15-21 July 2000

Installment #---Visitor #

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Bill Hilton Jr., executive director of Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, will be featured at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 26 July 2000, on WFAE-FM's "Charlotte Talks" for a call-in show about HUMMINGBIRDS.
The program, hosted by Mike Collins, can be heard on
90.7-FM in the Charlotte NC region, and west of Charlotte on 90.3-FM in Hickory NC. The show will be re-broadcast at 7 p.m. on 26 July.

All photos © Hilton Pond Center

  • Despite the on-going drought, here at Hilton Pond Center the Eastern Red Cedar trees are--unlike many hardwoods that are beginning to drop leaves--doing just fine. Red Cedars, which are really junipers (Juniperus virginiana), are evergreen trees with prickly needles that are wax-coated and well-adapted for retaining moisture in dry conditions. This year most of our cedar trees are thriving and already are producing a great crop of tiny blue berries (above) that likewise are protected from desiccation by a layer of wax.
  • Red Cedars are one of the Piedmont's quintessential trees, mostly because they thrive in poor soil and sunny places--common characteristics of farmed-out and abandoned fields that dot the Piedmont landscape. They do poorly in shade, so as an old field goes through vegetational succession, broad-leafed hardwood trees eventually steal all the sunlight and the cedars die out. (A sizable old Red Cedar stump in the woods is a sure sign that the area was once an open field.) Each Red Cedar tree (right) is almost unique in appearance: the foliage of one tree may be a deep, dark green while the one beside it is greenish blue, and one might be tall, thin, and quite pointed while its neighbor is squat and almost spherical in shape.
  • Although often taken for granted, Red Cedars are economically valuable because their aromatic wood does not rot quickly and splits easily--just the right combination for fence posts. The end of a Red Cedar log (right) shows the heartwood that gives the tree its name. This deep rich color makes Red Cedar a popular wood for rustic furniture and also for storage chests--especially those in which woolens might be stored. Cedar oil is a natural repellent for moths and other vermin that might destroy the chest's contents.
  • Red Cedars are common fencerow trees, primarily because birds eat their blue berries and pass the seeds undigested while they perch on barbed wire and utility lines. The cedar seeds fall to earth--along with a little natural fertilizer in the bird droppings--and many of them germinate. This method of seed dissemination is so effective that in the Piedmont, a fencerow may appear to be a nearly unbroken row of Red Cedar trees--as is the case at Hilton Pond Center along the DeVinney Road frontage (below).

  • Birds aren't the only organisms that consume Red Cedar berries. In fact, an extract from the cedar tree's fruit is what gives gin its distinctive favor. (The word "gin" is a derivative of "genievre"--a French word meaning "juniper berry.")
All photos © Hilton Pond Center

Gray Catbird (fledgling)

(yellow or pinkish soft "gape" at corner of mouth is typical of many young birds)

Eastern Bluebird

(a nestling's feathers--including tail and wing--are still "in quill" and underdeveloped)

Plus the following species not pictured
(or pictured on other weekly pages):

Ruby-throated Hummingbird*
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher*
Carolina Chickadee*
Eastern Wood-Pewee
American Goldfinch
White-eyed Vireo*
Yellow-throated Vireo
Northern Cardinal*
Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhee*
House Finch*
Summer Tanager*

*including at least one recent fledgling

All photos © Hilton Pond Center

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.