#452 Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)

31 May

A North American species of medium-sized trees and a common element of America’s north central and northeastern mixed forests. It can survive in a variety of habitats. It forms hybrids with bur oak where they occur together in the wild.

Generally occurs singly in four different forest types: black ash–American elm–red maple, silver maple–American elm, bur oak, and pin oak–sweetgum. Occasionally the swamp white oak is abundant in small areas. It is found within a very wide range of mean annual temperatures from 16 to 4 °C (61 to 39 °F). Extremes in temperature vary from 41 to −34 °C (106 to −29 °F). Average annual precipitation is from 640 to 1,270 mm (25 to 50 in). The frost-free period ranges from 210 days in the southern part of the growing area to 120 days in the northern part. The swamp white oak typically grows on hydromorphic soils. It is not found where flooding is permanent, although it is usually found in broad stream valleys, low-lying fields, and the margins of lakes, ponds, or sloughs. It occupies roughly the same ecological niche as pin oak but is not nearly as abundant. While pin oak seldom lives longer than 100 years; swamp white oak may live up to 300 years.

#451 Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

30 May

A species of small tree in the flowering plant family Rhamnaceae. It is native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia, from the central British Isles south to Morocco, and east to Kyrgyzstan.[3][4] It was introduced to North America as an ornamental shrub in the early 19th century or perhaps before, and is now naturalized in the northern half of the continent, and is classified as an invasive plant

Buckthorn is allopathic. Secondary compounds, particularly emodin, have been found in the fruit, leaves, and bark of the plant, and may protect it from insects, herbivores and pathogens. The emodin present in R. cathartica fruit may prevent early consumption, as it is found most in unripe fruits, which allows seeds to reach maturity before being dispersed. Birds and mice significantly avoid eating unripe fruits, and if forced to ingest emodin or unripe fruit, the animals regurgitate the meal or produce loose, watery stools.

Allelopathic effects of exudates from R. cathartica leaf litter, roots, bark, leaves and fruit may reduce germination of other plant species in the soil. Soils in buckthorn-dominated areas are higher in nitrogen and carbon than normal soils, which speeds up decomposition rates of leaf litter. This can result in bare patches of soil being formed and R. cathartica performs well in such disturbed habitats, so this may be adaptive for the setting of its seed.

#450 Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

29 May

A flowering plant belonging to the family Lythraceae. It should not be confused with other plants sharing the name loosestrife that are members of the family Primulaceae. Other names include spiked loosestrife and purple Lythrum. Native to Europe, Asia, northwest Africa, and southeastern Australia. Found in ditches, wet meadows and marshes and along sides of lakes

#449 Lance Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata)

28 May

A perennial herb found in generally moist soils There are 2 recognized varieties – var. lanceolata leaves are lance-oblong, hairless or sparsely covered in soft hairs; var. vulgaris leaves are egg-shaped to oblong and slightly larger than var. lanceolata, the upper surface hairless or variously covered in stiff hairs. This species (or at least one of the varieties) is generally considered native to North America.

#448 Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

27 May

Native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed. a very woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1–2 m high. The leaves are 4–12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3–20, 1–1.5 cm across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, with the aspect and odour of a tiny tomato, and edible for some birds, which disperse the seeds widely. However, the berry is poisonous to humans and livestock, and the berry’s attractive and familiar look make it dangerous for children.

It is native to northern Africa, Europe, and Asia, but has spread throughout the world. The plant is relatively important in the diet of some species of birds such as European thrushes, which feed on its fruits, being immune to its poisons, and scatter the seeds abroad. It grows in all types of terrain with a preference for wetlands and the understory of riparian forests. Along with other climbers, it creates a dark and impenetrable shelter for varied animals. The plant grows well in dark areas in places where it can receive the light of morning or afternoon. An area receiving bright light for many hours reduces their development. It grows more easily in rich wet soils with plenty of nitrogen.

#447 Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)

26 May

Native to Europe and western Siberia and it has been introduced to North America, where it has become an extremely invasive weed. It chokes out other plants, and eliminating it is nearly impossible due to its multiple propagation mechanisms. Grows on grassy places, dry hills, meadows, in deciduous and pine forests, woods, fields and roadsides, along railway lines and hedgerows, preferably in partial shade, in dry to moist sites and on clay soils, relatively rich in nitrogen, at an altitude of 0–2,000 metres (0–6,562 ft) above sea level. It also occurs in cultivated fields as a weed.

#446 Bitter Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris)

25 May

Native to Eurasia and North Africa, it is naturalised in many parts of North America. Prefers fresh or moist places, on roadsides, along rivers, in arable land, wastelands and docklands, or on the slopes and in ditches, at an altitude of 0–2,500 m (0–8,202 ft) above sea level. It also prefers to grow in siliceous, calcareous, sandy, alluvial and clay soils

#445 Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia)

24 May

Spring and fall are the times to see a Magnolia Warbler as they migrate to and from the breeding grounds in the boreal forest. Within trees and shrubs watch for a warbler foraging on the outer edges of the tree, plucking insects from the undersides of leaves.

Breed in dense stands of young conifer trees, especially spruce in the north and hemlock in the south. During migration they forage in dense areas along forest edges, woodlots, and parks. primarily eat caterpillars, especially spruce budworm when it is abundant. They also eat insects and spiders and occasionally take fruit in the fall. They tend to forage on the outer edges of branches, searching the undersides of needles and leaves for prey.

This is a 2021 Baie-D’Urfé Magnolia Warbler having a morning splash in the pond – unfortunately that does not make for good identification detail so the “dry” Magnolia Warbler heading this report is an
image borrowed from Wikipedia

#444 Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)

23 May

Very rare bird but can be seen around Montreal as we finally had one visit the garden in a rainstorm a couple of years ago … the photograph I have as proof was blurred and shaded by leaves and only caught its back – hence the picture I am illustrating this with was taken from Wikipedia.

Breeding habitat is deciduous woods from southern Canada to Mexico and the Caribbean. They migrate to Central America, and as far south as northern Argentina. Forage in dense shrubs and trees, also may catch insects in flight. They mainly eat insects, especially tent caterpillars and cicadas, but also some lizards, eggs of other birds and berries. Cuckoos sometimes congregate near insect outbreaks or emergences, including outbreaks of exotic gypsy moth caterpillars.

Yellow-billed cuckoos occasionally lay eggs in the nests of other birds (most often the closely related black-billed cuckoo), but they are not obligate brood parasites of other birds as is the common cuckoo of Eurasia

#443 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)

22 May

Their breeding habitat is wet northern woods, especially spruce bogs, across Canada and the northeastern United States. They breed in boreal coniferous forests, bogs, swamps, and peatlands with a thick cover of moss and an understory of shrubs and saplings. In Canada they frequent stands of black spruce with heath, blueberries, laurel, rhododendron, and Labrador tea in the understory, but they also use wet boreal forests and deciduous patches near streams. During migration they use deciduous forests, thickets, and forest edges.

Yellow-bellied Flycatchers won’t visit your feeder and aren’t likely to nest in your backyard, but you can still provide habitat for them during migration. Native trees and shrubs tend to host more insects than non-native plants and these insects will help fuel them on their way to and from their breeding and wintering grounds.

(Image from Wikipedia)