Field of Science

Holly berries and robins - not according to plan

Two different species of holly, if dutifully pollinated by their accommodating male plants, carry their red fruits through the winter to spring.  Several springs ago, one of the corners of our garden within view of the kitchen table, which is where the bird field guide and field glasses hang out, was filled with cedar waxwings during a couple of day layover to stock up for the next leg of their migration.  This has become an annual event much anticipated by Ms. Phactor who won't even harvest any holly for winter decorations so as not to short change the waxwings.  Today was the springiest day so far this year and the earliest migrant birds started to arrive: pine siskins, fox sparrows, and robins, a big flock of robins, so it really sounded like spring outside.  But unfortunately, the robins have not paid any attention to the plan that says the holly berries are for the later arriving waxwings.  This of course is how it goes with nature who never ever seems to read the plan, especially if it's research.  Had this been a research proposal, it would have started out something like, "The research will be conducted when the cedar waxwings make their annual stop by the study site for feeding on holly berries during their northward migration."  Can't even count the times the Phactor has been stiffed by something just like this. 

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