Will Birds Eat Cranberries? A Guide to Feeding Cranberries to Birds

Cranberries are small, red, tart berries that grow on shrubs in bogs and wetlands. These colorful fruits are not only a popular food for humans, especially around Thanksgiving, but many birds also enjoy eating cranberries.

In this article, we’ll explore which birds like cranberries and the benefits of feeding cranberries to your backyard birds.

What Kind of Birds Like Cranberries?

Birds Enjoying Cranberries 1
Birds Enjoying Cranberries

Many different types of birds are attracted to and will readily eat cranberries, including:

  • Woodpeckers
  • Jays
  • Robins
  • Waxwings
  • Warblers
  • Bluebirds
  • Mockingbirds
  • Catbirds
  • Thrushes
  • Chickadees
  • Titmice
  • Nuthatches
  • Grosbeaks
  • Finches
  • Cardinals

While not all birds prefer the tart taste of raw cranberries, many fruit-eating birds will happily snack on both fresh and dried cranberries when offered.

Are Cranberries Good for Birds?

Yes, cranberries can be a healthy and nutritious treat to add to birds’ diets. Here are some of the benefits of cranberries for birds:

  • High in vitamin C which supports a strong immune system
  • Good source of antioxidants that protect birds’ health
  • Provide dietary fiber
  • Contain other vitamins and minerals like vitamin K and manganese

Cranberries are suitable for many birds and can be a tasty way to add variety and nutrients to their diets. However, as with any treat, moderation is key. Cranberries should only be a small part of birds’ overall diets.

How to Feed Cranberries to Birds

There are a few different ways you can offer cranberries to your backyard birds:

Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries
Fresh Cranberries

You can put out fresh, raw cranberries for birds, either whole or chopped up into smaller pieces. Place them on a platform feeder, in a dish, or directly on the ground. Keep in mind fresh cranberries will spoil quickly, so only put out a small amount at a time and remove any uneaten berries promptly.

Dried Cranberries

Dried Cranberries
Dried Cranberries

Dried cranberries are another great option. Look for unsweetened, sulfite-free dried cranberries. You can offer them on their own or mix them into birdseed blends. Dried cranberries have a longer shelf life than fresh but can still grow mold in damp conditions, so store them properly and check feeders regularly.

Stringing Cranberry Garlands

For a fun feeding idea, string fresh cranberries with popcorn and/or other bird-friendly foods like nuts to make garlands. Hang them on trees or shrubs for birds to find. Just be sure to use plain popcorn without salt or butter and a bird-safe string or thread.

Suet Cakes with Cranberries

You can also add chopped up dried cranberries to homemade suet cakes as an extra tasty treat for birds that like suet, such as woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches.

What About Cranberry Sauce and Juice?

While many birds enjoy raw and dried cranberries, it’s best to avoid offering birds cranberry sauce or juice. Cranberry sauce is often high in added sugar and other ingredients that aren’t healthy for birds. Juice is also very concentrated in sugar and lacks the fiber of whole cranberries. Stick to plain, unsweetened cranberries instead.

Growing Cranberries for Birds

Another way to feed cranberries to birds is by growing cranberry plants in your yard. Cranberries are native to the northern hemisphere and grow best in moist, acidic soils. The shrubs produce tart red berries that ripen in fall, just in time to help birds fatten up for winter. Planting cranberries not only provides a natural food source but also creates shelter for birds.

In Summary

To recap, many birds like and will eat cranberries, including various berries and fruit-loving bird species. Cranberries are a good source of nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants that can benefit birds’ health. You can offer birds fresh or dried cranberries in moderation as an occasional treat. Avoid cranberry sauce and juice which are too high in sugar. Growing your own cranberry plants is another great way to feed birds. By adding cranberries to your backyard buffet, you can attract more birds and give them a tasty and nutritious snack to enjoy.

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