Monday, December 3, 2007

Hungry birds

The wild food crop is the worst I have ever seen in 11 years! The Easter freeze killed the buds and flowers of so many plants that there is a substantial reduction in fruit for migrant and wintering birds. Linda Williams took these shots of Cedar Waxwings feeding in the Powell Gardens parking lot on Nov. 30. Our only locally native evergreen tree, the redcedar (and cedar waxwing namesake) was one plant that still produced “fruit.”
To be botanically correct, we are actually talking about cones that have fused together in berry-like form so birds and wildlife will eat them and pass the seeds along. (Only flowering plants have fruit, all conifers like the redcedar produce cones.) The redcedars will be especially important winter food this year. Linda also captured the waxwings feeding on native Smooth Sumac which we planted around the parking lot. Because sumac blooms in midsummer on new wood its flowering and fruiting was normal this year. Sumac fruit are almost always emergency food for wildlife and little used until late winter or early spring – a point well taken for this year.
--posted by Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture

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