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Click to go to Audubon Society of Omaha Home Page Audubon Society of OmahaEastern Bluebird

Welcome to The Bluebird Box since 1995
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists Classified

Planting for Bluebirds (Part 1)


Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 20:26:39 EST
From: Estew963"at"aol.com
Subject: recommended foilage planting for bluebirds

what would be a good variation to plant for the visitors ?? thanks ed


Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 21:14:34 -0600 (CST)
From: waterrapids"at"webtv.net (PROFESSOR BLUE FOOTED BOOBY)
Subject: Re: recommended foliage planting for bluebirds

Estew- Depending on what your 20 is (location), North or South of the Mason Dixon, East or West of the Rockies or the Mighty Mississippi, in New England, or the Banana Belt of the Northwest, this will be a deciding factor on planting for wildlife and avian creatures.

Most States have Agriculture Extension, or Natural Resource Departments that have publications that address planting for birds and wildlife in your area / Some States have "Wildlife Bundles" that consist of seedlings for wildlife at reduced rates / Often State Universities also are a good resource for info on plantings that are suggested for conditions of your locality.

Temperature extremes, rainfall, winter hardiness, etc. come into play.

"ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST AND FOUND THE BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS"

"HAPPY BIRDING"
Professor B.F. Booby

http://www.homestead.com/BLUEBIRDSOVERAMERICA/BLUEBIRDS.html


Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2001 23:23:01 -0500
From: ds"at"comteck.com
Subject: Re: New BB Nest

I have to report that my BB pair started on building their second nest yesterday! She is working a bit faster than the first nest. Think she is got the swing of it now. hee I seen 2 of the 3 baby BB fledglings today they were perched on our old tv antenna w/ their Dad. It is the first time I have seen them out of the trees. I do believe all 3 are alive n well. They haven't come to the mealy feeder the the parents eat at. Which isn't the typical BB feeder they don't like the enclosed feeder I keep trying to teach them to use it, but it never works out. I want to get them used to it before the season is out. I want to keep them around in the winter.

Winter...that brings me to a question I wanted to ask...What would be good plantings for food for the BB's in the winter for zone 5? I live in NorthCentral Indiana on the Eastern side. I want to try n keep the BB's in my yard, but don't want things that other birds are going to drive the passive BB off. I bet that is going to be a difficult thing to really do.

Joleen in Indiana


Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 06:32:18 -0500
From: "dottie price" yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net
Subject: BLUEBIRD FOOD

Joleen writes:

"What would be good plantings for food for the BB's in the winter for zone 5? I live in NorthCentral Indiana on the Eastern side."

Hi Joleen, holly bushes are the greatest. I had Bluebirds to stay last winter and they loved the holly berries. I'm planting more this year. I've also heard they like the Rose of Sharon. Dottie, Brown County, Indiana


Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001 11:25:39 -0500
From: "Mary Beth Roen" mbroen"at"hotmail.com
Subject: Re: New BB Nest

Joleen and all,

At the Minnesota Bluebird Recovery Program conference this year and last year, chokeberry bushes were sold to be planted for Bluebirds. Mine haven't produced any berries yet, but we were told that the birds love them. This year they also sold cranberry bushes, so I planted some of them too.

Mary Roen, River Falls, WI


Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001 00:15:03 EDT
From: Dinlows"at"aol.com
Subject: Re: New BB Nest

Hi Joleen and all,
You asked about what plantings for your blues... we planted Service berry bushes last year and it's really paid off! There have been Cedar Waxwings, (we don't see them here much except in the fall) and EABL love the berries. Sure is cute to see the juveniles hopping up to grab a berry.

Linda - Ind.

Use what talents you possess,
The woods would be very silent
if no birds sang there except those
that sang best.
William Carleton


From: "From Laura" from_laura"at"hotmail.com
Subject: preparing a habitat for bluebirds
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 11:27:54 -0500

Hello,

I am fixing up an area behind my mother's house to hopefully attract bluebirds. It was completely overgrown with high weeds and was very "snakey" last summer. I would like to plant some type of ground cover that will perhaps mimic a prairie cover where the bluebirds will be able to hunt.

I was advised not to go with fescue grass as it encourages Japanese Beetles (my mom has roses and I have finally convinced her not to nuke her yard). Also, I would prefer not to go with something that we would need to mow. We live in central North Carolina. Incidentally, whenever I am out clearing and raking a flock of bluebirds come and flutter all around the house that I put up. They seem to notice that the area is slowly becoming a good habitat for them.

Thanks for any suggestions.


From: "Fawzi P. Emad femad <at> fpemad <dot> com
Subject: Re: preparing a habitat for bluebirds
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 13:34:45 -0500

To Laura and all. I am sorry I don't know much about ground cover, but I want to say that if you have snakes in the area, you really need to make sure the snakes will not be able to climb up to the nest and eat the eggs or babies. I think it is best to use metal posts (3/4" EMT conduit) in combination with a stove pipe predator guard (8" dia. by 24" long.) If you need more details about this, please let me know...

Fawzi in MD femad"at"comcast.net


From: Birderinkansas"at"aol.com
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 18:11:59 EST
Subject: preparing a habitat for bluebirds

I can't really tell you what grass will mimic a prairie region in NC (in general, there's brome, bluestem, dropseed, Indian grass, switch grass...). Your best bet would be to contact your extension agent. They will know exactly what you need to do, & *may* even recommend things for you. As far as Japanese beetles, they are attracted more to a lush, well fertilized yard than just tall fescue. They do have a preference for cool season grasses like fescues, but those are one of only two types of lawn grass (warm & cool season), so you're better off easing up on the fertilizer & keeping the grass strong & healthy than trying to plant around the beetles. Hope this helps!

James Y.
Washington, KS
Birds in spring, & other bird lover's resources! ( http://www.geocities.com/rnrjunk/Home.html)


From: Keith & Sandy Kridle, txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 8:57 AM
Subject: Re:Food for wildlife

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

It is good to use native plants in your yard but in some areas like southern California they had NO native fruit or berry producing bushes, vines, shrubs or trees that provided the birds with a reliable moisture source or food during the summer. Of the major crops grown in the US from 1800 > 1920 only tobacco and Indian corn were native.

In 1870 the US government was distributing seeds, seedlings, or cuttings of more than 140 plants, bushes and trees from all over the world that the average farmer could grow and produce either cooking oil or lamp oil for home use as they already knew the whales, seals, hogs and fur industry could not keep producing enough fat and oil for expanding human populations!

In this one year alone the US sent Russia over 4,000 different plants in exchange for over 1,600 of their native plants. We shipped Russia more than 190 different grasses in 1870 from the Great Plains used by foraging American Bison who ironically were to be exterminated in the wild in just 7 more years!

By 1870 there was a thriving industry in South Carolina producing Tea leaves from trees imported from China, Japan and six other countries! They list more than 100 other plants you could get from the US plant research stations to grow for producing tea or beverages.

Many of the research stations were at colleges and those in Southern California were busy importing every known plant and tree from Australia, the deserts of Africa, Asia and Turkey!

They devote more than twenty pages on the best varieties of opium poppies imported from different countries and the best states to grow them and how to harvest the raw opium! They even list an untried plant from South America called coca that produces a very stimulating substance they called cocaine!

By 1870 private nursery's in just two states, Indiana and Illinois were annually shipping more than 150 million trees, many of them were imported or tested and then recommended by our government. In contrast it was not until 1930 that the US governments state sponsored/funded tree farms produced 150 million trees annually!

The US government along with all the other governments of the world were working at a dizzying pace to exchange plants, insects, birds and animals and release them all around the world. MANY of the "native" plants and insects that we see are REALLY not native at all! We have just forgotten they were brought into this country!

One of the top plant research stations in the US at this time was Cornell University! They were busy importing grapes and fruit trees and plants from areas around the world with similar climates to their location. Every state research station was working at importing plants from overseas in areas very similar to their growing conditions.

The government and some states paid a bounty annually to individuals or companies who imported and grew certain plants that were clearly "superior" to normal species, clones or hybrids already being grown. These bounties were usually in excess of $1,000. At this time you could hire "skilled" adult labor for less than $1 a day and "skilled" child laborers were to be had for less than 25 cents for a 12>16 hour day. There was a huge incentive to those traveling abroad to bring back seeds, cuttings and other materials.

The population of the USA in 1870 was just over 38 million people with just over 320,000 immigrants coming into the country in 1869. 40% of these 38 million had at least one parent who had been born in a foreign country. (Remember at this time getting married at 15 years old was not unusual!) It is interesting to note that once again in 1869 less than 23,000 immigrants settled either south or west of the Potomac river! The southern and western states were unable to entice new immigrants to cheap land away from those high paying factory jobs in the New England states. KK


From: judymellin, judymellin"at"netzero.net
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 9:07 PM
Subject: Native plants

"Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas: It is good to use native plants in your yard but in some areas like southern California they had NO native fruit or berry producing bushes, vines, shrubsor trees that provided the birds with a reliable moisture source or food during the summer."

This statement confuses me because I am not sure of any area of the country that has native plants that produce fruit or berries in the summer. In 1992, I attended a presentation by Dr. Chris Whelan, then Behavioral Ecologist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.(he is now with the Medewin National Tallgrass Prairie Restoration at the site of the former Joliet Arsenal) titled Bird and Plant Interaction. Here are some of his comments:

"Birds and plants exhibit diffuse convolution, that is, plants respond evolutionarily to various bird species. Fruits mature in fall to coincide with bird migration. Fruits want to be eaten so that seeds can be disbursed away from the mother plant to prevent competition."

I cannot imagine that this is a Midwest phenomenon so I can only conclude that native plants everywhere do not set mature fruit of berries until fall that is then available to migrating birds.

We do have a native strawberry that matures early and our native prairie develops a hip that doesn't really ripen until later in the season but both of these precede migration. I believe there is also a strawberry native to So. Cal. and a native rose so these might be exception there, too.

Judy Mellin, NE IL



From: MJShearer, eshearer"at"comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 8:00 PM
Subject: Re: Native plants

I can't imagine where you got the idea that fruits only mature in fall to coincide with migration.  I don't know about northern plants, but I know southern native plants begin producing fruits and berries in the Spring and continue through the fall.  Each has it's season.  Plants tend to bloom and produce fruit earlier in the South where the growing season is longer.  Think: dewberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, to name but a few. 

MJ Mary Jane Shearer; Tucker, GA  


From: Gary Springer, springer"at"alltel.net
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 6:11 AM
Subject: Re:Food for wildlife

Keith's post describes how exotic plants, not to mention their host bacteria, viruses, insects and other hitch-hiking exotic organisms, had been spread in large quantities to North America since the 1800's. This spread of species to North America at human hands actually began well before the 1800's. The colonists were importing millions of tons of products, plants and materials not only from Europe but also from places as far off as China where they shipped ginseng harvested in the American forests in payment for millions of tons of all sorts of finished goods, raw materials, seeds and living plants, all of which made their way onto the colonists farms freshly carved into primeval forests. And, it is also finally becoming recognized that the oceans are not impenetrable borders that prevent the spread of species from continent to continent without mans' assistance. The belief that man is the only species capable of traversing the oceans seems to be rooted in egocentricity. This by C. B. Heiser, 1990: "The bottle gourd cannot be considered an indigenous plant of North America; its entry could have been as a weed, with or without human aid. The possibility even exists that it came to Florida by ocean currents from South America "

Because plants and animals were traversing the oceans before man constructed his first boat, using man's written history as a guide to classify species as to exotic or indigenous can not yield accurate classifications. To be meaningful, when using exotic to describe a species it is necessary to also state a time period. Many of the plants in North America which we call indigenous simply because they were here when the colonists arrived actually originated on other continents and had made the trip to this continent eons before man. Yes, man did expedite the spread of species from continent to continent, but, the introduction of all species to all parts of the globe was inevitable with or without man. Lets not forget that we ourselves are by far the most invasive and destructive exotic species on the continent. If exotic means bad or useless, what does that say about you. As intelligent exotic creatures I believe we should use more objective criteria to classify a plant or animal species as beneficial or harmful than a guess about its place of origin, its time of arrival to North America, or its mode of transportation.

Gary Springer


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler, txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 8:55 AM
Re:Native Plants

Mary Jane mentioned some good summer fruits. The new hybrid blackberries and boysenberries will produce ALL summer now. In the north and east there were raspberries, blueberries and cherry trees were one of the must numerous trees east of the Mississippi. Many of the holly's hold their berries on the plants until early summer. You also have to remember that birds and animals don't wait until many fruits are ripe and nuts and acorns are eaten when half matured.

Trees and plants ripen seeds and fruits at different times at different elevations even in the same county. Elm tree seeds ripen very early in April in our area and wild plum thickets are filled with birds and animals in early summer to eat this wormy fruit. Figs produce for three or four months depending on the variety. Don't forget one of the very best fruit trees for birds is the Mulberry. Many of these are not really native to all parts of eastern states but on large properties you should include many different species of fruit producing trees and vines that people like for if the birds miss some of the fruit you might even get a bite or two every couple of years:-))) Don't forget to plant some of the tiny cherry tomato's for the birds especially in the dryer parts of the country!

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant Texas


From: MJShearer, eshearer"at"comcast.net
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 9:28 AM
Subject: Re:Food for wildlife

Just to clarify things, native plants are species that were growing on this continent before the colonists arrived. These plants evolved over time and are uniquely adapted to the climate and conditions of the area where they naturally occur, which usually makes them hardier plants that are more resistant to drought, disease, insects -- and even fires. Many alien plants are beneficial food sources and provide other benefits to the environment; but when ornamentals hybridize and escape to the wild, they can crowd out common native plants, depriving threatened species of their habitat. Invasive aquatics can clog waterways, disrupt groundwater flow, and degrade water quality. Non-invasive alien plants may require more water and pesticides to survive in regions where they did not originate, and their natural defenses may not protect them from disease in a new environment.

