbirds, orioles, robins, tanagers, thrashers, towhees, waxwings, and woodpeckers.
  • Offering suet to birds in the backyard is also helpful, but it should be removed in high temperatures to avoid melting or going rancid, and raw or homemade suet should be avoided in summer. Checking suet for freshness and keeping it in the fridge to maintain firmness are also recommended.

Common Backyard Birds

You’ll be delighted to know that by attracting birds with fruit and using your Celestron binoculars, you can easily identify common backyard birds.

Bird identification can be a challenge, but with the right birding equipment and a little patience, you’ll soon be able to recognize birds like cardinals, grosbeaks, orioles, and woodpeckers.

The key to identifying backyard birds is to observe their physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat.

As you observe their behavior, you can learn more about their habits and preferences, which will help you attract them to your backyard with fruit. By combining your birding equipment with your knowledge of bird identification, you can create a beautiful and diverse backyard habitat that will attract a variety of common backyard birds.

Why Offer Fruits to Birds?

Fruits are rich in vitamins and sugars, providing birds with the energy they need for daily activities like foraging, singing, and nest-building. Birds also consume fruits as a source of water, especially during dry periods. Additionally, attracting birds with fruit contributes to seed dispersal, a crucial ecological role that birds play in helping plants propagate.

Types of Fruits that Birds Love

If you want to attract fruit-eating birds to your backyard, consider offering fruits like apples, oranges, grapes, blueberries, and cranberries. Frugivorous birds, like thrushes, orioles, jays, mockingbirds, and woodpeckers, primarily feed on fruits, but also consume insects for protein.

You can increase the variety of birds that visit your garden by planting trees and bushes that produce berries, such as mulberries, elderberries, and juniper.

It’s important to note that not all birds are attracted to fruits. Granivorous birds, like finches, primarily feed on seeds, but will also eat fruits when available.

A wide variety of fruits can appeal to birds. Here are some of the most popular:

  1. Berries: These include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. They’re small and easy for birds to consume.
  2. Apples: A common fruit that’s loved by a wide variety of bird species.
  3. Oranges: A favorite among orioles and tanagers.
  4. Melons: The soft flesh of watermelons and cantaloupes can be easily eaten by birds.
  5. Grapes: Grapes are loved by many bird species. It’s best to cut them in half before serving.
  6. Bananas: The soft, sweet flesh of bananas is a hit with tropical birds.
  7. Cherries: These are a hit with many bird species, but remember to remove the pits.
FruitBird Species Attracted
BerriesRobins, Sparrows, Finches
ApplesJays, Grosbeaks, Starlings
OrangesOrioles, Tanagers, Mockingbirds
MelonsThrushes, Buntings, Orioles
GrapesWaxwings, Robins, Finches
BananasTanagers, Orioles, Parrots
CherriesThrushes, Waxwings, Grosbeaks

Choosing the Right Fruits for Your Feathered Guests

Native Fruits and Berries

Birds are particularly fond of fruits that mimic their natural diet. Native fruits and berries, from serviceberries to mulberries, can be a hit.

Citrus Delights

Many birds, especially orioles and tanagers, have a fondness for citrus fruits. Halved oranges can be an irresistible attraction.

Apples, Pears, and Bananas

While not all birds are partial to these, these fruits can attract a variety of species like thrushes and waxwings.

Dried Fruits

During winter, when fresh fruit may not be readily available, dried fruits like raisins and currants can be offered.

Setting up a Fruit Feeder

You can simply place cut fruit on a platform feeder or impale them on a branch or skewer. An orange half can be hung from a tree branch using a string. A fruit feeder with spikes can be used to securely hold pieces of fruit. Remember to place the feeder in a quiet and safe location, preferably with a clear line of sight to prevent sneak attacks from predators.

How to Keep Fruit Fresh

Cut fruit can spoil quickly, especially in hot weather. To keep the fruit fresh and safe for birds, only put out a small amount that can be consumed within a day. During summer, it may be necessary to change the fruit twice a day. Dispose of any moldy or overly soft fruit promptly to avoid attracting pests or harming the birds.

What are the best types of birdfeeders for fruit?

