Photo of the week 4/24

I found these pink seeds along the roadside while my husband and I were walking our dog this past week.  I hope you had a blessed Easter!

Fallen colorful seeds

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What is cork?

Used for wine bottle stoppers or flooring this natural material believe it or not is made from the bark of a tree. More interestingly the tree is not harmed during the harvesting processes (not cut down) and generally lives for 150-200 years.

The tree bark that is used for cork comes from a Cork Oak, Quercus suber, it is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It can grow up to 20 meters tall, although it is generally found much smaller in its native environment. Like most oaks its leaves are lobed ranging from 4-7 cm long and its acorns range from 2-3 cm long.

The bark is first harvested when the tree has reached the age of 25. The bark is harvested by hand, first by making an incision then gently removing it from the tree in 1’x3’ sections. The bark then is stacked and age for a period of 3-6 months. This process is repeated every 9-12 years. According to one source I found no more than 50% of the bark is removed, allowing the tree to protect itself. Another source stated that each tree will quickly form new layers of cork in order to protect itself.

The first bark/cork harvest generally yields a harder cork that is used in flooring. The second harvest (9-12 years later) yields a softer material yet not good enough for a

bottle stopper. By the third harvest the tree produces a bark that is suitable for wine stoppers. I never knew that it was such a lengthy process to make the cork  in a wine bottle!

Season of Life

While slicing the bread for my sandwich for lunch this afternoon, I intermittently took a gander out the window to see something I hadn’t seen before. A beautiful black, white and red colored, large beaked bird also partaking in an afternoon snack on the seeds in my feeder. I quickly made a sketch of my new feathered friend and headed to my bookshelf to pull out my favorite guide to birds. I peered through the pages and at last I found the name to this beautiful creature, Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak courtsey of wikipedia.com

I was surprise to find this bird usually inhabit the states of Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky. These are regions where I have lived or currently live. So why haven’t I seen these beautiful colorations before? Taking a second glance at my guide I realized these colorful

feathers are only seen a few months out of the year during breeding season (on the male Grosbeak). Otherwise, they resemble sparrows with the exceptions of size and beak.

The past few weeks I have been focusing on the changes in the flowering plants (which are a bit easier to track than birds) from bud to flower to leaf and hopefully late summer early fall, fruit! This is definitely the Season of life where dormant plants begin to grow and plan to produce seeds of a new generation. Some animals change color to attrack mates, build nests or court a desired mate. All for a new generation of life.

For more information on the Grospeak visit:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/rose-breasted_grosbeak/id