Category Archives: Fruits

Migrant thrush

Despite the best efforts of our resident mockingbird, the beautyberry shrubs are still loaded with fruit. Today, two Swainson’s thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) found the bounty and have been feasting ever since. They can swallow a dozen fruits per minute.

Swainson's thrush -- note the smudged spots on the chest and the buffy eyering

Swainson’s thrushes nest in the spruce-fir boreal forests of Canada and the coniferous woods of the western U.S. The ones in our garden are on their way to South America, where they will spend the winter. Interestingly, many birds in western North America fly due east for thousands of miles before heading south. This seemingly wasteful route (why not fly directly south?) appears to be a consequence of their history: the western birds are descended from easterners and they retrace the migratory route of their ancestors.

Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana

Each cluster of purple berries is about as big as a lemon. And each beautyberry shrub has dozens of clusters: a fruit-eating bird’s dream.

 In addition to providing food for birds (our resident mockingbird has occupied the bush and gorges herself several times each day), the bruised leaves of this shrub produce mosquito-deterring chemicals, making it a good shrub to turn to when under mossie assault in the woods

These photos are from our garden. In the wild, this species prefers the lower elevation limestone slopes over the sandstone uplands.