Wednesday, April 11, 2007

vireos and others in the thicket

So one of my constant study topics is the effects of invasive plant species.
Sadly, I have been around long enough to have visited woods and fields in their more natural succession stages, before invasives had gotten such a strong foot hold, and I remember the old plant communities and miss the diversity, but I digress, I am supposed to be revealing the vireo hiding place.
When I first moved to this farm (I have inhabited many farms around the state) I was not very familiar with coral berry (symphoricarpos orbiculatis) which is a member of the honeysuckle family and is supposedly native, and a winter food source for wildlife, but it is a durn weed. There is a good reason it is called "devils shoestring" and it is taking over my pasture and the understory of the nearby woods (along with the non-native invasive privit) The birds are largely uninterested in its red berries, even in the dead of winter, but it does remain fairly evergreen and having stoloniferous runners, makes a tight, tangled mat of thigh high vegation.
The morning I found the vireos, I was hiking up the hillside to the top of the pasture with the dogs running ahead and they veered off course and ran into a a dense thicket of coral berry which erupted in birds! Vireos, warblers, phoebes, peewees and other birds that I normally think of as tree top dwellers flushed out of those thickets like popcorn and headed in every direction. The ground under the canopy of coral berry was their hiding place till th weather cleared...hmm, who would have thunk it.


Bill April 12, 2007 at 8:45 PM  

Hey Cady May, hate to bring my anxiety here. Missouri just doesn't look good at all. Hope you are doing ok over there in TN. It's unbelievable. This is not a studied observation, and I don't necessarily know what I am looking at but it seems a full blossom loss in most every kind of large tree. The only green in miles and miles of forest are the cherries, with their tent catapillars, and their green ain't too good. I drove town and beyond today getting back well after dark--not a single insect on my windshield, the odd small moth to be seen. Went to a hill-top forest. Dead silence, a couple of red-bellies, squirrels, dead, dead silence, full leaf kill in the post oaks and red oaks. Its a huge view out over the valley north of the St. Francois mountains, pure grey-brown no green other than the grass--winter or late fall. I saw some bank swallows in town acting like they were feeding on something...

Cady May April 12, 2007 at 8:50 PM  

oh, oh, I am so, so sorry. It does sound like you are worse than us. I did go out and look for insects today, as you got me to thinking about it. I heard crickets in the grass, but saw nothing else, no bees, wasps, etc. I found two dead, whole swallowtails (not bird eaten) I did not find many birds today, the ones in the thicket are gone. I will post more reports in my blog as I keep trying to assess things. Do keep me posted.

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