By Mary Reid Barrow
Two mothers at Mimi Boseman’s home in Birdneck Point on the Lynnhaven River deserve special Mother’s Day greetings this year.
One is Boseman, the mother of a re-created marsh in the low area of her yard near the water and of an upland area planted full of native plants. The other is the red-winged black bird that chose to build her nest in the new marsh land that Boseman built.
Red-winged blackbirds are creatures of the marsh. They weave their nests of reeds down in the grasses close to the water. And this red-winged female had the wisdom to know a new good thing when she saw it.
To build her nest, the non-descript female has painstakingly woven vegetation round and round the stems of a few wetland reeds in Boseman’s recreated marsh. Most probably she lined her hanging nest with mud and soft grass.
Then, it appears from Boseman’s photo, that the red-winged mom laid five blue-green eggs with dark markings on them in her nest that hangs like a baby cradle between the marsh grass stems.
The striped brown female is at home blending in among the reeds, whether building her nest or incubating her eggs and tending to her nestlings.
Colorful Dad with his yellow and red wing epaulets stays nearby, but he’s not good at cradle lullabies. He’s noisy, bold and boisterous as he protects his nest(s) and territory from a spot on high.
We don’t have a photo of Boseman’s birds, only one of the nest. But the photo of the male, above, taken at Pleasure House Point is typical of the behavior of most red-winged dads around their nests.
Ten years ago Boseman’s yards was a grass slope, bulk headed around the water’s edge. High tides flooded the lower part of her yard so often that the water’s edge was often a muddy mess.
A decade or so ago, Boseman sought advice from LRNow because she wanted to return her yard to its natural setting. Now native marsh grasses and wildflowers blow in the breeze around the water’s edge. High tides don’t affect these plants because they are growing where they belong.
Boseman also has replaced many traditional plants, like azaleas and hydrangeas, with native shrubs and flowers in the upland part of her yard.
For her efforts, she was honored with LRNow’s Legendary Lynnhaven Shoreline Award in 2016. Just last week, you may have seen a video of her yard that was part of the online program at the virtual drive-thru oyster roast.
These days, Boseman’s whole property welcomes not only marsh birds, like red-winged blackbirds, but also happy upland birds, like her nesting bluebirds, that find plenty of insects, native berries and seeds to dine on in the yard.
In addition to encouraging pollinators, the native plants and grasses also filter runoff from rain and help keep the river clean.
Thanks to Boseman’s efforts, what right-thinking red-winged blackbird wouldn’t choose to build a baby nursery in a habitat like that?
It all adds up to not only a happy Mother’s Day for Boseman and the mother red-winged, but as a matter of fact, also for Mother Earth herself.
Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell? What relationships have you observed between plants and critters? Who eats whom? Who has babies where? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.orgThere