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Migratory Birds Like Native Berries Best

07/23/2020

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Migratory birds prefer native berries
Swainson's Thrush and native spicebush. Photo: Steve & Dave Maslowski

Author links open overlay paneAs winter approaches and food supply dwindles, birds move south and eating fall fruits along the way to fuel their trip. But they don’t eat just any fruit on their autumnal journeys: Based on research done by USU Postdoctoral researcher Amanda Gallinat, published in the January issue of Biological Conservation, birds are after native berries. Even when fruits of invasive plants like Japanese barberry and multiflora rose dominate the landscape, migratory songbirds seek out native blueberries, black cherries, and raspberries instead.

North American birds evolved alongside North American plants for many thousands of years, so these are the berries they’re most familiar with. But previous research has found that native fruits are also more nutritious than their invasive counterparts. “They can’t be eating ‘fast food’ before they take off on really long migrations,” says ecologist Dr. Gallinat. “They need something with high energy.”

Read the entire Audobon article here.
Read the original research publication here.