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Educational Guides

Which Wood Burns Best?

Practical British Forestry by C. P. Ackers

  • Beechwood fires are bright and clear if the logs are kept a year.
  • Chestnut’s only good, they say, if for long it’s laid away.
  • Birch and Fir logs burn too fast, blaze up ‘bright’ and do not last
  • Elmwood burns like church yard mould, even the very flames are cold
  • Poplar gives a bitter smoke, fills your eyes and makes you choke.
  • Applewood will scent your room with incense like perfume.
  • Oak and Maple, if dry and old, keep away the winter cold
  • But Ashwood wet and Ashwood dry, a king shall warm his slippers by.

Selecting a Christmas Tree

Species of trees:

  • Balsam Firs, Abies balsamea
    Balsam Firs are the best trees for they have a wonderful scent, firm branching, and hold on to their needles for a longer period of time.
  • Fraser Firs, Abies fraseri
    Fraser Firs are also very good and are known as the Southern Balsam.  They grow well in the southern states and have many of the same characteristics as the Balsam Fir although they are less fragrant.
  • White Spruce, Picea glauca
    White Spruce have a shorter needle but good green color.  While their branches are firm, they drop their needles very fast and for that reason command less money as a tree.
  • Norway Spruce, Picea abies
    Norway Spruce are very similar to White Spruce at this young age.  They too will drop their needles quickly.
  • Colorado Spruce, Picea pungens
    Colorado Spruce have a wonderful color and make a very shapely Christmas tree.  Not only do they drop their needles quickly, the needles are very sharp and this makes the tree hard to decorate.  Cats don't like to climb Colorado Spruce unlike other trees!
  • Douglas Firs, Pseudotsuga menziesii
    Douglas Firs are not good indoor trees as their branches droop under the weight of ornaments.
  • Canadian Hemlocks, Tsuga canadensis
    Great outdoor tree but they are even worse than Douglas Firs and will hold next to no weight without drooping.

Sheared or unsheared?

This is a personal preference. Sheared trees are very popular for the growers as the trees demand a larger selling price. Sheared trees do not hold ornaments well unlike a natural tree. An unsheared tree will have a space between the branch whorls and this space creates enough room to display ornaments. You can take a sheared tree and prune out spaces to hang ornaments.

Bird Sightings at Hamilton College

Bird Summer Winter Migrant
Horned Grebe ~     X
Great Blue Heron + X    
Green Heron + X    
Turkey Vulture     X
Snow Goose +     X
Snow Goose (blue morph +)     X
Canada Goose +     X
Wood Duck     X
Am Black Duck     X
Mallard     X
Ring-neck Duck     X
Bufflehead ~     X
Hooded Merganser     X
Common Merganser + ~     X
Northern Harrier +     X
Sharp-shinned Hawk * X X X
Cooper’s Hawk   X X
Northern Goshawk ~     X
Red-shoulder Hawk + ~     X
Broad-winged Hawk +     X
Red Tailed Hawk X X  
Rough-legged Hawk +   X  
American Kestrel +     X
Ruffed Grouse X    
Wild Turkey X X  
Killdeer +     X
Lesser Yellowlegs + ~     X
Ring-billed Gull +     X
Herring Gull +     X
Gtr black-backed Gull+~     X
Rock Dove + X X  
Mourning Dove X X  
Black-billed Cuckoo X   X
Yellow-billed Cuckoo X   X
Eastern Screech-Owl * X    
Great Horned Owl * X X  
Barred Owl * X    
Long-eared Owl ~   X  
Chimney Swift X    
Ruby-throated Hummingbird X   X
Belted Kingfisher + X   X
Red-bellied Woodpecker * X X  
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker * X   X
Downy Woodpecker * X X  
Hairy Woodpecker X X  
Northern Flicker X X X
Pileated Woodpecker X X  
Olive-sided Flycatcher ~     X
Eastern Wood-Pewee * X    
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher     X
Willow Flycatcher ~     X
Least Flycatcher X   X
Eastern Phoebe * X   X
Great Crested Flycatcher * X   X
Eastern Kingbird     X
Northern Shrike   X  
Blue-headed Vireo * X   X
Yellow Throated Vireo X   X
Warbling Vireo     X
Philadelphia Vireo     X
Red-eyed Vireo * X   X
Blue Jay X X X
American Crow X X  
Black-capped Chickadee* X X  
Tufted Titmouse * X X  
Red-breasted Nuthatch X X  
White-breasted Nuthatch X X  
Brown Creeper X X  
House Wren X   X
Winter Wren * X X X
Golden-crowned Kinglet X X X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     X
Eastern Bluebird X X  
Veery * X   X
Swainson’s Thrush     X
Hermit Thrush X   X
Wood Thrush * X   X
American Robin * X X X
Gray Catbird * X X X
Brown Thrasher     X
European Starling X X  
Bohemian Waxwing   X  
Cedar Waxwing * X X  
Blue-winged Warbler X   X
Golden-winged Warbler     X
Brewster’s Warbler     X
Tennessee Warbler     X
Orange-crowned Warbler ~     X
Nashville Warbler     X
Northern Parula     X
Yellow Warbler X   X
Chestnut-sided Warbler X   X
Magnolia Warbler X   X
Cape May Warbler     X
Black-thr Blue Warbler* X   X
Yellow-Rumped Warbler * X   X
Black-thr Green Warbler X   X
Blackburnian Warbler X   X
Pine Warbler ~     X
Praire Warbler ~     X
Palm Warbler     X
Bay-breasted Warbler     X
Blackpoll Warbler     X
Cerulean Warbler X   X
Black & White Warbler     X
American Redstart * X   X
Worm-eating Warbler ~     X
Ovenbird * X   X
Louisiana Waterthrush * X   X
Connecticut Warbler ~     X
Mourning Warbler * X    
Common Yellowthroat * X   X
Hooded Warbler * X    
Wilson’s Warbler     X
Canada Warbler     X
Scarlet Tanager * X   X
American Tree Sparrow   X  
Chipping Sparrow X   X
Fox Sparrow     X
Song Sparrow X   X
Lincoln’s Sparrow ~     X
White-throated Sparrow   X X
White-crowned Sparrow     X
Dark-eyed Junco * X X X
Snow Bunting +   X  
Northern Cardinal * X X  
Rose-breasted Grosbeak * X   X
Indigo Bunting * X   X
Bobolink     X
Red-winged Blackbird X   X
Rusty Blackbird     X
Common Grackle X   X
Brown-headed Cowbird * X   X
Orchard Oriole ~     X
Baltimore Oriole * X   X
Pine Grosbeak   X  
Purple Finch X X X
House Finch X X  
Red Crossbill   X  
White-winged Crossbill~   X  
Common Redpoll   X  
Pine Siskin   X  
American Goldfinch X X  
Evening Grosbeak   X  
House Sparrow X    


Plant information:

The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Michael A. Dirr, 1998, ISBN 0-87563-800-7

Trees For American Gardens, Donald Wyman, 1974, Library of Congress # 65-16930

Shrubs & Vines For American Gardens, Donald Wyman, 1974, Library of Congress # 69-18249

Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia, Donald Wyman, 1975, Library of Congress # 69-18250


A New Tree Biology, Alex L. Shigo, 1986,  161-164-245-416-443-852

Modern Arborculture, Alex L. Shigo, 1991, ISBN 0-943563-09-7

Arboriculture Care of trees, Shrubs, and Vines in the Landscape, Richard Harris, 1983, ISBN 0-13-043935-5

Contact Information


315-859-4892 315-859-4407 arboretum@hamilton.edu
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