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Best Shrubs for blackbirds and thrushes

Could anyone please advise on best varieties/berry colour of cotoneaster and pyracantha to help feed blackbirds and thrushes in my garden, or any other shrubs that your blackbirds and thrushes like to feed on.  They tend to lose out to our marauding magpies and woodpigeons (and occassional rat!) if I put ground food out for them.

The most successful so far for us are yew berries and ivy. Lots of hawthorn in the garden but havent noticed and particular bird activity on them.

Many thanks

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Hello Pollen, and welcome to the RSPB Forum.

    A Rowan Tree would be a nice addition to your garden area.  Well worth a look into.

    Blackbirds, and all Thrushes have a varied diet and will happily spend a  lot of time going through leaf litter in your garden borders picking up all the bugs and insects they love. They also love fruit apples, pears, plums anything but citrus fruit which is a no-no.

    An earth worm must be like a steak dinner to a Thrush.  Freshly dug up areas of your garden is a dream to a Blackbird, and Robins

    In my former garden the Thrushes loved snails, and I spent a lot of my time standing on empty snail shells.

    So I would say berries are part of a Thrushes diet but they have a lot of other foods they like too.

    Regards

    Kathy and Dave

  • I have a hawthorn which is pretty busy with bird activity, but only in fits and starts throughout the day, so it might be that you just haven't noticed the birds there rather than that they are not paying it attention.

    Have you tried feeding live mealworms?  I put some in a mesh tray on the lawn every day, and both blackbirds and thrushes are regular visitors (in fact, one blackbird arrives at about 2:45 waiting for 3 pm feeding time!).  My pigeons and collar doves are not interested in them at all, and magpies only very rarely, so if the blackbirds and thrushes can get there before the starlings, mealworms could be a good bet.  I'm pretty squeamish about all things creepy crawly, but mealworms are really not bad at all (not even very wriggly), so don't be put off!

    Just to make you laugh about my stupidity:

    When I first started to get the odd songthrush in my garden, I thought "sod's law, I used to have loads of snails in the garden, and now the thrushes have arrived, suddenly all the snails have disappeared and there's nothing for them to eat."  A friend had to gently explain WHY the snails disappeared at the same moment the thrushes arrived...

  • Hello Pollen

    Cotoneaster and Pyracantha are non natives but, nevertheless are excellent shrubs to encourage wildlife.  Great for insects when they blossom in the spring, their berries are popular with blackbirds and song thrushes.  This winter redwings and fieldfares were attracted into gardens in their thousands by the bountiful supply of berries and, if waxwings had arrived, then they would have feasted on them too.

    Recommended varieties are:

    Pyracantha (firethorn), mojave, orange glow, red cushion, teton

    Cotoneaster simondsii, c horizontalis, c salicifolius

    Some are climbers, other creepers and they have berries of various shades of red, yellow and orange.  Check them out at your local nursery to see which you prefer.  The birds, bees and other insects will like them all I'm sure.

    Badgerbeard - loved your story about the disappearing snails and the songthrushes - one of nature's very own 'pest controllers'!

    Watch out for swifts

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    In reply to ValO:

    Hi ValO

    Can I ask a silly question about Cotoneaster and Pyracantha

    I noticed a neighbour of mine had a Red. Orange and Yellow varieties of Pyracantha/Coloneaster - which one have all three colours?  They always flourish in the colder months.

    Snails are a song Thrushes 'yum' chart anytime

    Regards

    Kathy and Dave

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Have you room for a grape vine? They are easy to grow (although they take a bit of pruning) and it’s the first thing in my garden to be cleared by Blackbirds and Thrushes. Pheasants Berry (Himalayan Honeysuckle) is the second to be stripped, they then move on to the Holly and Ivy berries. I have both Cotoneaster and Pyracantha but neither the Blackbirds or Thrushes were that interested.

    Build it and they will come.

  • In reply to ValO:

    Hi Everyone

    What a great forum.  Many thanks indeed for all your suggestions.  Lots to try.  We have recently taken to grating RSPB suet balls and scattering thinly and  widely around the garden - the blackbirds are learning fast (so too are the woodpigeons!)  and loving it, also pinhead oats scattered.  Ordinary pieces of suet and various bought nibbles all too big- soon gobbled up by the magpies, blackbirds dont get a look in.  Thanks for the reminder about mealworms.  Used these last breeding season in a cage not accessible to blackbirds,  loved by the robins- will be interesting to see who gets there first, starlings or blackbirds!

  • In reply to pollen:

    Hi Pollen, welcome to the forums.  My money would be on the starlings.  They are always first to any new food source in my garden and I have had to stop offering mealworms except in my gaurdian feeder before I went bankrupt! LOL

    Also does anyone know if you can get smaller varieties of Rowan?

     Also my mum has a beech tree that is sort of a small shrub type one, that grows more like a tiny willow. Is this down to gardening (she has only just moved in so we don't know) or can you get them like that.  It is only about 3'6" looks really pretty and the chaffies and blackbirds seem to love it.

    Here are a couple of pics.  It obvioulsy looks better in the summer!

    Sarah

    I've learned that I still have a lot to learn...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bramble67/

  • In reply to bramble67:

    Re my last, think I have found the weeping beech.  

    I've learned that I still have a lot to learn...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bramble67/

  • Berberis Darwinii is a invaluable shrub for the wildlife garden. It's holly shaped spikey leaves make a wonderful nesting site for Blackbirds and Robins; Long Tailed Tits have even been know to use it. It's quite a fast grower, reaching 3mtrs x 3mts, but not invasive. In addition the berries are edible to humans as well as the birds. I had two Pyracantha shrubs in my garden but the only birds that ate the berries were Pigeons; The blackbirds and thrushes don't seem to go for them in my area.
  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Nicki C said:

    Hi ValO

    Can I ask a silly question about Cotoneaster and Pyracantha

    I noticed a neighbour of mine had a Red. Orange and Yellow varieties of Pyracantha/Cotoneaster - which one have all three colours?  They always flourish in the colder months.

    Snails are a song Thrushes 'yum' chart anytime

    Regards

    Kathy and Dave

     

    There are no varieties that have a 3 coloured berry, however you can plant 3 different varietys close together and get the same effect.

     

    www.thecynicalgardener.com

    Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.