Raspberries and other berries are of course a delicious addition to a homegrown diet and can be very useful crops to grow in your garden. But can birds eat raspberries?
In this case, what is good for us is also great for the wildlife that shares our space! Growing raspberries in your garden will provide a food source for a range of different birds.
Do Birds Eat Raspberries?
Raspberries are a food source for many different bird species. If you grow raspberries in your garden, you may well find that your garden birds eat a lot of the berries from your canes before you get the chance to harvest.
Birds absolutely love the taste of these berries and will seek them out as soon as they are ripe.
In my own garden, I grow lots of raspberries – they are one of my favorite fruits. We have both cultivated raspberries of numerous types, and wild raspberries growing on our property.
Many of the birds with whom we share our space seem to enjoy these berries as much as we do. Fortunately, there is enough to go around and we don’t mind sharing with our feathered friends.
Some gardeners will find that they have to net, cage, or otherwise protect their berry plants so that the birds don’t eat them all before they get the chance to do so.
Which Birds Eat Raspberries?
Many berry-eating birds will love eating raspberries and will do so at any opportunity. Some birds that you might see eating raspberries include thrushes, bluebirds, waxwings, warblers, woodpeckers, and American robins, for example.
Remember, berries and birds have evolved alongside one another. Plants use berries as a clever way to entice birds and other creatures that will help to propagate.
It is a mutually beneficial relationship. The birds get a source of energy and nutrients, and the plants get their seeds distributed over large distances.
The birds eat the berries, gaining nutritional benefits from the flesh, while the seeds pass through their digestive tracts. When the seeds drop into the soil in bird droppings, they grow into new raspberry plants.
If you have wild raspberries in the area where you live, you may note that these pop up beneath areas where birds like to perch.
Are Raspberries Good for Birds?
Raspberries are a wonderful natural source of a wide range of beneficial vitamins and nutrients for birds. They are good for the health of birds in many of the same ways that they are good for our health.
Healthy raspberries provide many elements for optimal nutrition, helping to provide these birds with an energy boost, and with many of the vitamins and other dietary components for a balanced diet.
Raspberries are not toxic to any birds and can be fed safely as long as they are not rotten. If humans could eat them, birds can safely eat them too.
How To Provide Raspberries for Birds
By far the best way to provide raspberries or other berries for birds is to grow some in your garden. There is a wide range of different berry bushes that you might grow.
Common Types of Raspberries
Raspberries are the edible fruits of several species within the Rubus genus, including:
- Rubus idaeus – the commonly cultivated European red raspberry, native to Europe and northern Asia but widely grown in North America and elsewhere.
- Rubus leucodermis – the blackcap raspberry, native to western North America.
- Rubus occidentalis – the black raspberry, native to eastern North America.
- Rubus strigosus – the American red raspberry, native to much of North America.
- Rubus deliciosus – the Rocky Mountain raspberry, found in the Rockies in Colorado, New Mexico, the Oklahoma panhandle, and Wyoming.
- Rubus odoratus – the purple-flowered raspberry, native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia west to Ontario and Wisconsin and south along the Appalachians to Georgia and Alabama.
Many commercial red raspberry cultivars derive from hybrids between Rubus idaeus and Rubus strigosus. There are many named options to choose from.
There are also thornless options and upright options that don’t need support, which can be useful to gardeners.
There are also cultivars of raspberries which are golden in color. These are called golden raspberries. Interestingly, birds will eat these, but they seem to appeal to birds less than those that are red or black.
Other options if you want to grow a berry crop for yourself and the birds and other wildlife in your garden include hybrids with other Rubus species, such as the Tayberry, Boysenberry, and loganberry, for example.
You might also consider Asian types of raspberry or related berries such as the wineberry, including ground-cover raspberries that may be useful in a shaded spot.
Extending Your Fresh Raspberry Season
If you live in an area with a suitable climate and growing conditions, consider growing more than one type of raspberry. This can help ensure that you and your backyard friends have fresh raspberries for a larger part of the year.
Remember, there are early, mid, and late summer fruiting options, as well as raspberries that fruit in the fall. By choosing the right options, you can have a crop of raspberries available throughout a large portion of the year.
Of course, whether or not you grow raspberries in your garden, you might provide a handful of raspberries to birds by simply placing some on a bird table or in another feeding area.
Can Birds Eat Raspberry Seeds?
Many birds will eat the whole of the berries, the flesh, and the seeds, while others will simply peck a little of the flesh away from the raspberries.
As mentioned above, the seeds will often pass through the digestive tracts of the birds that consume the whole of the raspberries and will pass out at the other end to germinate where they fall.
Can Birds Eat Dried Raspberries?
Fresh raspberries are the best option for the birds in your garden. However, you can also leave out home-dried raspberries since these can also be a healthy treat for many birds.
Just make sure that you don’t leave out any dried fruits that have been preserved commercially, since they can contain preservatives like sulfur dioxide which can pose a threat to birds, even in small quantities.
Can Birds Eat Raspberry Jam, Jellies, or Sauces?
If you grow raspberries for your own consumption, you might not use up all of your harvests right away. You may choose to preserve your raspberry harvest in a range of ways.
If you make jams, jellies, or sauces, leftovers can indeed be left out for the birds. However, remember that sweetened preserves contain a lot of sugar – and this is bad for birds if consumed in excess, just as it is for us.
These sweet treats should only ever be provided in very small quantities.
You should also never feed any preserves that contain artificial sugars. These and some other ingredients in commercial or homemade preserves might pose a threat to the birds you are trying to aid.
Remember, the very best way to provide food for berry-eating birds is to provide it naturally through the plants that you grow in your garden.
If you live in an area where raspberries can be grown, you should certainly think about growing some for the birds, as well as for yourself and your family.