Here in Austin, we don’t have a lot of exotic trees. We have multitudes of sturdy and steady Live Oak; they only shed their leaves as new ones emerge, giving us year-round greenery. We have gnarly Mountain Juniper trees with branches like witches’ fingers, so they’re naturally responsible for sneezing forth a toxic pollen that brings Austin to its knees every winter (the dreaded “cedar fever”). There are plenty of pecan trees in town, and we’ve got varieties of cypress and maple and elm. Mesquite trees come closest to being really nifty.

The trees aren’t that exotic, and, come to think of it, maybe that’s why we don’t have many exotic birds. My yard is currently home to cardinals, mockingbirds, and a family of doves directly responsible for every trip to the car wash this year. Sounds a lot like your yard, doesn’t it?

The wildest birds in town, are, hands down, the common grackles. Individually, they display some great feather wagging during mating season, and their blue black coloring can be marvelously iridescent in the right light. But every evening they descend by the thousands, in plagues to busy street corners in town. Their collective screech can drown out a car radio if the windows are down.

There are two shots in this little gallery that tried to capture grackles in the branches, but that’s not what inspired me to snap these pics. Kite eating trees were the inspiration, and we’ve got a lot of those in the city’s main park, Zilker, where there’s a pretty popular kite festival each spring.

Once I started seeing kites in trees, I started to see other things as well: vines, paper bags, ball moss. Or just gorgeous barren branches.

Here are a few photos. Click on a thumbnail for a better image and to scroll through the gallery.