Invasive plants don't have to come from another country. Native plants from one part of a country can be invasive when introduced to another part of the same country. Any time we tinker with nature, we should think long and hard about what *could* happen, whether it's flora or fauna we're relocating. We only have to think of kudzu and English ivy shrouded trees and power lines -- and of course, HOSPS and starlings. The fact that birds like the fruit of a plant may simply serve as means of widespread distribution of the seed. If a plant is disease, drought, cold and pest resistant; if it self propagates and grows fast -- beware! It could become invasive. We can't control plants that arrive on wind or ocean currents, but we can be more ecologically responsible when we choose our landscaping plants. Think before you plant. Do you really want *thousands* of that thing you're so carefully adding to your landscape?

MJ Mary Jane Shearer; Tucker, GA


From: Linda Violett, lviolett"at"earthlink.net
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2003 10:46 PM
Subject: Re: Native plants

Judy is correct; nature provided dry So. Calif. with its own set of fruits (including grapes) and flowers (roses). Our varieties are drought resistant and tend to be smaller than the imported versions. Because residents of So. Calif. can literally grow just about anything from anywhere and at anytime, we do exactly that. Thus, our natives are being cast off as second-hand "weeds." When water rationing kicks in big-time, I'm hoping enough local specimens have been collected and preserved by foresighted individuals. I'm trying to do my part; yesterday I was digging up (with permission) native plants from areas scheduled to be bulldozed. Today I was purchasing rare native plants (which are becoming rarer).

Plants are highly specialized to serve specific areas; milkweeds necessary for butterflies in my area flyway can be poisonous to butterflies in other states .... , go to Las Palitas Nursery web page: and then look under "M" and scroll to "Milkweeds" and read the warning about not using these plants outside California.

Linda Violett - Yorba Linda, Calif.


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler, txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2003 8:54 AM
Subject: Re:Native Plants/butterflies

There are 723 species of butterflies documented in North America. 294 of these can be found in just three counties of Texas in the far southern end of the Rio Grande Valley. There are more species of butterflies in this tiny area of South Texas than in entire states such as Florida and nearly as many as are found in the entire state of California. Moths are the overlooked plain clothed cousins of butterflies and they provide food for most of the cavity nesters we will attract to our nestboxes. The many of the caterpillars we see the bluebirds, titmice and chickadees carrying to their young are the larva of moths or butterflies. The key to attracting either native or imported butterflies or moths to your yard and thus creating more food for your birds is planned bio-diversity in your yard or neighborhood. Plant a plum tree and you attract tent caterpillars, fall web worms, leaf miner and leaf rollers (all moths) and maggots that infest the fruit along with many, many other leaf munching or bark boring, root eating, nectar drinking insect species. Plant ANY species or hybrid grape and you provide food to attract another whole class of birds, animals, insects, fungus and molds and mildews! Any species or variety of corn attracts a whole host of new insect types from aphids to cut worms, silk and corn eating worms (baby moths) as this is a species of grass. Bamboo is grass also.

To really attract a whole host of insects, birds, animals, rust, fungus, nematodes and diseases, go and buy some of all of the seeds for a normal garden. Mix them all together for a summer and fall planting mix and then plant them in a tilled area in one of your flower beds or along the edge of your garden and don't use ANY chemical! You will find that these grains and vegetables that were brought to this country from every part of the world each have HUNDREDS of species of birds, insects, animals, that we can see with the naked eye that will feast on them. Just TRY to grow a single head of lettuce or cabbage hidden in your yard and NOT have moths or butterflies find it and lay eggs on it! By the way lettuce is an imported "milkweed"! I have had a lot of people write to me off list this week now wondering if they should plant ANYTHING since they don't know if it is native or non-native, invasive or non-invasive! I am sitting watching a flock of several hundred cedar waxwings stripping the six "Killer trees" in my front yard of fruit which were formally known as "Bradford Pears". Each one of us needs to be planting enough long lived trees to absorb all the carbon dioxide our cars and heating systems are producing. We need to be planting ANYTHING that produces food for other species in our area. Measure the area your house, driveway and other structures cover up at home and at work and plant this much area in food plots for insects (in other words plant a complete garden as large as your house and driveway:-))). If you can buy it from a catalog or nursery or garden center then it is already widespread in this country and legal to plant. Every large tree in America is going to blow down or be cut down someday! If you are sleeping under it or parking your car under it, when it falls something will get hurt! ...

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas


From: Gary Springer, springer"at"alltel.net
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2003 10:38 AM
Subject: In closing with Exotic plants

An off list response has caused me to attempt to clarify my writing. The purpose of my two previous posts was to show the fallacy of the commonly held belief that without exception, exotic means unnatural, which in turn means invasive, which obviously means "bad:. There are several examples of exotic plants which, at present, the preponderance of evidence suggests most other indigenous species and man would be better off had they not been introduced. But:

1) Their introduction may have occurred by now without the aid of man with the same result.

2) The idea of a pure, static, and indigenous landscape never existed.

3) There are more constructive ways to invest in conservation than fighting unwinable wars with these plants.

4) To suggest that all exotic plants have negative consequences is like saying all plants are poisonous because eating some plants will cause death.

5) Many exotic species actually help man make less of a negative impact on the environment. Exotic plants that have large, nutritious fruits and seeds enable us to feed ourselves and wildlife while cultivating less of the land mass. Exotic trees that grow more rapidly enable us to permit more natural forests to remain forever wild. "Plant native plants" is an easy formula to use to determine which plants to grow in a landscape. The results you achieve if you use this formula may be politically correct among some shortsighted conservationists, but they may not be the best alternative for many different objectives including feeding and providing cover for wildlife. In closing, I agree that it would have been nice had we made less of an impact on the natural order of life on North America. But, what was and what is are two different things. I too feel good about seeing indigenous plants occupying the landscape. I can however appreciate the benefit to wildlife of even some very aggressive plants. Even kudzu, one of the most hated exotic plants in the south, is not only great food for deer, elk and buffalo and excellent cover for many other animals, but it is good for human consumption as well. And, it requires no fertilizer, erosion causing tilling to grow or pesticides to protect. The only reason kudzu and poke aren't both sold in the grocery stores is probably because if people were aware they were good food, vegetable sales and profits at southern grocery sales may plunge. When selecting plants for my property I am far more concerned about the origin of the specimen than the origin of the species. I would feel more comfortable about planting an exotic chinaberry tree or kudzu vine from a neighbors farm than an indigenous flowering dogwood which may host insect eggs or other pathogens because it came from a nursery with a plethora of live plants coming and going from all parts of the globe.

Gary Springer


From: judymellin, judymellin"at"netzero.net
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2003 9:22 PM
Subject: Information on invasives

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas wrote: "If you can buy it from a catalog or nursery or garden center then it is already widespread in this country and legal to plant."

Once again, this statement is not true.  Just one example is Japanese honeysuckle.  It is sold through various nurseries that are listed readily on the Internet. Yet, it is banned in IL. because of its invasive nature.  This is information from the IL. Nature Preserves Commission website. "Current Status
Japanese honeysuckle is categorized as an exotic weed under the Illinois Exotic Weed Control Act of 1987. As such, its commercial sale in Illinois is prohibited." Judy Mellin NE IL.


From: Evelyn Cooper, emcooper"at"bayou.com
Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2003 7:45 PM
Subject: RE: Information on invasives

I visited near the Arkubutla Wildlife Refuge in Coldwater, MS during the holiday and while there, I cringed looking at the Kudzu choking out so many trees and bushes everywhere. Where will the birds nest that did use the trees? I like Linda's way of doing things. Good work, Linda!

Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler, txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 8:17 AM
S ubject: look for fruits and berries/lack of birds Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

As the bluebirds begin nesting in your area look around to see what natural fruits and berries are still available as a food source. In our area the best that I see still on the trees and bushes are:Yaupon Holly (large landscape bush), American Holly (large landscape tree) deciduous holly (medium fence row bush) Japanese Privet (good/prolific invasive fence row and woodland edge large shrub) Eastern red cedar still has berries under the trees, covering the ground. Birds (starlings) are still feeding on the berries of Chinese Tallow down at the end of our street. There are many other hollies and pyracantha that have berries still but few birds ever seem to eat them except when desperate. Anyway we had far more fruits and berries in East Texas this year than we did birds. The Bradford trees in our yard have formed a solid mass of dried/rotted fruit under them because of a lack of robins and cedar waxwings and even starlings this winter. ...


From: Tina Phillips [mailto:cbp6"at"cornell.edu]
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2004 9:40 AM
Subject: viburnum

Dear bird watcher,

Did your birds feast on the berries of your cranberrybush, arrowwood or other viburnum shrubs this past fall and winter? Will your birds have that opportunity again this year?

In regions of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, British Columbia and possibly elsewhere, an invasive species, the viburnum leaf beetle, is devouring the leaves of native and ornamental viburnums. This voracious feeder can quickly defoliate susceptible viburnums resulting in poor fruit set and eventual death of the plant.

For the first time last spring, citizen scientists like you joined forces with Cornell researchers to track the spread of this invasive pest. Consider joining the team this year. Visit our website to find out more details about this pest, viburnum shrubs and how you can participation in our Viburnum Leaf Beetle Citizen Science project. http://www.hort.cornell.edu/vlb/

We look forward to you registering your local observation whether you have the beetle or not.

Sincerely,
Lori Bushway

LJB7"at"cornell.edu
Viburnum Leaf Beetle Project Coordinator
Department of Horticulture
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Fax: (607) 255-9998

Tina Phillips
The Birdhouse Network
Cornell Lab of Ornithology


From: Joe Baker [mailto:rok90"at"adelphia.net]
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004 12:32 PM
Subject: Holly for the bluebirds.

In shopping for Holly bushes for my bluebirds, I found that Lowes carries thirteen (13) types of Holly.  The Bluebird Monitor's Guide (page 73) lists only three: American, Foster and Yaupon. Are there any other types that bluebirds enjoy, or for that matter, any types that I should NOT plant?  Thanks all. Joe Baker SW VA. 


From: Bet from CT
Sent: May 1, 2004
RE: HOlly for bluebirds

With help from people on this listserv and others, I've compiled a list of plants that bluebirds will supposedly eat, and noted those that are confirmed.  See http://www.sialis.org/plants.htm .  For hollies, I only had the three you mention.  If anyone has corrections/additions (including confirmations) I'd love the input. Bet from CT


From: Ann Bigger [mailto:abigger"at"charter.net]
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 9:12 AM
Subject: bird garden

Hi all,  Looking for some help !!   I have a book "the bird garden" that lists the best bird-attracting plants !!  I'm in zone 4-5 . I have found some of what I would like but there is others that I can't find ( Cowberry/Serviceberry(bartram)/Coralberry/Carpetbugleweed) Where does other gardeners get there trees and shubs ??? BTW we have always had a garden but it's been for people food (5 kids) not for the birds !! Ann Bigger -MI


From: XXX 
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 10:47 AM
To: abigger"at"charter.net; 'bluebird-L'
Subject: RE: bird garden

Try the Michigan Botanical Club, the native plant society for the state of Michigan . I'm guessing their members could help you locate good suppliers of bird-friendly plants native to your region. They're on the web at http://michbotclub.org/

I also did a Google search for “ Michigan native plant nursery”. The following sites look promising:

http://www.nativeplant.com/

http://www.nohlc.org/MNPPA.htm

http://www.qnet.com/~johnsonj/Natives.htm

http://www.greatlakesnursery.com/

and that's just a beginning.

Most states have native plant societies. For others looking for natives, a search for their state's native plant society would be a good place to start.


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: bird garden

Hi Ann, That's a neat book, isn't it?      For most of the plants that you mention, the cheapest method of obtaining them is to find someone that will pay you to dig them out of their gardens & wooded areas.   Just half-kidding.   Serviceberry, coralberry, and carpet bugleweed spread rapidly and we dig it out every two or three years, give away what we can & compost the rest of it.  Talk with your local gardening club and see if someone there won't share their excess with you.  If not, I've seen Kmart, Wal-Mart, etc. sell small boxes of bugleweed (groundcover, not a shrub).    And there's an online "native" plant nursery that offered serviceberry and coralberry last summer.  I'll try to find their URL. A large nursery here, had a few plants that sold quickly.  You might try calling your local nursery to get on a waiting list for fall planting.  Usually, spring or fall are better than summer for transplanting shrubs.  If you do transplant in summer, water well every couple of weeks. Good luck!
    Dottie Roseboom
    Peoria    IL    (central - zone 5)


From: Burnham, Barbara [mailto:Barbara.Burnham"at"zzz.zzz]
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 9:09 AM
Subject: RE: bird garden

Ann, I have found this website very helpful and comprehensive--Click on "Landscaping for..." (Thanks to Bet.)

http://www.sialis.org/index.html

Now if I could just find a database that would tell me what the birds like, the deer don't like, thrives in my area, is not invasive, or poisonous, or too big or too messy, with pictures in spring and fall, and don't require a green thumb, etc. etc.

Barbara Burnham, Ellicott City , MD


From: Jim & Ann Koehler [mailto:jimnann"at"midwestinfo.net]
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 12:16 PM
Subject: Re: bird garden

Walmart has the bugleweed, it also grows wild in my lawn. The rest should be available through any reputable garden supply store. Jim Koehler
Miltona,MN



From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 1:33 PM
Subject: Note sent to NABs on educational materials

I sent this note into NABS (on one of my pet peeve topics).  By the way, the packet did have some other neat stuff in it - including a word game, instructions for a musical nesting game, children's coloring pages, and directions to make a bluebird mobile.

****************
I ordered a copy of the NABS Educational Packet (undated) and was disappointed that a number of invasive plants (Multiflora rose, Japanese Honeysuckle, Common Privet, Japanese Barberry, and White Mulberry, with an asterisk noting they were non-native) were included in Table One under the topic "Wildlife Plantings."   NABs should be promoting environmentally responsible conservation approaches, and should encourage people to avoid these plants, and to work to eradicate them if they are on their property.

