Monday, June 27, 2011

Candy Growing on Trees

As a gardener or naturalist, you may have noticed that certain plants act as a wildlife magnet, thanks to the food they supply, or perhaps the shelter they provide. I have four such magnets on my property.

1. The apple trees.
When I moved to Owl Hollow 15 years ago, I counted five apple trees. I'm down to just two producing trees now, as they were all quite old and somewhat diseased, but the two remaining trees produce little yellow apples that begin dropping in June. I've seen everything from a crow flying across the yard with a small apple speared in its beak to a hungry coyote pup going after these apples.

2. The mulberry tree.
I planted just one mulberry tree probably six years ago, but it's a volunteer tree, very close to one of those apple trees, that has really taken off. Just three years old now, it's already 20 feet high. Its berries are starting to ripen and the birds are going nuts. Cardinals, catbirds, robins and a Baltimore oriole, plus a little red squirrel, are what I've seen in its branches so far. I have a great vantage point for viewing all the ruckus as the tree is just outside my office window.

3. Brambles.
Whether it's blackberries, raspberries or wineberries doesn't really matter, but if you have thorny brambles that produce berries, it's a bird bonanza. The berries shown above are wineberries, another Asian interloper, I'm afraid, but I'm guessing they provide just as many antioxidants as native berries, so yes, I will enjoy them all winter long.

4. Viburnums.
I have a large double file viburnum in the front yard. Its berries are reportedly blue/black, but I have yet to see a single one (!) because the birds pick them off before they're even ripe! Not sure what it is about these fruits that make them so delectable, but the birds love 'em. The shrub in bloom, I might add, is magnificent.

Do you have any wildlife magnets in your yard?

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