Stripped Clean

Reminder: Solstice Celebration at Chavez/Huerta Solar Calendar tomorrow, Wednesday Dec. 21, at 4 pm. Details.

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

Toyon berry cluster stripped clean (Heteromeles arbutifolia) early December

No sooner had I waxed lyrical about the beautiful berries (“pomes”) of the native Toyon tree in the Native Plant Area (See “Signs of the Season,” Oct 16 2022) than they were gone — stripped clean. I observed individual finches taking individual berries, “Berry Feast,” Nov 2 2022 and crows doing likewise, “Crow Berries,” Nov 15 2022, but I I was totally unprepared for the sight that met my eyes earlier this month. There was not a single berry left on the entire tree. I thought possibly the rainstorms we had might have knocked berries to the ground, but a close inspection showed not one berry down there in the leaf litter below the tree. This was a berry feast by the birds. I wish I’d been there to document it as it was happening.

Could humans have harvested these berries to make pie or jam? They would have had to have a very fine-toothed picker with a long extension, and even then they could not have claimed every last berry on the tree. This was done with an efficiency and thoroughness that only the descendants of dinosaurs can muster.

Here’s what the Toyon looked like before the birds descended and stripped it bare:

Toyon berry cluster (Heteromeles arbutifolia) in mid-October

Burrowing Owl Update

Sad to say, the Burrowing Owl could not be found this morning at 7:30 in either of its habitual perches, or anywhere else. A second check at 9 am had the same result. Apparently the bird is taking another day off. Watch this space tomorrow for an update.

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2 thoughts on “Stripped Clean

  • The post “Stripped Clean” reminded me— about a week ago, I was about a block away from the Emeryville Target store and saw this tree with loads of red berries and what must have been 50 starlings chowing down. I live in Berkeley and don’t recall seeing starlings before-I grew up in New York City where starlings were common and kind of a pest. Have I been just not observant or are starlings new around here?

  • WOW!!

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