Why didn’t we harvest any cherries this year?

Usually, we would have picked the fruit from my pie cherry tree (Prunus cerasus ‘north star’) by this time.  This year, however, there were so few cherries on the tree that I didn’t bother to cover it with bird netting.  The birds happily ate the dozen or so cherries that the tree produced.

The fault is not disease, weather, or even a lack of pollinators.  It is something that I’ve never seen before and find very puzzling.

This spring, when the tree was in bloom, I could see some activity in the tree.  A bird was busily moving about, and white things were falling to the ground.  On closer inspection, I found that flowers had been pulled off the tree.  The bird didn’t appear to be eating them or using them for its nest — the ground was covered with white flowers.

I didn’t get a close enough look to identify the culprit.  I think it was a dull-colored bird, a little smaller than an American robin (Turdus migratorius).  I can’t explain its behavior; are birds capable of malice?  The peach tree’s flowers were unharmed.

I guess that next year, I’ll have to cover the cherry tree with bird netting when it begins to bloom.  I have to make sure the holes in the netting are large enough for the pollinators to get in and do their job.


About brianbreczinski

work: chemist, NMR manager; hobbies: gardening, reading, photography, electronics, biking, woodworking
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4 Responses to Why didn’t we harvest any cherries this year?

  1. How are the bees in your area? Are they thriving or non-existent. Much of the US is suffering from a shortage of bees that pollinate fruit trees… no bees, – no fruits.

    Look into that in your area. see also: http://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/12071/

    • Bees seem fine in my backyard. I rarely use pesticides, and I have many flowers that they can feed on through their active season. However, I wouldn’t know if some of the thousands of native species are declining.

  2. Diane G. says:

    Apparently a common problem:


    The birder in me wishes you’d noticed which species…but on the plus side, I’m learning so much about gardening here. 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words and the link. I hadn’t heard of birds eating blossoms before, but it makes sense if they are nutritious. The bird in question seemed to be dropping the cherry blossoms on the ground rather than eating them and very few blossoms were left on the tree. I wish I got a better look at the bird.

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