Posts Tagged ‘Amur maple’


Late in the fall, when the trees let loose their leaves, the secret lives of birds are revealed. The nests that were hidden away from the view of casual observers are suddenly made plain. In a quick stroll around the backyard, I spotted six nests.

Perhaps the easiest to identify is the pouch-like nest of the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula). Orioles have built a nest near the driveway for the past few years. This year, they opted for a new location at the end of the garden, close to the barn, in the branches of a big Manitoba Maple.

In June of 2011, we were lucky enough to witness the fledging of several oriole youngsters. For more on orioles, visit Oriole Fledglings, linked here.


Nestled into the branches of one of the small larch trees in the Tamarack Walk is a robin’s nest. American Robins (Turdus migratorius) incorporate mud into the construction of their cup-shaped nests, making them quite distinctive. For a closer look at a robin nest and their attractive blue eggs, here’s a link to an earlier post, Robin’s Egg Blues.


Robins are a common sight in the garden and there were several more robin nests in the yard. One was tucked into the tangles of a honeysuckle vine.


Another brood of robin youngsters began life in this nest situated on a branch of the Bur Oak tree, just outside our front door.


This nest, set in the crotch of an Amur Maple (never use the word crotch when addressing a group of 10-year-old boys), was home to a clutch of Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) nestlings. I can say this with assurance, even though the nest is too high up for close inspection, because I enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the parents earlier this summer.


I mounted this wren box in the spring in the hopes that House wrens (Troglodytes aedon) would settle in. I did observe a wren checking the box out, but Mr. and Mrs. settled on another, more conventional nesting box. Perhaps something about the location of this box didn’t suit them, or perhaps the aesthetics of flying up a nose didn’t appeal to them.

In any case, here is the nest they built. Wrens are tiny birds, and I am always taken aback by how uncomfortable and scratchy their twiggy nests look. However, such nests have been home to untold generations of young wrens. And that completes the tour of my 6 backyard nests.


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“At the southeast corner of Willow House, two trees form a graceful arch over the pathway to the door. They don’t have the sturdy trunk we usually associate with trees, but appear rather like two large bushes.” Does this passage sound familiar? If you have been a faithful follower of The Chronicles, you might recognize it as the opening to The Whisperers.


After studying the winter trees, I concluded that they were Manitoba maples. However, knowledgeable nurseryman and former property owner Tony kindly pointed out my error. The pair of trees are, in fact, non-native ornamentals, Amur maples (Acer ginnala Maxim). Tony shared the above photograph of the twin Amurs, taken after the Ice Storm of 1998, when the trees were badly damaged. Now that the trees have leaves, the Amur and Manitoba maples are easily differentiated. The compound leaflets on a central stock, shown below on the right, are those of the Manitoba maple (Acer Negundo).


In winter, the plentiful maple keys, or samaras, of the Amur maples, rustling gently in a hushed evening breeze, made the trees whisper. But now that the trees are flowering, I noticed a different sound coming from the trees. They are abuzz with pollinators such as the bumblebee (Bombus sp.), shown below.


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