Jonathan's Mistletoe Diary

December 18, 2010

Mistletoe Survey update #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jonathan Briggs @ 7:42 pm

Latest results of the 2010 Mistletoe Questionnaire are presented below.  We’ve now has over 300 responses (the figures below were saved at the 269 mark), but we still need more, so do take part if you haven’t already – and do pass it on to your friends.  (Q12, the free-form response, is now too long to present easily – there’ll be a summary of that in due course…)

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3 Comments »

  1. We live near Aylesbury, Bucks, and I’ve noticed a good few bunches of mistletoe growing locally, mostly very high up in ancient trees. However, there is a tree in a churchyard, near High Wycombe, which is absolutely covered in it. (I would not want to post its exact location on the internet for fear of theft.) I’ve never seen it growing in such proliferation on a small tree!

    On Jan 2nd, we were in Bushy Park, Richmond, which is awash with the plant. Not many berries left though, as the birds have been very hungry. There are flocks of green parakeets in that area and as they are soft fruit-eaters, it struck me that they might be instrumental in spreading it the plant. Have any links been established between the birds and the spread of mistletoe?

    Comment by Mary Payne — January 4, 2011 @ 10:26 am | Reply

    • Hi Mary,

      A belated reply (sorry, still catching on on post-Christmas correspondence) – yes, the Bushy Park parakeets do seem to take the mistletoe berries, but the implications of this aren’t known. Very few native birds like mistletoe berries – either not ‘recognising’ them as food (as they’re white, not red, orange, black or blue like all other native berries) or being put off by their stickiness (the pulp is so sticky it was once a main ingredient of birdlime, used to catch small birds for eating!). So, if parakeets like them they’ve got very few competitors. Mistle Thrushes (and some other thrush species) are the main native birds taking the berries, but overwintering Blackcaps take them too, and they’ve become more frequent in Britain in recent winters. Their (blackcap’s) population changes are considered a possible factor in changing mistletoe spread – and so, locally, it may be that parakeets also have some role in this. I’m unaware of any studies though…

      Comment by Jonathan Briggs — February 11, 2011 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks a lot, Jonathan. Mostly, I’ve read negative comments about the parakeets, but if they are indeed spreading mistletoe, then they have a useful role.

    Comment by Mary Payne — February 15, 2011 @ 3:46 pm | Reply


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