If you step outside your door this morning you will hear what is known as the "Dawn Chorus," the morning ritual of songbirds the world over in which they lay claim to their territory. While eerily similar to the Suburban Human call of "You kids stay off my lawn!" - this chorus also serves as a way for male songbirds to attract mates.
The timing, however, couldn't be worse for our feathered friends. The weather is still cold, much of the ground is still covered in snow and most, if not all, of the wild food supplies within the ecosystem are running at their yearly minimums. Not only do they have to burn calories staying warm, fending off competition, and singing their heart out, but finding food has become nearly impossible.
This is where you come in! The plants you select for your garden is what will help our feathered friends throughout these barren weeks of late-winter. Sumacs (Rhus spp.), in particular, are extremely important this time of year for songbirds. Generally, their fruit pods are left to overwinter and are finally consumed during these final weeks after other food sources have been exhausted. Luckily for us (and the birds), Long Island is home to four different species of Sumac, so you are sure to find one that is suitable for your growing conditions and needs.
Sumac Species native to Long Island:
Fragrant Sumac Rhus aromatica var aromatica
Common Winged Sumac Rhus copallinum var. copallinum
Smooth Sumac Rhus glabra
Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina