We’ve often written about the importance of Mount Sutro Forest as habitat. (For instance: here.) Everywhere in our city, eucalyptus provides nesting and perching sites for many different birds, as does acacia which grows as a sub-canopy in many parts of the forest. All the bird pictures here were taken in San Francisco.
But it’s not just the trees. Blackberry, the main understory plant of the Mount Sutro Forest, is a very rich habitat plant. It supplies cover, food, and places to den and nest.
Left untouched, it grows 6-8 feet high or taller in the shade of the eucalyptus canopy and the acacia. Its thorny dense bushes provide many cubic feet of space to insects, birds, and animals.
Recently, Janet Kessler pointed this out in an interview with Victoria Schlesinger to Way Out West, an online journal dealing with environmental news in the Bay Area. Kessler is the Jane Goodall of San Francisco’s coyotes, keeping a minutely-observed blog, Coyote Yipps, with detailed photographs of animal behavior. She’s also a photographer of San Francisco’s wildlife, and has exhibited her photographs at exhibitions in the city. She’s posted many of them on her “Urban Wildness” site (the bird pictures above are from that site). She spends hours each day watching wildlife. Here’s what she says about the removal of blackberry in San Francisco:
“…Himalayan Blackberry… is thorny and dense. Birds live in it. It’s food for lots of animals. It prevented dogs from going into the underbrush area. It was very protective and because it was non-native they took it all out. It was an excellent plant for animals. Instead of thinking, what’s this plant serving? What’s its purpose? What’s it doing? They just thought, ‘Oh non-native, out it goes.’
“There are new studies out by Mark Davis. He’s written a book called “Invasion Biology.” He’s trying to show that not all non-native plants are harmful…”
Please do check out the interview. Not only is it excellent and insightful about wildlife, it’s illustrated with Kessler’s excellent photographs of coyotes, snakes, frogs, raccoons, birds and other urban wildlife.
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