“There is much more going on in your yard that would not be going on if you didn’t have one or more oak trees,” Tallamy writes.
He notes, for instance, that a white oak during its lifetime — 200-300 years or longer — may drop up to 3 million acorns. One of the creatures heavily dependent on them is the blue jay, which may bury as many as 4,500 acorns — one by one — each fall to be retrieved and eaten later. The bird may fly as far as a mile away from the parent tree to bury the nuts.
Because the jay doesn’t remember where it buries every acorn — or the bird may get eaten by a predator — many acorns remain to sprout the next spring. The bird’s instinctual need to store food means thousands of acorns are dispersed over a wide area.
So, the white oaks in my backyard may well have been planted by blue jays.
IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be last quarter Saturday night. Saturn, Jupiter and Venus (high) are in the west at dark.
Charles Seabrook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.