A pioneer tree or bush, depending on your thoughts, and its growing conditions, Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, is often one of the first to move into a field that has been cleared.
Eastern Red Cedars are actually Junipers. They play an important role in the lives of a long list of insects, birds and mammals. From the Juniper Hairstreak, to the Northern Bobwhite, to the White-tailed Deer, these trees provide both food and shelter.
The most obvious benefit I see on my hikes, is the berry, or the seed cone, of the Eastern Red Cedar. A berry the color of a blueberry, with a similar white bloom, it is a favorite in my bird world. Some of these pictures were taken right after a snow storm in January. The Cedar trees were alive with birds looking for dinner.
The berries bring a plethora of birds to the Cedar trees here on the mountain, including the Robin. Thought by many to be a sign of spring, the Robin is often here during the winter, checking out what berries are still around. They move in response to food supply and I guess my mountain usually has a good provision for them.
Not only do animals in the wild use the Juniper Berry, but the berry is also used by humans, for culinary purposes and to flavor gin and beer. I think I’ll leave the berries that I see for the birds!