Did You Know: All About the Serviceberry
by Julie Grialou, Conservation Biologist
I was mountain biking with a friend this morning, and he was noting the serviceberry branches that had been pulled down by bears.
Serviceberry is a desired food item by a variety of wildlife, as well as by humans. There are several species of serviceberry, and almost every state in the US has at least one native serviceberry species. Birds and bears in particular consume a lot of these berries. How many?
Well, your typical songbird needs about 80 calories per day. One cup of serviceberries provides about 95 calories, so a songbird that is eating only serviceberries would need a little less than one cup per day. For bears, their calorie needs vary greatly throughout the year. In early spring, they consume only 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day but by the fall, when they are storing fat for winter, they consume around 20,000 calories per day. So, in the fall, for a bear eating only serviceberry, the animal would need to consume about 210 cups (or 13 gallons) per day. That’s a lot of berry picking.
We humans have ready access to a lot of food and have options much beyond serviceberries, but maybe you’re inspired to go harvest some serviceberry and enjoy these tasty morsels – perhaps on their own or as a pie or jelly. Enjoy!