Tree berries are a winter buffet for robins and many other cold weather birds by Mary Reid Barrow

The robins arrived enmasse for the first time this year,  swooping into the yard, flying from tree to tree and gleefully chortling.

Their sounds remind me of my long gone great aunt Emily at the holiday table.

“Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm,” Aunt Emily murmured throughout  the meal.

What shall we try,  the robins seem to ask.  How about these American  holly berries?  Oh, look!  The yaupon hollies are over here!   Wait!  There are a few seeds left on the crape myrtle!

So, the robins just zoom around,  taste testing various berries as if on a progressive diner party with friends.  Soon they will be joined by their cedar waxwing friends, dressed for  the party as if it were a masked ball.

Both species especially love my yaupon holly berries and the bird bath becomes a party punch bowl for the frenetically active,  thirsty critters.

It’s more than a party though. Robins, mockingbirds, wrens, nuthatches and other winter yard birds eat insects in warm weather but they are dependent on fruits, berries and seeds from trees and other plants to survive the winter.

Our local robins don’t migrate.  So,  my visitors could be local birds whose life consists of one big dinner party  around Virginia Beach all winter.  Or they  might be birds from, say, Canada, that have traveled south for some “southern cooking.”

Trees are a life line for winter birds.  As usual, it’s trees to the rescue again!

My son, Gibbs Barrow, took the robin photo in Atlanta, Georgia, but I love it because the robin looks like it   has such discriminating taste!

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