Monday, October 30, 2017

Desert Hackberry Fruits Attract Birds

Guest post by Dan Weisz

One of the Desert Hackberry plants behind my house is loaded with fruit now and I’ve been watching birds move in and out this week, partaking in the juicy berries.  The timing and quantity of fruit ripening is highly dependent on rainfall.  Fruits can ripen any time between July and December.  The fruits are very bright and sweet, with one hard seed in the middle.  

Want hackberry and all these fun birds in your own yard? Read on to learn about our Habitat at Home program and how you can make your outdoor spaces better for wildlife!

Gila Woodpeckers are enjoying the fruit.  (Gila Woodpeckers eat insects, fruit, seeds, occasional birds’ eggs, and lizards).  Each time this bird would grab a fruit, it would then fly off to another location to eat it.  He was eating snacks “to-go”.

Northern Mockingbirds also enjoyed the berries.  Although I wasn’t able to get a photo of this particular bird with the fruit in his mouth, he had just swallowed a fruit whole and you can see the lump in his throat and a satisfied look in his eyes!  With that long narrow bill, mockingbirds seem to be built to eat insects.  They do eat mainly insects in the summer but switch to eating mostly fruit in the fall and winter.

Gulp!!  And the fruit continues its travel down the mockingbird’s throat!

I saw many House finches going in and out of the plant.  With that beak, house finches would seem to favor diets of seeds, but they do eat all parts of plants including fruit.  This is a “before” photo so you can see the beak size/shape.

And I finally caught a house finch in the act.  The fruit was probably too large to be swallowed whole and the finch seemed to be biting through chunks of the fruits.

A female Pyrrhuloxia enjoyed the fruit as well.  At first, it seemed like she was having trouble getting that entire berry in her mouth.

But she definitely managed just a few moments later, swallowing the entire berry whole.

Here is another Mockingbird with a berry.  This bird seems to have a few feathers sticking up above its eye.

And down the hatch it goes.

Habitat at Home Recognition program – Create a beautiful, water-saving landscape that attracts birds and other wildlife

A Habitat at Home landscaping can lower your water bills, reduce yard maintenance, and beautify your home while providing food and habitat for the birds that enrich our community. Native species allow you to enjoy a cooler, low-maintenance, and beautiful landscape in Tucson’s hot and dry weather. Join the program and we'll show you how to do it!

Registration opens on November 14

For more info on Desert Hackberry plants, here are a few references.

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