Berries for the Birds

I’ve chosen plants for the garden with wildlife in mind—echinacea and rudbeckia for the seed-loving chickadees, weigela and buddleia for the butterflies and hummingbirds, and green beans for the deer. Well, that last one wasn’t exactly done on purpose, but each summer I have to figure out how to protect the new growth from being nibbled by mule deer … or there will be no green beans for us!

Swallowtail on weigela

Swallowtail on weigela

Another choice, the burning bush (euonymus alatus compactus), is a highlight in fall for its brilliant red leaves. A bonus is the small red berries eaten by birds (but possibly toxic to pets). Last week, after a dump of about 30 cm of snow may have covered some of their other food, a pair of ruffed grouse came to snack on the berries. Elegantly marked, rufous-colored birds with feathered ‘snowshoe’ feet, they are extremely wary.

Is the coast clear?

Is the coast clear?

The bush is about 2 metres from our picture window and trying to sneak close enough to the glass to take a photo was like counting on the deer to walk past those green beans.   The slightest movement, or shadow, seems to catch their eye and they take flight. But they’ve returned several times, so those berries must be enticing enough to outweigh any perceived risk. With the camera on a tripod, I managed to get a few shots.











We spotted these grouse one morning roosting about 6 metres up in birch trees; the buds are another favorite food.





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