Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birds Love Cedars

For feeding and protecting the wildlife in your backyard, it's hard to beat Eastern Red Cedar (or another species in the genus Juniperus that is native to your area).

Eastern Red Cedars and other junipers are evergreen, and their dense branches provide excellent cover and protection from the elements year-round. A cluster of junipers can even be dense enough to shelter large animals like Mule Deer and Pronghorn antelopes.

Junipers can harbor hibernating bats and other small mammals in winter; nesting birds in spring and summer (Cooper's Hawks, Mountain Bluebirds, Northern Flickers, Lewis's Woodpeckers, and many others); and roosting owls at any time. Twenty-seven different bird species have been recorded as nesting, in open nests or cavities, in Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis).

In addition to cover, Juniperus species provide food. Many bird species, including the Cedar Waxwing -- which was named for this preferred food -- eat juniper berries or cones. Quail, grouse, turkeys, jays, woodpeckers, and thrushes are some of 90 bird species known to feed on Eastern Red Cedar. They are joined by rabbits, foxes, raccoons, mice, coyotes, and deer. Mule Deer, Elk, and Pronghorns browse on the foliage of Western Juniper.

The Juniper Hairstreak and several other species of hairstreak butterflies utilize junipers as host plants for their caterpillars.

In addition to junipers and, of course, oaks, there are many other good native North American trees for the wildlife habitat. Native pines provide cover for owls and chipmunks, sap for sapsuckers, nesting cavities for woodpeckers, and pine nuts for many birds and mammals. Native fruit and nut trees, including cherries (Prunus), walnuts (Juglans), dogwoods (Cornus), hackberries (Celtis), and others are all excellent and handsome choices.

Source: eNature.com

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