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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sumac Berry Feast

Cleared grass fields are beautiful with their great expanse of green in early summer then drying to brown hay as the grass matures through the summer.  The grass seeds are nice for birds, mice and other small animals and for the larger animals that eat them but the border areas where the hay fields becomes woods is interesting too. Here the grass is joined with brush, bush and small trees, becoming food and shelter to numerous animals and birds.  Border areas are especially needed in winter when food is scarce elsewhere. These border areas are where birds will likely find wild rose bushes, sumac, grape vines and other food sources during the winter.

I noticed a particular sumac tree that became local fast-food restaraunt for several birds during a time when our ground was covered with snow. My eyes followed a pileated woodpecker as it flew overhead then landed in the sumac.  Branches bounced under the bird's weight. Ready to investigate, I stepped off the road to walk across the snow covered field.  Drawing closer, I could see blue jays and other birds flying to and from the tree. 

Another pileated woodpecker alighted on a nearby tree before making its way to the sumac

Each time I moved forward the woodpeckers would leave the sumac, quickly returning once I stood still. those berries were too hard to resist.  Hanging on looked precarious as this one below fell around the branch, its tail feathers splaying out for balance.

The flickers wanted their share of the sumac berries.

At one point there were three flickers and two pileated woodpeckers on that one sumac.  They would not all hold still at once.  My camera and I may have made them nervous.

While watching, a decision was made.  I needed to plant save a few seeds from this plant for my own garden.  Its berries were a nice addition to the winter landscape, redder than many types of sumac,

This tree will soon be wearing a ribbon to protect it from next spring's chainsaw and bumps from the tracter.

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