Friday, 13 January 2012

Orach plant and the Sparrows

A letter by Barbara Woodling, Gravesend, Kent, UK, published in Birds Magazine about a back garden Sparrow Spectacular caused by an Orach plant.

"Last autumn, a few feet beyond my kitchen window, the sparrows staged a spectacular aerobatic dsiplay on fronts of ripening red orach.

The stems arched and drooped under their constantly changing featherweight burdens as the birds prospected for the most succulent seeds. Some fed on the ground, pecking at fallen seeds like animated balls of brown fethers.

Occasionally one or two sparrows flew to nearby fennel, golden against the rich red of the orache, to refresh the palate with a few fennel seeds before returning to their favourite treat.

Last year was a good breeding year for the sparrows and my garden boasts a nearly respectable sized flock for these bird-impoverished times. I have to confess a glow of personal satisfaction over their breednig success, since have dutifully kept the feeders replenished and water bowls cleaned and filled throug the breeding season.

By the time they left, the orache was reduced to a few pathetic, bent and broken stalks. What is it about orache that makes it so irresistible for sparrows? They didn't leave much foer their migrating winter couisns, but there will be enough scattered seed to produce some more plants for them to vandalise next year if all goes well and they return in numbers.

As always, I wish they would stay here, where they would be fed and watered, with plenty of winter proteciton provided by ivy and other evergreens, and where they would be relatively safe. Only relatively, of course,, because while the neighbourhood cats do not need to supplement their diet with sparrow, the don't see it like that, and try their utmost to do a spot of poaching in the garden."

About Orach

Orach is great for birds like finches, bunting and sparrows because of the large amount of seed it produces.

Orach is an annual grown for leaves like spinach that are often cooked in the same way.

Also known as 'mountain spinach', 'French spinach', 'sea purslane' and 'salt bush' for its tolerance of alkaline soil. The latin name is Atriplex hortensis L.

It is a Eurpean and Siberian native, considered t be one of the oldest cultivated plants.

It grows to 5 and 6 feet high, with a seed stalk that rises to 8 feet. Now THAT'S the part the birds love!!

Orach seeds can be purchased at

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