What big hips you have, Rose!

When I garden, I pay attention to deadheading spent blooms.  I cut off the old blooms so energy goes into producing more flowers rather than seeds.  In the past when I had a rose garden, I would dutifully cut off spent rose blossoms.  I don’t know how much energy was created to make my rose bushes flower more, but they looked well manicured.  I certainly didn’t want any rose hips messing up my display.

Recently I read about rose hips being food for wild birds.  That is when the light dawned!  OMG!  I never thought of rose hips as being bird food!  Maybe because I never had any rose hips!  No spent blooms > no hips > no bird food > no birds!

Then one day as I drove home from the commuter train station, I saw a lovely home with rose bushes on either side of the tall iron gate closed across the driveway.  Those bushes were filled with a season’s worth of rose hips and a few late season flowers.  The bushes were so lovely filled with the red rose hips!  I was sure the home’s owner purposely let the spent blooms go to seed.  I had no idea they could be so beautiful and determined to return with my camera to snap a few pictures.

So, here they are …. rose hip photos captured near the train tracks at the end of a rainy work-day.

Tell me what you see first.  Rose hips that happen to be bird food?  Or, bird food that happens to be rose hips?  I think you would choose whether to deadhead rose bushes or not depending on your point of view.

rose bush, rose hips, roses, birds, birding, bird watching

rose, rose hips, rose bush, birds, bird watching, birding

rose, rose bush, rose hips, birds, birdwatching,birding


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7 Responses to What big hips you have, Rose!

  1. Pingback: Can you help? | How To Spy On Birds

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have a question for all and sundry! I want to plant a rugosa rose – it has abundant hips but they are quite large. I have heard from some that birds do not or cannot eat large hips – that I should select a variety with smaller hips. Does anyone have experience with rugosa roses, hips and success with birds?? Would love an answer before I order and plant this new rose. Thanks!!

  3. Christine Patterson says:

    Hi Cheryl:

    I loved your article and especially the lovely photograph of the rose hips and roses in the rain. I, too, often take nature photos — there just isn’t anything more beautiful or truly awe-inspiring as nature ! Thanks for sharing this wonderful observation.

    I still hear chickadees in our backyard, but I don’t see much bird activity any more. I do, however, still keep my neighbor’s birdbath full of water and occasionally see a bird enjoying the water.

    Chris Patterson

  4. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    Well, this is too cool, Annie. What species are attracted to rose hips? Not that we have any rose bushes, but that’s a temporary thing (I hope!).

    • Hi, Sid.

      Rose hips are favored by fruit-eating birds and some game birds — Greater Prairie Chicken, Ring-Necked Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Northern Mockingbird, Fox Sparrow, Waxwings, and some finches. I love the Cedar Waxwings in my area. They come around to eat the fruits on my crab apple tree which is, sadly, around a side of the house where there is not much chance for me to watch birds. (Although one of the birds got caught in my garage once, and I had a heck of a time helping it find it’s way out.) If you decide you like the idea of rose hips in your habitat, make sure you ask your local grower about what rose species will produced them in abundance. I’m not a rose expert, but understand there is variation on which plants would be the best “fruit” producers.

      Thanks for dropping in.

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