decorah envirothon - shrubs for birds and wildlife

Shrubs for birds and wildlife

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Shrubs for birds and wildlife

Gooseberry grows on disturbed ground, in partial sun.

Gooseberry bushes do very well in cow pastures; they are too spiny for cows, but goats will eat them up.2

Gooseberry has thorny branches and grows up about chest high.

Gooseberry flowers about the time little gray morels are out.

They look a bit like a shooting star!4

Green globe-like fruits form by early June.

Green gooseberries make a classic pioneer pie.

My family likes to harvest them around the 4th of July.6

Gooseberry pie for dessert.

Gooseberry fruits sweeten up purple by July.

Birds, animals and people take advantage.

Domesticated varieties of gooseberries can be grown in your garden in you like. The berries are much larger and some ripen into a pretty pink color. There are plenty of bushes growing out in the wild though.9

Black currant looks like a goose-berry bush, but without the thorns.

Black currants are tasty summertime treats for any woodland visitors.

Except for me. I think they taste a bit ickybitter, I suppose. I like red and white currants, but those dont grow wild. Currants are very popular in the United Kingdom, but for some reason they arent common in Iowa.11

White-crowned sparrow sitting in black currant.

White crowned sparrows are normally migratory, but I had one overwinter and feed at my familys birdfeeder last year.12

Coralberry likes to grow in full sun. This compact bush flowers in mid-May.

Coralberry ripens in September.

Snowberry, or buckbrush, is a similar white-flowered form that attracts hungry honeybees .

Snowberries are snow-white deer & bird treats.

Ninebark makes nice dense nesting habitat. A popular choice for windbreak hedgerows.

It is called ninebark because its bark peels in stripsas though it has 9 layers to it or something.17

Ninebark blooms in June and resembles a domesticated spirea shrub.

Mourning cloaks like the taste of ninebark nectar.

Ninebark grows into thick cover.

This American goldfinch is likely to nest in this dense ninebark shrub.

Viceroy on a ninebark shrub beside ripening seeds

Ninebark seeds are nutritious for birds and animals going into winter.

Black haw is a good choice for saturated soils.

Black haw is a thicket-forming plant

Black haw has pleasing plum color in autumn.

Black haw berries are a first-rate wildlife food!

Black haw berries ripen in late September.

Black haw berries are also called wild raisins.

If you have a grape vine or black haw plant, try letting a few of your berries shrivel and start to dry on the stem. Partially dried grapes straight from the plant taste WAY BETTER than any sun-kissed raisins from California. 29

Elderberries are another good wildlife shrub choice for wet-soil areas.

Elderberrys white flower platters are prominent on the Fourth of July.

Elderberries turn purple in September.

Ripe elderberries are another key wildlife fruitin the fall, especially for departing birds like robins and catbirds.

People often steal a few of these tasty berries too.

Elderberry pie

Buttonbush is a novel wetland shrub

Buttonbush flowers appear in mid-summer.

This red admiral butterfly is getting a sweet sip.

Buttonbush gets decorative red buttons in September.

These savannah sparrows are dining on buttonbush seeds.

Highbush cranberry is another good option for a modest 8-10 tall bush, blooming in late May.

Highbush cranberries turn red, but not necessarily ripe, in September.

Birds will often wait until late winter before eating them.

Highbush cranberry forms a solid windbreak.

Redosier dogwood is one of the most popular wildlife shrubs.

Redosier dogwood stems are very decorative.

Redosier dogwood & white-tailed deer.

Redosier dogwood berries are a dynamite wildlife food.

All dogwood berries are full of fat, and a key food source for birds going south or into winter.

Gray dogwood suckers to form dense clumps.

Gray dogwood berries are ripe later in August.

Gray comma resting on gray dogwood.

Gray dogwood gets purple leaves in autumn. Those white berries help distinguish it from silky dogwood.

Silky dogwood prefers partial shade near water.

Silky dogwood gets compact flower clusters late in June.

Silky dogwood berries are gun-metal blue.

Pagoda dogwood flowers around Mid-summers Eve.

Pagoda dogwood leaves have definite ribs.

Pagoda dogwood leaves look nice in September

Pagoda dogwood berries are a great woodland bird food.

Pagoda dogwood has a very unique shape, with branches that form segmented whorls around the stem and give the tall shrub (or small tree) a definite tiered-tower look.

Sumac, smooth here, has rather dull flowers.

Notice the velvety stem on this staghorn sumac.

Sumac is a good choice in places where it can spread unchecked.

Sumac leaves are stunning scarlet in September

Sumac provides color in the countryside as well as food and tenacious cover.

Sumac seed heads are food beacons for birds.

Robins are one among many sumac shoppers.

Eastern bluebird.

Northern cardinal - female.

Brown thrasher.

Gray catbird.

Yellow-rumped or myrtle warbler.

White-throated sparrow.

Downy woodpecker.

Black-capped chickadee.

We can pick a few surplus seedheads in August and brew a tasty natural pink lemonade.

Chokecherry is a tough bushy little tree.

