If you think Thanksgiving Thursday is the only day this month with a tasty theme, you’re missing out – November 23 is National Eat a Cranberry Day! Whether whole cranberries, cranberry jelly, cranberry sauce, cranberry compote, or cranberry relish is a part of your Thanksgiving feast or not, this is a great day to share a tasty treat with birds.
These berries are native to North America and northern Europe, growing abundantly as shrubs or vines in cooler northern bogs and marshes. Their original name, craneberry, comes from the fact that the full plant, with the stem, flower, and petals, was thought to resemble the bill, head, and neck of a crane (another fun and unexpected connection to birds!). Cranberries are closely related to blueberries and huckleberries, other favorites of berry-loving birds.
Today, 98 percent of the world’s production of cranberries comes from the United States, Canada, and Chile. In the United States, Wisconsin and Massachusetts are the top producers of cranberries.
Cranberries and Birds
Many birds will enjoy cranberries, including thrushes, waxwings, grosbeaks, thrashers, wrens, cardinals, mockingbirds, and tanagers.
There are several different ways you can share cranberries with birds today (or any day!)…
- Add fresh, whole, or halved berries to a platform or dish feeder
- Add dried, unsweetened cranberries to suet or seed mixes
- Share a small dab of leftover cranberry relish with birds just like any jelly
- String berries and air-popped popcorn or oat cereal into a feeder garland
- Plant cranberry bushes in your yard for a natural food source
And don’t forget to enjoy cranberries yourself – packed with antioxidants, high in Vitamin C and fiber but with no sodium or cholesterol, they’re a superfood you can enjoy as a snack, part of trail mix while you’re out birding, or as a refreshing drink to keep you hydrated during all your birding adventures. Happy National Eat a Cranberry Day!