TRAIL REPORT: Icy, and in need of additional snow.
“Bright, Bright the Holly Berries” in the wreaths at Crossroads at Big Creek This week, Friends of Crossroads will be decking the Collins Learning Center with traditional holiday decorations. And in keeping with the season, out in the preserve, native red berries, such as highbush cranberries, are bright in contrast with the dark green of our evergreen trees.
Berries are red to increase their visibility… a natural marketing technique. You see, for a species to survive, individual plants must produce seeds and also spread them around. If seeds merely dropped underneath the parent plants, their odds of survival would be extremely poor. So plants have an amazing array of seed dispersal strategies.
Some seeds float on the breeze; others float on water. Nuts and grains are distributed by busy little rodents. And then…the fleshy fruits and berries are spread quite effectively. The actual seeds of most fleshy fruits are exceedingly hard. But the fruits tend to be sweet and appealing to small animals and birds. These creatures gulp down the fruits whole. Then later (and elsewhere) they excrete the seeds.
The relationship between fruits and wildlife is so established that certain seed will germinate only after passing through the digestive system of a bird. Seeds thus planted (along with some nice rich fertilizer) have an high germination rate and often grow a considerable distance from the parent plant.
Red berries seems stand out against a green leaves even to human eyes. Remember the color wheel from your middle school art class? Red and green are contrasting colors. Against a background of green, red berries show up very well.
But apparently, they show up even better in a bird’s eye view. Birds have little oil droplets in their eyes which may increase their sensitivity to the red end of the spectrum. Researchers also suspect that birds can see a color we cannot see–ultraviolet. Understand that red berries and fruits have a highly reflective coatings which reflect UV rays, but green leaves to do not. If the bird do see UV light, then red berries must glow like neon.
But those bright red highbush cranberries are not really cranberries [they’re viburnums] and they are not even remotely sweet. Birds may see them, but they don’t eat them because time of year, the red berries are vile. Next April, after they have had a winter to ferment, the berries will be more appealing to birds.
You are invited to join the Friends of Crossroads Wednesday (December 3) evening to hang those wreaths and put up and decorate the trees. Music, warm cider, holiday snacks and merriment will be offered.
A Make and Take Birdfeeder Workshop will be offered for families on Saturday, December 6 at 2:00. Participants will learn about the Door County winter birds that visit bird feeders. Then, each participant will make a simple feeder to take either for home use or for a present. This program is free and open to the public.
On Sunday, December 7th, the 2:00 Nature Hike will be called “Bright Red Berries and Evergreens“. Hikers will enjoy the holiday colors of the preserve.
Members of Silent Sports are collaborating with Friends of Crossroads to introduce the community to healthy winter outdoor recreation and they are looking for volunteers. On Wednesday, December 10, 6:00-7:00pm, those interested are invited to participate in Training Program with hands-on training on fitting skis and snowshoes. Volunteers will be given information for providing novice skiers tips for success on Crossroad’s five mile trail system. Say you’ll participate in this volunteer training by calling Crossroads at 920-746-5895.
Crossroads is a donor-supported preserve welcoming learners of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan, is open daily 2:00-4:30. Trails are free and open to the public. Ski Trails are reserved FOR SKIERS ONLY. Hikers are asked to use designated hiking trails.
Wednesday, December 3
5:30 Friends of Crossroads Deck the Learning Center
The Friends of Crossroads will decorate the Collins Learning Center. Besides “decking the halls” the Friends have a tradition of sharing holiday treats, warm cider, and fellowship and they invite non-members to join in the fun. A short meeting will follow the festivities.
Saturday, December 6.
2:00 Make and Take Birdfeeder Workshop
Participants will learn about the Door County winter birds that visit bird feeders. Then, each participant will make a simple feeder to take either for home use or for a present. This program is free and open to the public.
Sunday, December 7
2:00 Nature Hike: “Bright Red Berries and Evergreens”.
Hikers will enjoy the holiday colors of the preserve. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday, December 10
6:00 Training for Ski for Free Volunteers
Members of Silent Sports are collaborating with Friends of Crossroads to introduce the community to healthy winter outdoor recreation and they are looking for volunteers. Those interested are invited to participate in hands-on training on fitting skis and snowshoes. Volunteers will be given information for providing novice skiers tips for success on Crossroad’s five mile trail system. Say you’ll participate in this volunteer training by calling Crossroads at 920-746-5895.