En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - September 26, 2009

From: Westland, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Birds swarming around Sugar Maple trees in Westland MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just read in the native plant database that Sugar Maple trees attract birds. I've notice especially now towards Autumn there is an abundance of birds that flock to this tree at 6:30 pm. There are feathers, and bird poop everywhere on the leaves and sidewalk in front of my house. Also the constant chirping with all of these in the trees is so annoying. This tree is on your parkway in front of our house. We cannot even open the windows for 2 hours each night now. What can be done?

ANSWER:

We're not sure where in our Native Plant Database you found the statement that the Acer saccharum (sugar maple) attracted birds; however, it is true that any large tree like that will provide nesting spots, cover and, in some cases, food for birds.  The sugar maple is native to the area of Wayne County in the southeastern corner of Michigan; apparently it is being used as an urban tree, in parkway plantings. We can understand your being disturbed by the bird swarms, but don't blame the tree. We believe you have European starlings. They are boisterous and loud, they travel in large groups, often accompanied by blackbirds and grackles.

Sixty to 100 starlings were introduced into Central Park in New York in 1890 and 1891; there are estimated to be over 200 million in North America at this time. Also introduced at about the same time were English sparrows; 200 years ago there were no English sparrows in North America. Their numbers are now estimated at over 150 million.The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care and propagation of plants native to North America, and discourage the use of plants native to other areas than where they are being used.  That is where our expertise ends, we don't know much about non-native invasive species of birds.  We do know there have been many efforts, on local, Federal and state levels, to rid areas of these birds, and they just come back.

To help you understand more about these birds, here are several websites from people who do know about non-native invasive species of birds.

From the USDA Invasive Species-European Starling

From YouTube, watch this video on Starlings at Oxmoor.  This video was made in England, is well narrated; the flights of the birds is beautiful, but not when they are in your yard. 

Sialis.org All About Starlings

From the Associated Press, by Mike Stark September 6, 2009 Shock and Caw. Pesky Starlings Still Overcome. 

 

More Trees Questions

Non-native, invasive mimosa trees in Vincennes IN
April 29, 2014 - I have 3 Mimosa trees here in Vincennes, Indiana and so far none of them are leafing out this spring (4-28-14) Do you think that this past winter could have killed then?
view the full question and answer

Trees Planted Over Underground Parking Garage
July 13, 2014 - I live in an apartment complex. We have trees planted over an underground parking lot. I know the names of all the trees and I want to know how much soil they should be planted in to NOT cause damage ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for trees to withstand high winds on Top Sail Island, North Caroloina.
August 20, 2013 - Moving to coastal southern North Carolina. Planting native trees and shrubs, wax bayberry, Redbud, love the River Birch. What type of tree has the deepest roots or would be least likely to blow over...
view the full question and answer

Drought resistant small tree for Ft. Worth TX
May 22, 2013 - I am looking for suggestions for a small tree (no more than 25 feet max)that is drought resistant but can handle a little irrigation and a lot of wind. Something showy is a plus. Grouped with salvias ...
view the full question and answer

Small native trees for northern Virginia
September 27, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for a native alternative to a Japanese Red Maple in northern Virginia. I would like a small tree that I can put in my front garden that will not pose a security risk my...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center