A black bear eats club cherries in southeastern Alaska. (Taal Levi, Oregon State University/Wikimedia Commons)

A black bear eats club cherries in southeastern Alaska. (Taal Levi, Oregon State University/Wikimedia Commons)

The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar

The “season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” (Keats “To Autumn”) is upon us and with it, we are seeing the development of many fruits both on wild bushes and trees as well as garden favourites.

The native mountain-ash bushes are covered in brilliant orange-red berries. So are the cultivated varieties in town. Red elderberries have been ripe for some time and so have black huckleberries and black crowberries.

My crab apples are showing a lovely yellowish pink blush as they ripen.

They are deliciously edible, and the bears know it. Friends have eating apples ready to pick. All of these may be attractive to birds, but also to bears.

While we love to see the ripening fruits, we really should consider removing them from gardens to avoid enticing bears. If you don’t want to process or eat the edible garden fruits, please try to pick them, and give them to Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter as a treat for the captive bears. Having bears in gardens at this time of year leads to all kinds of problems and usually the bears are the ones that lose out.

LAST WEEK: Little brown bats

The mountain-ash berries, and sour crab apples are a strong attractant to fall birds such as cedar waxwings and migrating American robins. Closer to Christmas, when the cedar waxwings have gone, any mountain-ash and other tree fruits remaining will draw in the Bohemian waxwings and some berries will be so fermented that the birds will get quite tipsy.

The dense cone crops on the spruce and subalpine firs this year are in response to the stress of the heat dome last summer. The squirrels are going nuts (!) trying to stash as many cones as they can before the snow comes.

Hopefully, the heavy crop will draw in the red and white-winged crossbills soon.

As I write this on September 10, the southward migration of sandhill cranes has already started. It seems a bit early compared with previous years. Also, watch for hawks moving through.

Rain and mists interspersed with sunny periods also produce the favourite conditions for mushrooms to appear.

It is very important to identify them correctly before eating. A new book “Mushrooms of British Columbia” by MacKinnon and Luther (Royal BC Museum publication) has lots of information about edibility.