ARTfarm Q & A Monday with Farmer Luca

Q: Why have you planted so many trees around your farm?

A: To attract bird watchers.

More on that in a moment: today’s Monday 3-6pm farmstand includes: sweet salad mix, teen spicy mix, teen arugula, baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, slicer tomatoes, recao, garlic chives, lemongrass, onions and carrots.

On January 27, we heard a strange noise in a densely shaded area of the farm. It sounded like this: We also heard tell-tale hammering on a tree trunk.

Christina called local birdwatcher Carol Burke of SEA, and biologist Claudia Lombard of US Fish and Wildlife, to try to identify the bird, who clearly was indicating to us that he or she was some kind of woodpecker — not something you typically encounter in the Virgin Islands. Soon, the farm started looking like this: treeholes
And then this: birdwatchers

The bird was indeed a woodpecker! It has been identified as a young female yellow bellied sap sucker. Female yellow bellied sap suckers spend summers in the northern regions of North America, and do venture south to Central America and parts of the Caribbean for the winter, but not often in the USVI. According to ebird.org, this is the first recorded sighting of one in the territory since 1999. Here’s a couple of Lisa Yntema’s shots! YBSapsucker_5Feb2014_Longford_LDY-7sm
YBSapsucker_5Feb2014_Longford_LDY-sm

Our little red headed lady has peppered the neem tree with tiny holes, which drip sap that she likes to drink. The sweet, sticky sap also attracts bugs, which attract lizards. It’s pretty interesting how one little bird can shift an entire ecosystem around herself. She’s so industrious, we might have to call her “Martha”.

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