Birds and Buckeyes (seven photos)

I present the American Buckeye. This tree has odorous flowers, poisonous fruit and wood too weak for carpentry. It’s also absolutely one of my favorite trees. Allow me to explain.

IMG_4225American Buckeye trees use every excuse possible to bud, with several false starts late each winter. It’s as if our backyard Buckeye drew this American Robin from its winter shelter by budding this February.

american-robin
American Robin on budding branches

As mentioned earlier, the flowers and even broken branches have a faint odorous scent. This led some pioneers (and I imagine University of Michigan fans) to call it the “fetid buckeye.”

Despite the scent, I think the flowers attract Baltimore Orioles. And I love seeing Baltimore Orioles in the yard, enough to declare the Buckeye one of my favorite trees. A few other birds seem to enjoy the Buckeye in spring as well.

Buckeye Oriole
Baltimore Oriole among the Buckeye flowers
Buckeye Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Buckeye Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

The heat of summer wilts the flowers, which produce fruit better know as “buckeye nuts.” The deep brown color of the nuts is thought to have inspired the name “buckeye.” The nuts really are poisonous for humans. However, the nuts are used to create ornaments and necklaces.

Play Day for the Kids

It was some sort of play day for juvenile birds.

Recently I was sitting on our deck around 7:30 am, fiddling with camera settings, when it dawned on me. There were a lot of immature birds flitting and flying around the bird feeders.

Upon closer inspection I realized only juveniles were present. Not a single mature bird in sight.

Maybe this happens from time to time, or maybe it happens often, but I had never noticed it. So I started snapping photographs.

So has anyone else shared this experience?