Wednesday 24 December 2014

Cattails: Disintegration

    I noticed the other day on one of my walks around the pond, how the firm cylindrical heads of the cattails were starting to break down to disperse their fluffy seeds.  Above you can see how some of them look.  The pond is covered with snow on the ice, and you can see brownish tints in some of the uneven surfaces where the cattail fluff has gotten hung up while being blown in the wind.  
    When I built the pond, I wanted to establish water plants in it to encourage wildlife.  To get cattails growing, all I did was throw a handful of cattail fluff, which I had gathered at a local lake, onto the water and nature did the rest.  The cattails began to grow profusely, but then suddenly their population began to decrease when a muskrat moved in.  It liked to eat the cattail roots.  The muskrat stayed around for a few years, but soon it had eaten so many of the cattails, there was not enough left to get it through the winter so it took off for a more bountiful environment, and the cattail population started to rebound.
    I had always hoped that the cattails would attract red-winged black birds.  A few times I saw one down among them, but there must not have been enough cattails to please him, because he never established himself at the pond.  In the summer other birds do hang around and make use of the cattails, and ducks take shelter amongst the stalks where they can hide with their ducklings.

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