Home' The River Weekly News : RWN011516 Contents THE RIVER - JANUARY 15, 2016
For The Birds
by Gerri Reaves
If you want to attract
birds to your yard,
give them reasons to
show up: a pesticide-free
environment, safe cover,
nesting habitat and food.
While seed-filled bird
feeders will certainly
attract birds (not to men-
tion squirrels and ducks!),
planting trees and shrubs
that provide all of the
above might increase the
number of bird species
that visit in your yard in
the long run.
The fruits pictured
here are only three of
many that will make your
yard a preferred avian
Native firebush (Hamelia patens) not only attracts a variety of birds with its purple-
black berries, but also butterflies with the red-orange tubular flowers. Hummingbirds
feed on the nectar.
This low-maintenance, storm-resistant hedge or small tree (there’s also a dwarf
variety) blooms all year and adjusts to a variety of conditions. It’s a must-plant for both
bird- and butterfly-watchers.
There’s some disagreement among experts as to golden dewdrop’s (Duranta
repens) native status, but there’s no disputing its beauty and value to wildlife.
The clusters of yellow fruit and five-lobed tubular blue flowers often simultaneously
exist on the shrub.
Songbirds like the fleshy fruit, the flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and
the foliage provides cover for birds. Leave all the fruit for the birds, however, for it is
toxic to humans.
Golden dewdrop is somewhat drought tolerant and will tolerate nutrient-poor soil. It
grows best in full sun and usually remains shrub size, but in good conditions develops
into a small tree.
It can also be trained to grow on trellises, walls and fences.
Seagrape’s (coccoloba uvifera) fruit sometimes sets up competition between people
and wildlife. Birds visit the tree for the delicious bunches of grapes, and so do people
wanting to make seagrape jelly.
This native tree’s value to people and wildlife is difficult to overstate. It is protected
by law because it prevents coastal erosion; its canopy and fruit provide cover and food
for wildlife, respectively.
Other winning characteristics include seagrape’s beautiful large reddish veined
leaves, high salt tolerance, and low maintenance requirements.
Give your yard’s resident and migrating birds some variety – plant some living bird-
feeders and enjoy the scene.
Plant Smart explores the diverse flora of South Florida.
The fruit of firebush, golden dewdrop and seagrape all attract birds
photos by Gerri Reaves
Shell Factory 14th Annual Gumbo Fest
The Shell Factory &
Nature Park will stage
their 14th annual
Southwest Florida Gumbo
Fest on Sunday, January 31
from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Again
this year, Sam Galloway
Ford will sponsor the event
with a number of new Ford
cars displayed on site. This
years’ event will feature
two live bands headlined
by Dwayne Dopsie & The
Zydeco Hellraisers and The
Several types of gumbo will
be available along with some
unique festival food. Admission
is free, with lots of children’s’
activities and a great day of fun
for the entire family. Children
will also have free admission
to the Nature Park with a
paid adult or senior admis-
sion. All proceeds benefit The
Nature Park Environmental
Education Foundation, which
provides transportation for Lee
County school students to visit
the Park. Capt’n Fishbones,
the Soaring Eagle Zip Line, the retail store and Fun Park will all be open during the
“I believe this will be our largest Gumbo Fest ever,” said Rick Tupper, CFO and
marketing director. “Gumbo Fest has become a real family event and emphasizes our
marketing direction as the number one family entertainment destination in Southwest
Vendors who wish to participate should call CityBiz at 549-5599 or email
The Shell Factory & Nature Park is located four miles north of the Caloosahatchee
River on U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers. Visit www.shellfactory.com for more informa-
Join a Lee County volunteer natu-
ralist for a free 1.4 mile nature
and history walk at Wild Turkey
Strand Preserve at 9 a.m . this Saturday,
January 16. Wild Turkey Strand
Preserve is located at 11901 Rod and
Gun Club Road in Fort Myers.
The preserve occupies portions of the
for mer Buckingham Army Airfield, the
state’s largest airfield training base during
World War II. It is also located within the
boundaries of Lee County’s designated
aquifer recharge area.
The 90-minute walk is on a fully
accessible trail, and a picnic shelter and
restroom are onsite. No reservations are
required and no dogs are per mitted in
Call 707-3325 for more information.
Scenic wetlands draw waterfowl to Wild
Turkey Strand Preserve
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