Weeds That Are Dangerous To Hummingbirds

By: Marilyn Pokorney

If you love hummingbirds, keep your garden, yard, and property clear of weeds. Especially burdock. The prickly seedheads of common burdock can trap and kill hummingbirds.

During September, 1998, three hummingbirds were caught and died in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. A fourth hummingbird was rescued by bird watchers.

According to National Park Service biologists, the burrs act like Velcro. The barbed points on the burrs cling steadfastly to fur, clothing, skin, feathers--almost anything that comes near.

As the tiny birds thrash around trying to free themselves they become even more entrapped.

While not much has been written about the subject, a consulting ornithologist in Burnaby British Columbia reports that the weed does occasionally claim the lives of small birds and even brown bats.

Burdock, also known as Cockle Burr, is a biennial plant which can grow to nine feet in height. Other names include Fox's Clote, Thorny Burr, Beggar's Buttons, Cockle Buttons, Love Leaves, Burr Seed, Clothburr, Turkey Burrseed and many others.

Burdock was imported from Europe and is now widely distributed in waste areas, abandoned farms, or any uncultivated area in North America. It can also appear in gardens and lawns.

The plant produces a rosette of large leaves, produces 15 to 40 or more pink or lavender flowers, and has a taproot of up to 40 inches in length.

The plant must be eliminated before the flowers ripen and form the brown prickly burrs which spread the seeds. Selective or spot herbicide treatment isn't always effective because of it's deep taproot. Pulling up or digging the plant is the most effective but the entire taproot must be removed. The sooner this is done the easier it is to do. Smaller plants can be dug up using a standard garden fork or dandelion digger, and larger ones using a long-handled bulb planter.

For more on natural, organic weed control visit: http://www.apluswriting.net/garden/weeds.htm

Marilyn Pokorney is a freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment. She also loves crafts, gardening, and reading. http://www.apluswriting.net/

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