Yes, bluebirds may eat fruits from invasive plants.  One of the reasons their populations have exploded is precisely because birds eat the fruit and then disperse the seeds when they defecate. But these aliens can cause serious ecological harm, taking over whole habitats and choking out native species.  Bluebird enthusiasts should go with native plants whenever possible--they are more likely to thrive anyway. (An exception would be poison ivy for obvious reasons.)  

Bet Zimmerman
Woodstock Valley, CT
http://www.sialis.org/plants.htm


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2004 9:36 AM
Re:I am stupid/multiflora rose Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

The second berry shown is probably the Multiflora rose. In the days before herbicides is was considered invasive because this "wild" rose makes a very large bush that has very sharp thorns and horse and mule drawn plows could not get close enough to the main roots to "grub" out the thorny problem. As we switched to tractors for plowing then the long limbs of the rose bush would reach out and rip the clothes of the people on the tractors. Today, when most farmers own herbicide sprayers and they own front end loaders for their tractors they simply eliminate the rose bushes from their farm land and fence rows. Historically the Multiflora rose was used as the hardy root stock that hybrid Tea roses and flora-bunda roses were grafted to since the multiflora was more resistant to disease and insect pests and more vigorous growing. When the hybrid rose died it often left the root stock alive and this species of rose comes up easily from seed. Birds of MANY species rate this as one of the best tasting fruits or berries and by eating the fruits with seeds inside they often spread them miles away as they migrate. Multiflora roses were planted in highway medians to stop traffic from crossing from a divided highway and entering the oncoming traffic. They were rated as the MOST efficient and safest material to stop a car and do the least amount of damage to the car or occupants. It takes up to 10 years for a single rose bush to reach full maturity from seeds or cutting. These roses have been used as living fences and will keep in the most rambuncous farm animals. In spring the new growth shoots up through old dead thorny limbs and makes a large rounded ball (it can be 8 feet tall and 15 feet wide!) of bright green leaves and is covered in white flowers about the size and shape of a small blackberry blossom. It is an excellent food source for honey bees and insects because it produces vast quantities of pollen and nectar for several weeks. From a distance when in bloom it looks like you threw a white sheet over a Volkswagen Beetle During summer the thorny bushes are used by many species of birds to nest in because the thorns make it impossible for cats, raccoons, fox, possums ETC to climb up to the nests. Only snakes are able to crawl through these thorns to find the nests. In fall/winter the berries ripen and the birds flock to the berries stripping the top berries first and then birds like bluebirds, mockingbirds and thrashers will enter the thick bushes to feed on the "hidden" berries. The rose bush is deciduous and the open limbs allow small birds to fly into the heart of the bush at high speed while preventing cooper or sharp shinned hawks from pursuing their dinner through the limbs like they do with thornless trees and bushes. These bushes provide excellent food and cover for most rodents and rabbits and quail especially benefit from this plant. We moved to Texas in 1964 and entire fence lines were lined with these roses. Forty years later, I don't have a SINGLE rose bush ANYWHERE along ANY of my bluebird trails. Larry Zeleny said that the Multiflora rose in Maryland was the BEST plant for bluebirds. It offered food most of the winter, Starlings would strip the top berries in fall leaving the berries down inside the thick bushes for the bluebirds. Bluebirds could feed in safety inside the thorn covered limbs and some of these berries stayed on till early spring for emergency food. Unlike Bradford pears, Cherry Laurels, Eastern Red cedar, Hackberry (other good bluebird food producers) which are often destroyed by ice storms the Multiflora rose bushes easily survive any storm. KK


From: Deb Cohen
Sent: Sunday, October 10, 2004 9:11 AM
Subject: Re: Re:I am stupid/multiflora rose

Hi Cher -- finally something I know something about -- that is, invasive species and biodiversity. Maybe the multiflora rose isn't a problem in Texas, but certianly in the east it is considered highly invasive.  In fact, the Invasive Plants Council of New York State http://www.ipcnys.org/pages/top_20.htm  has it on its primary list of invasive plants.  I strongly urge seeking  a second opinion before encouraging the multiflora. Yes, it does provide food for song birds, but it spreads so aggressively that it excludes other native plant species -- and that, as they say, is not a Good Thing for biodiversity. Anyway, just my two cents.  ...Deb in upstate New York


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Monday, October 11, 2004 11:32 AM
Subject: Re:I am stupid/multiflora rose

Well, it seems as if there is a difference of opinion on the advisability of my excitement over finding naturally-occuring Bluebird food. At least two of my berry bushes are considered "invasives" -- the multiflora rose, and the other, purple berries -- which have been identified as "buckthorn". I admit to not being as diligent about controlling non-native plant species as I am about non-native avian pests. Especially since I don't have anything for the invasives to invade. The hedgerow was here long before I was, it sits at the very back of an acre of nothing but horse pasture-weeds-turned-lawn, and I have a positively black thumb for growing anything on purpose, either indoors or outdoors. (really, people give me houseplants as hostess gifts, and my husband laughs hysterically -- he knows they'll be dead within the week!) I once planted some raspberry bush cuttings, and they promptly withered away to dead sticks. Put away the jam pot and the canning jars! I've always said I had only enough nurturance in my soul to successfully raise my two kids. The Bluebirds seem to be an exception to my no-nurturance rule. So I think I'll just stay away from the hedgerow and let it do its thing. Someday I'll have some money to invest in some native berry bushes, which I will have the yard man plant for me so they don't run away in terror; and then if those invasives come knocking at my berry patch, I'll give them a good whack! Cher


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 9:09 AM
Subject: RE: I am stupid/multiflora rose

We live on the site of an old farm, and multiflora rose is everywhere, but we are slowly eradicating it.  House sparrows (and some other native birds) love to rest in it. Here's a good description of multiflora rose: thorny, perennial shrub with arching stems (canes), and leaves divided into five to eleven sharply toothed leaflets. The base of each leaf stalk bears a pair of fringed bracts. Beginning in May or June, clusters of showy, fragrant, white to pink flowers appear, each about an inch across. Small bright red fruits, or rose hips, develop during the summer, becoming leathery, and remain on the plant through the winter. " I would not have guessed that was it from the picture. To me, the easiest way to ID it is by the fringed bracts (leafy things at the base of the flower), the white flowers (they all seem to bloom at once), arching canes, and the fact that it gets huge fast. Bet from CT Some links:  Invasive plants info on a website I do for the Woodstock Conservation Commission:  http://www.woodstockconservation.org/Invasive_plants.htm Environmentally Responsible Landscaping for Bluebirds at http://www.sialis.org/plants.htm


From: judymellin [mailto:judymellin"at"netzero.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 7:38 PM
Subject: multiflora rose

Here is an except from the IL. Natural History Survey: ====================================

Current Status
Multiflora rose is categorized as an exotic weed under the Illinois Exotic Weed Control Act of 1987. As such, the sale or planting of this species within Illinois is prohibited.

===========================

I assume it is the same status in some other states and everyone might want to check before considering any "encouragement" of this highly undesirable shrub plant.

I think the easiest way to identify it is in the spring when it is the most fragrant thing around.  The scent envelops you, particularly on a warm, humid morning.  But, as enticing as the aroma is, this is a bad shrub that will rapidly crowd out the good plants- and the birds will spread it everywhere! 

Judy Mellin

NE IL.


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 9:45 AM
Subject: Multiflora rose

Keith, I have the utmost respect for your opinions and experience, but I must respond to any testimonial on the value of multiflora rose. Multiflora rose (rosa multiflora) is an INVASIVE EXOTIC and is one of the most noxious weeds in the eastern U.S. Invasive exotic plants create cause SERIOUS ECOLOGICAL HARM, taking over whole habitats, reducing biodiversity, and choking out native species. Nationwide, three million acres are lost each year to these aliens. About half of the species on the Federal Endangered Species List are there in part because of invasive species. Think of the damage to the ecosystem and economy caused by introduced birds such as house sparrows and starlings. This is not a legacy we want to leave for future generations. Multiflora rose USED to be recommended for wildlife cover and food - that is how it spread all over the U.S. It was brought over from Japan back in 1886 as a rootstock for cultivated roses. In the 1930's, the U.S. Conservation Service encouraged farmers to plant it to control soil erosion. The nursery industry also promoted the shrub as a "living fence," to control livestock. It was touted by wildlife managers as late as the 1960's as an excellent source of food and cover for wildlife. Zeleny's book was written in 1978, before many people were aware of the damage caused by invasive introduced plants. According to Underwood et al., 1996, multiflora rose now infests more than 45 million acres in the eastern U.S alone. A single, vigorous, mature plant can produce up to half a million seeds a year. Where plants become well established, a huge seed bank develops that can continue to produce seedlings for at least TWENTY YEARS after removal of mature plants. Severe infestations of this thorny, impenetrable bramble have lowered land values for agriculture, forestry, and recreation. It is now illegal to propagate or sell multiflora rose in many states. I know we've had this discussion before on the BBL, but I think it's worth emphasizing again, especially for folks new to the list. Even though birds may eat their fruit, those committed to responsible conservation and an ecosystem-sensitive approach should avoid invasive plants, and work to eradicate them if they are on your property. There are MANY native alternatives available (See www.sialis.org/plants.htm - server may down temporarily, should be back up soon.). Bet Zimmerman See Underwood, J. F., M. M. Loux, J. W. Amrine, Jr., and W. B. Bryan. 1996. Multiflora rose control. Ohio State University, Extension Bulletin No. 857. Columbus, Ohio, USA Also see info on the introduction of house sparrows at www.sialis.org/hosphistory.htm


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 7:57 AM
Subject: invasives and Chinese Tallow Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

You should ALWAYS check with your local agriculture department and follow their recommendations as to what is invasive! For example the multiflora rose issue I tried to give a general history of this plant and fully expected others to point out the invasive qualities of this plant in the northeastern states....I am West of the Mississippi and we do need to repeat these discussions on these plants as new members come and go on the list from year to year! Invasives are out of control worldwide as just in the Great Lakes a new species is showing up in the water every 8 months! Chinese Tallow in Galveston county. My niece lives there along with about 100,000 registered cars and trucks. Back about 80 years ago when this island county was "rural" 10,000 people died in ONE hurricane! Most of the county will be covered in Bermuda Grass lawns or St. Augustine grass with 6 dogs and 12 cats per acre of green stuff to welcome exhausted migrating birds that have just crossed the gulf. I have traveled the gulf coast area from Mexico to Florida and it is one big development. There are more acres of garages, driveways and parking lots in Galveston than there are acres of Chinese Tallow. There are not very many species of plants that can take the salt and the water and air pollution of the gulf coast. When warblers and other birds migrate to the gulf coasts there are not very many insects on anything in early spring on any native or non native plant in the "wild"! City yards are worse for finding insects because people spray their trees, lawns and shrubs every time a bug is seen. Just off of the coast, birds migrating through Texas are greeted with millions of acres of bare rice and sugar fields waiting to be planted for summer. Most imported plants arrived with the insects that eat them. I believe that Chinese Tallow does have insect pests and will check into that. If they do produce such high powered fruit in fall and winter then the LAST meal many fruit eating birds will have before leaving the Texas coast for that 300 mile flight will carry them 2 to 4 times further than the same weight of native fruits and berries they might have been forced to eat:-)) Just because a native tree or bush produces berries doesn't mean it will save birds in the dead of winter! Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, dogwood and on and on produce berries the birds love but they are gone with the first freeze! Hundreds of thousands of acres of Chinese Tallow were planted along the gulf coast more than 100 years ago. When oil drilling got better and they refined kerosene it replaced the need for the wax from the Chinese Tallow tree. Before they piped natural gas to homes and businesses early coastal settlers cut down and burned nearly every scrap tree along the coast for cooking fuel and to heat their homes with wood. Turn off the electricity, shut off the gas and 30,000 acres of Chinese Tallow will just about cook one meal for the residents in Houston! KK



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2005 8:55 AM
Subject: Re:attracting bluebirds to your feeder

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Birds need food, water and shelter from weather and predators.

Early season cultivated fruits in the south that bluebirds occasionally eat are Dew Berries (wild early black berry) blackberries, elder berries and blueberries. In the north or middle states add cultivated cherries and the wild or ornamental cherries and raspberries. Many other species of birds peck any cultivated fruit that is moist or sweet which include pears, plums, peaches, grapes, tomatoes, strawberries ETC.

In the south common large evergreen trees that provide food and good shelter/leaf cover for bluebirds are Eastern Red Cedar, American Holly, Foster Holly, Bradford pear (loses leaves very late, plant the different varieties as they produce fruit at different dates.), Cherry Laurel & some large junipers. Southern Magnolia feeds the larger woodpeckers as the red seeds are too large for bluebirds.

Large commercially grown evergreen bushes with berries include Buford, Willow leaf, Chinese, Yaupon, Deciduous, Oregon Grape, Helleri (all of these are hollies). Wax Leaf Ligustrum, red tip photinia, all privets provide food and cover. Nandina's and "fire thorn" pyracantha provide red berries and a large clump of fire thorn is great cover but the fruits from these are seldom eaten by birds. Some Euonymus varieties provide berries.

In the wild, vines provide a wide range of fruits and berries. In the south many grape varieties have escaped cultivation to climb to the tops of large trees. Virginia Creeper, Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Cat's Claw or Greenbrier, Japanese Honey suckle and related varieties. Cultivated vines include all grapes, English Ivy and Boston Ivy.

Large deciduous trees providing berries in the south are Hackberry, Chinese Tallow, cultivated cherries, Mistle Toe is a parasite that grows in large/small trees and provides food.

Small deciduous trees/large bushes are dogwood, huckleberry, crab apples, sumac ( some of these are from varieties that are bushes to real trees), roses like multiflora and the wild varieties or species types.

These are some off the top of my head to get started without being spell checked:-))KK



From: Kathy Johnson [mailto:krj"at"patmedia.net]
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2005 10:12 AM
Subject: Re: attracting bluebirds to your feeder

For summer or autumn fruits:
Snowberry, chokeberry, blackberry

For winter fruits:
Cottoneaster, highbush cranberry, and mistletoe.

There is also a honeysucke bush that is not invasive.

