Sunday, August 29, 2010

Red-bellied Woodpecker Also a Walkingstick Feeder

Jerene and I spent the late morning at Carpenter's Woods in Philadelphia and ran into both warblers and more people who see everyday how Hercules Club is used by both birds and insects. Yet this use seems to fall on deaf ears with those who think it is some sort of incredibly noxious invasive. I've yet to see any evidence of that. And when you see truly noxious weeds like Japanese Knotweed you have to ask yourself it if isn't throughly misguided to be trying to eradicate Hercules Club.

Above you see a quick watercolor based on a photo I took today of another robin feeding. I'm going to try to leave my artwork off of this blog since it's really about the birds that feed on Devil's Walkingstick. But occasionally I'll slip one in.

Today's new bird was another woodpecker: the Red-bellied Woodpecker. The woodpecker feeders are adding up along with the thrushes. Today we found a Wood Thrush feeding along with numerous robins.

Black-throated Blues arrived recently in Carpenter's Woods and at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Though they've been in the very near vicinity I haven't yet found them on the fruit itself. I'm sure I will soon.

I had thought of setting up an online database for entering information on birds feeding on Devil's Walkingstick. But it's turned out to be easier, at least so far, to set up a publishable Google Docs spreadsheet instead. A link to that is at top. I'll add any sightings left here as comments to it. If there turns out to be large interest(very unlikely) I'll allow some others to edit the spreadsheet.

I'm also thinking of asking that this blog be added to the Nature Blog Network. That should bring more attention to both it and to Hercules Club. So if you're reading this and would like to keep track of what birds feed on this great shrub please let me know by adding your comments here. The more data I have the more impetus I have to manage the spreadsheet and put the blog on NBN.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Could I Forget Catbirds?

I spent a few hours at Carpenter's Woods in Philadelphia this morning, primarly looking for migrating wood warblers, but actually happy with anything I found. And of course what I found most of were catbirds. In this part of the country they may be the most seen and heard bird in the woods. I know that the Red-eyed Vireo was once reported to have that honor but today I think the Catbird might win.

In any case the catbird is one more species that feeds on Devil's Walkingstick. Catbirds and robins both crash landed in the fruits this morning. Since my primary purpose in being outside is to see and draw birds it's enough of a distraction to bring a camera along. A video camera is just not up for consideration. Nonetheless it would be interesting to put a video camera on the fruit of Devil's Walkingstick and see what happens.

Most entries seem like crash landings. This might be partially due to the fact that the fruits, though a huge spray, are actually tiny in themselves. And at this time of the year most of the feeders are big: thrushes, catbirds, woodpeckers. Because they seem to crashland there's a lot of commotion when one of these bigger birds lands and then they get buried in the spray of berries. I have to assume that all of them are eating the fruit and that there is no chance that anything else, like insect-eating, is going on. But I can't positively say that.

Another new bird today was the Northern Cardinal. A Carolina Wren was in the near vicinity but I never actually saw him on the Walkingstick.

One topic for another day: Aralia racemosa. We have some growing in our front yard, a free plant from Morris Arboretum for members. It has a spray of berries, like Aralia Spinosa, but I've yet to see any birds on it. And I don't know it's relationship to Devil's Walkingstick, or Aralia spinosa. As I said, topics for another day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do Birds Need Devil's Walkingstick?

Every year about this time I start seeing birds feeding on the American native shrub called 'Aralia Spinosa', 'Devils Walkingstick', or 'Hercules Club' among others. And yet at the same time I keep hearing about it being invasive. So recently I posted an entry about it on my blog Arts, Birds, Nature.

After I'd done so I thought it would be nice to keep track of how many birds are seen feeding on it this fall. But that really wasn't going to work on my blog, which is not so specific. However it took less than 15 minutes to create a new blog on blogger.

So here's my idea. If you stumble upon this blog and you see birds feeding on Devil's Walkingstick berries this fall please add a comment to the blog stating the birds you saw and your location.

It could very well be that this will be the only post on this blog, or perhaps that I'll be the only poster. But then again you never know. I've run into many people who agree with me when I talk about how many birds feed on it. Perhaps they'll find their way here.

These are the birds I've seen so far this late summer/early fall:
American Robin
Wood Thrush
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker