Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Eastern Red Cedar : A Tree for Birds

Juniperus virginiana, eastern redcedar

Red cedar barkThis is the bark of the eastern red-cedar (juniperus virginiana, photo at left.) The indigo bunting, a vividly blue bird that I love to see, uses strands of cedar bark in its nest. The gray catbird also weaves cedar bark into its nest. I wonder if the bark has enough cedar aroma to help control mites?

The eastern red-cedar is a native of every state east of the Rocky Mountains. (See this range map.) Wherever it grows, it's a very important tree for birds.

The cedar waxwing eats so many cedar berries that it's named after the tree. Many other songbirds consume cedar berries regularly during the long months of winter -- bluebirds, mocking birds, grosbeaks, purple finches, and mockingbirds just to name a few from a long list. The fruit is also eaten by gamebirds -- wild turkeys, quail and pigeons.

In spring, the redcedar is sought out by various birds as a nesting spot because of the dense cover it provides. I have discovered several mockingbird nests in the cedar trees on our small rural property, and robins, song sparrows and chipping sparrows are also known to nest in cedars.

In winter, redcedars provide a sheltered roosting place for many songbirds, including juncos, various sparrows and myrtle warblers.

Tonight I walked down to the mailbox at sunset, accompanied by our two cats. I was amused when we passed a red-cedar growing at the edge of the neighbor's pasture. It was full of little birds. I knew that by the chorus of breathy little chirps they were making to each other. I think they were sending up a warning about the cats. If they hadn't been speaking, I would never have suspected that cedar tree was so full of birds!

The red-cedar is really a juniper; it's not a cedar at all. Scientists write its common name as "redcedar", but if I spelled it that way,  most people would never find this page with a search engine. That's why I've written its name sometimes as "red-cedar" and sometimes as "redcedar."


Related posts:
A few champion Eastern redcedar trees
Eastern redcedar: Pioneer species
Attracting bluebirds
Large Eastern red cedar tree at Fort Donelson, TN

2 comments -- please add yours:

eastcoastdweller said...

I knew that birds love the fruit, but I didn't realize that they utilize the bark, too. Fascinating!

Anonymous said...

I didn't either, thank you for this post!

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

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Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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