Kathy
Flemington, NJ



From: Humbirdhill"at"aol.com
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2005 6:29 PM
Subject: Re: attracting bluebirds to your feeder

Great list Keith, but I must take exception with including such invasive non-natives as Chinese privet, wax leaf ligustrum, Chinese tallow and Japanese honeysuckle in plantings for a state park.  The native coral honeysuckle vine and black cherry tree would be better choices and the native hollies like yaupon and American holly that you listed would serve the same purpose as the privet/ligustrums.  You also might include mulberry, service berry, and devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa).
 
We have a list of some of the most widely used fruiting trees & shrubs on one of our homepages that might help: http://hometown.aol.com/humbirdhill/Tchehabitat2.html
 
Yvonne and Al Bordelon
Covington, LA
St. Tammany Parish



From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2005 8:50 PM
Subject: Planting Shrubs And Trees For Fall And Winter Food

I have gotten great help from Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Kathy Johnson, Shane, Pauline Tom, USA, Keith and Yvonne.

I have done some research on Yvonne and Bet's website and all of the information from all of you is of great help.

It will be compiled in categories.

One thing in particular I am looking for is late winter berries. I have found two Fosteri #2 female and High Bush Cranberry. From what I read that should be one of the greatest considerations when planting for birds to make it through winter and spring.

Evelyn Cooper
Delhi, LA



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2005 8:46 AM
Subject: Black Gum Tree

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
We forgot to mention Black Gum with the large deciduous trees. They produce a lot of berries that resemble the size and shape of dogwood berries only they are black to very dark blue. Historically the trees commonly grew to 8 feet in diameter or more and were often called "Bee gums". When Europeans introduced the honey bee to North America in the 1600's these bees spread across the continent just a little faster than the settlers did taking over every available cavity.

The Black gums are normally hollow trunked by the time they reach 36" in diameter and created homes for Chimney Swifts, bats, squirrels, coons, possums ETC. Honey hunters would cut down these massive hollow trees to get at the bee hives and then the old hollow trunk would provide cavities for vultures and other animals for years to come. (A neighbor of ours cut down
56 bee gums in a single year and one tree contained 7 different hives of honey bees. By 1965 most of the hollow bee gums had been cut from our county and store bought honey came from moveable frame, managed hives.)

These trees are slow growing and can be planted on poor soil even in flood plains. In fall the foliage turns a brilliant blood red retaining this color well after the first frost. They begin bearing fruit when they are only about 15 feet tall and are easily grown from seeds. They need sun to develop into a nicely rounded tree but are often found as tall poles in river bottoms.

Another common name of this tree is the "tooth brush" tree. This is one of the few trees that make good tooth brushes. You take a live twig about 1/4"
in diameter, de-bark about an inch and a half and then chew the white cambium layer until it makes a soft brush on the end. Then you use the twig as you would a normal tooth brush as these soft fibers won't cut your gums or splinter and stick between your teeth (too bad) and they don't need
batteries:-))

PS Honey bees also created cavities as they produced the first widely available sugar and thus created cavities in teeth severely worn by eating "stone ground" flour. Christopher Columbus and company introduced and grew sugar cane in the Caribbean in the 1500's but this sugar went back to Europe. In the sugar cane clumps Mr. Columbus brought from the "Old world"
and planted there is evidence he introduced many species of insects along with several species of "fire" ants. Researchers are pouring over ancient manuscripts and tracking the spread of these ants throughout the Caribbean as the sugar cane industry flourished in the 1500's. 500 years later fire ants are invading our bluebird nest sites! KK



From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2005 11:53 AM
Subject: Re: When planting for wildlife

Lynn et al,

We have Bradford Pears lining our street. We live in central Ohio. I was the one that founded this little tree planting project about 15 years ago.
They were small little 1/2" diameter trees and were about 3 feet tall when we planted them. Today, these trees are about 30 feet tall and they are starting to fail. All you have to do is look at the growth pattern of a Bradford Pear to understand their weakness. The branches grow up from the trunk to an amazing length and are out there swaying in the breeze with little support. A tree surgeon told me they are like a big kite. The wind catches them, bends them and snaps big sections of the tree when they are mature. He said they are great trees for 10 to 15 years and then they start to fail.

The amount of fruit born by these trees is absolutely phenomenal IMO. Cedar Waxwings and American Robins are seen enjoying these fruits frequently.
They are also mobbed with European Starlings. They are a valuable food source for wildlife. I would not plant one near my house. We had one (original landscape tree) snap and fall on our neighbor's garage. Luckily
the branches are not massive, so it only did gutter damage. The ones we
have on the tree line could cause damage during a windstorm to a parked car, I guess, but we are cognizant of that potential danger and don't park under these mature trees. I have to believe that there are other ornamental pears that have abundant fruit and have a more forgiving growth habit for use near homes or lining streets.

I would have no qualms about planting these trees for wildlife where they can't do damage when they go. They are beautiful trees. They are the last to lose their burgundy red foliage in the fall, they have beautiful white blossoms in the spring (stinky though), and they have beautiful shiny green foliage throughout the growing season, bearing LOTS of little pears for birds and wildlife in the fall/winter. I view landscaping as a dynamic art any way. When these trees are gone, I will replace them with something else.

Paula Z
Powell (Central) Ohio



From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2005 12:37 PM
Subject: Re: When planting for wildlife

Paula's observation on the Bradford Pear tree is exactly what the nurseries here are saying. A friend of mine loves these trees and several years ago, selected 20 sites on her farm that are wind protected and away from outbuildings. She plants a small pear tree at one of the sites each year.
She figures that by the time, all 20 spots are filled, that the first one she planted will be ready for the chain saw.

Perhaps she'll be lucky, and she'll have to select 5 more sites before the
1st tree is damaged beyond repair. :-) BTW, the birds love her.

Dottie Roseboom



From: judymellin [mailto:judymellin"at"netzero.net]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2005 7:50 PM
Subject: Re: When planting for wildlife

Rather than making recommendations that may or may not work in a given location, I would suggest checking with your local County Extension Service where there are likely Master Gardeners to advise what is best planted in your area. They will know which plants will thrive and also which are banned in your area. Here in IL., it is illegal to sell/plant several species including Japanese honeysuckle, purple loosestrife (unless the plants are sterile) and European buckthorn.

I would hope it would be easier to make a decision based on knowing what will do best where you are located AND what will attract the birds. Those of us lucky enough to have a botanic garden in the area have it very easy but a Master Gardener is an excellent source for everyone.

Judy Mellin
NE IL.



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 8:51 AM
Subject: Trimming Bradford pears

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas a cool 22*F again this morning

Pears are not native to North America according to my old agriculture books.
In the late 1860's and into the 1870's a Pome Society was formed and they brought all types of fruit trees into the USA and they collected all of the types of fruit trees that had already been imported into the USA and began growing them in large orchards all across the country to determine the best fruit trees for each region. In 1880 they recommended two varieties that are still common today, Bartlett and Kiefer. They listed more than 400 varieties of imported Apple trees.

The species pear is called a Calorie pear, which has the really nasty smelling white blooms early in spring and the tiny fruit about the size of a marble in late fall /early winter that wildlife relish.

"Bradford" pear is simply a form of Calorie pear that bloomed a little more profusely and was selected, named and propagated and sold in nurseries. Since that time there have been dozens of other selections of Calorie pears one is Aristocrat another Cleveland, each supposedly better than the last selection and normally about $10 more for the better names:-)) Five gallon sizes of "Bradford" run about $89.00 here. You can grow 4 feet tall Calorie pears from seed in one summer.

Each is supposed to be longer lived and more resistant to fire blight (they are NOT) but nearly all have the standard 15>25 year life. All pears tend to put vertical limbs out profusely. When the trees are fairly young simply cut out most of the upright limbs and begin selecting the stronger horizontal limbs for your main tree. Every two years trim off the vertical suckers that come up from your main limbs and you can form a very nice open limbed "Bradford" that is more wind and ice resistant. KK


From: eindians [mailto:eindians"at"zoominternet.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005 7:08 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding Birds in Winter

Crystal,
We have 5 bradford pear trees in our front yard. Today 20 cedar waxwings stopped in to finish off fruit the starlings did not get.[which was`nt much] I have read that a number of birds will eat the small pears but in the seven years since we planted them[they were 15' to 18' when we planted them] i have only observed waxwings and starlings eating them. Even though i am very aggresive controling EUST and HOSP a flock of 50 starlings can strip our 5 trees in 20 minutes or so. The starlings usually do not eat the pears until bad weather hits. This year it happened to be Christmas weekend. You may not have the problem with starlings that we do since you live in a milder climate, because up here at least the pears are definately not at the top of the EUST list of things to eat.

Evan
15 miles South of Youngstown,Ohio


From: Snoopy [mailto:snoopy"at"wmis.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2005 8:35 PM
Subject: Re: Feeding Birds in Winter

I have a bRadford pear planted 2 years ago. no fruit yet. someone said it may take 4 or 5 years before I get fruit? that stinks since I am moving this spring or summer... someone else will get to watch my birds eating from my tree! Joy in Michigan



From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005 2:40 PM
Subject: Invasive Plants

A few weeks ago, we were discussing plants to attract wildlife. It was mentioned that some very productive landscapes were invasive.

Today, I received a USDA paperback "Invasive Plants of Asian Origin Established in the United States and Their Natural Enemies".
Publication number:FHTET2004-05.

Some 50 plants, their pictures, description, habitat, economic importance, and natural enemies are listed. Most of the biological control consists of fungi & bugs.

There are approximately 50,000 non-native invasive plant & animal species in the USA, costing about $138 billion per year, according to Pimental (2000).

Perhaps, as responsible Bluebird landlords, we should strive to do our part in controlling invasive species.

Dottie Roseboom
Peoria IL (central - zone 5)



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 8:09 AM
Subject: Chinese Photinia

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
This plant is similar to the Red Tipped Photinia but the Chinese is larger and more resistant to diseases. It is an evergreen commonly used for very large and dense hedges but is probably best used and trained as a multi trunked tree. It can reach heights of 25 foot and have a wide spread for a large "bush". It is listed as non-invasive and is supposed to have fruits or berries that wildlife do NOT eat.

Yesterday morning there was a flock of several hundred Cedar Waxwings stripping the berries from a couple of these large bushes at the end of my street. I also drove by our local sewer treatment plant for Mt. Pleasant and they have about a half mile hedge of the Chinese Photinia planted to hide the treatment tanks. This entire section of road was covered in American Robins flying from the bushes for berries and then to trees, fence lines and the road to eat their pilfered meal.

This Photinia makes a nice location for redbirds and Mockingbirds to nest in. It makes a good location for birds to fly into when the hawks come around looking for a slow songbird. Anyway if birds eat these berries then they will fly off somewhere and drop the seeds. I did have two of these bushes volunteer and grow on our property in the last 20 years. KK



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 19, 2005 10:11 AM
Subject: Link to Jack Finches article "Feeding Bluebirds"

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
The nice thing about bluebirding for so many years is to watch the evolution of this hobby. I think the first time Jack Finch gave me a printed copy of this article was back in the mid 1980's before feeding mealworms became a multi million dollar business, this was actually before I ever heard them being bought and fed to birds. http://www.danfinch.com/jackpg2.htm

Jack is probably the most knowledgeable and devoted bluebirder in the USA and at last count had built more than 190,000 bluebird nestboxes. He probably still sells the metal hole guards for bluebirds in packs of 10 cheaper than anyone else. He offers Paulownia wood nestboxes that are 40% lighter in weight than yellow pine nestboxes. (lighter weight means less dense wood fibers which means greater insulation properties of wood.) These are made from trees he planted and had custom cut not trees cut from forest land.

Anyway this is still good information on feeding bluebirds and lists some of the things we all fed or provided for different species of birds back in the "Good Old Days" before bird feeders sold for $80 and a shipment of mealworms now cost more than the material for a nestbox.

Notice in this article that Jack was feeding FIVE GALLONS of dogwood berries at a single feeder in his yard and he scattered these over his whole area.
HOW much does a shipment of mealworms cost to fill a five gallon bucket?

I picked up over 1,000 bare root trees especially selected for feeding "wildlife" at our local nursery for just under $300. At three wildlife/cavity nester/bluebird programs last week we sold more than 700 of these trees at cost. These groups in turn went and bought ANOTHER 1,500 trees and got them planted.

OK, Jack states that Cornus Florida (dogwood) can average 5>25 pounds of fruit a year after about 10 years. So if you have people plant and maintain 100 trees then in 10 years you can expect somewhere around 1,000 pounds of fruit per year for the next 50 years. OK we are up to producing 50,000 pounds of fruit over the lifetime of these 100 trees that initially cost $30.00....or close to a five gallon bucket of berries produced for every penny of the initial investment.

There are MANY species of trees that will produce more than 300 pounds of fruits/berries every year and live for a hundred years! The new varieties of thornless blackberries out of Arkansas will produce over 10,000 pounds of berries a year now from a single acre of land! A single row of black oil seed sunflowers planted around the edge of your back fence will feed hundreds of gold finches or chickadees.

Make the world a better place by leaving behind plants that will feed the wildlife for years to come. KK


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2005 10:19 AM
Subject: Sawtooth Oaks for Wildlife

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

I had to research the Sawtooth Oak for a man needing acorns for Wild Turkey, deer and hogs.....This is the number one oak being planted and recommended to be planted for wildlife from many state universities. It is the best sized acorn for every creature from chipmunk and flying squirrel to woodpeckers & blue jays to 700 pound Russian Boars!

In 22 year field trials against the nuttal oak, another really good fast growing oak tree, it was found that Sawtooth was the oak tree to plant for wildlife. At 12 years and 20 years they found that 95% and 96% of the Sawtooth oaks were producing acorns. They found that these trees would begin producing acorns at 6 to 7 years from the time an acorn was planted to grow the first tree.

In this same trial comparing these two, the nuttal oak produced 0%acorns at

12 years and at 20 years 0% of the trees produced acorns. By this time the Sawtooth was producing more trees from the third generation of the first planting! Sawtooth oaks produce every year. White oaks and red oaks produce every second or third year.

The sawtooth holds brown leaves into early spring providing cover for owls, squirrels, bluebirds and other wildlife needing "evergreen" type hiding spots in predominantly deciduous woods or forests.

Twenty year old sawtooth oak trees averaged 8.4 inches diameter at breast height (DBH measured at 54" off the ground) when planted on good heavy loam soils. They were under 5" DBH when planted on heavy clay soils after 20 years. Nuttal Oak trees averaged about 3.7 inches DBH smaller after 20 years than the Sawtooth on both soils types. The "fast growing" nuttal oak was pretty puny after 20 years and NON productive!

Heavy pruning of the Sawtooth oak is required to turn this tree into a sawlog as it tends to have multiple trunks or a crooked or forked trunk when the tree is young. The oak trees should be planted on a 10 foot by 10 foot grid when they are young. Thinned to 20 foot by 10 foot spacing when 20 years old. When the trees touch they should be thinned to a 20 foot by 20 foot spacing. When they again reach complete shade canopy they should be again thinned to 20 foot by 40 feet. After about 100 years they should be thinned to 40 feet by 40 foot spacing and allowed to "Mature". This is about

27 mature trees to the acre! This compares to "Mature Pecan" trees planted at 12 trees to the acre.

They will NEVER get as large as Red Oaks or White Oaks or MANY of the other oak species common in the south and north. The will grow on acid soils from zone 5 to zone 9. Like most Oaks it will probably take more than 80 years for them to grow large enough to produce trunk cavities large enough for a flying squirrel.

Just when I felt this was the perfect Oak tree to recommend for wildlife plantings in city yards, fields and forest for so many parts of the USA I found out that this was IMPORTED by our government from Eastern Mainland China 1862 and has been distributed by the USDA for more than 130 years!

If you are a Native Plant Purist then you DO NOT want this tree in your region because wildlife will scatter the acorns for miles. IF you back off from your house and fly straight up for just 100 miles you will see that this tree is native to that mostly blue ball floating just below you and ALL species are competing with 6 billion humans for food shelter and a spec of land or water to live in! KK



From: bookfanaticef-bluebird"at"yahoo.com [mailto:bookfanaticef-bluebird"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2005 9:54 PM
Subject: Re: Sawtooth Oaks for Wildlife & Natives vs. Exotics

Interesting that a non-native species like the Sawtooth Oak has been touted as being so wonderful for so long that few probably even know it is exotic--it would now be considered "naturalized." One of my greatest interests regards invasive/introduced/exotic/non-native/non-indigenous species (some people prefer one term over another), especially those that become "invasive" (not all exotics actually survive in their new environment well enough to actually become truly "invasive," though some manage to establish very small, local populations for short periods). Some of that stems, I think, from living in a state (FL) that has one of the worst cases of invasion in the US--HI and CA are at least as bad.

There are many such instances of exotics becoming invasive, and other examples where introductions fail. House Sparrows & European Starlings & the common pigeon are great examples of true invasives--as well as Kudzu, house cats, house mice, Norway & Black rats, Brown Anoles, and West Nile Virus, among others, to name only a handful!

If any of you are interested in learning more about invasive species, the March 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine (which is even better now that it can be found on most newstands and bookstores!) has a wonderful article that hits the major problems regarding invasives, as well as a list of what are considered the "top 100" worst invasives across the globe, divided by taxa. While the article has a lot of snippets regarding invasives in the US (like FL & HI), it also covers other parts of the world, too. Of course, because it is only a magazine article, it really can only show the "tip of the iceberg"--the problem is so severe, you'd need an entire book or three to cover the problem in depth. Hopefully, it will inform some people who were not previously aware, and maybe make them think twice before buying that exotic reptile or releasing the pet they no longer want (whihc is illegal, by the way). My personal hope is that importation of exotic species for! the pet trade might be tighter regulated in the near future--I find it amazing that the extremely large Cuban Treefrog (up to 5 in long, far larger than native treefrogs), which has become a major problem throughout FL, and is well-known for being an invasive species (and eats just about anything that will fit in its huge mouth, including native treefrogs!), is still allowed to be sold in pet stores. I saw some for sale in one of the major retail chain petstores selling them for $6.99 each not 2 weeks ago.

And for the record, I don't think coyotes or brown-headed cowbirds in the US should be considered "true" invasives in the strictest sense of the word (though many people do). Yes, they have invaded many new areas in very large numbers, and have caused (and continue to cause) major problems. However, they have not really been *deliberately introduced* into the areas in which they are now found, but were not previously--their presence is essentially part of a natural range expansion, though it likely would not have occurred had not humans altered the landscape so much to those species liking.

And something I thought of the other day while reading the Nat Geo article--perhaps Homo sapiens sapiens (modern humans) should be placed at the very top of "worst invasive species" list.
Elizabeth Farley
Gainesvile, FL


Subject: birds eating sunflower seeds
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 07:53:02 -0600
From: Keith & Sandy Kridler <txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net>

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
If you feed sunflowers in several different locations you will observe different species eat the seeds very differently. Mourning doves swallow the seeds shells and all without cracking them. Chickadees, jays, nuthatches ETC. hammer the shells until they split to eat just the meat. Other birds pick through the mass of seeds to find just the meat and some species will eat the meat or eat the shells too. Raccoons, fox ETC chew the sunflowers eating shells and all letting their digestive juices separate the meat from the inedible shells.

It is time to plant sunflowers in the southern states. The USDA lists more than 500 registered varieties or species of sunflowers, a couple are native to Mexico one is native to Texas. Maximillian is a small "wild sunflower" that a botanist found in southern Texas in the 1830's, of course the Spanish were bringing plants in 200 years earlier.

You can till up ground in the south now and simply throw out about 30 pounds of black oil seed sunflowers per acre. Lightly till in the seeds and stand back. This has the potential of producing about 2,000 pounds of sunflower seeds when ripe. If you plant about half this many seeds you can mix in about 20 pounds of climbing "cowpeas" that will use the sunflower stalks for support. Add about 5 pounds of whole shelled corn and you create a really nice "Food Plot" that will attract MANY species of animals!

Don't forget to plant a few blackberries and raspberries as they really make a wonderful purple stain in your nosy neighbors swimming pool and on their deck:-)) KK


Subject: Re: birds eating sunflower seeds
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2005 11:36:37 EST
From: Brucemac1"at"aol.com

....Climbing Cowpeas....??? ...never heard of 'em. Are they always known by that particular name...??

I like your idea of the Sunflower-Cowpea-Corn patch. I have room to plant such an area, but would need some Climbing Cowpeas. Can you tell me where I might purchase a small quantity..??

As you may recall, I'm located 30 miles South of Detroit, but in Ontario, North shore of Lake Erie, just across the western end of the lake from Toledo. Our ground is still frozen. Spring is late getting started this year.

The Redwing Blackbirds are back, ...saw my first Grackle this morning. Not a single Bluebird tho.

Last year, our little group monitored some 400 BB boxes. We managed to count a total of only 102 fledglings all season. Dismal... down 50% over the previous year. Downright discouraging.

Bruce Macdonald, SW Ontario


Subject: Climbing Cowpeas
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 07:52:51 -0600
From: Keith & Sandy Kridler <txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net>

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
cowpeas are the black eyes, Crowder, purple hull, cream peas ETC. They are actually beans and will add nitrogen to the soil as they are legumes. Most of these actually are semi climbing or "pole" bean types and all will benefit from sunflowers or corn planted to help break the wind or allow them to climb up the stalks. One of the best cowpeas for wildlife is call "Iron and Clay cowpeas" as it is truly a climbing bean and can hit 12 feet tall or more. Dove especially like the cowpeas when you allow them to ripen and then mow strips through the Pea Patch breaking the seeds out of the pods and
scattering sunflowers or you can plant in narrow strips keeping the edges mowed short to allow birds to feed along the edges of the rows. Dove really don't like to fly down into tall thick patches of food crops as they cannot see approaching hawks.

For someone to plant a small food plot in their back yard a 4 foot by 8 foot section of the yard in full sun can be planted with a couple handfuls of "Wild bird seed" Premium mix that will often have about half of the seed varieties grow in any part of the country. Millets grow better in the north.
Sorghums grow better in the heat. Sunflowers grow anywhere after the last hard freeze.

We plant "whole" oats in the fall and migrating buntings LOVE the oats when they are in the "milk" stage as do redbirds and most of the field sparrows. $5 of oats will plant almost two acres. Deer, ground hogs, gophers and rabbits just love fresh growing oats. Apply 100 pounds of nitrogen to an
acre of soil when you plant your grain crops. KK



From: Jimmy Dodson [mailto:rocks_and_flies"at"hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 11:22 AM
Subject: RE: A question of Bluebird Reproductivity.

Kridler may promote pawlonias for their fast growth, but this is an
extremely nasty exotic invasive tree -- especially b/c of it's fast growth
characteristics and breeding capability. The US Forest Service, US Fish and
Wildlife Service, and other state and federal agencies have readily
recognized this is the last 5-10 years, and pawlonia is now listed as one of
the "bad guys" -- especially in relation to how it takes over early
successional areas even faster than our native pines and hardwoods.
Pawlonia will out-compete any native tree in an area if given even the
slightest chance to get a foothold. Everyone's been talking herbicides on
the listserve lately, and as readily as this stuff stump and root sprouts,
herbicide is one of the only ways to get rid of it -- aside from digging the
ENTIRE root system of each tree up.

Ask some of the folks that are asked to take up the task of fighting this
tree on the Gulf Coast, and you may change your opinion of how "nice" it is.
Everyone likes to see big trees, especially ones that grow very quickly...
but if eucalyptus had been found to survive in the southeastern US, very
large areas now seen as extremely valuable ecologically would be blankets of
eucalyptus... and the RCW wouldn't be the one of just a few of our
endangered native/breeding birds listed. Pawlonia has this potential in
many facets.

It's an ornamental that's is nice to look "at" and watch develop quickly, but
this species is bad news.

If you want more info on exotic invasive plant species for the southeast, go
to:
http://www.invasive.org/eastern/srs/

or go to the following for US coverage:
http://www.invasive.org/

That's my 2-cents. --J

Jimmy Dodson
Asst Forest Manager -- NCSU Dept of Forestry
NCSU Hill Forest



From: Bernie Daniel [mailto:bdaniel"at"cinci.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 6:36 AM
Subject: Re:A question of Bluebird Reproductivity.

Keith,

...

The Paulownia tree article was also most interesting. But I'm wondering
what you say to those who suggest that this is another exotic species that
is being promoted across the country? Does the tree seem to have
ecological value -- do native species seem to use it? If not then it could
become a problem if it was widespread and replaced native species? Maybe it
already is widespread? Anyway I'm just raising the question.

The wood of the tree sounds interesting I wonder how it would be for a
mandolin sounding board?

Bernie



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 9:11 AM
Subject: uses for Paulownia totally Off topic

Please respond to the following post off list as this will be mostly off
topic!

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Paulownia like the Sawtooth Oak, Ginkgo, Dawn Redwood, soy beans and many
other landscape or crop plants come from China because our two countries
share almost identical climates and rainfall patterns. From deserts to vast
prairies to high mountain ranges to tropical paradises to frozen tundra.
Similar climates and soils separated by time and distances have created
different species of plants that will thrive in either location.

Paulownia's bloom profusely very early in spring and produce a large amount
of nectar to attract bees, wasps, bumble bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and
moths to help pollinate the flowers since they have a heavy non wind borne
pollen. The only close relative of the Paulownia in the USA is the Orange
Trumpet Vine. This vine whose bloom is copied on hummingbird feeders also
has a "bean pod" filled with tiny flakes of seeds. Downy woodpeckers and
finches eat the tiny seeds of these plants. Paulownia trees here in North
East Texas bloom beginning in February, peak in March continue with some
blooms into the first of May. Most trees and bushes bloom for 7>12 days.

Once pollinated a flower may produce a seed pod that resembles a Pecan nut
that stays on the trees green all summer, turns brown like a ripe pecan in
the fall and splits open during winter and scatters tiny flakes of seeds to
the wind.

These brown seed hulls have been used by the Chinese for thousands of years
to ship delicate "China glassware" around the world since they are very
lightweight and are shock absorbing used just like we use Styrofoam peanuts
today in shipping boxes full of fragile items. These shipments of "China"
often arrived in the New England ports, boxes were unpacked and seed hulls
dumped off the ends of docks or back porches of houses. There are 2,500,000
seeds of Paulownia per pound. They need bare dirt to germinate as direct
sunlight is required and they need constant high humidity. Very similar to
growing tobacco seeds.

There are four species of the 12 species of Paulownia that have been in the
USA since the 1700's. P. Tomentosa is the most cold hardy and is common in
the northern tier of states, it can grow to the north shores of the Great
Lakes. The largest P. Tomentosa is in Evansville Indiana is approximately
150 years old and is 70 feet tall and 76 feet wide crown spread. It has a
trunk diameter of over 7 feet. The three largest P. Tomentosa in Virginia
are all over 6 feet in diameter.

Paulownia begin blooming in 1>3 years depending on whether it is grown from
seed or a cutting. Hybridizers can introduce three new "super hybrids" of
Paulownia every decade. The Chinese have improved the speed of growth and
the amount of lumber produced from these trees by 10% a decade. It takes
about 8 years for new pine hybrids and 25 years for new oak or pecan
hybrids.

Paulownia has twice the strength of Balsa wood but twice the weight. They
cut paulownia at half the thickness of Balsa wood to get an exact
replacement for this rare tropical wood. Paulownia is 1/3 the weight of most
hardwoods. Most pallet lumber in the USA is a hardwood and there can be
3,000 pounds of hardwood pallets on every tractor trailer rig in the USA.
You could idle 5% of the trucking if you could add 2,000 pounds of product
to every load.

Nearly all of the old growth Paulownia in the USA was cut and shipped to
Japan in the late 80's and mid 90's. "Poaching" of Paulownia logs in parks,
national forests and even yards is still common as a good "old Growth" log
will bring $3,000 in the USA. 10 acres of "good" pine logs between 20 inches
in diameter and 26" in diameter bring $1,500 for the landowner in East
Texas. These are twenty years old or so.

Paulownia cannot grow in flood plains as they do not tolerate a shallow
water table or water standing over their roots for even a few days. People
cannot build houses in flood plains or at least they should not! A whole
host of caterpillars feed on Paulownia leaves from the giant tomato worm
(Sphinx moth) to the inch worm. Pocket Gophers like to eat their roots. The
blooms are a delicacy in Japan and are served as salad. In the fall the
leaves are raked up and baled and fed to livestock as a replacement for
Alfalfa.

The average one year old "super hybrid" pine tree is 16" tall or less and
less than 1/4" in diameter. The average one year old "super hybrid"
paulownia grown from a cutting is 16 feet tall some to 30 feet tall and up
to 6" in diameter at the base. The average hardwood tree in the Carolina's
grow between 18" and 36" taller each year.

I saw a half dead paulownia with 17 wood pecker cavities in the limbs and
trunks. A whole host of insects feed on these trees. They allow many
different species to grow under their leaf canopy. Millions of acres of
hardwoods are cut and replaced with pine mono cultures that feed a very
narrow group of insects and animals.

The USA is consuming 42% more wood and pulp than we can cut with much of it
tropical wood. I bought a Canadian Western Red Cedar board and White Spruce
last week that each took more than 45 years to grow 1&1/2". I cut a 7 month
old Paulownia into a 3" square stock post or I saved 90 years of growth in
the far north.

A four year old Paulownia planted to shade the west side of a house built in
full Texas sun will save 1,000 kilowatts of electricity a month from May
through August.

These trees tolerate high levels of acid rain and they are replacing the
native trees across sections of the Appalachians where pollution is killing
those plants and where the humidity, rain and fog and forest fires,
landslides are creating the perfect cleared ground habitat.

In the news the Philippines are planting 100 million paulownia this year to
replace 10% of the stripped mountain sides of tropical hardwoods that they
have sold to fill the growing world demand for logs. We want lumber and
paper but we want someone else to destroy their land and their native plants
so we can have it. There are no easy answers for the exploding human
population..KK



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 8:28 AM
Subject: dogwoods

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Dogwood berries ripen in early fall and are a VERY good source of food for birds and animals that is extremely rich in vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids according to analysis of the berries. I am surprised that they would be ripe at this time even up north as they normally require a frost or dry dormant period (long Indian summer) to convert the starches to sugars.

Commercially most of the "Florida" dogwoods all come from Tennessee nursery's and may not be adapted to your local area but are native to the Eastern half of USA. There are quite a few species of Dogwood's and you need to check your soil type as the Drumundii Dogwood found near Houston, Texas in the 1820's and carried back to Cuba and then England by an Irish botanist working for Mexico. This dogwood does better in clay soils and is native to most areas east of the Mississippi. Then there are the imported Kousa Dogwoods from Japan.

Seeds collected from bluebird nests normally need to be refrigerated for several months to trigger spring growth. Dogwood seeds can be planted directly in the ground and left over winter to sprout. They need shade in the south and decent sandy loam and moist but never soggy ground to grow on.
Dogwood firewood produces the most BTU's of heat than any common native species of trees well above oak and Hickory, the second highest at pounds of wood to BTU production according to the USDA.

Jack Finch at Homes for Bluebirds has collected strains of dogwoods that produce fruit that is resistant to the fruit fly maggots that infest the dogwood berries in the wild. They were collected as seeds out of the wild across the Carolina's and grown on commercially to produce berries for feeding to bluebirds. By buying these berries from Jack or gathering dogwood berries in your area from towns and cities you can feed these to your birds in more rural locations. The birds will scatter the seeds and you will get a "wild" population of dogwood trees where the birds normally spend their winter months.

Dogwoods are slow to grow from a seed but I have more than a dozen nice dogwood trees now producing berries that I grew from Jack Finches berries!
Bluebirds swallow the dogwood fruits whole, grind the meat off the fairly large seed in their gizzard/crop and regurgitate the clean dogwood pit after about 15 to 45 minutes. Jack Finch has a good brochure that tells how to feed dogwood berries to your bluebirds but it works for other species of birds and a variety of other fruits and berries. When you plant a tree or bush remember that almost any plant that produces fruits or berries will produce food for birds and animals. KK



From: lviolett [mailto:lviolett"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 12:16 AM
Subject: Re: dogwoods

Dogwoods:
For those on the West Coast, there is a Western Dogwood (Red Stem Dogwood)
See: http://www.laspilitas.com/plants/220.htm

Regardless of your location, be sure to find species of plants that are endemic to your areas. They are better adapted to survive your environmental conditions and the local birds/insects have evolved with that particular species.

Here on the West Coast, many of our butterflies, for example, are becoming extinct because their larval food plants are being replaced with Eastern species (or species from another country!) And less butterflies means less caterpillars in the food chain. Try to find out what grew in your area before the bulldozers scraped away the habitat; then do your best to put it back. Each area has its *own* set of local food plants for its local wildlife.

Linda Violett
Yorba Linda, Calif.



From: Lana Hunt [mailto:lanahunt"at"kcp.uky.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 8:53 AM
Subject: Poke berries

...I had read that they are a favorite of the bluebirds. I wonder if one planted some of the berries if that would multiply the supply? I also found something that looked like small apples on some trees. I had always heard as a child about people swinging on grape vines; but I didn't realize there were really grapes on them. I am having a ball, so far this summer I have photographed a baby deer nursing her Mom in the side pasture, I have a bunny living under a storage building, a ground hog, and various birds (adult and juvenile) that I haven't been able to identify. The blues are always my favorite.

...

Lana



From: Lynn [mailto:lemerich"at"epix.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 11:56 AM
Subject: Re: Poke berries

I have lots of poke berries - they just keep coming. I can't confirm it, but was told years ago the blues are one of the few birds that will eat them. Actually, I've never seen any birds eat them. One year I was overloaded and put piles of them in the freezer for winter feeding.
None were eaten. I do leave them grow, most of them, just in case.

Lynn



From: Elizabeth.D.Seward2"at"usdoj.gov [mailto:Elizabeth.D.Seward2"at"usdoj.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 12:23 PM
Subject: RE: Poke berries

I believe that the catbirds and carolina wrens in our neighborhood are eating the poke berries. Possibly also the deer? At any rate, they are quickly being consumed. I have two large stands of them in my yard this year.

Diane Seward
Potomac, MD



From: Torrey [mailto:torrey_canyon"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 3:51 PM
Subject: Re: Poke berries

I have an eyewitness report of bluebirds eating poke berries. We are moving this month, & there's poke berries by the propane tank, which is visible from the kitchen. Yesterday evening, instead of helping with the carpet, i watched 2 Eastern Bluebirds eat poke berries for about 3 minutes.

I haven't ever seen it happen, but judging by the color they leave on my work shirts, catbirds also eat poke berries. Thrushes tend to smell like spicebush (which is ripe now here, & the thrush migration is just starting).

Once we're actually in the house instead of just painting & whatnot, i'll keep an eye on what comes to the various fruit trees & bushes. I'm hoping it's a nice enough place to have good stuff overwinter.

Torrey Moss
Kalamazoo Nature Center
Kalamazoo, MI



From: Tina Wertz [mailto:tinawertz"at"bellsouth.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 12:35 PM
Subject: Re: Poke berries

Lana,
You will not need to plant the seeds of the berries. Trust me they multiply on their own. I have so many this year it's not even funny.
Now as far as birds eating the berries, I have not ever witnessed any bird eating them, not even the migratory birds passing through.

Tina Wertz
Woodstock, Ga.


From: Brucemac1"at"aol.com [mailto:Brucemac1"at"aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 9:37 PM
Subject: Re: Poke berries I have Poke berries here, ..lots of them.
I've never seen any bird eat them...???
Someone suggested a "Poke Berry Salad", I've been told that poke berries are poisonous. Anyone know for certain...??

Bruce Macdonald, SW Ontario near Detroit


From: Sue Hubbard [mailto:shubbard2"at"rochester.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 10:02 PM
Subject: Poke berries

My bluebirds LOVE poke berries. They have started to eat poke berries now, and will continue until the pokeberries are all gone - sometimes late winter. The berries shrivel up and dry out over winter, but bluebirds still come to eat them.

Sue Hubbard
Williamson, NY


From: roy pischer [mailto:tlp4456"at"msn.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 10:51 PM
Subject: Re: Poke berries

My staunch Baptist grandfather used to mix a concoction of poke berries, grape juice and red wine for his arthritis... He swore it worked! We have lots of poke berries here too, and the bluebirds love them! They have been venturing further away from the yard mealworm feeder for tasty poke berries far in the fields.

Trudy Pischer
Willard, MO



From: rosedot"at"mtco.com [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 11:45 PM
Subject: Re: Poke berries

..
Since our birds do such an excellent job of spreading poke, I've never planted it. I happen to think that it's an elegant weed, and only pull it up when it occurs in the formal flowerbeds.

I've never caught a Bluebird eating poke berries, but then again, I've never seen them eating mulberries, even though nestboxes prove otherwise.

Judging from the red splotches on our driveway and the numerous seedlings that pop up underneath birds' favorite perches, I assume that several bird species consume them. Since the berries are ripening, perhaps this will be another camcorder project to catch the culprits in action :-)....

Dottie Roseboom
Peoria IL



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 8:51 AM
Subject: poke salad HAS to be prepared correctly!

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Poke Salad is made in spring from the new shoots of this plant. It must be boiled, then the water drained and then boiled again and drained again. Our neighbors fixed egg and Poke Salad omelets each spring.

I believe dandelions are better if drained once after cooking also. I assume the poke berry fruit would also be poisonous to humans if ingested in large amounts. Beware of ANY succulent plant that deer,cattle and horses allow to grow while they eat dust covered dried grasses or old scrub brush!
You can dry poke berries for feeding later in the season. The last of the Peaches are now ripe in East Texas and these can be sun dried for winter feeding of wildlife. Farmer's Markets often have damaged fruits that are thrown out. Our Super 1 manager said they throw out more than 3,000 pounds of produce each week. Fresh Grapes, strawberries, blueberries ETC are flown in from South America year round in most areas as are apples, oranges, pears and other fruits that wildlife will relish......

Elder berries are a great fall fruit producing shrub to allow to grow along edges of fields. Sumac is blooming in the south now and is a great fall nectar source for honey bees and will produce clusters of dark red dried fruit that holds on the bushes till spring. When eaten or boiled it produces a "tea" containing vitamins and minerals but is mostly a thin skin covered inedible seed. All of these plants can be moved in fall/winter and most are easily grown from a section of the plant roots. Each "root crown" can be divided into MANY new plants. KK



From: Lynn [mailto:lemerich"at"epix.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 9:28 AM
Subject: Re: poke salad HAS to be prepared correctly!

We were always taught as kids that poke berries were poisonous, so we never tried them. We used to mash them and make "ink" from the juice, hence the name, at least locally, "inkberried. Bluebirds supposedly had no problem eating them and local folks here recommended growing them for the blues. I've never seen any bird or animal eat them and have seen no evidence of anything eating the plant either. I do let them grow as long as they don't get too personal. My small 3 acre plot is zoned agricultural so I don't get any flack when the weeds get too high.
Thistles get 7 to 8 feet tall with lots of blooms and lot or gold finchs later.

Lynn near Bernville, PA.


From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana [mailto:yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 10:53 AM
Subject: Re: Poke berries
If you get the green leaves when they are young, you can eat them. People say they are very good but I've never tried them. I would not eat the berries at any time. I've some Poke berries here also but I've never seen the birds eat them. ...

Dottie, Hickory Hollow
Brown County, Indiana
(50 miles south of Indianapolis)
Lat: 39.371N Lon: 86.261W Zone 5 Elevation: 680 ft


From: William Freels [mailto:w.freels"at"worldnet.att.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 12:07 PM
Subject: pokeweed

Pokeweed, phytolacca americana L.
page 358 of Readers Digest's
Magic and Medicine of Plants states:
Leaves, roots and berries are poisonous.

In 1939, at Uniontown, in western Kentucky, I first saw dead robins, under pokeweeds, that seemed to have fallen from pokeweeds. These birds HAD been eating poke berries because there was much evidence on/about their bodies of pokeberries.

I do not have evidence that bluebirds do not die from eating pokeberries............because they possibly fly away from the pokeweeds and then die. The need for water could force bluebirds to make a fatal choice.

Collecting many kinds of wild greens for cooking is something that I started doing, when I was 3 years old, in 1936, for mother's black housekeeper. Pokegreens were always boiled and drained at least once. My mother and her housekeeper were not wasteful and they did not boil and drain the poke just for the fun of it. Poke berries were never used.

Bill Freels
Paducah, Ky
"western ky"



From: Elizabeth.D.Seward2"at"usdoj.gov [mailto:Elizabeth.D.Seward2"at"usdoj.gov]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 1:29 PM
Subject: RE: pokeweed

Pokeweed may well be poisonous to humans, but not to songbirds, as far as I know. My catbirds devour them, and the birds are very healthy.

Diane Seward, Potomac, MD



From: beetle cat [mailto:beetlecat812"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 1:16 PM
Subject: pokeberries

Pokeberries?
Is this:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v306/beetlecat/2fc4451a.jpg
what we're talking about? If so, I saw hoards of cedar waxwings tearing them up just the other day.

Cindy
Lansing, MI



From: Pamela Ford [mailto:jpford"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 3:16 PM
Subject: RE: pokeberries

In my area of Maryland we also grew up calling this plant inkberry. It is a prolific weed and grows in abundance around here. As the berries ripen, I pick some large branches from the plants nears the woods edge and hang them on my backyard bluebird perch. The bluebirds will then strip the berries from the branches, but usually only on days when insects are less abundant (cool or rainy days).

