Can Birds Eat Cherries? Here’s What You Need To Know About Your Birds and Cherries

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A range of birds will enjoy eating fresh fruit in the wild or in your garden, and they might also appreciate it if you leave out some as a snack on a bird table or at another feeding station.

But if you plan on feeding birds cherries, take note – there are a few things you need to know. Cherries should only be fed to birds in certain ways.

Do Birds Eat Cherries?

Many fruit-eating birds will eat cherries in the wild and will snack on the cherries from a tree in a garden or fruit orchard. 

In fact, the birds love the cherries on the trees in my forest garden so much that they tend to eat the whole harvest of sour cherries before we get a look in!

Those trying to grow cherries for their consumption may already know how much birds love to eat them. They may have to take steps to protect their harvest by using protective measures like netting or fruit cages.

But sharing with garden birds can be a wonderful thing to do. Remember, birds in your garden will perform various ecosystem services for the food they get.

In other words, they will help you in your garden with fertility, pest control, and more… That is why we welcome birds in our garden and don’t mind when they get to the cherries before we do.

Which Birds Eat Cherries?

Many birds will snack on the cherries on trees as part of their balanced, natural diet. Some birds that eat fruit, including cherries, include bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, chickadees, finches, grosbeak, jays, mockingbirds, orioles, robins, tanagers, thrashers, waxwings, and wrens, for example.

Some birds will sip at fruit juices or take a tiny taste, while others will eat larger portions of the flesh.

Are Cherries Good for Birds?

The fresh flesh of cherries is indeed very good for birds. Cherries are high in many essential vitamins and provide birds with a range of nutrients required for good health.

Ensure you feed your pet bird a balanced diet, including vitamin C, to avoid health issues. You can also consider an immune system booster if your birds lack essential nutrients. Good health increases your bird’s quality of life. 

Many of the reasons that cherries are great for us as part of a healthy, balanced diet make them beneficial for birds too. They’re a healthy snack for your bird friends. 

Can Birds Eat Cherry Pits?

However, the most important thing to remember if you are thinking about feeding birds cherries is that while cherries’ flesh is very healthy for them, the pits or stones inside the cherries are toxic.

They contain cyanide and could kill birds if they are accidentally consumed.

Birds will naturally leave the pits when eating cherries from trees in gardens, orchards, or in the wild. But if you provide whole fresh cherries on a bird table or at another bird feeder, they may consume these by mistake.

So if you plan on placing out cherries for birds to eat, you should always make sure that you remove the pits first. De-stone the cherries before you leave them out at a bird feeder.

How To Provide Cherries for Birds

By far, the best way to feed the birds in your garden is to plant plenty of fruit trees and berry-producing bushes and canes and to plant for as much biodiversity as possible, so you naturally feed and provide habitat for as many different bird species as possible.

Cherry trees can often be great additions to a home garden, whether you want to harvest fruit from the trees to eat yourself or not.

There are several different types of cherry trees that you might grow to benefit both humans and other wildlife – including fruit and berry-eating birds.

Can Birds Eat Cherries

Cherries are all fruits on trees in the Prunus genus. Most commercial cherries come from either:

  • Prunus avium – the wild cherry or sweet cherry, which is native to Europe, and parts of Anatolia, Maghreb, and Western Asia
  • Or Prunus cerasus – the sour cherry native to much of Europe and southwest Asia.

However, there are also several other cherries that you might consider growing in your garden. In North America, you might consider growing native cherries, such as:

  • Prunus emarginata – Oregon cherry, native to western North America as far east as Wyoming and New Mexico. The fruits are not edible to humans, but birds do eat them.
  • Prunus pensylvanica – pin cherry, widespread in Canada, New England, the Great Lakes region, and the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and Eastern Tennessee. Sometimes also in the Rockies and the Black Hills of South Dakota. The fruit is edible and is often used in jams, jellies, and other preserves, and birds eat them too.
  • Prunus pumila – sand cherry, widespread in Canada and the northern US from Montana to Maine and as far south as Colorado, Kansas, Indiana, and Virginia. Again, fruits are eaten by people and birds.
  • Prunus serotina – wild black cherry. Widespread in North America and South America. Edible fruits – these are also eaten by a range of wild birds.
  • Prunus virginiana – chokecherry. Closely related to the above, also useful for human yields, birds, and other wildlife.
  • Prunus caroliniana – Carolina cherry laurel, native to the lowlands of the Southeastern US, westward to central Texas. Small black cherries are loved by birds and consumed between February and April.
  • Prunus ilicifolia – hollyleaf cherry, native to chaparral areas of coastal California and areas of the Mojave desert. Edible berries, sweet in taste, are eaten by people and birds.

Growing cherries and other food-producing plants native to your area can be a great choice if you want to obtain sustainable yields for yourself and help local birds and other wildlife.

Of course, even if you don’t grow cherries in your garden, you might de-stone cherries, chop them up, and leave them out for birds in your garden as an occasional treat.

Can Birds Eat Dried Cherries?

If you dry cherries at home, you might also leave these out for birds in your garden as an occasional treat. Just make sure that these are cherries alone and that preservatives have not been added.

You should never feed birds dried fruits that have been preserved with sulfur dioxide as, even in small quantities, this can be dangerous for birds.

Can Birds Eat Cherry Pie, Cherry Pastries, Cherry Cake, etc…?

Feeding leftovers to birds can also be fine in moderation – but remember that excessive sugar is bad for birds just as it is bad for us.

You also need to ensure that anything containing cherries does not contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or anything else that could threaten the birds in your garden.

Can You Give Birds Cherry Jam or Cherry Juice?

Leaving out small quantities of cherry jam or cherry juice made just from cherries is fine. But again, if these are sweetened, make sure you don’t give them too much.

And whenever you consider leaving out sticky substances or fluids, ensure these are provided so that birds won’t fall in and get stuck or get it on their feathers which could impair their flight.

Remember, while you can certainly feed additionally at bird tables or by placing different bird feeders, planting for the birds in your garden to provide natural food sources will always do a lot more good.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a conservation, rewilding, organic gardening and sustainability specialist who loves everything nature-related. She loves helping others around the world connect with the wildlife and wonders around them. When not creating wildlife-wise, eco-friendly designs, or writing about the topics that inspire her, she loves spending time watching the birds on and around her own rural property, or heading out on camping or hiking adventures to spot birds and other wildlife in a range of habitats.