Yesterday, while hurricane winds were blowing, I was out collecting seeds. No one told me of the dangers of this job. The high force winds were literally ripping the female catkins from the trembling aspen trees. There were severe thunderstorms watches issued, but I had to collect the catkins. Aspens, poplars and cottonwoods are unique in that the seeds will immediately germinate if they land on the right surface – warm and wet soil.
Of course, the winds were carrying the seeds across the road and depositing them all over the road shoulders. I really did have to remind myself that there was traffic to pay attention to and that the dog, my assistant nursery manager, was utterly unaware of any cars.
With our newly collected prizes in hand, we immediately laid the seeds on fresh, wet soil and left them to steam in the greenhouse. If all goes well, within days there should be little trembling aspen sprouting.
I have sadly overlooked this species considering them a weed and junk tree. In my ignorance I did not realize their contribution to the environment, especially along eroding rivers. I think this tree will become highly prized in the future as we see more heavy rain events like we saw this spring.
So listen up to this incredible story. Last year, just as the orioles were fledging, we had 3 days where the weather got super cold and we had torrential rain. One baby oriole had just fledged from her nest and had been taught by her parents to come to our oriole feeder for grape jelly. We gave her the unimaginative name of Baby. Through those 3 days we kept her alive, though she was soaked and chilled to the bone, by always having one well in the feeder filled with jelly though the rain washed it away, almost immediately. Baby got into the habit of landing on the cement window sill and peer inside. Sometimes she would have to tap the window with her beak to get our attention. She would wait miserably for us to come out with the grape jelly and fill the feeder.
Baby made it and matured into a beautiful female oriole with a tell tale brown smudge between her eyes. She migrated in the fall with all our blessings. We were sad to see her go but ever so glad our lives had intertwined with her’s.
Well, today I was having coffee and Baby came to the window sill and peered in. Yes, there was that tell tale brown smudge between her eyes. Rick brought the grape jelly out and filled the feeder. She gobbled up the grape jelly and flew off.
It is going to be a great birding year! If you, too, want to attract and feed orioles check out the orioles article. Good luck.