In August one year, I looked out the kitchen window to see a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks fly across my yard and land in a tall saskatoon bush. As it was late summer, the bush was heavily laden with ripe berries. The grosbeaks began to pluck the fruit off the bush. I thought they were going to eat the fruit and this surprised me since I believed they were strictly seed eaters. However, what they did was work the berry around in their beaks until the pulp was separated from the seed. They then dropped the fruit pulp on to the ground and ate the seed.

What was so interesting to me was that on the ground near the saskatoon bush were small groups of juncos and towhees. They clearly knew what was about to happen because as soon as the fruit pulp started to hit the ground, they flew over to the bush and pounced on the discarded berries and ate them.

I have never seen towhees or juncos eat saskatoon berries under any other circumstances. Robins and waxwings, sure; but not these little birds.

Charles Bailey – Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada