[birding] Lazuli Bunting youngsters; Lesser Goldfinches love madia!

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Mon Jul 30 11:16:34 PDT 2007

Hi folks,

I was wrong about LAZULI BUNTINGS having disappeared from our place;
maybe I just haven't been outside enough. This morning I saw two
juveniles begging and shadowing the dad who was trying to keep up with
their appetites -- I think I saw the mom too.

LESSER GOLDFINCHES have discovered the Madia sativa which is producing
plenty of seeds in our front prairie planting. This morning three of
them were nibbling the seeds out of the little seed cups at the top of
the plants.

Some plant stuff follows:

Madia sativa is either a native plant or a non-native plant depending on
whom you talk to. The oil-rich seeds are supposed to have been one
component of "pinole" which was a staple of the native California
tribes. It was formerly cultivated as crop in Chile and hence is also
known as Chilean tarweed, maybe that's where the idea of it being non-
native comes from.

One thing's for sure, Lesser Goldfinches love this and its prettier
cousin, Madia elegans (elegant tarweed)! Dennis Vroman, a bird-bander
down in Grants Pass, told me that when he bands Lesser Goldfinches this
time of year, their bills and faces are just covered in the sticky resin
that these plants get their common names from.

The Madia elegans is in full bloom now and will produce seed a bit later
in August. This is an undisputed native plant for our area; there is
some going at Hesthavn now and hopefully it will spread.

Both of these are "weedy" annuals and easy to grow by broadcasting on
any bare or scruffy patch of ground in the fall. They produce an
incredible amount of seed, so they tend to take over an area if you let
them go to seed for a couple of years. I like to use them for choking
out non-native weeds for a couple of years, then mow them back to give
the native perennials a chance to come in the next year. If any of you
would like some seed to start a patch for next year, let me know. It's
fun to watch the Lesser Goldfinches working on them.

Happy birding,

Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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