Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Mistletoe

I am sure there is a more delicate way of putting this... but the photo below is of bird pooh.

Or maybe more accurately, probably the droppings of a Mistle Thrush. This common European bird eats mistletoe berries and after processing, excretes them. The berries are covered in a very sticky goo, which sometimes necessitates the birds scraping its backside on a branch to dislodge the seeds. Having craftily worked it's way to a place out of harms way, the parasitic plant sprouts, and the cycle resumes. I bet you wish you hadn't asked now!

The clumps in these trees are mistletoe


Simon

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mistletoe can be spread without the sticky back end of a Mistle Thrush if one is lucky. Years back at twelth night my wife recovered a mistletoe sprig from one of our amorous boys and crushed the shrivelling berries into cracks in one of our apple trees. A couple of years later we realized that we had a two leafed sprig growing on our tree. The mistletoe bunch is now well over a metre across, but sadly all the sexual potency must have been dissipated by our son at the time as our misteltoe bears no berries.

Jill & John

Susan and Simon said...

I think the lack of potency in your mistletoe could be the reason for utilising a Thrush - if a mistletoe plant can get its seeds into a new area (even via a thrush's bottom if necessary) then the chances of inbreeding and impotency are reduced in the next generation.

Simon

Susan and Simon said...

Addendum: I was talking to my mother last night and she told me that a mistletoe bird had recently deposited a super sticky mistletoe seed on the clothesline (the famous Hills rotary hoist). She thinks they nested in the garden. Mistletoe birds are an Australian native species, very tiny (I think Australia's smallest bird) and real mistletoe specialists. There are quite a few species of mistletoe in Australia, and the flowers can be an important source of nectar for birds. My mother tells me that the recent influx they have had of various rare desert species of honeyeater and other birds has been due to the mistletoe being in flower were they are and drought conditions further west.

Susan