Pam in Harford County, MD



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 8:39 AM
Subject: berries for bluebirds/starlings

Keith Kridler Mt.Pleasant, Texas
Normally you can take a persons name and address and do a Google search and pull up a satellite photo of their house. You can actually buy higher quality satellite photos sharp enough of your house or bluebird trail to count wood duck nestboxes from space. Insurance companies and tax authorities can now tell from space when you replace or move your dog house/bird bath or add another lawnmower to the back yard.

I watched our flock of bluebirds feasting on Virginia Creeper Vine berries yesterday. These berries are less than 1/4" in diameter, a cobalt blue berry and the vines have climbed 50 to 60 feet up to the tops of our sweet gum and elm trees. The leaf is composed of FIVE smaller leaves and is often confused with poison ivy which only has THREE leaves in a cluster. This is a favorite food of starlings, robins, mockingbirds and the list goes on and on as even the Mourning Doves were eating the berries that fell on the driveway.

...



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 8:31 AM
Subject: feeding bluebirds in fall

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
I quit feeding bluebirds at a feeder many years ago when I began to get the fruit and berry producing plants on our property producing a consistent bumper crop. We also have been having very mild winters and insects are often available to the birds in this area all winter.

For those who have a backyard mealworm feeder you should mix in a couple of dozen raisins in with the larva each day. Most of the store bought raisins are sun dried in California and it takes five pounds of grapes dried to make a single pound of raisins. This concentrates the vitamins and sugars into a bite sized chunk just about the right size for a bluebird to swallow whole.

Last year California had a bumper crop of raisins but this year they have problems harvesting and drying their crop. MANY species of birds just LOVE raisins and by the pound they should be FAR cheaper than mealworms. You can mix in raisins with the common peanut butter cornmeal mixes that bluebirds will eat and you can simply add them to the feeders as a bonus item.

Starlings, robins, mockingbirds and quail (ETC) just love grapes fresh off the vine.The Concord Grape variety is a fairly small grape and millions of starlings will be feasting on these grapes grown all along the south shores of the Great Lakes right now. Did you know that Washington state vineyards produce more Concord Grapes than all of the rest of the country combined?
They expect to harvest more than 250,000 tons of Concord grapes this year in Washington and you can buy a ton of grapes from a vineyard for only $100!
California will harvest about 500 million pounds of raisins this year just from seedless grape varieties. Currants are simply a smaller fruiting variety of grape that is grown for drying in the hot California sun! Million upon millions of acres of wine and table grapes are grown all across the America's. ...KK



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 9:30 AM
Subject: Re: Bluebirds-Delawares-Nostalgia

Keith, et al,
When I was a little boy we had in our yard a fine old Delaware Grape vine. I wonder if any of you folks are familiar with this variety. I recall especially the that Bluebirds loved them, probably because they're small, - less than half the size of a Concord. (We also had lots of Concords on our big grape arbor.) The Delawares were my own favorite grape, too, but I hardly ever see them anymore. My grandmother used to make many quarts of grape-juice concentrate every fall, and the Delaware juice was particularly delicious. Both the grapes and the juice were a sort of rust color, - almost brown, - not purple like the Concords.

Now I think I'll go Search "Delaware Grapes

Bruce Burdett, SW NH



From: JOHN & BARBARA SIBIO [mailto:jsibio"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 6:11 PM
Subject: Bluebird

Today we saw five local bluebirds eating the leftover Concord grapes in our garden. I have seen them eat Thompson seedless grapes from our vines, but this is the first year we've actually caught them eating the Concords. We always leave some grapes for the birds and animals, and they always get some of my Mission figs too. Lots of food around here!

Barbara in Cloverdale CA



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2005 8:45 AM
Subject: Blackbirds and bluebirds in flocks

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas...

In the south flocks of bluebirds will gather and feed occasionally in large flocks. East of the Mississippi we get reports of 100+ bluebirds feeding in a loose flock. In west central Texas I have seen mixed flocks of Eastern, Western and Mountain bluebirds feeding within feet of each other. In Taylor county Texas near Buffalo Gap Sandy and I saw all three species sitting on a power line shoulder to shoulder and not a camera ready to fire!

This is near Abilene Texas and the bluebirds feed on mountain juniper berries and mistletoe berries that grow in the mesquite trees. Historically this was short grass prairie but with the control of fire these plant species moved up and out of Mexico with the prickly pear cactus and have covered the hills and land during the last 100 years. Photos from the last Bison hunts in this area in the 1880's show nothing but grass as far as the eye can see. The only fuel for campfires in central Texas during this time period were the woody Bison patties that the animals made from tough grass stems! Today Texas is famous for steaks grilled over mesquite wood. This is a thorny tree that produces hard small seeds like the Lentil beans you see in stores and produces an extremely hard wood with this tree trunk that sprouts from the roots if the top is killed by fire. The seeds are poisonous to cows if eaten in large quantities but pass through the gut of horses and will sprout where they are dropped.

Without the juniper and mesquite trees the bluebirds would have had to avoid the great southern plains and migrate east and west of this vast area and then on down into Mexico. Of course I am only guessing because the Spanish kept few records of birds or plants during their control of this area from the mid 1500's. KK



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 8:14 AM
Subject: Western Bluebird research in the news

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Here is a link to an article about Western Bluebirds. I have mentioned in the past about mistletoe berries being a major food source for bluebirds migrating to Texas especially West Texas. This is a parasite plant that roots into the limbs of living trees. It is either a male plant that only produce pollen or it is a female plant that receives the airborne pollen (?
might be carried by insects I need to check on that!) and then produces a small white berry or fruit. There is a gel type glue that surrounds the seeds of this plant and it is indigestible to birds. The glue coated seeds will pass through the gut of the birds and if dropped on a tree limb will dry and become glued to the bark. Roots will slowly form and grow into the limb producing an ever green ball shaped plant up to 4 feet in diameter in the host tree. It can take 20 years or more for the missile toe to mature but they start producing pollen and seeds within about 5 years. Squirrels love to build their leaf nests in these balls of missile toe and blue jays and mocking birds also commonly nest in a ball of this pest plant. Missile toe is not very cold hardy. When you see missile toe dying in a tree then you know that the limb it grows on is now dead. KK

http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20051025/sc_space/
meetthebluebirdswealthnepotismandungratefuloffspring


From: Tina Phillips [mailto:cbp6"at"cornell.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 10:22 AM
Subject: Fwd: Western Bluebird research in the news

Keith,

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce Bluebird-L to Dr. Janis Dickinson, the scientist interviewed in the article link you posted, and also the NEW DIRECTOR OF CITIZEN SCIENCE at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We are extremely pleased to have Janis here as she brings a "wealth" of scientific ingenuity and creativity to our staff. In fact, for those of you who are also members of The Birdhouse Network, you will soon be receiving information in your "End of Season" packet about a new behavioral study of cavity-nesting birds for 2006, that was developed by Janis.

In response to Keith's very informative post and the article link, Janis wanted me to pass along the following information about oak mistletoe.

Oak mistletoe is "hemiparasitic" (half parasitic). Although it sends roots into the limb and alters limb structure by causing a burl to form, it also has green leaves and photosynthesizes on its own. There is no compelling evidence that mistletoe harms the oaks it lives on, although it is likely that the shear weight becomes a problem for heavily infested trees. The relationship is an interesting one and needs more study!

Also, the article says "Dickinson said the results provide the first evidence in the avian world that inherited wealth promotes family stability," but I actually said that it's the first experimental evidence. There is a history of observational evidence that wealth and family stability go together, but manipulating wealth is not easy and requires the right system with a discrete, easily manipulated resource. By manipulating mistletoe wealth we were able to distinguish cause from effect - in other words, to distinguish between two possibilities: 1) that family stability causes accumulation of wealth and 2) that wealth increases family stability, which is what our data support. The article also failed to mention my co-author, Andrew McGowan, who contributed mightily to this study.
Dr. Janis L. Dickinson
Arthur A. Allen Director of Citizen Science
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, New York 14850



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Friday, November 25, 2005 7:20 AM
Subject: bittersweet and soil conditions

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Below is a link to a company describing some of the native and non native bittersweet. Cuttings are the best way to propagate a plant you want to multiply. Seeds from this plant need at least three years to mature to bloom and produce fruit. Gathering seed and planting them in plant buckets with sterile soil is the best way to get any plant through the dangerous part of their life where many "predators" relish fresh seedlings. One of the best seed starter containers is that old fish aquarium you have stuffed in the attic or basement. Fill the aquarium up with sterile potting soil to within 6" of the light bulbs and moisten the soil and plant your seeds. Keep the mini greenhouse in a warm room and for most seeds the light should be on 16 hours a day and this should heat them to around 80*F. It is best to have a full cover over the aquarium to keep the humidity up where small seeds will survive.

Once seedlings get their first true leaves you can move them to bigger pots and plant them outdoors at the correct time of the year. Check the soil in your garden or flower beds for PH and the plant nutrients N-P-K. If bittersweet is dying out in an area it could be to disease or changing soil PH. Three pounds of wood ashes will replace the equivalent of 2 pounds of crushed limestone to change your soil from acid to alkaline.

http://www.djroger.com/bittersweet.htm

This webpage describes some of the different bittersweet varieties and mentions some of the invasives. KK



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"verizon.net]
Sent: Friday, November 25, 2005 8:51 AM
Subject: Re: Bittersweet vine

Dottie, et al,
There is a lucrative market for Bittersweet berries, which are used in the manufacture of decorative wreathes, centerpieces, sprays, etc. The market is so lucrative that some people go to great lengths to steal them from other folks property, usually at night. Where there's a buck to be made, there'll always be crooks out there.
This market partly explains the fact that Bittersweet is becoming hard to find in some areas. I wish it weren't true, but it's true.

Moral: Keep a close eye on your Bittersweet vines, if you have any.



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 8:30 AM
To: BLUEBIRD-L

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
Pistachios are getting popular as a nut tree. The new varieties are said to produce upwards of 450,000 nuts in a single year from a mature tree. These trees are native to the middle east, Iran is the leading grower of these nuts in the world today. California is rapidly catching up and I believe they grew 340 millions pounds of them this year or less than one pound per person in North America.

OK if they grow this well and bear lots of nuts alternate years like Pecan trees do then does anyone know if birds and squirrels are a problem eating the nuts and if so what species of birds feed on them in the raw state. They developed hardy root stock for these trees back in the late 1960's that are resistant to the high salt contents of the soils in the California valleys.
It seems they would grow great all across the desert southwest with a little irrigation. These nuts wholesale for just over $1 a pound way cheaper than Pecan's do. They also reach nut bearing age rapidly similar to an almond.

Many of our cavity nesters enjoy eating chopped nut meats.

I see that California wine growers are moving new vineyards into the wilds of Sonoma county replacing Red Delicious apple orchards with Pinot Noir grapes. They are also trying to get permits to remove plantation grown Redwoods and replace them with the more lucrative wine grapes. Old apple orchards are filled with cavities for small birds and bluebirds thrive in the well mowed orchards. KK



From: lviolett [mailto:lviolett"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 3:48 AM
Subject: Re: "Nuts"

Keith, except for commercial farming applications, our focus should be on preserving and replanting trees indigenous to our own specific locations.

For example, my California yard can grow pecan, pistachio and just about any tree from anywhere. But I have chosen to plant native nut trees such as Southern California Black Walnut. Developers scraped off California Walnut trees and they are now one of the many endangered/threatened species in our area. Very hard to find and I finally located some at a native plant nursery. It seems upside down that it is almost impossible to procure native local trees while plants from other countries are shoved at us.

Other nut-bearing trees which have been replanted in my suburban yard are Coast Live Oaks. Since it will take decades for oaks and walnut trees to mature, Palo Verde and Mesquites have been planted which will quickly provide seeds as a food substitute.

By choosing to plant native plants, we are also providing correct links for entire ecosystems. Green oak leaves are a critical link food link for our butterflies and, among many other attributes, are hosts for mistletoe which are a winter food source for Bluebirds.

Complex interplay between local plants, soil, insects, bacteria, wildlife is still beyond our knowledge; and planting trees from other countries into our home landscapes should be discouraged. As good as Pistachios are, they are not the correct ecological link.

Linda Violett
Yorba Linda, Calif.



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 8:36 AM
Subject: "Nuts" and Ginko's

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
The Ginkgo tree was rediscovered in China and brought to the USA in the 1800's. Fossil remains show that the Ginkgo tree was widespread through out many areas of the USA during past eons and then probably became extinct in North America during the last ice age. Does the Ginkgo tree fall under reintroducing a once native trees species or introducing an exotic?

In the British Isles they exterminated the Beaver from all streams and lakes in the 1400's. There is little benefit to reintroduce this species in a modern British Isles but they are debating this now. Some want to bring Beaver over from Europe and reintroduce it. It might benefit the cavity nesters but devastate landscape plants in a mostly urban country.

Using plants in landscape in urban areas: You have to choose plants that will fit your lot, your soil type your location and I like to use/recommend a variety or species that benefit the most diverse wildlife during the most diverse time frame during the year. I have planted more than 500 black walnuts on our land back in 1984. They probably were not native to my property and they will be bulldozed for new housing developments when Sandy and I are gone. They will be mature in the year 2384. I gathered about 20 gallons of nuts this year from my trees and the squirrels planted about the same amount. A single 20 year old Pistachio tree might have produced the same amount of pounds of nuts in and area 1/500 the size of my planting!

Each of us have to look at the species we want to save or attract to our yards. Look in the area to see what is common and what is really rare. Find out what other species feed or live in the plants or depend on them. I was reading annual reports of government experimental stations last night for
1881>1883. North Carolina recommended 12 different varieties of Chestnut
trees. Nine different pecans (only one is still available today) about 17 different varieties/species of walnuts. They listed about 20 nut trees that should NOT be grown as they were a "waste of space" the black walnut was one of these.

Cornell University was a land grant college and they listed the Concord grape as the most valuable grape grown in America. They devoted the entire yearly report to grapes and which species to grow where.

...

When you read of the stuff we were doing in the early 1880's and the sheer amounts of plant species that had been shared by scientists already and then think that the first ships to arrive with Columbus and the Norsemen and the Chinese all carried plants, weeds, and seeds it really is hard to know what is truly "native". Some non-native species and varieties produce more food that is readily accepted by our native birds. Some landscape plants produce nothing of interest for the birds. It all depends on what you want to see in your yard or property.

I will be in Paris Texas tonight giving a program on cavity nesters and planting to attract wildlife. Turn right around and give a program on spring flowering bulbs....It is impossible to make everyone happy with what you plant. I'll do a survey on the % of people interested in planting for wildlife and those that plant for making their neighbors happy. KK


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:42 AM
Subject: Re: "Nuts"

Dear Keith, Linda and friends,

We have allot of large Black Walnut trees at our farm in Cloverdale, CA (if you go to our web site below and click the page "Field Vineyard Cottage" you can see some of them in the distance around our vineyard) and we leave them alone.

I agree with Linda about planting more native plants and trees not so much because they are disappearing (which they are), but because they have adapted (as have the wild life to them) over millions of years of evolution to condition here in California.

Be it flood or drought California native plants can handle both, but non-native trees (particularly fruit bearing) need plenty of water to produce. Water is a valuable resource here in California (as it is everywhere), which is used for producing food crops, raising livestock, industry, people and even washing the car of Sunday, but we are seeing more of a shift to native plants in landscaping and less planting of water consuming lawns and plants all in the name of water conservation which is a step in the right direction.

As for vineyards. Planting still goes on, but new laws requiring permits have been pasted here in Sonoma County to slow down the planting, so I'm seeing less planting in new areas.

However, where I've seen vineyards going into areas that had once been densely forested, I see more Bluebirds and more wildlife in general in these newly planted areas, because these open areas are places that Bluebirds enjoy foraging for food as do's other wildlife (i.e. Hybrid Wild Turkey and Black-tail Deer much to the discomfort of vineyard growers.)

Yes, I agree with Keith that Bluebird did and still do nest in the cavities of old Gravenstein (http://www.farmtrails.org/applefair.html) and other apple trees, and I sometime run across a few nests, but we have a very large Raccoon population here so these nest are easily hit by these marauders.

Hence nest boxes are better then trees, but insects in these old apple trees and in adjoining vineyards too are still consumed by our beloved Bluebirds.

...

John Schuster



From: happywebl"at"comcast.net [mailto:happywebl"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 1:37 PM
Subject: "Nuts" and natives

Keith, Linda and List,

I agree, also about native plants being used for landscaping. We took a walk (here in Cloverdale) this weekend and saw a tree full of birds feasting on Manzanita berries. There is an area near our home that is just native brush, and there are quite a few Manzanitas in there, about 15 to 20 feet high. They are more like large shrubs than trees, but are very attractive evergreens with beautiful red berries, like little apples.

There's another tree I'd like to identify in the preserve behind my home. It gets white flowers in the spring, and is also a small tree. Late in the summer it is full of fruit that appears to be a small plum, and the birds come in flocks to eat them. They clean it in a day or two.

I would be happy with either one in my yard, as they are pretty and hardy, and good for the wildlife.

Barbara in Cloverdale, CA



From: happywebl"at"comcast.net [mailto:happywebl"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 1:37 PM
Subject: "Nuts" and natives

Keith, Linda and List,

I agree, also about native plants being used for landscaping. We took a walk (here in Cloverdale) this weekend and saw a tree full of birds feasting on Manzanita berries. There is an area near our home that is just native brush, and there are quite a few Manzanitas in there, about 15 to 20 feet high. They are more like large shrubs than trees, but are very attractive evergreens with beautiful red berries, like little apples.

There's another tree I'd like to identify in the preserve behind my home. It gets white flowers in the spring, and is also a small tree. Late in the summer it is full of fruit that appears to be a small plum, and the birds come in flocks to eat them. They clean it in a day or two.

I would be happy with either one in my yard, as they are pretty and hardy, and good for the wildlife.

Barbara in Cloverdale, CA



From: lviolett [mailto:lviolett"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2006 6:10 PM
Subject: Re: Feeders/HOSP/Natives

Interesting comments, Rob. My comment to Crystal was in response to her
SOS post on House Sparrows going into her boxes. Most of us probably
started with feeders, then added nestboxes and then joined Bluebird-L. So
when I saw Crystal's post, I was fairly confident she had feeders amongst those nestboxes. And, if so, there was a good probability that the feeders might be attracting House Sparrows.

Now, feeders are a great avenue for folks to become more aware of local bird communities and start becoming concerned for their welfare (such as nestboxes). In fact, putting out birdseed at our mountain cabin was the first step to becoming a Bluebirder.

As problems are encountered with artificial feeders, modifications are made on what is offered and how it is offered to avoid House Sparrow problems and diseases being spread. But the best choice, in my opinion, is to replace
artificial feeders with native plants. Native birds have evolved with
native plants. Native plants support insects which are the foundation to our food chains. Native natural food sources are fresh and contains vital elements not contained in, for example, sugar water nectar. Native foods become available exactly when they are needed. For example, desert Ocotillos look like dead twigs until spring when they bloom just at the moment migrating hummingbirds need them along their migratory routes.

I have hummingbird feeders with artificial nectar at my home and even that is probably upsetting the balance. Anna Hummingbirds are the usual visitors to the feeders. Annas are increasing and it might be caused by artificial feeders. Perhaps they are able to defend feeders more efficiently than other hummers. Rufus hummers are in my yard, too. But they are usually chased from the feeders by Annas and can be seen sipping nectar from native sages and non-native abutilons. Rufus seem to be on the decline and that might be due to loss of habitat and less tendency to be helped by hummer feeders. Eventually, as my yard matures, even hummingbird feeders will probably be removed.

And, yes, water is a very important issue. In our arid part of the world, natural streams are being diverted to concrete aquifers and drainage systems. Nothing is being left for wildlife. I keep several shallow basins of water on the ground so they can be tipped over and refilled often. For those who are away from their homes during the work week, a water mister is a great choice. A continual light mist of water can be positioned in a tree where some of the droplets collect on leaves and drip to a flat rock. This provides a constant source of fresh disease-free drinking water with no trouble or upkeep.

And while we might be able to gain some knowledge by watching birds at feeders, even more can be gained by watching interaction of birds foraging amongst flowers, shrubs and trees rather than having them lined up eating from metal and plastic feeders.

It is all a matter of educated choices.
The more I observe, the more I understand how beautifully things were placed and timed in nature. My ultimate goal is to restore as much of that framework as possible back into my small yard.

You won't find House Sparrows in the middle of an uninhabited forest because there is no one there to feed them.

Linda Violett
Yorba Linda, Calif.



From: Tree Greenwood [mailto:doctree"at"crosslink.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006 11:40 PM
Subject: Re: Feeders & House Sparrows

On Fri 17 Feb 2006 at 12:01, lviolett
<lviolett"at"earthlink.net> wrote, in part:
> ... One of the best ways to control House Sparrows is to remove
> feeders that House Sparrows are utilizing. Detailed discussions on
> the topic are available in the archives ...

That may be true in suburban areas. I live between two diary farms where House Sparrows and European Starlings thrive on grain fed in open troughs. I doubt that removing my feeders would have any measurable effect on the number of House Sparrows that try to nest in boxes on or near my property.

> In my opinion, feeders generally do more harm than good for wildlife
> because feeders upset the natural balance.

Maybe. I put up feeders for my pleasure. I like having lots of birds around, even if a few (a max'
of seven in the last two days) HOSP mingle with the flocks of Goldfinches, House Finches and Grackles.
Carolina Wrens, Chickadees, Downy and Hairy and Redbellied Woodpeckers, Song Sparrows, Blue Jays and others are regulars we've counted.

Building houses, barns, roads and factories upsets 'the natural balance' much more than putting out some seed and suet. Creating a monoculture, more commonly called 'a beautiful lawn,' definitely tips things out-of-balance. Compared to those, the impact of my feeders on the balance of nature is minuscule.

I like watching the wee feathered creatures in my side yard around my feeders. I'm selfish that way. The feeders are for me; any benefit to the birds is secondary but still important.

> Many folks will put up seed feeders and, at the same time, use poison
> in their yards. For those with feeders, try to replace them with
> native plant food sources.

Linda, I also love of native plants. Over the last 20 years, my wife and I fought invasive exotic plants. I confess that I've even resorted to using RoundUp on some large expanses of Bermuda grass. I also like natural gourds for birdhouses and grow some every year. I used to lose all my squash and gourd vines to squash vine borers. Now I dust the base of the vines with Sevin and I'm able to store winter squash and to produce gourds large enough for Purple Martins. I don't apologize for my use of Sevin. It works. I am careful to use it only at the base of the vines and never after blossoms appear. I minimize the amount of and types of chemicals that I use, but sometimes there's no alternative that's both effective and economical.

I read and studied ways to recreate habitat for native birds. One book suggested leaving an area tilled and allowing birds to plant it. Know what?
Native birds LOVE poison ivy berries and planted lots of them in our wildlife habitat. Know what?
Native or not, the poison ivy had to go! I even chose to use other than manual methods to remove it. I now choose the native plants that I want on my property, often from my favorite supplier at
http://www.hylabrookfarm.com/ They specialize in
Virginia natives.

When we moved to our home, the front had a row of Japanese Yews, three Norway Maple trees and a scraggly Bermuda grass lawn because of the shade.
Out back was mixed grasses, mostly crab, quack and Bermuda. Twenty-some years later, we have an orchard of dwarf fruit trees, an overhead grape arbor with a nice swing underneath, trellises with climbing roses and Virginia creeper, and a row of Weeping Willow trees. One Norway maple is dead and proof that a snag can be incorporated into a landscape without being an eyesore. There's an evergreen thicket with spruce, pine, juniper, cedar and native holly trees that acts as a windbreak and habitat. We added two small ponds; one is an elaborate birdbath with water trickling down a series of basins year round. Oak, Walnut and Pecan trees may finally produce nuts this year. Two Mulberry trees are covered with birds when the berries are ripe. Two Hickory saplings are doing OK. So are a couple of native Chestnuts (see http://www.acf.org/ ) and maybe one of them will be the one-in-a-million that turns out to be naturally blight resistant.

But I still feed birds, even the House Sparrows that come here from the dairy farms. I will deal with them over the next couple of months along with the Starlings that mix with Grackles, Brown- headed Cowbirds and Redwing Blackbirds. Sometimes it takes traps and a pellet rifle to tip the balance in favor of native birds.

Take care,

R J 'Tree' Greenwood
Catlett VA



From: rob barron [mailto:rebel1956"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 10:55 AM
Subject: RE: Unusual weather

.... Rob wrote: "when I lived in upstate NY, Bluebirds stayed all winter even though it often got down to 20 below zero. A plant science professor at a local university did an experiment by planting the Bluebird droppings left in roost boxes and a lot of what came up was Staghorn Sumac and American Bittersweet."

Just a reminder that there is a NON-NATIVE form of bittersweet (Oriental or Asiatic, Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb) that is extremely invasive. See an article a horticulturist and I just wrote at http://www.ecfla.org/articles/badbittersweet.htm. Unfortunately, the Oriental species is suspected of hybridizing with the native American species (Celastrus scandens L).

Oh the damage we do when we mess with the ecosystem.....

Bet from CT

I have a list of environmentally responsible choices of plants that will help bluebirds survive nasty weather at http://www.sialis.org/plants.htm



From: Sara Ann [mailto:sawright"at"direcway.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 11:34 AM
Subject: Re: bad bittersweet

Too true, Bet. Too true.

Here in the Ozarks, we used to see vistas of dogwoods and redbuds in the spring. Now, with the dogwood blight and clear cutting, we have beautiful white vistas of........bradford pears whose seeds our sweet birds have generously spread.

Sara Ann


From: Nancy Hanna [mailto:nancy.hanna2"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 1:10 PM
Subject: Thanks for Attract/ Ca Natives for Western BB's

...I have a lot of native plants, the correct boxes (Don and I make them together). I live in a Native oak woodland near open-space (BB habitat in Ca) with 3 wonderful old oak trees on my property.They are all around me even nesting in boxes down the street from my house! So they are here, just not nesting in MY garden. ... I do get some more plants yesterday! . If not this year, the next!
Some good plants for Western Bluebirds: Toyon, Mahonia Nevinii, and Blue Elderberry.

Thanks again!


From: lviolett [mailto:lviolett"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 6:58 PM
Subject: Re: Ca Natives for Western BB's

Nancy, you did your homework on native plants which provide fruit-food for Western Bluebirds. In addition to the fruit sources, you can add native plants which support edible insects and caterpillars . . . Coffeeberry, California Aster, Ceanothus. In my hotter area, larvae can be found on species such as Baja Fairy Duster and Sticky Monkeyflower. Nasturtiums are reliable for attracting the non-native but edible cabbage butterfly larvae.

If sages are native to your area, be sure to plant them for other birds. I haven't been able to discover for sure what the birds are eating out of those plants . . . maybe grasshoppers.

Have fun with your butterfly and insect garden buffet.

Linda Violett
Yorba Linda, Calif.



From: Perez Veronica [mailto:v_perez11"at"yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2006 2:14 PM
Subject: To plant or not to plant
Hi,
I am torn between planting and not planting bluebird attracting bushes . See I have a mockingbird who I like having around and feed in the front yard with mealworms . He does not bother my birds at all in the backyard ,he used to but I withheld mealies for a long time and shifted the feeder away , so now after he eats his mealies he flies away. However, I think if I plant winter-bearing berry bushes in the backyard he might get territorial of this and chase all the birds away.
So ...
a) Are there any berry bushes that might be less attractive to my mocker so I can get the bluebirds to frequent my yard more often ?
b) Would 1 or 2 bushes be enough to make any bird territorial ?
c) Are bluebirds more inclined to visit mealworm feeders in the winter ?

My timing has always been off. Everytime a BB comes visit the bacyard either the mealies have been consumed by the chipmunk or the robin or have been fried under the sun (As you all can tell I am still in stage 1 of mealie feeder training )

....
Veronica
Richmond, VA


Continued in Part 2


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