The elder of the species Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in my garden right outside my work room window is a special attraction. Not only for birds but also for insects and small mammals such as mice. In the elder I’ve seen birds the size of a Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) to the smallest passerine species such as the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus). In total, there are 25 species, including Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius), Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris), Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), Wood Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), 4 types of Sylvia – species, Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis), European Serin (Serinus serinus), European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) and both species of sparrows.
Two interesting reason make the elder a magnet for birds. For one, the elder show the rich-black fruits starting in June and bear the fruit for 2 months. On the other hand, the birds after having made their way through moulting do roam around again or even take the first few meters on the way to the winter quarters. The Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) also appreciates the crowds of birds in the elderberry and I just saw him today flying past at a rapid low-level flight. More than 60 different bird species are known to science to use the rowan for nesting or its fruits as food. Therefore this bush was formerly used for catching birds.
Anyway the fruiting black elderberry is a great opportunity to take on many different birds on ideal photo distance. What you do need is patience and a good eye. The birds are generally very shy and apart from a few that occur in groups such as European Serin or European Goldfinch they are quite silent.
As e.g. the hawthorn the elderberry, with its creamy white blossoms is also a good bee pasture and therefore a good food supply for birds which hunt for insects. The elderberry blossoms only in June, but it bears fruit up into September. Elder is 3-7 m high and 3-5 m wide
Now I can add European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) to the birdlist of my elderberry…. Cheers!