Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, August 06, 2010

Seedlings - from bird droppings and pellets

The larger birds which come to the bird feeder drop various items which contain lots of plant seeds. One can see the larger seeds quite clearly in the items the birds leave behind.

Some of these are regurgitated items, known as "pellets". Others are, to put not too fine a point on it, bird droppings, or "Bird Poo".

I have been curious about these, to know what the birds eat, (firstly) and then, to see what I can raise.

Several months ago I collected a number of these pellets and the dried bird poo, and placed them in a cut-down plastic drink bottle, with some local soil.The first things which came up were very fast to germinate. Two weeks or just over. They had relatively large leaves, and from my experience with weeds around Robertson I knew straight away that they were "Ink Weed" seedlings.

Then the next lot to germinate (after about one month) were these Kangaroo Apple seedlings. They have hardly grown since coming through.

For several months now I have been patiently waiting to see what would happen to them but almost nothing. I need to prick them out and put them into a better drained soil mixture. You might notice, if you click on the image to enlarge it, that some of the stems of these seedlings are purplish, and noticeably hairy. In that regard, they resemble Tomato seedlings - to which they are related. They are both in the Solanaceae.

Resemblances like that are really quite eerie, as, in other respects, the plants do not look at all similar, apart from the shape of their flowers.

Anyway, in the last few days, several new seedlings have emerged. They have very large, rounded leaves. At this stage I have no idea what species of plants these seedlings might grow into.

I love a challenge, so I shall pot these on shortly, and see what develops.

8 comments:

Snail said...

Now there's an interesting study.

Kangaroo apple is a prodigious germinator. Seedlings from my plant in Melbourne sprouted not only in everyone's gardens, but also in cracks along the footpath. I was secretly quite proud of its ability to take over.

Anonymous said...

Cant wait to see what else pops up, this is a great idea!!!!!!! Might have to come up and have a look. Kirsten

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
Birds acting as seed carriers and assistant-propagators is a typically "rainforest" feature, it seems. (Obviously not exclusively rain forest).
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It comes from seeds having juicy fruit exteriors and hard seeds inside. By contrast, grasses tend to be destroyed by parrots, which crunch (and crush) the seed to get the oils out.
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Many "weeds" (even dare I say it "Native Weeds") get spread this way. But I figure some of these plants will turn out to be more interesting rainforest plants.
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In your case, Snail, you probably have many more, and much larger seeds, spread by your birds.
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From memory you don't have resident Cassowaries (which are famous as seed dispersers) but even your Brush Turkeys would do a fair job as seed droppers, I am sure. My main seed spreaders are the Bowerbirds and Currawongs.
Cheers
Denis

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Kirsten
You would be most welcome.
I have lots more dried "pellets" awaiting "planting out".
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Come up and I will put lots of feed out for the birds, and we can sit just inside the loungeroom door and watch the chaos which occurs when 6 or 8 Bowerbirds take over.
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Email me, when you have a spare afternoon.
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Orchids never come up in these "pellets" unfortunately.
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Cheers
Denis

Snail said...

Yes, no cassowaries on this block, unfortunately. Many of the trees here look as though they would be spread by cassowaries. I wonder how much longer those species will survive in this area without human intervention.

The brush turkeys definitely spread all sorts of things. Very sloppily too! There are a few other frugivores, including bowerbirds, pigeons and fruit bats. (I made the mistake of not cleaning some frugivore poo off my car immediately and now it's fused to the duco! Won't do that again.)

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hello Denis,

what an interesting experiment! I'll be looking for an update when the seedlings have developed further to see what else emerges. Ever curious - I love that!

Cheers,
Gaye

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye.
I like the simplicity of the experiment. A cut-down drink bottle, small amount of soil (not top layer of soil, but dig down a bit, to avoid bringing in weeds), add seeds and enough water to dampen it (drain it off after a while), and sit it on window sill, and wait.
Works a treat. Different species will appear at different times.
Denis

Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Great idea - fascinating.
Gouldiae