Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My great big beautiful half-dead weeping willow tree!

Look at this lovely tree…branches weeping down providing shade and shelter for the plants and birds beneath. It’s gorgeous and welcoming…


I feel so cozy and happy under this tree. It's fun breaking through the hanging branches to get "inside," and it makes me think of those bead chain curtains we had in the 70s!


The really old bird feeder my dad made for me almost 20 years ago is under this tree looking very photogenic. The birds think so too...

But look straight up, and the story is a bit different. The sweet thing had her water source cut off a few years ago and as a result started suffering, but don’t be too sad, because she’s still hanging on nice and strong, and her dead branches are favorite perches for the local birds. Best of all, she is beloved of our Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and White-breasted Nuthatches.


Only the uninformed see a half-dead tree. Birders see a woodpecker magnet...or a place White-breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creepers like to hang out.



Look half-way up on the right. Do you see our lovely Red-bellied Woodpecker? I could hear him knocking as I took the photo.

In the winter, we will often walk into the kitchen and be eye level with a Red-shouldered Hawk or a Copper's Hawk sitting patiently on one of the dead branches as he scouts out his next meal. Being eye level with a huge bird like a hawk is a little unusual. I would miss that little surprise (and it's always a surprise no matter how many times you see it) if we cut the tree down or trimmed up all the dead branches. So when a neighbor once asked me, “So, what are you going to do with that tree?” I’m sure you knew my response. I wasn't blogging back then. If I were it would have been "I’m going to take photos of it and blog about how wonderful it is!"

Safety first! Last autumn we had hurricane-force winds rip through our part of the country for 5 or 6 hours straight (very strange sensation when you’re land-locked). Roofs were destroyed and electric lines were down everywhere. Many were without electricity for 9-10 days, but our dead willow branches held on strong. A few came down, so I feel the rest are safe. Additionally they are way out in the yard, so if they do come down, they are not going to crush a house or anything.

25 comments:

JKoenig said...

For someone who enjoys taking pictures of birds like you do, I can understand how much you appreciate that tree--no leaves to contend with while you're trying to get that picture. You are lucky--beauty at the bottom and perches at the top.

Mary said...

Wonderful! It looks so pretty from eye level. I'm glad I'm not the only one "silly" enough to hang on to dead trees. I'll have to post a photo of my dead dogwood with its lovely vine growing all over it to give the illusion that it is still a live tree :-)The birds appreciate our efforts, even when the neighbors don't :-)

Kim said...

Kelly, if I had a yard as lovely as yours, I would have a hard time leaving it! LOVE that tree.

Laure Ferlita said...

As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Too bad more folks can't find beauty in a tree that struggles to live fully!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Isn't it amazing how being a 'birder' changes everything about you????? I now think of dead trees as very special also!!!! AND--when they clear the land around here to build a new home, I almost cry thinking about all of the birds (and other critters) who lost their homes.... Sniff Sniff

Love your weeping willow.. Is it true that where there is one weeping willow, another one is close by?????

Love you,
Betsy

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Kelly, I love that you're leaving the bare branches simply for the birds. We've lost a few trees since the construction of our house. If they hadn't been so close to our roof, I would have left them standing. (It would have cost a lot less, too!) There's another one that seems to be failing, but it will stay where it is down by the creek. Just to make the woodpeckers happy. :)

Kelly said...

Janice...it's a perfect combination!!

Mary...I can't wait to see your dead dogwood camouflaged with a vine!! yeah! We really do need to start the Dead Tree Society.

Kim...thank you, Kim!! (I don't know if everyone in the neighborhood loves the tree, but hopefully the rest of the yard keeps them happy.)

Laure...it should make them love it more for being so valiant. The birds certainly appreciate it.

Betsy...you are so right. It changes everything. I was at my friend's house down the street, and her neighbor had a dead tree snag in her back yard. I said, "Ohhhh...I love that tree" I could tell those people were birders!

