Native Shrub Garden

I work at Logoly State Park, Arkansas’ first environmental education park.  We strive to be eco-friendly in a variety of ways.  As a birder, one of my favorite green aspects of our new visitor center is its native shrub garden.  Only plants that are native to the Gulf Coastal Plain eco-region are featured in this garden.  Just a handful of these plants have showy blooms, e.g., flowering dogwood and swamp azalea.  However, these shrubs and small trees produce a wide variety of food for local wildlife.  Wax-myrtle (Myrica cerifera) seems to be the most preferred of all the shrubs.  Gray squirrels, white-tailed deer, warblers, sparrows, and many more can be found foraging among its branches.  As far as its range in Arkansas, it is restricted to the southern third of the state.  It can grow to be over 7 ft tall and can provide cover as well as food for birds and other wildlife.  On top of all its ecological value, it emits a pleasing small.  It has been used in Native American medicine and its wax has been used to make traditional candles.  The garden also features yaupon hollies with their bright red berries and American beautyberries with their strikingly purple berries.  These fruits are taken occasionally but a much lower rate than those of the wax-myrtle.

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Wax-myrtle

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Wax-myrtle berries

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American Beautyberry berries

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Yaupon Holly with berries

On Thursday (11/16), I peered out the window of my office to find these shrubs to be covered in birds.  A large, mixed flock of songbirds and woodpeckers were moving through our garden.  I heard the Yellow-rumped Warblers and saw their “butterbutts” first.  Next, my eyes darted to where a rattling call was given from the depths of a myrtle.  This was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, eating the small blue-gray berries of the shrub.  Underneath that shrub were two Dark-eyed Juncos seeking out bugs and what the other birds had dropped.  All of the sudden, a new, yellow-gray bird flew into the shrub I was watching.  Although this bird flitted around rapidly, I was finally able to get my binoculars on it.  This was an Orange-crowned Warbler, a first for Logoly State Park.  From the canopy dropped a group of Pine Warblers.  They foraged in the myrtles and around the beautyberries.  Above the shrubs, the woodpeckers called from the bigger trees.  Downy Woodpeckers whinnied, Red-bellied Woodpeckers “chyuck chyuck”-ed, and a Northern Flicker gave a “kee-yeer” call.  By the end of this spectacle, I had recorded 16 species, most of them being newly arrived winter residents.  In this group were at least 7 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which may be the most I’ve ever seen in one group.  Besides the birds that were in the feeding frenzy, I was also able to add American Crows from our picnic area and a calling Winter Wren from the adjacent forest.

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Pine Warbler male

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Here’s the list:

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • American Crow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Winter Wren
  • Carolina Wren
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Pine Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • American Goldfinch

 

 

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