Many birds are so fond of berries and fruits they will travel some distance to eat them. Even birds they we do not associate with such foods will go out of their way to find and eat them whenever they are in season. My daughter Angela recently learned that one of these birds in the great crested flycatcher.
Birds living in most subdivisions find wild foods hard to come by. However, Angela has a black cherry (Prunus serotina) tree growing alongside the fence that separates her and her neighbor’s backyards. Somehow the tree escaped the bull dozer, or perhaps sprouted from a seed left behind by a bird that dined on black cherry sometime in the past. It is now old enough to annually produce a crop of pea-sized, shiny red to almost black fruits.
Black Cherry Tree || Photo credit: Angela Dupree
Angela has seen many different species of birds descend on the tree in May and June to chow down on the juicy fruits. However, recently she heard an unfamiliar bird call coming for the tree. She immediately pulled up her Merlin bird identification app. The app identified the bird as a great crested flycatcher. She could not believe it! She had never seen a great crested flycatcher in her yard before. Needless to say, you would not expect to find this bird in a subdivision.
Wanting to make sure Merlin had correctly identified her visitor; she sat down and waited for the bird to appear. In a matter of minutes, the bird came into view—it was indeed a great crested flycatcher. The bird was plucking black cherries hanging from the tree’s slender branches.
Knowing that the great crested flycatcher primarily eats insects and other invertebrates she went online to see if black cherries are also consumed. She learned that Georgia’s only flycatcher that nests in a cavity does indeed eat black cherries.
Angela also learned that more than 40 other birds also eat the fruit of the black cherry tree. Among the other birds that also dine on the juicy fruit are the summer tanager, eastern bluebird, woodpeckers, mockingbird, brown thrasher, and gray catbird.
My daughter is convinced that she would probably have never seen a great crested flycatcher in her yard if it wasn’t for the fact that a cherry tree was not there. With that in mind she plans on keeping closer tabs on the birds that visit this great native tree.
Angela realizes she will never know if the hungry great crested flycatcher flew in from the woods hugging a stream at the base of the hill well away from her home or elsewhere. I guess it really doesn’t really matter from whence the bird came. The important thing is it that it found this special tree and provided her with an unforgettable memory that prompted her to embark on a journey of discovery that led to her having greater appreciation for a tree that is too often considered to be nothing more than a weed.