Attracting Birds with a Serviceberry

Attracting birds with delicious, ripe and sweet serviceberries

All the Serviceberry’s luscious red fruit are gone.

The small sweet and juicy berries that look like red-blueberries are all eaten. I had one, just one, berry. The birds seem to have eaten the rest.

This is the first spring that the Serviceberry has fruited in any decent quantity.

I planted this single Serviceberry (also called Shadbush or Juneberry) tree three springs ago. I planted it with the goal of attracting fruit-eating birds that rarely come to my seed-filled feeders.

I want to attract Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds and Robins which eat insects, worms and fruit.

I had noticed a Gray Catbird in my garden over the past few weeks. The bird didn’t take seeds or sip water, but it did peck at my strawberries that are ripening now. I bet it ate the Serviceberries, too.

Serviceberry/Shadbush/Juneberry is one of the first woody plants to flower. When it blooms, the small white flowers seem to cover the tree in snowflakes. This native fruit tree occurs naturally throughout southeastern PA.

Canada Serviceberry or Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis) in my garden

The small tree blooms just as the Shad are swimming upstream in the Delaware and Susquehanna RIvers here in southeastern Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, the Shad run up the Delaware and the fish are considered a delicacy by some. It also signals the time to plant corn. A berry named after a fish doesn’t inspire me to eat. So when it blooms in early spring, I call it Shadbush, when it fruits in June, Serviceberry.

Apparently, it was named Serviceberry because it bloomed in early spring when the weather allowed Christian ministers conduct funeral services to bury believers who had died during the harsh winter.

Juneberry because it ripens in June.

I wish I had a handful of berries to top my delicious homemade creamy vegan ice cream. Maybe next year.

Amelanchier canadensis – Rose Family

Common name:  Serviceberry or Shadberry or Juneberry

Deciduous tree that turns red or yellow in autumn

Blooms in April – May, Fruit in June – early July

Moist soil, in moist woods and swamps, hybridises easily and makes it hard to identify

Insects: Insect pollinated

Host plant: to Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy, Red-spotted Purple, White Admiral and Striped Hairstreak butterflies

Attracts: Prime fruit for many animals from birds to black bears

Medicinal uses – The Cherokee use bark infusion as a bath and given to children with worms

Food uses – mashed fruit made into cakes or dried for future use

Phenology – reliable indicator of when to plant corn

2 comments

  1. Cool that you’re attracted fruit-eaters to your garden. That’s definitely a versatile wildlife plant!

    Funny about the thing about berries named after fish not being totally appealing. Here in the Pacific northwest we have salmonberry. Wildlife can’t get enough of them (the other day we watched a young black-headed grosbeak chowing down with gusto at a heavily-laden bush), but, admittedly, they’re not very good. 😛

    PS: How do you make your vegan ice cream?

    • HI, Sonja

      Making vegan ice cream

      I use the recipe from a book I bought last year. The recipe call for just five ingredients. vanilla flavored soy creamer, vanilla soy milk, arrowroot powder, sugar, and vanilla extract. The recipe is in the book, The Vegan Scoop: 150 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream that Tastes Better Than the “Real” Thing,

      Basically you combine 1/4 cup vanilla soymilk and 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, set this aside to thicken. Mix 2 cups vanilla soy creamer and 3/4 cup sugar in a sauce pan and cook over low heat. Once this mixture begins to boil, remove from the heat and immediately add arrowroot mixture. The mixture will thicken up right away. Then add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator (can be up to 3 hours). Then pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, churn and voila, delicious vegan ice cream. Low fat, low calories, no animals parts.

      The book the Vegan Scoop has 150 recipes, but I haven’t gotten past Vanilla, I like it so much. I fiddled with the mixture, adding the vanilla flavored soymilk and soy creamer. Enjoy!

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