When it comes to feeding birds with fruit, there are several types of bird feeders that work exceptionally well. Here are a few of the best options:

  1. Platform Feeders: Also known as tray feeders, these feeders have a flat surface where you can easily place cut pieces of fruit. They are accessible from all sides, allowing multiple birds to feed at once. Some models come with a roof to protect the fruit from the elements.
  2. Fruit Spike Feeders: These feeders come with spikes or pegs where you can impale pieces of fruit. They’re perfect for serving items like apples, oranges, or pear halves. Birds can perch on the feeder and enjoy the fruit.
  3. Oriole Feeders: Designed specifically for orioles, these feeders often have spikes for oranges and small cups to hold grape jelly, another favorite food of orioles. They are typically orange to help attract orioles, who are drawn to this color.
  4. Mesh Feeders: These feeders are versatile and can hold a variety of foods including fruit. Small fruits like grapes or cherries can be placed in a mesh feeder so that birds can peck at them.
  5. Hanging Fruit Feeders: These feeders hang from branches and have hooks or spikes where you can secure pieces of fruit. They’re great for attracting birds that are comfortable hanging while they feed, like orioles and tanagers.
  6. Suet Cage Feeders: While typically used for suet cakes, these feeders can also hold larger chunks of soft fruits like bananas or berries.

When choosing a bird feeder for fruit, consider the types of birds you aim to attract, the kind of fruit you plan to serve, and the location and height where you’ll hang the feeder. Whichever type you choose, ensure it’s sturdy, easy to clean, and safe for birds. Regular cleaning of your bird feeder is important to prevent the spread of diseases among your feathered visitors.

Serving Fruit Safely to Your Backyard Birds

Size Matters

Cut fruits into manageable sizes for small birds. Large fruits like apples can be halved or quartered.

Feeder Options

You can use a fruit feeder designed to hold pieces of fruit or simply place them on a platform feeder.

Freshness First

Replace fruit before it spoils to prevent health issues in birds and avoid attracting pests. This typically means replacing fruit after 1-2 days, depending on the weather.

Attracting Birds with Native Fruiting Plants

Cconsider planting native fruiting trees and shrubs in your backyard. These could include serviceberries, elderberries, or hawthorns. Native plants will be adapted to your local climate and soil conditions, making them relatively low maintenance.

Plus, they will provide a natural source of food for the birds, attract insects for birds that eat insects, and also offer nesting and hiding places.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

While fruit is a great addition to a bird’s diet, it shouldn’t be the only food you offer, especially if you’re trying to attract a variety of bird species. Different birds have different dietary requirements. Some birds are primarily insectivorous, while others may require seeds or nectar. Offering a range of foods will ensure that you cater to the needs of diverse bird species.

Tips for Feeding Birds in Backyard

To feed birds in your backyard, it’s important to provide a variety of seeds and suet, as well as fresh water for drinking and bathing. Bird feeders come in different shapes and sizes, and it is recommended to have multiple feeders placed at different heights and locations to attract a diverse range of birds.

Here are some tips for feeding birds in your backyard:

  • Choose a bird feeder that is appropriate for the type of bird you want to attract and the type of food you want to offer. Tube feeders are great for small birds like finches, while hopper feeders are good for larger birds like cardinals and jays.
  • Use fresh, high-quality seeds and suet. Avoid purchasing cheap birdseed mixes that contain filler and low-quality seeds. Suet cakes are a great source of energy for birds during the winter months and can attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees.
  • Clean your bird feeders regularly to prevent the spread of disease. Use a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to sanitize the feeder and rinse thoroughly with water before refilling.
  • Place your feeders in a safe location away from predators like cats and squirrels. Hang the feeder from a sturdy branch or pole and use a squirrel baffle or dome to prevent access from above.
  • Provide fresh water for drinking and bathing. A shallow birdbath or bowl of water can attract a variety of birds, especially during hot summer months.

FAQs on Attracting and Identifying Backyard Birds

Why use fruit to attract birds?

Fruits, especially native varieties and citrus fruits, are a natural part of many birds’ diets and can attract a variety of species that might not visit seed-only feeders.

Can I use dried fruit or fruit jams?

While fresh fruit is best, dried fruit or fruit jams can be used occasionally, especially in winter. However, ensure they’re free from any preservatives or added sugars.

Can I offer fruit year-round?

While fruit is particularly beneficial during nesting and migration seasons, it can be offered year-round, provided it’s fresh and safe for bird consumption.

Can I offer fruit peels or rinds?

While some birds may pick at fruit peels or rinds, it’s best to offer the flesh of the fruit, which is easier for birds to eat and digest.

Can I offer canned or cooked fruit?

Canned or cooked fruit is generally not recommended due to the added sugars, preservatives, or spices that could be harmful to birds.

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