8-14 January 2003

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On field trips at Hilton Pond Center, we've found that most anyone can learn to identify a tree by its foliage; even youngsters who press leaves between two sheets of wax paper can compare their specimens to field guide illustrations and have a pretty good chance of getting the ID correct. However, once autumn comes and the leaves drop it becomes considerably more difficult to determine a tree's species. In fall and winter, different clues must be used, including terminal buds, twig patterns, tree silhouettes, and--of course--tree bark.


Tree Bark Specimen #1

Tree Bark Specimen #2

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Although it's dead, the outermost bark is vitally important to trees, since it protects the active growing layers that are just beneath it. Bark comes in a nearly infinite assortment of colors and textures that, with a little practice, can be used to identify trees almost as easily as their leaves. In appreciation for the valuable services bark provides, this week we're providing one of our occasional nature quizzes to give you a chance to see if you can identify trees by their outer covering. Our Tree Bark Baffler #1 includes the six photos on this page, all of which depict bark from native North American trees growing at Hilton Pond Center. Your only hints are these: 1) all trees are "mature"--i.e., no saplings less than 6" in diameter; and, 2) some photos are close-ups, while others were taken from further away.


Tree Bark Specimen #3

Tree Bark Specimen #4

You have until Wednesday, 22 January 2003 to submit your entry via e-mail; the entry must be in the inbox at EDUCATION when we check it that day at 5 p.m. EST. If more than one person correctly identifies all six bark specimens using accepted common names, then correct scientific names will be tie-breakers. If there's still a tie at that point, we'll conduct a blind draw of all entries that make it to the final round. (Professional arborists or folks with degrees in dendrology may enter but are not eligible for the prize.)


Tree Bark Specimen #5

Tree Bark Specimen #6

The Piedmont Naturalist will serve as sole judge, and his decision will be final, unless someone somehow convinces him otherwise. The winner gets to brag and receives an exclusive, correctly sized, and highly coveted T-shirt by mail from Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project. (NOTE: You get only the shirt and not the handsome kid modeling it.) The winner's name and correct answers will be posted with our "This Week at Hilton Pond" photo essay for 15-21 January. Every public or private school teacher that submits an entry from a K-12 class as a group will get a full-color Tree Bark Baffler #1 poster to display on the bulletin board. (Should a K-12 class happen to win the quiz, they'll get a special certificate signifying such.)

Even if you decide not to enter, we hope you'll take a close look at the photos above and marvel along with us at the diverse bark formations on trees that grow around Hilton Pond. And, rest assured, we've got lots of trees at the Center, so you can look forward to Tree Bark Baffler #2 in the not-too-distant future.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

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Be sure to scroll down for an account of all birds banded or recaptured during the week, plus other nature notes of interest.

"This Week at Hilton Pond" is written & photographed
by Bill Hilton Jr., executive director of
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.

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8-14 January 2003

American Goldfinch--13
Chipping Sparrow--13
Dark-eyed Junco--2
Northern Cardinal--1
White-throated Sparrow--3
House Finch--2

(with original banding dates)
Chipping Sparrow (3)
02/29/00--after 4th year unknown
03/05/01--after 3rd year unknown
03/11/02--after 2nd year unknown
American Goldfinch (9)
04/14/98--after 7th year male
02/07/00--5th year female
02/05/02--after 3rd year male
02/10/02--3rd year female
02/10/00--5th year male
02/16/02--3rd year female
04/12/02--3rd year female
04/17/02--3rd year male
04/22/02--3rd year female

6 species
34 individuals

8 species
96 individuals

(since 28 June 1982)
123 species
42,210 individuals

Windy weather continues to dislodge tree branches broken during the ice storm of 4-5 Dec 2002, making trail walking at Hilton Pond Center a "heads-up" activity.

None banded

All photos & text © 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.

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