Crow’s Nest: The end of winter(berry)

January 18, 2014

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


Today is the day that the robins will finish off the winterberry holly fruit. Yesterday was the day they started. There’s always one or two days each year during which the shrub is stripped bare either by robins or bluebirds.

Our winterberry holly is well positioned outside our kitchen window. We first get to enjoy the beautiful fruit of this native shrub (Ilex verticillata), then we get to enjoy the flurry of activity as the birds enjoy eating them. The fruit must reach a point in ripeness that they are all taken at once.

Today is a big day here for birding. George Tallman has organized another survey of the red-headed woodpecker, and teams are deployed around the preserve to observe them using a very specific, consistent and repeatable protocol. The data will be compared with November’s survey and will add to the documentation of this unique occurrence.

Right now George is pacing outside the barn, waiting for the teams to return with the data, like an expectant father outside a maternity ward. We’re all excited to hear the report, especially since we’ve reliably been hearing and seeing the red-headed woodpeckers every day. We are grateful to all the volunteers who make this research possible.