Saturday, December 13, 2014

Close to Home Birding Adventure...Fruit Trees

Accent plantings around homes should not be discounted for birding, especially when trees of the Prunus (Cherry, assorted cultivars) or Sorbus (Rowan, non-native planting) genus are involved. Here in Lolo, MT (probably most urban areas of the west) both types of tree have been planted extensively in yards. I did a little survey five days ago. I counted 46 Mountain Ash (Rowan) and 22 Cherry trees over a circuit of about 4.5 miles, loaded with fruit. In my immediate neighborhood trees averaged about 215 feet apart. If you check the photos below you can see how loaded the trees are with food. Abundant food is definitely a formula for finding birds, so concentrated the birds come to you! Well almost, but they will be in earshot.

Amazingly, I detected nary a waxwing or grosbeak during the survey. However, it was just a matter of time with this food resource...Yep, heard several waxwing perched in our yard coming home early on Wednesday (2 days after survey). All turned out to be Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedorum). The photo at bottom shows diagnostic characters of this bird: yellow belly, brown mantle, red tipped secondaries, white at bill base.
Drooping form of Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

Mountain Ash berry

Cherry cultivar with small crop of berries

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedorum)