The first bird I fell in love with when I was little was the American robin. My mom and I would always compete to see who would be the first to spot a "robin red-breast" each spring.
I still enjoy playing that game, but now I know what to plant to lure robins to my backyard for longer seasons of bird-watching.
Robins are such familiar sights, some people take them for granted. But not the folks at Celebrate Urban Birds, who have selected the American robin as one of the project's 16 observable species of resident and migratory birds.
Because robins don't take to bird feeders, as do their seed-eating feathered friends, I've planted a number of shrubs, vines and other plants to provide a year-round berry buffet.
One of the first shrubs to bloom in spring is the serviceberry right outside my kitchen window. As soon as the flowers turn to pink, juicy berries, I know I'm in for a good show. Young robins strut under the shrub and then leap awkwardly to grab some of the low-hanging fruit. Highly entertaining.
Another berry-producing shrub popular among my robin visitors is the red twig dogwood. Its white flowers in spring produce small berries by late summer that robins enjoy through fall.
Honeysuckle vines also produce berries that robins appreciate in fall, when other food sources are scarce. Early birds, like these four robins, enjoy any leftovers during their spring arrival.
Virginia creeper also provides a winter food source for robins. The purple berries that cover the vine at the end of summer stay on the vines through winter, just when robins need them most.
In addition to a diet of fruit, robins enjoy juicy earthworms and other insects. A lawn kept healthy and green without harmful herbicides is like a big welcome mat to robins in spring.
My bird-friendly landscaping efforts were recently rewarded when I was able to watch a pair of robins build their nest, hatch three eggs and take care of their nestlings. I was even able to watch the fledglings take flight.
What shrubs and vines have you planted to attract birds to your backyard?
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