Saturday, March 20, 2010

Planting Bluebird Seeds

If you guessed high fiber breakfast cereal, you’re wrong. This is what I cleaned out of a nest box that was being used as a winter roost by several Bluebirds. I had four boxes that were heavily used by wintering Bluebirds this year. Are you wondering why I saved a bowl full of the mess?

Bluebirds wintering in Ohio, subsist primarily on berries. The flesh of the berries is digested by the birds, but the seeds pass on through. This causes the roost boxes to accumulate a collection of seeds along with the organic fertilizer. This journey through the bird benefits the seed. The seed coat is weakened by the digestive juices and leaves the seed in perfect condition to absorb moisture and germinate.

Here’s a sample of some of the seeds in the mix. I can recognize Eastern Red Cedar and some type of grape, but I have no ID on most of them. We had a lot of shrubs this year that carried fruit long into the winter, so there are many possible candidates.

I decided to plant the nest box cleanings and see what germinated. I always keep a few pots full of compost handy for just such an undertaking. There are probably a lot of other seeds that are already in the pot, but all tree or shrub seedlings should come from the Bluebirds.

The planting area was made available courtesy of a squirrel that didn’t want me to raise a blueberry bush in the end pot. I had seven pots, each with a different type of blueberry that I was starting. Every day, the squirrel dug a hole in the center of the end pot and pushed the blueberry bush onto the ground. I replanted the bush each time. I tried moving the pot to the other end of the bunch and the squirrel followed. I finally found the bush chewed into little pieces. Hopefully, the squirrel won’t have any objections to a shrub collection growing here.

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