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Conversation with a Bird Rehabilitator
August 06, 2012

Quick, can you spot the Praying Mantis?

If you didn't know what to look for, you probably would have missed it altogether.

The Mantis was hanging out in my backyard a few days ago and I happened to spot it.

The sun now sets before 9:00 o:clock here in Southwest Michigan.

Never a happy moment for me.

Once again, the Big Lake beat down the storms Saturday night.

The northern Plains and other regions were getting some well needed rain and some not so needed wind damage.

After all the potential hype, Lake Michigan does what she so often does.

Beats down a storm to a whimper.

My rain gauge measured 2/10 of an inch, and we had very poor light and sound show.

The 'Dog Days' of summer continue to hang on, but the weather forecast for Southwest Michigan promises several cooler days this week.

Anything in the low 80's is now considered cooler.

What really becomes a challenge, is the 'Air you Wear'.

We leave for 'Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakes Shore' on Tuesday, (Voted the most beautiful place in America 2011 on 'Good Morning America'.)

Karen, Yolanda,and myself are taking our oldest girl and grand kids for a couple of days Up North.

We will return sometime Thursday evening.

Our last little outing for the summer.

This time of year (August), the humidity becomes more of an issue.

Humidity and favorable air temperatures promote insects and fungal growth on many of your garden plants.

(Spider mites have been a main issue for me this summer, as they thrive in the heat and lack of moisture.)

Mildew becomes a topic that always pops up this time of year.

Not only on your plants, but on forums, garden centers and so on.

Powdery Mildew (several species) attacks, and if you haven't prepared for it, it is now to late.

Once the white spots appear (and we often miss them right away), it is too late.

You can now only hope to arrest it so it doesn't spread so fast.

Besides the use of fungicides, you can slow the spread of fungus by watering in the morning or early evening (allowing time for plants to air dry).

Better yet, is to ground water.

Most fungus, "rust, black spot, mildews, etc." thrive on moisture.

Remember this:

Next spring when you promise to get on top of your gardens, Do It.

The time to attack fungus is before you ever see it.

This autumn, pick up infected plant debris and trash it.

Don't throw it in compost piles, use the trash can.

This removes some of the fungus before it has a chance to winter over.

Be careful while watering.

Minimize splashing and do it in a time of day where plants are dry over night.

Start using fungicides fungicides early, before the problem ever starts.

Preventive maintenance is always best.

The Orioles are on the migration trail.

Missing from here for more than three weeks, orioles are one of the earliest species the make the trip south.

Also missing are the male Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

At least they are missing from my little corner of Michigan.

The females and juvenile hummers will remain for up to two more months.

Remember to keep feeders clean and filled with fresh sugar water.

While I'm at it, did you give all of your feeders and water stations a good cleaning?

Another topic mentioned this time of year are vagrants in the gardens.

(Petunia growing in driveway crack.)

You know, plants that show up, that shouldn't be there.

You may call them volunteers, or a big pain.

No matter, God has his ways of spreading, reproducing and keeping strong gene pools going.

Enjoy some of my vagrants discovered this summer.


I think the more common way of seed transfer is from animals.

Some seeds stick to fur, and to some degree a bird's feathers and then deposited where ever it falls.

Most seeds however, are spread through the the birds and animals digestive tract and deposited where ever.

Migrating birds are known to drop fecal matter (seeds) hundreds and sometimes more
than a thousand miles from home when migrating.

Most seeds deposits and wind blown seeds are local, however.

Most years, I end up with at least one volunteer plant (like the petunia) that finds a crack in the driveway or sidewalk.

Any plant that is so determined to live, gets that right around here.

A week or so ago, I noticed these little plants growing near the rose bushes.

I had to pause and think what they might be.

A Ha .....................

Sweet potato vine seedlings.

I knew that sweet potato vines bloomed.

It never dawned on me that they would go to seed.

Near the window box where Karen had one growing last year.

I'm going to see how fast this little guy grows.

These kinds of volunteers most of us have on a regular basis.

Why not, you probably grew the mother plant last year.

Wind also blows in the Maple tree helicopters and Dandelions parachutes.

The true volunteers are the ones that pop up any where and the only way that got to your yard is by bird or four legged creatures.

How many times does the stray oak pop up from seemingly no where?

Something had to bury that acorn.

Not this year, but most years I will find Pokeweed and Mulberry seedlings sometime during the season.

I did have a Virginia Creeper or two, but yanked them early on.

In fact, most volunteers I don't discover right away, as they are hidden amongst the the lush foliage of my cottage/wildlife gardens.

This has been a bumper year for volunteer grapevines.

I'm not surprised, wild grapes grow everywhere around here.

I've yanked more grapevines this year than normal.

With a good hiding place, this Black Raspberry had a good jump on life.

Only after I was doing some gardening this past week, did I find this vagrant.

I was pruning back some mildewy Rudbeckia and there it stood.

Exposed .....

I'm still not sure what I am going to do with this plant.

For sure I will let it grow the rest of the season, simply to see how big it will get in a single year.

Black Raspberries grow wild on the far side of the pond and near the woods.

In all honesty, this Wild Juniper seedling was discovered last fall during clean-up.

Near the ramp and tucked among the Red Salvia.

This now two year old seedling is looking healthy and again, I'm not sure what I will do with it.

I'm not too fond of junipers in the landscape, yet they do serve a purpose.

Junipers grow in abundance in the fields east of me.

This little jewel I found earlier this year.

Thankfully I found it before it found me.

All to well do I personally know Poison-Ivy.

From the itching, to the oozing sores, I know it all too well.

Once again, growing near the ramp and not so well hidden was this Poison-Ivy seedling.

Out comes the surgical glove and the camera.

Poison-ivy has white berries when ripe (in the fall) and there is plenty of this pest plant growing all around here.

As you know, I feed the birds and a couple of feeders hang just the other side of the wheelchair ramp.

Birds congregate on the rail as they wait their turn to feed.

In the mean time, they make deposits, that offer surprises every spring.

I will end this letter with a picture of a Currant seedling.

I'm not sure where this would come from, I am not familiar with it growing wild any where near here.

Still, I suppose someone could be growing it in their gardens.

Currants make great food for birds, animals and people.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

A childlike man is not a man whose development has been arrested; on the contrary, he is a man who has given himself a chance of continuing to develop long after most adults have muffled themselves in the cocoon of middle aged habit and convention.

Aldous Huxley

Amen I say.

So important to God are children, the child like mind and faith, it is mention several times in His living word.

Here are but a couple of verses.

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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