That Branch

Sometimes I look at that dead branch and wonder why I haven’t pruned it back to the  major limb that’s actually alive.  The branch belongs to a Red Tip Photinia which I planted decades ago when I was a newby gardener and knew next-to-nothing about gardening in Central Texas.  It sits near a back corner of my house and I’ve kept it because it provides evergreen coverage for the many birds who visit: those who’re migrating through and the neighborhood birds who’re making the rounds to feed, drink, and rest.  That’s why I keep the Photinia, but why the dead branch?

This is why.

Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

The branch is perfectly suited for a quick dash to or from the feeder: feeding birds snatching a snack, then retreat to the large shrub to nosh.  Sometimes the birds prefer the foliaged parts, sometimes, they’re content to perch in the open.

What I’ve learned in the decades since I plopped the Photinia into the ground is that the perfectly coiffed “yard” is not an inviting home or welcoming place for birds, bees, butterflies and other critters.  My goals in gardening have changed from those early days and I prefer plants, or plant parts, that are useful for those critters who live among us critters.

The branch will eventually break, either from a heavy wind or rain, or just because–but I won’t bring it down.  I’ll leave it for the birds until events require them to find another place to park.  

I’m happy to link today with Anna at her lovely Flutter and Hum and Wednesday Vignette; pop on over to enjoy garden stories. 

19 thoughts on “That Branch

  1. Oh yes!! Thank you! I have been working on a post about yards and birds for 2 weeks, since my new neighbor arrived and clear cut 5 mature trees on day 1. Yours says what I’ve been feeling with reverence instead of rage. Perhaps I can finish mine now, on a more hopeful note. Beautiful. Important.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, that breaks my heart. I will never understand people who raze trees that aren’t causing problems. I’ve tried to figure out why people do that and I think, in part, they’ve learned that the clear-cut look is some epitome of “garden” beauty. That idea comes from 70 years of better-living-through-chemicals and nothin’-but-grass look. Also, there’s an issue of control, which many people like to exercise over nature. I think we’re improving, but still have a ways to go–just keep doing what you’re doing and so will I. Hopefully, we’ll change some minds!


  2. Very good point, Tina. Yes, both coverage and view points are needed, of course. Photinias have issues up here as well. They are prone to fungus problems, which of course mars those pretty red leaves. I removed an entire row of them when we first bought this house. They were progressively leaning like a line of falling dominoes, and beyond any help that I could give. So, off they went. Since then, the birds have gotten many, many other places to hang out. 🙂


  3. I’m with you. On a larger scale, I had an arborist trim my oaks shortly after moving into a new house decades ago, and belatedly realized I’d removed all woodpecker habitat. It probably took 4-5 years for them to return. Now I have trees trimmed when I *have* to, and am probably known as the weird lady that specifies to be sure and leave some dead wood for the woodpeckers :-).


    • Lesson learned. Good for you that you did notice that the woodpeckers habitat was destroyed and that you’ve mitigated that mistake since that time. It’s a shame that the arborist wasn’t a bit more in tuned with habitat needs, but we’ve all learned a lot in the past two or so decades. Maybe he/she is better informed these days.


  4. It’s why I’m having a hard time wanting to take down our dying mimosa tree. The birds always love to perch on it and when the tree bloomed, hummingbirds nectared on it.


    • Unless it threatens your home or a neighbor’s, do you have to remove it? I’ve seen some obviously dead trees, but good homes to wildlife with decorations. Of course, it all depends on where you live. I’m in Austin, so weird is wonderful. 🙂


  5. Great lesson that shows a dead branch as something beneficial for the birds. A manicured yard is not attractive to any of God’s creatures. My yard is quite untidy for two reasons. I can’t afford to keep up an entire acre and the birds and other wild creatures like it for the reasons that you have written. I really like the dead branches because I can see the birds much better when they are perched some place without leaves. Your pic of the chickadee shows the little bird very well.


    • An acre is a lot to keep up with, so it’s probably best that you’ve let it go *au naturale*. 🙂 And, you’ve done your local environment some good, too!

      Thanks, I’m always excited with I can get a clear chickadee or hummingbird shot!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Just to let you know, I nominated you for The Liebster Award. For the rules, visit — In general, thank the person who nominated you, and include a link to that site. Write an acceptance post including the Liebster logo. Answer the questions posed in the nomination. Nominate as many others as you’d like for the Liebster Award, ask them questions, and let them know you’ve nominated them. You may also visit the Liebster Award site and leave a comment there. That’s it! Thank you for all your good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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