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Onobrychis viciifolia
Anne Elliott
Pea family
Carburn Park
Onobrychis sativa
Onobrychis viciaefolia
Hedysarum onobrychis
1 September 2016

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Sainfoin / Onobrychis viciifolia

Sainfoin / Onobrychis viciifolia
Sainfoin has been grown in parts of Europe and Asia for hundreds of years. Various strains have been introduced to North America as a forage crop since about 1900. I happened to notice several plants growing at Carburn Park when I was on a birding walk on 1 September 2016. I think this is the only location in the city where it grows. Belongs to the Pea family and blooms June-August. It is considered a weed, but, as usual, a very beautiful weed. I love the deep pink stripes on the petals.

"Like many plants with a long period of human use, it is known by many common names. In English, it is commonly called sainfoin from the French for "healthy hay". Sometimes it is called holy hay--a confusion of "saint" for "sain".

Healthy hay is a fitting moniker. It is nutritionally comparable to alfalfa and equally, if not more, palatable to livestock. In addition, research has shown that it inhibits nematode parasitism in ruminants due to its high tannin content. A good report on the use of sainfoin as a feed crop is available on Feedipedia: Onobrychis viciifolia, while images of the species growing as a field crop are available via the Alberta Native Plant Council. As a crop, the plant is considered a good environmental choice: it forms a deep tap root that helps soil stabilization, its roots house nitrogen-fixing bacteria that improve the soil, and its melliferous flowers attract bees and birds. A fine, clear honey has been produced in areas where the plant is cultivated. Lastly, it is more tolerant of drought and cold than other forage crops like alfalfa and clover.

Despite its many benefits, it has largely been replaced by alfalfa and clover in the past century. The main drawback is its poor regrowth after cutting and resultant lower production." From UBC Botany Photo of the Day website.


This walk was to look for Warblers especially, though it turned out to be a rather quiet morning, bird-wise. Without binoculars, I didn't really see any Warblers, except for a few little Yellow-rumped Warblers. As always, it was great to see a number of American White Pelicans and quite a few Double-crested Cormorants - these two species always seem to like to hang out together. Cormorants are not small birds, but they are completely dwarfed by the size of the Pelicans.

This was the first week of the fall birding session and it felt so good to catch up with people I haven't seen for a while - I miss so many of the walks for one reason or another. Our bird walks come to a stop during the summer months, as things slow down with the birds. We were divided into two groups, so each person didn't necessarily see everything on the list.

I will add our leaders' list of species seen:

FFCPPSoc. 2016 Autumn Birding, Carburn Park, SE Calgary, 0915-1200 Thurs., Sept 01, 2016. Mostly sunny, breeze, 14-23°C. Two groups.

1. Canada Goose 30
2. Wood Duck 8
3. Gadwall 8
4. American Wigeon 12
5. Mallard 40
6. Blue-winged Teal 1
7. Green-winged Teal 2
8. Common Goldeneye 8
9. Common Merganser 10
10. Ruddy Duck 1
11. Pied-billed Grebe 2
12. Double-crested Cormorant 40
13. Great Blue Heron 1
14. Osprey 4
15. Cooper's Hawk 1
16. Swainson's Hawk 4
17. Killdeer 1
18. Spotted Sandpiper 2
19. Franklin's Gull 70
20. Ring-billed Gull 150
21. California Gull 8
22. Herring Gull 6
23. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 2
24. Belted Kingfisher 5
25. Downy Woodpecker 2
26. Northern Flicker 15
27. Merlin 1
28. Least Flycatcher 1
29. Black-billed Magpie 4
30. American Crow 6
31. Tree Swallow 1
32. Black-capped Chickadee 10
33. White-breasted Nuthatch 1
34. House Wren 1
35. American Robin 10
36. Gray Catbird 1
37. European Starling 5
38. Cedar Waxwing 6
39. Yellow Warbler 2
40. Yellow-rumped Warbler 4
41. Common Grackle 300 - Two flocks seen simultaneously
42. House Finch 1
43. American Goldfinch 1

Eastern Gray Squirrel-10
White-tailed Deer-1

Pam J, Mitch Seaver have particularly liked this photo

 Mitch Seaver
Mitch Seaver
Excellent capture!
3 years ago.
 Anne Elliott
Anne Elliott club
Thanks so much, MItch!
3 years ago.
 Pam J
Pam J club
So beautiful !

Admired in ~ I ♥ Nature
3 years ago.

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