Monday, December 31, 2007

Bird Grass

There is a variety of perennial grass growing in several parts of the pasture, which I've heard called Purple Top. It grows in clumps, about 3' tall, and the sheep seem not to like it at all, at any stage. This encourages it to spread. This summer I began to wonder whether it's something I ought to be trying to get rid of, before it totally takes over. What's it good for, anyway?
Today I found the answer. There are tiny bird tracks all around each clump, and scattered remains of seed heads on the snow. In several places, I actually found feather marks where a small bird had pressed its widespread wingtip in the snow when lighting or taking flight. Many other food sources for these little birds are covered by snow, so the stiff stalks are a valuable resource for them.

So while I may try to control the spread of Purple Top, I'll tolerate it to a certain extent as a low-input way of feeding the birds during winter snows.

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