Friday, July 15, 2011

Bird supermarket

Good bird habitat needs a generous variety of growing things, and Reifel Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary fills the bill. (And the beaks. Sorry.) And some, harvested elsewhere, would do for human food, too.

Here's a sampler of what we found this week.

Just flowers, as yet:

Mullein. We only saw a couple of plants. Rather unexpected; they are more common on roadsides in dry country.

These are tall plants.

Nightshade. It produces red berries which the birds eat, even though they are toxic to humans.

Lathyrus, beach pea. Produces edible peas later on.

Silverweed. In the rose family, and edible.

Thistles. The seeds are a bird favourite. Also, these are hosting many juicy bugs, of all sizes and shapes. (Check it out full size.)

Fruit ready to be eaten:

Wild cherries. A bit on the sour side. They get eaten quickly by small birds, leaving the seeds hanging by a bit of skin.

Crabapples. These are delicious. I ate one, frozen on the tree last winter. Nothing better!

Hawthorn. They will turn red as they ripen.

Salal. The tiny, inconspicuous flowers are sticky from stem to petals. 

Salal berries, not ripe yet. They are sticky and furry now; they'll get more so as they ripen. Ripe, they are a deep purple, with a super-grape flavour. They make great jam, but are difficult to harvest; the berries are mushy and everything sticks to your hands. Birds love them.

Hiding down in the grasses, a vine of ripening native blackberries.

Red elderberries. Dad used to add the flowers to pancake batter to make elderberry fritters. The berries are better left to the birds.

Black twinberry. They told us, when I was a kid, that they were poisonous. They're definitely unpalatable, but some birds eat them Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to the flowers.

More twinberries, because I like the bright red of the bracts in the sunlight.

The seeds:

Lupins gone to seed, surrounded by daisies. Some lupins are edible, some are poisonous, to humans and birds. I don't know about these.

Dock. A bird feast.

One of the carrot family plants.


These were growing along the edge of the gravel path. I'd never seen them before, but they're some variety of bindweed.

The invasive purple loosestrife. Pretty, but bad news.

Another invasive plant; the evergreen blackberry. A nasty vine, armed to the teeth with needle-sharp thorns. There is this to say in its favour; the berries are tastier than even the Himalayan blackberry. Too bad the birds poop the seeds all over the place, though.

I love daisies like this, in great masses. It's another introduced weed, and a bee magnet.

Daisies, grasses, and one of the lagoons.

And we missed the salmonberries, thinbleberry, Himalayan blackberry, vetches, most of the grasses, cattails, etc. Bird heaven!


  1. I had to smile when I looked over this post - with the exception of the loosestrife and beach pea, you could have taken these pictures right here in my neighborhood!!!

  2. Beautiful shots, each and every one of them.

    Nice blog work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the Next Blog button on the blue Nav Bar located at the top of my site. I frequently just travel around looking for other blogs which exist on the Internet, and the various, creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks, Inspector C.

    Clytie, I guess I could; you're just a little ways down the coast.


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