I grow burdock (borre) in the garden both as a vegetable but also for the birds. Goldfinches / stillits (still relatively rare in my area) eat almost exclusively the seeds of this plant in winter. This year I cut down a few of the plants and placed them in a large pot of earth right in front of the kitchen window…and 4 birds discovered it today. How they avoid the burrs attaching to them is a mystery….
Some of the seed burrs had fallen to the ground in a storm a week ago. This video starts with siskins feeding next to the window on birch seeds:
It was fun this morning watching a flock of up to 80 siskins (grønnsisik) with a few house sparrows (gråspurv) feeding on birch seed that had fallen on my extension roof! They couldn’t see me on the other side of the window and came really close!
The pitter patter of birch seed bracts (or scales) as you can hear at the beginning of the video can only mean one thing here, a large flock of siskins / grønnsisik (or sometimes redpolls / gråsisik) at the top of this birch tree creating a shower of debris from the bird’s feeding! However, they ARE silent when dining!
The only pine tree in the garden, Scots or Norwegian Pine (Pinus sylvestris) is in full flower at the moment! I posted a couple of films of siskins feeding on the cones the other week.
This tree was probably not much taller than me when we moved here in 1984. 35 years on and it’s approaching the height of the mature birch trees nearby.
Pictures below of the small red female flowers at the tips of shoots and the more obvious clusters of male flowers which are laden with pollen. Good news for the siskins!
Before my D.A. (Dandelion Awakening) I would religiously remove and cut down as many dandelions as I could, but nowadays my garden perennial beds are full of them. As I’ve written before, dandelions have become probably my most important vegetable in the winter months. I dig up the roots from my garden beds, where I’ve deliberately let them grow, in the autumn, store in my cellar and force them as I need them in cooler rooms in the house. These wild dandelions grow themselves, the only energy I use on them is in the digging and moving to store! A perfect vegetable! There are 11 pages in my book Around the World in 80 plants about the multitude of food uses for dandelions and how you can make a whole meal of them and cycle home after the meal on tyres made of dandelion rubber! But there’s so much more to this miracle plant and I’m sure you’ve read of its many medicinal properties including it being an anti-cancer powerhouse! Sat in the garden, a Eurasian Siskin (grønnsisik) just landed on a dandelion head showing it’s also an important plant for birds in addition to bees, beetles and other insects! Make sure you leave a few dandelions to seed and you may also experience a magical moment like this!