Re: Planting natives for wildlife really pays off

Claudia Freitas

I would love to have used Prunus but I have a goat and an alpaca and the seeds of Prunus are poisonous.  I have used native plants throughout our 3 acres of land, put not Prunus of any type.  People need to be aware


On Sat, Aug 22, 2020 at 1:49 PM Sue Girard <susansales535@...> wrote:
It's Party Time in the Prunus!  *no masks required*

Most of us work hard to lure wild birds to our home patch. I used seed feeders till my shrub and tree hedgerow started to provide cover. Now mature, this drought hardy (no irrigation at all)  'Darwin's Garden' features an unpruned 40' run of Prunus ilicifolia ssp.lyonii ("Catalina Cherry") now dripping with clusters of pulp-free fruits, ripening in stages from green to dull purple-black.

A multi-tasker, the prunus bloomed & set heavily this spring, feeding many genus/species of native pollinators in the process. Now songbirds birds roost, dangle, and hover to peel off and consume the antioxidant-rich skin.. The Jays harvest the inner seed, burying it for later. Coyotes and ground squirrels collect fallen seeds and eat the skins, as well as those from the Coffeeberry in the hedge. Beneath the unpruned shrubs, leaf litter draws CA Thrasher, Thrush, Spotted Towhees, CA Towhee, and CA Quail.

The Prunus is currently bringing in Hooded and Bullock's Oriole females and young; Black headed Grosbeak females; Western Tanager males (breeding & non-breeding plummages), as well as females. Year-rounder House Finches and Scrub Jays are feeding on fruits as well. Wilson's and Orange-crowned Warblers and Warbling Vireos, Oak Titmice, Chickadees, and Bushtits glean insects in the hedge. While the prunus was in bloom, a Pacific Slope Flycatcher eyed the high insect activity and built a nest nearby, rearing at least one young.
Originally planted as a loose mixed-natives wind screen, the Catalina Cherry has outlasted all the Ceanothus, redbud, and exotic Mediterranean plantings. This hedge embodies the rewards of Planting Natives FOR Natives in a heavy increase in bird and pollinator traffic without the mess, cost, and inconvenience of seed feeding . Works for me, as it means less time as a yard janitor and more time for birding! 

Sue Girard
Northside Nipomo

**for in-depth pollinator planting Info, consult Dr Doug Tallamy's two excellent books on why natives are such an important part of our sadly disintegrating food chain.

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