In late fall and winter you can see fruit still on some of the trees and shrubs. What kinds of trees still have fruit? Will the fruit be eaten by animals this winter? Here is an opportunity to do some scientific investigating.
First, look around your school or neighborhood to see if there are trees still loaded with fruit. Can you find any? How will you figure out what kind of trees they are? One way is by using an identification key. Another is just to look through a book or Websiteand try to match the fruit you see with a picture.
Start a journal with a page for each kind of tree or shrub you find. If you don’t know what kind of tree or shrub it is, at least make a drawing of the fruit. Show its shape, size, and color. Write down the date you saw it and some kind of note of how many are on the tree or shrub. Is it loaded with fruit or are there just a few?
As fall turns to winter, make a note on your journal page for each kind of tree or shrub. Record how many of the fruits are left and whether you see any clues that birds or other animals are using them for food. How do you know animals are eating them? Are there fewer fruits? Are there partially eaten pieces on the ground? Do you see animals feeding? Do you find animal tracks?
As the weeks go by, what conclusions can you draw from your observations? Do they tell you what fruits are most popular with local animals? Do they tell you what kinds of plants are best for helping local wildlife?
Share what you have learned with your teacher or parent. Explain how your data helped you.
Read more about helping wildlife with trees and shrubs.
- A great reference is American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to wildlife and plants, by A. C. Martin, H. S. Zim and A. L. Nelson. 1961 Dover ed. New York.
- Another is Songbirds in Your Garden by John K. Terres. 1987 Harper and Row.