Swainson’s Thrush and Ripe Elderberries

Thrushes seem to be quite fond of red elderberries (Sambucus racemosa). It does not take long for birds to strip a bush of berries, especially in late summer with many recently independent young birds as well as perhaps the starting wave of southbound migrants make use of the food resource. Recently I saw several working on a large road side bush, including the Swainson’s Thrush seen here.

Elderberries are sometimes used by humans to make jellies (and perhaps other things), but I’ll probably just leave them for the birds.


  • What have you noticed birds eating during late summer?
  • If I gathered up elderberries and froze them to set out in the winter, would they be popular with birds in my yard?
  • Are elderberries (which often seem to come up like weeds) primarily spread by birds?

2 thoughts on “Swainson’s Thrush and Ripe Elderberries”

  1. Awesome photo, Matt! Great to see the bird and its food both in the frame. Yeah, I imagine elderberries are dispersed by birds most frequently.

  2. Thanks Ivan – elderberries are kind of amazing in their weed-like ability to grow (or at least get started) around here. Among other places I’ve seen them growing from a gutter drain as well as a Bald Eagle nest (though maybe I should double check my photos on that one)!

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