Monday, July 21, 2008

Saskatoon Berry Treat

...Amelanchier, shadbush, serviceberry, sarvisberry, juneberry, Saskatoon berry, shadblow, shadwood, sugarplum, and wild-plum...

Call it what you will, but we have one growing in our backyard. A few years ago a friend gave me a small sprout from her large bush and we planted it in the back corner of our lot. It grew quickly and my husband, who is a force to be reckoned with when he has a chain saw, decided to prune it rather drastically. The little bush responded by putting out fifteen shoots to replace the five that were cut and sprouted twice as high as the fence.

This year has been wet and the bush was covered in white blooms which have now produced a bumper crop of berries. In the past I have made pies and jam when the blueberry-like fruit ripened to a dark purple, but this year the other residents of our garden have been feasting on the unripe red berries.

A family of robins have been regular visitors. The young birds are as large as the adults. but Mom and Dad still pick the berries and put them right into Junior's mouth. The babies have been trying to pick their own but are still rather clumsy on the thin branches.

A couple of chipmunks pick their fill and run along the fence with bulging cheeks. The birds scold and dive-bomb them as they scurry to the relative safety of the deck to eat their meal. Cedar Waxwings, Cardinals and squirrels also visit and the berries are almost completely gone. My raspberry patch grows along the fence and the first crop is beginning to ripen. But these red gems are next on the list for the birds who enjoy the fruit of my labour.

The September raspberries are usually bigger and sweeter than July's, so I will not fight for my share at this time. The weather has been a little too hot, humid, rainy and mosquito-y for the trails so the backyard birds and animals will be my guests and amusement for now.


  1. We have several wild cherries behind our house in the tree line and I keep seeing mouths full of red berries too. It's so good to have such great natural food sources for them to eat and for us to be amused by watching them!

  2. Anonymous8:15 am GMT-4

    Just the other day I watching a starling mother feeding her young (who was just as big as she was). Mother would hop along the ground finding bits and pieces of food, Junior not far behind, squawking...feed me, feed me! Impatience little fellow. If I did that when I was child I was sent out of the kitchen until I was told supper was ready.

    I'm thankful for the natural sources of food for our feathered friends. They certainly can empty a birdfeeder in a hurry.

    Love the pics! I like to watch Robins too. So glad that they are not so skittish of humans.

  3. I love the photographs of everyone enjoying your berries. Each bird or animal seems to think the tree belongs to him and no one else.

  4. Anonymous9:59 am GMT-4

    What a great shot of the chipmunk. I love the little guys, but they are so difficult to stay still.

  5. Amazing photos! I especially like that little chipmunk. :)

  6. Ruth--I am with those who like the chipmunk. Great photo--face to face with munching chipmunk.
    So has your husband learned his chain saw lesson? Some plants respond to pruning by GROWING!

  7. I never thought of them being here. I did have some is Saskatchewan I think -- or pie or jam or some such.

  8. On my evening walk yesterday I found one ripe saskatoon and ate it, though I noticed a few more here and there after that. I'll have to try picking a few this year ... they really add a unique flavour to a pie when mixed with blueberries!

    Our mosquitoes are about done with ... at least around our house. We have been eating out, unmolested by the little blood suckers.

  9. Anonymous9:38 pm GMT-4

    Fantastic photos, Ruth! I love that first one. Our Saskatoons aren't ripe yet, but as soon as they are the Waxwings will here. I usually freeze some and use them in muffins. How do you make your pie, using the Saskatoons?

  10. Ruth,

    The mosquitoes are certainly bad this year so I don't blame you for enjoying the beautiful creatures in your yard. Your shots are awesome.

    I enjoyed the previous posts that I had missed. Some very beautiful photos. Have you noticed there are more fireflies this year. They are abundant in our area and I hadn't seen any for years.

    Take care and enjoy all the gifts that nature sends us.


  11. Jayne- Wild cherry trees are great bird magnets. On the trails I see the RB Grosbeaks love them.

    Cheryl- Baby birds are a lot of work for the parents! There are a lot of natural food sources this summer. The thistles and grasses are loaded with seeds and the berry bushes are heavy with fruit. It is a good year.

    NCMW- Yes there is a possessiveness demonstrated by each little critter. Now if I could attract some mosquito eating creatures!

    SG- My backyard chipmunks are quite tame and sit on the deck when I am there. We are working at getting them to eat from our hand.

    Ginger- thanks...I wish I had been fast enough to get a picture of the adult feeding the juvenile bird. It tool me by surprise.

    KGMom- lol- I don't know that he learned his lesson. Some men just like power toys.

    AC- I don't know how they got named Saskatoon berries. There are lots of them in Ontario.

    CS- Your mosquitoes are done!? We have so much rain and the mosquitoes are worse than they were in the spring. There is talk of spraying some local breeding areas because of the fear of West Nile virus.

    April- I have made pie just like a regular berry pie. Like CS, I mixed them with some other fruit. They look like blueberries but have a stronger, earthier taste. They would be good in muffins, if I get any this year.

    Mary- You are the second person I have heard mention fireflies. I am seldom out after dark and don't recall ever seeing them. I will have to look.

  12. I don't know any of these bush names, but that doesn't mean anything! I may see if I can find one for my parents yard. They can stand to have a few more bushes and we both enjoy feeding the birds.

  13. Julie- I am sure this native bush would be available readily. They put up runners that are easy to transplant if you know someone who has one. That is how I got mine.


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