[CT Birds] Sumac

Larson Eric eric_r_larson at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 22 15:34:15 EST 2010



I assume you have staghorn sumac (most common around CT, description and photos - http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=26342).  The fruit/seed cases are very waxy, and persist late into the winter.  Horticultural propogation from seed actually calls for a long soak in acid (scarifying) to break down the seed case (http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=RHGL), probably mimicking the exposure the seeds suffer on digestion by small mammals or birds that eat them.  


The fruits are low in lipids and sugars (hence they are less inclined to rot, but are also less nutritious) and so it appears that they aren't a first choice for foraging birds and thus their persistiance late in the season.  They are claimed to be a late food source for robins and waxwings in late winter in Maine http://www.mainenature.org/archive/8-13-02.html, robins, crows and even bluebirds in western New York (http://monarchbfly.com/2008/03/30/staghorn_sumac_birds/), ruffed, ring-necked pheasant, eastern phoebe, common crow, northern mockingbird, gray catbird, American robin, wood thrush, hermit thrush, eastern bluebird and European starling and several other species on Prince Edward Island http://www.macphailwoods.org/shrub/ssumac.html.


So, my guess is that you'll see birds eating them late in the winter when other seeds and insects are scarce, and especially during harsh seasons.





 > Message: 6
> Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 07:49:46 -0500 (EST)
> From: martin swanhall <mswanhall at earthlink.net>
> To: CT Birds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
> Subject: [CT Birds] sumac
> Message-ID:
> <8615176.1266842986734.JavaMail.root at wamui-hunyo.atl.sa.earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> Do birds eat sumac 'berries' and if so, what species of birds. I have a few sumac shrubs/trees in my yard with their red fruits but have never seen a bird eat them.
> Marty from Woodbury


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