Several species of the Bay watershed's flora and fauna pop up in holiday songs and traditions. Can you name them?
1. A popular holiday song mentions roasting these "over an open fire." The ones found in markets around the holidays are more than likely to have come from outside the watershed or from this tree's European cousin. A blight that was discovered in the early 1900s wiped out almost all of the mature trees in the United States. Shoots will grow out of a dead tree's stump, but they almost always die of the blight before they reach 20 feet. Efforts are under way in the watershed to produce blight-resistant trees.
2. This is the most popular bird to serve for Christmas dinner. Ben Franklin was a fan of this bird and lobbied for it to be our national bird. He did not think that the American eagle's habit of snatching prey from other animals made it a worthy national symbol.
3. Seven of these are "a swimming" in the "12 Days of Christmas." Only three species of this bird can be found in the Chesapeake watershed at some point in the year: the mute, the trumpeter and the tundra.
4. One of the most stunning scenes in the Chesapeake landscape is that of a bright red cardinal in the bare or snowy branches of a tree. The song, "Winter Wonderland," though, laments the departure of another of the Bay's songbirds, which migrates south for the season. The dead or hollow trees in which they traditionally make their nests are disappearing. Bird box projects are helping to provide homes for these cavity nesters.
5. Ivy only appears in the first line of the song, "The Holly & The Ivy." European ivy, though, is a nonnative invasive plant that appears all over the Bay watershed. There is a native ivy whose praises are no doubt sung by the songbirds and game birds that eat its white berries in the winter. Alas, its "leaves of three" will probably prevent it from being a hit with humans.
5. Poison Ivy