Robin Drops Berry

portrait of Lang Elliott among maple leavesHi all! I was out this morning testing my video gear and I came across a robin feeding on the over-wintered berries of a Bittersweet vine, growing in an apple tree. I thought that I’d snatched a nice clip showing him swallowing a berry, but when I viewed it later in my studio, I was surprised to discover that he actually dropped the berry … “Phooey!,” he seems to exclaim, before flying to a new perch.

Ha! A little bit of humor on a frosty spring morning with snow still on the ground!

NOTE: I have been informed that the berry-producing vine is Oriental Bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus. This species is native to central Asia and is an aggressive invasive in North America that is displacing our native Bittersweet, Celastrus scandens. Birds are attracted to the berries, however, and some landscapers actually recommend the plant for this reason.

Here’s what the National Park Service has to say: “Do not buy, plant, transplant Oriental bittersweet or dispose of live or dead seed-containing material. Manual, mechanical and chemical methods can be employed to control it. Vines can be pulled out by the roots, cut repeatedly or treated with systemic herbicides. No biological controls are currently available for this plant.”


With this little video clip, I hereby “officially” re-boot our wonderful blog. Given that our “NatureWatch” titles will now be our primary means of publishing formalized content, our “Blog” can be more immediate and informal, featuring brief videos, sound recordings, photographs, and other media that will remind us of the unfolding of the seasons and the plethora of life that surrounds us.

But now I need to boot-up our team of bloggers, so that you will be able to enjoy a steady flow of diverse content from a variety of authors … not just me, myself, and I!

I encourage you to say hi by leaving a comment below. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter, if you haven’t done so already. And please do spread the word about our wonderful new website … we want to share our content with gazillions of people and eventually turn the whole world into a big happy family of nature lovers!

Video Metadata
Robin Drops Berry
Robin Drops Berry

A brief video vignette featuring a robin feeding on the over-wintered berries of Bittersweet, but dropping one before he has a chance to swallow it.


  1. So happy to see you are back online! I have enjoyed your new blogs, esp the peepers which are finally going great guns here in Eastern part of VA now that the snow has departed. I enjoyed the bird and sounds because that makes it much easier for me to put sounds I hear with bodies I may or may not see. I was esp. happy to see the mourning dove as I have often heard them but have never seen one. The sound from the birds is beautiful and clear; the film very crisp with nice depth of field, too! Thank you for sharing and look forward to more!

  2. I’m so glad you are “back on the air.” I’ve missed the blog posts and sounds! I’m in the mountains of Southwest Virginia and we are just now hearing spring peepers. Finally, some nature noise to raise my spirits!

  3. I so have enjoyed your email postings. I’m going to get on your blog and try and join for I love anything written about nature that will enhance my knowledge of what is native to our country and what is not. Thanks for enlightening me on the “bittersweet’s” for I for sure will not plant the invasive fellow.
    I look forward to more videos of what you find n your surroundings. Love all your information on birds and wild life you encounter.
    Thanks for a great thing you are doing.


  4. As I noted in an Email to you this PM, the vine is Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). This is a very invasive plant which will put any tree to stress, up to death. Have the owner check with his State Forestry people for proper cure. We have a couple hundred acres of this beast on Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pa. and are fighting a loosing battle trying to control it.

    • Bob: Thanks for the information. In light of this, I’ve added a section to the blog post identifying the plant and summarizing the “invasive” issue. Down the road, I hope to do a Blog post or else a NatureWatch profile dedicated specifically to the bittersweets.

  5. Lang,
    I’m glad you mentioned the robin dropping the berry. I looked at the video again and again and still couldn’t see him drop it. Since I couldn’t use slow motion, I kept hitting pause and play and finally did see it!

    Art Schiavo
    Hershey pa

  6. Congratulations on your new website! I look forward to more ‘dropped berries’ and other events.

  7. Did you also use a tripod? The image it’s extremely stable. Also, the sound is great. Is that the buit-in mic of the Canon EOS?

    • yes, a rather heavy duty tripod is necessary, plus there was no wind … wind can play havoc with stabilization. The lens includes an internal stabilization option, which helps dampen wind jitter, but I don’t like to use it because you get some “wandering” (in other words, I only use it when absolutely necessary for reduce jitter due to light wind).

  8. Hi Elliott,
    What video gear did you exactly use? It looks perfectly on my screen.
    Cheers, Claudius

    • I used a Canon EOS 70D with a 500mm f/4 lens, using the 3X digital zoom setting of the camera (which “windows” the sensor at 1920 X 1080 pixels). So the effective focal length is 500mm multiplied by 1.6X (for the small camera sensor) multiplied by 3X (for the windowing) = 2400mm total.

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