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The Grand Fir Outside My Window

January 29, 2013

There is a large Grand Fir outside my office window. I can hear the wind in it’s leaves, watch the wet leaves sparkle  in the sun and the accumulated snow drop from its branches.  In itself, it is a beautiful tree. But it is so much more.

A Golden-crowned Kinglet

A Golden-crowned Kinglet

There is a community of other organisms that shelter in and under this tree and many, no doubt, living in its bark. It towers over my bird feeders and I have seen all the chickadees: Black-capped, Chestnut-backed and Mountain Chickadees, eating safely in this fir.  Brown Creepers are little brown birds with curved bills that spiral their way up the trunk poking in the bark for food. In summer, the creepers will find a pocket of loose bark on some nearby dead-standing or near-dead tree and build their nest in the space behind the bark.

A Golden-crowned Kinglet foraging

A Golden-crowned Kinglet foraging

Both species of kinglets that winter here, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, have stopped briefly and searched its leaves for insects. Last summer three young Red-breasted Nuthatches ate their first sunflower seeds on the bark of this tree. I suspect they were hatched in a cavity nearby and set out on their first explorations safely in this large fir. Now the nuthatches work their way down the trunk – head first – to visit my winter feeder.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet in winter

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet in winter

A Brown Creeper

A Brown Creeper

I have never   climbed up to do a survey of the insects living and sheltering as eggs, larvae, pupae or adults in the tree. But after a large wind has shaken the branches, I have often found live spiders, beetles or flies  on the snow – all  blown from the fir tree. And that is but a portion of the organisms associated with this Grand Fir.

Three young Red-breasted Nuthatches

Three young Red-breasted Nuthatches

We are all part of a community. There are all the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that make up our own personal flora and fauna.  And then there are all the organisms, and systems of organisms that make up our planet. A living network that comprises our living home.

Grand Fir foliage

Grand Fir foliage

No living thing is simple, and no living thing stands alone. Including me.

I think of this as I watch the tree in the morning sun.  It is a beautiful example of the  incredible diversity on this  planet- our living home.

Photos and writing on this blog copyright J.A. Siderius 2013

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