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BITS-N-PIECES Gardening for wildlife newsletter
June 06, 2011

Keet (Akita) relaxing on a 90 degree and humid day.

Yes, we have air-conditioning.

For new readers, Keet is one our little Chihuahua, Pomeranian mix fur kid.

We also have 'Ziggy' the Toy Poodle, two indoor cats, a pair of lovebirds and a baby, and a goldfish.

On day 13, the baby bird opened its eyes.

It is now sporting a gray and fuzzy down and feathers are beginning to pop out.

Little peeps can be heard and it also manages to some what walk around on its own.

Peaches no longer broods and often the parents are off on their own.

I don't dare to stick my hand in the cage without wearing a leather glove.

Peaches (mom) is still one mean and protective parent.

I do mention the fur kids from time to time, and the Lovebirds have been a wonderful learning experience for everyone around here.

The first full week of June already.

Where does the time go?

While we kick off the start of summer, remember that we still have two full weeks of spring to look forward to.

I for one am not in a hurry.

Besides, as nasty as the month of May was, someone owes us a couple more weeks of spring :-)

Don't you agree?

Again, our prayers for everyone that has been affected by the weather.

Not one place on this planet is immune to harsh weather conditions of some sort.

The weather is also one of "Nature's" many ways to keep wildlife populations in check (plants and animals).

That is, in a healthy environment.

Droughts, floods, lightening fires, storms, wind......

Yes, God uses all of nature to keep things in check and healthy.

It is only when we start messing with the natural order that populations disappear and go extinct.

It is only when we introduce non native species of plants, animals, fish, insects and what not, that cause native systems to vanish.

When we over hunt and fish, use excessive amounts of chemicals and toxins, strip the land, pollute our waters.

Now, we are messing with the planet.

We are meant to be good stewards, not take what we can.

This pair of Mute swans came for a visit one evening last week.

They stayed on the pond for a couple of hours and I haven't seen them again.

While they are majestic looking birds, Mute swans are yet another introduced species to North America and cause problems for our native waterfowl.

They are also protected.

Okay, okay,

I get carried away at times.

(Maybe I'm due for a good orange crate moment.)


The spring 'Honey Do" list is shrinking.

I'm behind (thanks to the weather), but the deck is finally washed and has a nice fresh Cedar tone put on it.

If there ever is a next time, I am going to pay extra and have a deck made of the materials where I don't have to pressure wash and tone, every year or every other year.

Bird activity is still going strong.

I took this picture of a male Northern cardinal last week, through the kitchen window.

He looked so regal perched there amongst the lilacs.

Some Butterflies are becoming more abundant.

Days continue to grow longer.

Mosquitoes are now on the prowl :-(

Oh well, a person must take the bad with the good.

This week I'm doing something I like to do and maybe I will do more often if the opportunity calls for it.

"Bits-N-Pieces" this week.

Its fun and easy for me, and there is usually at least one topic that pertains to everyone, even if it isn't totally wildlife related.


Do you notice how breathing seems to become a bit laborious during the hot weather?

That's because it is......

As the temperatures warm up, the air expands.

The more the air expands, there is less oxygen in every breath we take.

Because of this, we take more deeper breaths as we attempt to suck in the life giving oxygen.

This same expanding effect also takes place in many of your hummingbird feeders.

As the air expands, it literally forces the sugar water out of the feeding ports.

Add the effects of gravity ................

Not only do you lose your sugar water, but you attract more wasps and bees and have a sticky mess to clean up.

This is yet another important reason for using saucer style feeders with the feeding ports on then top.

No dripping.

As the air cools, it contracts and we get more oxygen with each breath.

This baby robin fledged recently.

American robins fledge at 13 to 14 days.

Most of our songbirds fledge within two to three weeks.

Now, this little guy isn't out of the woods yet.

Only 25% of robin eggs hatch to see their first year.

You can increase your birds chances by offering habitat.

That means offering protection for your birds.

Both parents will care for it the first week.

The next couple of weeks, it is usually Daddy that cares for the fledglings while the female is off with laying her second clutch.

By the time this young robin is five weeks old.

Odds are now about 50% of making it to its first birthday.

Check out the lettuce bowl.

This goes to show that just about anyone can grow a veggie of some sort on your deck, porch or balcony.

I live in suburbia with an ever shrinking parcel of natural habitat nearby.

Needless to say, I have more issues with rabbits, deer and woodchucks than most people that live in rural settings.

To help combat this, I have to limit my veggie gardening to containers of all sizes.

If you have limited space or wildlife issues, you too can grow some nice veggies.

Do you see foamy spots like this on some of your plants right now?

They are everywhere around here this time of year.

This comes from your everyday variety of Spittle bug.

While harmless, they can disfigure your plants.

The foam is a secretion produced from the business end of the insect (think gas and bubbles),
with the sole purpose being a form of protection from predators.

To discard, simply squeeze and wipe off the foam and kill the bug.

Something else that is prevalent around here and limits my walks.

Poison Ivy.

I took this picture just for those of you that may not know what it looks like.

Poison Ivy is mostly found in the Eastern half of the North America.

It grows as a tree climbing vine. or a vine that crawls along the ground.

It may disguise itself as a small bush, or a small individual plant.

Foliage is often similar in appearance to oak leaves, but not always.

A good rule of thumb, "Leaves of Three, let it be".

One thing about all of the rain this spring...........

Things in the wild are growing like crazy.

This Wild Grapevine is loaded with buds.

With proper pollination and timely rains, this vine will provide fruits for several species of wild birds and small animals.

Wild grapes are also used for human food and in some wines.

at least one species of wild grape can be found throughout most of North America.

When in a natural balance....

God will see to it that a healthy population continues.

It is always great to see butterflies as they flit through our gardens.

Yet, in more temperate climates, there isn't always an abundance of nectar producing flowers.

Still, you can attract butterflies by offering sugar water, rotting fruits and sometimes a mud puddle will attract certain species.

Still, carrion will attract certain species as will manure.

Yes, some butterflies will feed on rotting flesh and decaying manure.

This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is feeding on some aged cow manure we picked up and spread around some of the beds.

Makes you think a little different about certain butterflies, doesn't it.

I don't know how it is with Scrub jays or other species of jays, but Blue jays go into stealth mode this time of year.

Oh yes, you see them but rarely will you hear them.

Where other birds are squawking or singing, Blue Jays go quiet.

The nest of Blue jay eggs from last week hatched and I was able to get this picture of
some hungry babies.

A second later, I felt the breeze from a passing wing and saw the adult Blue Jay land nearby.

Where other birds make all sorts of noise and allow others to know there is a nest nearby, Blue jays

Go into silent mode.

Pretty smart bird Huh?

I hope some of you will let me know about your resident jays.

Do Scrub jays and other species of jays go silent as well during nesting season?

One last thing.................................

I know that some of you are relatively new to backyard birding or caring for wild birds.

Sometimes you may think see a different species of bird.

One to add to your life list.

Still, in some cases it may only be the female of a species.

Once such species is the Red-winged blackbird.

Male and females look different and the female is also noticeably smaller.

Another such species is the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (eastern portions of North America).

Other than body shape and the bill,
you would think you are looking at a different species of bird altogether.

Looking at this picture, the female has no marking that would make you think Rose-breasted grosbeak.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Do you have a topic you would like me to write on?

Drop me a line.

Now, here is your positive thought for the week.

God bless.

"Open your heart.... Open it wide; someone is standing outside."

Mary Engelbreit

Someone is standing outside indeed.

Open the door to your heart today.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat
with that person, and they with me." Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

"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

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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