Look for chokecherrys flower plumes in June.

Chokecherries turn purple in August and are bird candy.

Prehistoric people pounded them into pemmican.

Pemmican was basically an early form of energy bar! They often contained dried meat, berries, and ground acorns.81

Serviceberry blossoms brighten up spring days in early May.

Serviceberry is also called Juneberry, for those delicious fruits get ripe then.

Serviceberry fruits are long gone by the time those leaves turn orange in autumn.

Crabapples are stubby trees that are hard to beat for a beneficial wildlife shrub.

Crabapples are not easy trees to climb.

Crabapples offer birds free nest protection from climbing predators.

Crabapples put on a real cheery springtime show.

Crabapples are attractive to pollinating bees.

Fertilized flowers develop into stunted apples

Many crabapples are prolific fruit producers.

American robins remember where crabapples are

Cedar waxwings flock to crabapple trees.

American goldfinches, Iowas state bird, turn to crabapples in winter

So do red-faced house finches

Black-capped chickadees like those bright little crabapples too.

This white-breasted nuthatch is stealing a quick crabapple snack.

Tufted titmouse taking a crabapple

Dark-eyed juncos eye charming crabapples too.

Gray squirrel getting in on the crabapple craze.

Crabapple jelly

Hawthorn is another workhorse wildlife shrub.

Hawthorn is a bigger barrier than crabapples for climbing or flying predators.

Hawthorn is also called thornapple

What a wonderful secure place for this song sparrow to rest and relax.

Canada warblers also seek refuge in a budding hawthorn tree.

Hawthorns bloom in late spring.

Hawthorn pomes ripen up in September and October. Like most shrubs, there are many kinds

This cedar waxwing is swallowing a freeze-dried hawthorn pome.

Wild plums dot ditches with white about May 1

Wild plum freely suckers and develops into dense thickets.

Wild plums are a real treat for raccoons and any other hungry furry critters or birds.

Raccoon reaching for a sweet ripe fruit.

People love wild plums too, right off the tree or turned into preserves or pie.

American hazel is an old wildlife shrub standard-bearer

Gray catbirds nest in American hazel bushes

Gray catbirds are sound like a lost kitten.

American hazel catkins are fine winter bird food for American goldfinches and pine siskins.

Pine siskins look like streaked goldfinches.

American hazel catkins form caterpillar-like flowers in April.

American hazel nuts ripen inside papery husks.

Good luck finding a fully-mature hazel nut, also called a filbert, for yourself.

Eastern chipmunks chow down on ripe hazelnuts

A red-winged blackbird nest is silhouetted by the winter sunset in a leafless hazel copse.

Bladdernut is a native novelty shrub, sometimes seen in fencerows or sunny woods.

Bladdernut flowers brighten up the area in June

Bladdernut is named for those strange seed-bearing bladders.

Bladdernut seeds are fully ripe by late October when those papery bladders turn brown

Bladdernut seeds are edible for animals and us.

Redbud is a striking wildlife shrub.

Redbud blooms are pure pink color bursts in early May.

Common yellowthroats like to sing from redbud branches.

Redbud leaves add a little color to the fall landscape too.

Redbud seeds are stolen by birds from their papery pods.

For some real eye-catching power, plant our native wahoo, but not the foreign burning bush.

Even wahoos flowers are fancy in early summer.

Beautiful berries form on wahoos branches late

Cardinals relish these beckoning wahoo berries

Wahoo has also been called the strawberry bush

Wahoo is the last berry to ripen out in the woods, adding a splash of color there well into November.

Shrubby willows, like the pussy willow, are wonderful wildlife shrubs.

Pussy willow and prairie willow are among the first plants to flower in the spring.

Pine cone galls, made by a tiny midge, are neat to see before the wispy willows leaf out.

Willows sucker into wildlife-shielding thickets.

Willow bats break up strong winter winds.

American goldfinch nest in a willow bat.

Red cedar is technically a tree, but so what.

Red cedar trees are great wildlife food and cover if you dont have any prairie around.

They are invasive in many prairies, and they shade out the rare plants. Many steep, south-facing slopes in our area have become covered in red cedars. It is probably that those hillsides were once open prairie or savannah habitats.148

Red cedar would not be a good idea around apples either red cedar apple rust seen here.

Red cedar apple rust blemishes apple skins.

Otherwise, red cedar is hard to beat for cover.

Red cedar berries turn blue when ripe in autumn

Cedar waxwings are named for their favorite food

American robins are fond of red cedar berries too.

Ditto for gray catbirds.

Northern cardinals

Red-winged blackbirds

American goldfinches

Yellow-rumped warblers

Raccoons!? maybe waiting for a songbird.

Gray squirrels have a red cedar tooth too.

Need we see any more examples of red cedar fans.

Birds, animals & people all benefit from shrubs.

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)Don Jonesxeno-cantoMimidae4022.8555eng - XC1235 Don Jones. Sheep Pen Hill Road,Burlington County, NJ, USA, ?m, ?h, 26-06-1994, 0.0'0" 0.0'0", song, scolding mews