Spring Brings Magic
The Juneberry is a native fruit bearing shrub
of the Northern Great Plains with its range extending northward
through the Canadian prairie provinces into the Southern Yukon and
Northwest Territories. This extremely adaptable plant will
grow under a wide range of climatic conditions.
bush or small tree grows to a height of 18 feet at ideal sites and
bears masses of white flowers in early spring. the fruit is
borne in clusters of six to 12 and mature to a purple, red or
almost black color. Eaten fresh the fruits are tasty and may
also be used for wine, home canning, fresh, frozen, in pies, jams
and fruit rolls.
Spring brings magic to the Great
Plains. Each spring something magical happens in the heart
of northwest North Dakota. Between late March and June,
Bluebirds and Juneberrys return to the Northern Great Plains.
In some peoples minds Juneberrys and Bluebirds have a lot in
common. Some suggest that the Juneberry is mind altering.
It can cause hallucinations of muffins, pies, jams and cakes.
Juneberry ice cream can be mind altering in that once tasted can
transfer decision making from the brain to the taste buds.
Bluebird courtship activities begin
in April and May. The Mountain Bluebirds arrive a little
earlier than the Eastern Bluebird and prefer a pasture/fence post
environment as opposed to their cousins who's nesting habits may
include a closer proximity to humans and buildings. Jim and
Analene Torgerson who live in the country near Tioga, North Dakota
are a classic example of Juneberry and Bluebird addicts. For
30 years, the Torgersons have hiked along gullies, across streams,
around hill crests, thru cow pastures, over fences, and just about
anywhere a shrub grows in pursuit of elusive Juneberrys and Blue
There are people who say the large
pea-sized Juneberry growing on North Dakota's rolling prairies
should be North Dakota's State Fruit. One thing is
certain, the wild dark blue, sweet, juicy and succulent
Juneberry is special.
Explorers and fur trappers followed the Indians in harvesting
and eating wild Juneberries (Serviceberries) long before North
Dakota was a state. Meriwether Lewis wrote of his party
staving off starvation with Serviceberry pancakes.
Sounds like one of the better ways to survive any crises.
Juneberries favor the north
slopes of hillsides. The tall shrub or small tree, often
knee high to chest high, have dark blue berries, smooth
skinned, with a surface gray waxy bloom. The leaves are
oblong and serrated. You can start finding ripe berries
in early July. pick them fast as the July heat dries
them up fairly quickly and the birds have a sharp eye out for
Hikers and trekkers can walk from beaches to bluffs to open
ranch country along the miles of Bluebird trails which hug the
Missouri River. The areas' diverse geography offers a
variety of habitats for bird observations and study. A
hike thru the area will snare views of deer, badgers, eagles,
coyotes and red foxes.
Bluebirds are family oriented.
The courting male dotes on the female, waving his wings,
enticing her to select a nest site and offering her treats.
He courageously guards the box during nest construction.
He delivers food to the incubating female and participates
equally in feeding nestlings and fledglings.
A few of the
other birds in the area
- Mountain & Eastern Bluebirds
- Baird's Sparrow
- Least Tern
- Piping Plover
- Lazuli Bunting
- Sprague's Pipit
- Rock Wren
- Ferruginous Hawk
- Common Flicker
- Long billed Curlew