Monday, March 16, 2015

Plant an Oak, Feed a Chickadee

Caterpillars feasting on oak leaves -  Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden
Here is a little 2nd grade math exercise from Doug Tallamy.
  • Doug's native white oak tree had 410 caterpillars (19 species) found at head height.  His neighbor's exotic Bradford pear (which is the same size) had one inchworm.
  • Chickadee parents deliver 350 to 570 caterpillars every day to their chicks for 16-18 days in the nest.
Question:  Was the oak or the Bradford pear better for the environment and why?

Doug Tallamy is the author of the popular book Bringing Nature Home.  He is coming to Springfield to the Conservation Nature Center to give two presentations.
  • Bringing Nature To Your Home March 28 • Saturday • 10–11 AM
  • Creating Living Landscapes  March 28  Saturday  1-2 PM
To get a little preview of what he is talking about (and to get the answer to today's quiz above) your required reading for this assignment is his New York Times article The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening.  I guarantee you will enjoy it and learn a little.  It is entirely painless - except maybe for the invasive Bradford pear.

Bonus question.  Did you know that 534 species moths and butterflies caterpillars feed on oak leaves...and still the oaks are quite healthy?  This and much more on the value of growing native species is in Bringing Nature Home.

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