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Back from Hawai'i! Re: Vines for fences?? House Sparrow origin

Hi Carolinabirders,

Just back from Hawaii! Had a great time, and can happily share tips with 
anyone who is headed that way. I won't do so in detail on the list, as 
it's not nearly Carolina-related enough (although Northern Cardinal was 
one of the most common birds out there). I can share some highlights: 
Dark-Rumped Petrels calling around the Haleakala summit after dark; 
dazzlingly close views of Amakihi, Apapane, and Maui 'Alauhio from the 
Hosmer Grove nature trail, feeding on Haleakala Sandalwood trees; great 
looks at White-tailed Tropicbird flying alarmingly close to the Pihea 
Ridge Trail on Kauai; close fly-by Brown and Masked Boobies on two 
different beaches; Great Frigatebirds looming over a marsh on Oahu where 
I was collecting dragonfly data; close views of the Hawaiian waterbird 
endemic subspecies (coot, gallinule, stilt, and night-heron). Also one 
Hawaiian endemic butterfly, the Blackburn's Hawaiian Blue, and possibly 
the other, the Kamehameha Lady, among more common exotics like the Xuthus 
Swallowtail. Many great herps, from the native Green Sea Turtle, to the 
possibly native Island Blind Snake, to the not even remotely native 
Jackson's Chameleon and Gold Dust Day Gecko. And of course odonates, like 
the Hawaiian Giant Darner, some endemic damselflies, and more exotic 
species like the Scarlet Skimmer.

On Fri, 17 Aug 2001, Ruth Roberson wrote:
>  My back-door neighbor has put up a chain link fence (to keep her 
> rambunctious dog at home) and plans to plant ivy to grow on the fence. 
> What would be a better choice??  Something that would attract 
> birds/butterflies??  The back of her lot is moderately wooded and ours 
> has a hedgerow of sorts.  Any suggestions I could pass on to her would 
> be greatly appreciated.

Ivy would, of course, be a disaster; it's non-native and VERY aggressive, 
forming impenetrable carpets that exclude all other plant life. My fiance 
and I are hoping to eradicate it from our yard soon, if our landlady 
allows us; it's strangling our great old Sycamore tree, and taking hold 
on several other spots. See
for details.

Alternatives: Carolina Jessamine's a great one; evergreen, with lots of 
yellow flowers in early spring, smells nice, might attract the occasional 
butterfly. Durham residents can check the front porch of Elmo's Diner to 
see how good it looks. And it's available at most local nurseries; we 
bought ours at Durham Hardware on Guess Road. It's doing fine months 
later, despite the fact that our landlady still hasn't built the deck 
for which we bought the vine... Virginia Creeper is a nice-looking vine, 
not too different from ivy in appearance, and makes fruit for the birds. 
Bill Hilton's right about Trumpet Creeper as a native hummingbird magnet, 
and Crossvine is similar but flowers earlier and keeps its leaves longer. 
And our native honeysuckle, Coral or Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera 
sempervirens) is similarly hummer-attractive and doesn't form the 
impenetrable single-speces carpets that its more common Japanese relative 
does; I've seen it in at least one local nursery. Pipevine might be worth 
trying if you'd like Pipevine Swallowtails to breed in your yard, and 
Passion Flower is the food plant for several species from further south 
like the Gulf Fritillary, Julia, and Zebra Longwing.

A last note for today: during breaks in the action in Hawai'i, I was 
reading a book on influential figures in US natural history, and 
discovered - among many other things - that the House Sparrow was 
introduced in hopes that it would eat agricultural pest insects. I had 
always heard that some loony had released them because they had been 
mentioned in Shakespeare, apparently that is an urban legend. I'll try to 
dig out the quote from one of the day's leading ornithologists, who 
realized that sparrows were granivores and thought the whole scheme was a 
bad idea (which, of course, it was). But proponents of the plan convinced 
politicians to act over the scientists' objections, leading to today's 
sad situation of Eastern Bluebirds being pecked to death in their nests 
and so on.

I was supposed to be on the Patteson pelagic on Sunday, but it's been 
cancelled for under-subscription. Oh, well. I've moved my reservation to 
next Saturday, I hope more people sign up for that one!

Good birding,


Joshua S. Rose
Duke University
Department of Biology (Zoology, R.I.P.)