Thursday, May 12, 2016

Northern Parula and Jackson Oak

On 22 March 2016, we drove from Meridian, Mississippi to Daphne, Alabama. Before arriving at our hotel, we took an afternoon hike. I picked the Village Point Park Preserve at random. This location was the nearest green spot to the hotel on our map. The preserve is a relatively small city park. Its claim to fame appears to be a huge Live Oak, 95 feet tall and with a circumference of 28 feet. It was a survey line marker in the 1787 Spanish Land Grant survey map. The tree is called Jackson’s Oak. Andrew Jackson made a speech under the tree during the War of 1812. Now a boardwalk surrounds the tree so that the surrounding soil is not compacted or eroded by tourists.
At the boardwalk, I made spishing sounds and brought up a flock of about a half-dozen Northern Parula Warblers. Parulas inhabit the forest canopy. They nest in eastern North America. Southern birds nest in Spanish Moss, which you can see in the Live Oak. In the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, Parulas use the lichen, Beard Moss, which looks similar to Spanish Moss. Parulas, however, are not dependent on these nesting materials, and will use other plants and nesting sites.

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