Adrienne...when they are close to the roof, then it is dangerous. Glad to hear you have one far away. Sounds like the birds will be happy too.

Cathy B. said...

It's a beautiful story...

Midmarsh John said...

I know what you mean about the dead branches. Next door, just over the fence there is one dead tree, old dead brambles and several bare branches on another tree. At one time they annoyed me but now they are safe places for birds to sit and survey their world or feed their young. Everything has its place and use, given time.

Abe Lincoln said...

Your tree is nice. I like willows. There are willows that can be a pain as some drop a lot of limbs and trash. We used to have two of them and they filled the pond with trash. But then we put this office in and they had to come down and they were hollow. The only thing holding them up was about an inch of wood around the outside. They had died or ants ate them on the inside. Don't know which. We were stunned. The man who took them down said they would have fallen one day when we least expected it.

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JPT said...

I remember those curtains - how on earth did they ever catch on!?
Mind you it was the 1970's.

Kelly said...

Cathy...thank you!

John...you are right. Mother Nature provides for everything.

Abe...I've heard of that. I had a tree doctor look at the tree last year to make sure this tree wasn't like that. She's solid in the center thank goodness!

Kelly said...

JPT.....we had smiley face decorations too! Lots of strange decorations in the late 60s early 70s (but it was fun!) :-)

the Baitlady said...

What is it about those willow trees ~ I've seen so many that have branches die off like that. We had one in our yard by our old house that looked just like yours. Tell the neighbor if the tree bothers her to look at it ~ turn the other way.

Tammie Lee said...

Hi Kelly,
lovely photos of your friend the willow. Wonderful that you see and know the gift in it's slow passing. For it will be a gift long after it dies. Hurricane winds is something I have never experienced. That must be unnerving, that huge amount of storm!

Roy said...

They are nice to look at Kelly. As long as they are not near any drainage system as the roots will disrupt the pipes etc and cause a large problem.

Warren Baker said...

Good on you kelly. Its a half dead tree that creates wildlife better than a healthy tree.
You keep it!

Chris Petrak said...

How right you are about a "half dead" tree. We had one like that, though much smaller. The river finally undercut it and it came down. I took off the trunk but left the upturned root system - it became a wonderful background for flowers, and the riverside shrubs which eventually came in are havens for birds. I hope yours continues standing for a long time.

E said...

Nice and sad story, hope many woodpeckers will nest there. I found this place to make you happy...

http://www.ilovewavs.com/Effects/Birds/Birds.htm

Big hugs

Kelly said...

Baitlady....willows do drop the branches, don't they. I don't think I'd have the nerve to say "look the other way!" :-) I will say "I like the tree and so do the birds!"

Tammie Lee...thank you.....it was unnerving...a constant hurricane-force wind strong enough to pick you up a foot or so and move you! Matty and I were outside (like dummies) so we could see what it felt like. No rain....just the wind. So much damage.

Roy...so true. Mine is in the backyard far from the house. It originally was put there to sop up a swampy area.

Warren....you're right! Half dead...all the better. I hope it's around for a long time for the birds.

Chris....cool....I would have love to have seen those upturned roots. Sounds like it's beautiful now.

Enita...thank you! I'll check it out. Bird sounds...I always love those!!

dAwN said...

Good for you! Excellent that you let the tree be a haven for your birds, when others would have trimmed it or chopped it down.
I am looking at the photo where the red bellied is in ..and I also see another, larger bird above it..do u know what it is? I couldnt figure it out..Jay perhaps?

Kelly said...

Dawn...you're right. It was a Blue Jay! They love that tree too (all the birds do). :-) Thanks!

holdingmoments said...

Loveley tree Kelly, and it looks the perfect spot to sit and relax.

Sue said...

It's always sad when a tree starts to die, but I'm happy you are able to see the good that comes out of it. You have a wonderful eye for nature and we're all benefiting from that. Thank you!

Heather said...

Ah, I'm glad to finally see photos of the tree you spoke so fondly of during our visit. The part about the beaded curtains cracked me up!