Native Shrubs for Wildlife

Staghorn Sumac is a native, thicket-forming shrub that can reach the size of a small tree. The fruit is very persistent, providing a source of food for birds throughout the winter. It is more an emergency than a staple food item, habitat that sustains some species in late winter when natural food sources have been depleted or are still buried in snow. I have, for example, observed small flocks of hungry (starving) wild turkeys and flocks of returning robins feeding on sumac fruit in late February and early March.


Black-capped Chickadee foraging on a Staghorn Sumac fruit cluster

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

10 thoughts on “Native Shrubs for Wildlife

  1. I also have been known to forage for sumac and make sumac tea which is a little like lemonaid. I also like to suck on the berries.
    I continue to love all of your photos and the information you share.
    Merry Christmas to you, your family and readers. Looking forward to another year of your discoveries and photos.

  2. Thanks for the lovely comments Kathy. Wishing you and yours the very best this Holiday Season as well. I’ve read about sumac tea but have never tried it. It’s very common around here so maybe I should experiment (If my blog goes silent, you’ll know why)! I’m really pleased that you follow and enjoy my work – hope to hold your attention in 2015!!! Nick

  3. I love your blog for the information you provide about nature and wildlife. You have me planning to add plants to help and encourage the birds to visit my yard. Natives, of course!
    Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays!

  4. Many thanks Gunta. Landscaping for wildlife can be a very gratifying, year-round hobby. I’m sure you’ll do your homework and implement a plan that will yield multiple benefits in no time! A plant of interest for me this spring is Serviceberry (also Juneberry, Shadbush, Amelanchier). I’ve worked with native, wild planting stock in the past, but have decided to get serious and purchase a cultivated variety from a nursery in northern New York. The fruit on these is 2x the size of the wild stock; they look and taste a little like blueberries. The plan is a 50:50 split with the birds (OK, 75% to the birds is more realistic)! BTW – something I was reflecting on after your last post: When I decided to try blogging way back when, you were one of my early supporters, a light at the end of the tunnel, and a major reason that I stayed with it. Obviously, I haven’t forgotten that, and I’m very grateful. Happy Holidays!

  5. I love service berries. I eat them by the handful or should I say bucketful. They are not sickening sweet and have a delicate flavor. The seeds have an almond flavor so I chew them as well. If I can get rid of the invasive honeysuckle trees in my back yard, I plan on putting in service berries.

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