Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter Feast at the Hawthorne

The yard was amass with various birds this week on a very cold blustery day including robins, starlings, mourning doves, wrens, cardinals and red bellied woodpeckers. The temperatures have been persistently in the 20s and 30s with windy conditions since before Christmas. 

A flock of at least 30 robins were feasting excitedly on the ‘Winter King’ Green Hawthorne (Crataegus viridis L.) tree’s brilliant red berries. There was another flock of starlings searching for errant seeds or morsels in the side yard. They suddenly flew into formation though as a red tailed hawk soared over. 

The berries are too hard in the fall for the birds to eat, but soften, perhaps even ripen after being frozen and then edible for the over-wintering birds and other animals. 

The Green Hawthorn is one of my favorite native trees, as it has beautiful silvery grey bark which defoliates as it grows, revealing an inner orange bark. It has delicate white flowers in the spring and its' dark green foliage turns bronze and gold in the fall. Finally, in the winter it is bedecked with these lovely large red berries, which hang like miniature ornaments until the birds arrive and have their feast.

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