An Apple a Day Holds True for Birds Too!

I had read about feeding apples to birds but hadn’t tried it until just this last week, and to my surprise, they loved it! I was especially delighted to watch a bright red cardinal take frequent nibbles from the bright red apple I stuck on top of my shepherd’s hook out back.  That cardinal scurried back and forth, to and from the apple, all in an effort to feed his starving youngsters.

While fruit is a major food group for humans, it’s also an important dietary supplement for birds. I guess the old saying is true:  an apple a day keeps the doctor away. As an exceptional source of sugar, fruit in general is essential to a bird’s energy level, especially during periods of breeding, migration, and keeping warm during those cold winter months. But which birds do fruits attract?

Woodpeckers, jays, robins, bluebirds, and mockingbirds will venture out towards just about any kind of fruit buffet. Simply scatter a variety of fruit pieces on a tray, or nail a few hardier pieces to a tree, and they’ll come running. The good news is that all fruit suitable for humans are nutritious for birds. And, birds will eat fruit that is overripe as well as damaged and not safe for humans. I find that just amazing!

The most popular fruits for birds include (and notice which one tops the list!):

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Elderberries
  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Mulberries
  • Crabapples
  • Concord grapes
  • Serviceberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Raisins

Ripeness and type of fruit will attract different bird species. Some birds might eat the flesh of the fruit or just sip the juice. And small fruits are sometimes swallowed whole. If you are planting fruit trees for reasons other than attracting birds, you may be sorely disappointed, as birds will eat fruit before they are fully ripe, leaving you none to sample for yourself.

If your backyard is all about wildlife and birds, like mine is, then grab those apples and other mixed fruits from the kitchen and let’s see who comes to dinner next!