← Return Published on: Monday 31st March, 2008 by Super Administrator
A tree that actively catches birds to provide extra nutrition for itself sounds unlikely, but that is exactly the strategy adopted by tropical Pisonia trees.On Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef, some seventy thousand black noddy terns breed. The birds use the pisonia tree and the tree uses the birds. The noddies nest in the bird catching tree. Pisonia fruits are equipped with tiny barbs and are also exceptionally sticky. They cling readily to the feathers of the birds. Everywhere the noddy goes the Pisonia goes as well, that's the plan. If the tern fails to unhitch the would-be travellers, the fruits may be carried to other islands by the hijacked bird. But many a noddy comes to a sticky end. The fruits can be over efficient at clinging; binding the bird feathers so that flight is impossible. From thousands of nests and branches a constant rain of droppings showers the ground with a rich guano. That, and the decomposing corpses, fertilises the Pisonia forest floor, stimulating the growth of the trees and their deadly fruits. Check out other interesting, intriguing and arresting images from the NHNZ stockshot library.