Date: 3/9/18 7:44 am From: Marlene A Condon via va-bird <va-bird...> Subject: [Va-bird] doing real science
I don't see any point in continuing the I.D. discussion. In the end, it's an exercise in futility as no one on this list serve can provide a definitive answer based upon a single photo. However, I do feel it is worthwhile to point out some things about this discussion that people should give thought to if they want to do real science.
(1) You need to gather as much info as possible before drawing conclusions. My column article was meant for a general audience and thus I could not go into great detail about how I came to my conclusion. Still, I devoted about 50% of the article to some of the reasons I chose to I.D. the bird as a young male, and it is obvious that some folks either did not carefully read what I wrote or they dismissed it out of hand. One of the things I'm talking about is the bird's behavior. I know about animal behavior, and everything about this bird's behavior and that of YB Saps here at the same time on various days indicate it was a young bird. I realize that plumage characteristics are always most important to birders, but just as with hawkwatching, plumage is not always of the most value for making the call. I am surprised that the behavior of this bird has been totally ignored in this discussion.
(2) You need to read information more carefully than most people tend to do. Marshall is talking about the bird eating Autumn Olive fruits, but I never said it was doing that. In fact, no Autumn Olive fruits are anywhere to be found come fall (they are VERY popular with mammals and birds and are quickly taken when they ripen).
(3) You cannot infer things from information nor misrepresent it to others to further your own conclusions. In this thread, especially as concerns the discussion about my having Autumn Olive in my yard, people have done both. For example, I have never said people should plant Autumn Olive, nor that native plantings are not important, as I was accused of doing. My articles are simply to point out fallacies that are perpetuated by those who love to quote Doug Tallamy--who, strangely enough, first insisted people should use native plants and then stepped back to say it's perfectly OK to plant nonnatives (The Living Landscape with Dick Darke).
(4) Opinion by consensus is not necessarily right, and it often leads to self-righteousness. For ex., smoking was not believed to be harmful in years past, and no one on the "invasive" thread has represented me accurately--epitomizing self-righteousness: smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others. [Dictionary.com]
(5) Information meant to disprove other information needs to be unbiased and should not be misleading, which does not apply to the following: "[Aut Olive} berries have only 2% fat versus 23% for Virginia Creeper or over 50% for Northern Bayberry (Smith et al., 2007 & 2013)" Comparing Autumn Olive (AO) to select native plants that make it look less nutritious just because it has less fat in its fruit than particular native plants illustrates a bias against AO. Not all fruits (including those that humans eat) offer the same nutritional benefits. That does not make them worthless. Most birds eat a variety of foods, just as humans are told to do! My yard does contain VA Creeper, but there is value to having a diversity of plants. AO provides fruits at the end of summer, when VA Creeper fruits are not yet ready to be eaten.
(6) Information meant to disprove other information needs to be honest. Northern Bayberry is NOT native to my area--it's native to the eastern coastal zone. https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_mope6.pdf"Native" implies a particular range. Just because this bayberry can grow OK around Virginia does not make it a native plant. To call it native as if it is and therefore tell folks they can use it in place of a nonnative plant is simply disingenuousness.
(7) If you want to discuss a situation intelligently, you need to examine it and any pertinent data critically, which has not been done when someone writes the following: "Hedgerows containing mostly Asian plant species (including Autumn Olive) provide 5-20x fewer caterpillars compared to hedgerows containing only native species (Richard, 2013)"
Caterpillars are not the only animals out there! The buzzing of bees around my Photinia in spring is audible from some distance away, and the numbers of bees, butterflies, wasps, and other pollinators at the AO blooms is phenomenal. The fact is that I have lived in my home for 32 years and my yard supports a spectacular number and variety of wildlife species. It therefore puts the lie to the notions that so-called invasives and nonnative plants are deficient and cannot support wildlife. My yard, which is composed of perhaps 50% nonnatives (those known as naturalized as well as those called invasive), was featured on a PBS show in 1994 (and another show in 2005) because of its value to wildlife. Despite the fair number of nonnatives, what people commented on after it aired was the huge numbers of birds singing as I toured the yard with a wildlife biologist from DGIF. Obviously, there WERE enough caterpillars for all of the young birds raised in my yard.
(8) To learn the truth about the environment, you need to keep an open mind. As regards so-called invasive plants, people are being close-minded, and that does nothing to help create habitat for our wildlife.