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June 28, 2010

We have a couple of specials days coming up.

'Canada Day' is July 1 and the celebration of 'Independence Day' for The 'United States of America' is July 4.

Two special countries with millions of special people and some unique wildlife and habitats.

We are so blessed, aren't we?

Like me, you may be wondering if our monsoon season is over or not.

We have had our share of rain lately.

The short time off was a blessing for us and we had a wonderful time in Michigan's upper peninsula.

The temperatures were only in the upper 60's and low 70's, but the fresh air was nice.

I'll share more with you later.

I picked the first Zucchini of the season on Friday.

I'm pumped, my 'Sweet bay laural' (Laurus nobilis) or Bay leaf plant is growing.

I ordered it this past Spring.

That means I will have fresh bay leaf when ever I want or need them for soups and stews.

Yes, I can cook.

While the second wave of fledged birds are becoming noticeable, other birds are only beginning to nest.

It's true.

Another wave of robins and other birds are visiting the yard, while species like Barn swallows and Waxwings are just starting to nest here in the north.

Barn swallows are one of the last birds to migrate and Waxwings are mostly fruit eaters so 'Nature' works it out for these birds to nest when fruits are plentiful.

It is difficult not to like most species of birds.

Waxwings offer beauty.

Barn Swallows, like all swallows are poetry on the wing.

Shear beauty in flight, the way these birds can fly and dance all about.

Not to mention, they are a pretty good looking bird in their own right.

(Both nests were spotted close by and photographed this past week).

While House wrens have been here for a few weeks, one is finally taking interest to my nest boxes.

Still other birds like American goldfinches are almost 100% seed eaters and wait to nest when 'Nature' once again is ready to share her bounty.

While many people and some experts like to think that Goldfinches wait to nest for thistle down,

That isn't the case.

Plant down is plentiful from spring to fall.

Do you recall the snowy fluff from Cottonwood trees?

You can find down from dandelions and other weeds (even some leaves and stems offer down).

Check out the down from the willows growing near the pond.

Nature provides plenty of down for nests.

Not to mention, most of the thistle that grows in the gardens, fields and roadsides are introduced species.

Yes, these thistle/weeds are less than 300 to 400 years old in North America.

Even Canadian Thistle is an introduced plant (why the name).

So, if thistle plants and thistle down didn't exist before, why nest in late summer.

For the food source to feed babies.


Sure the birds will take advantage of a situation however, are there really enough thistle plants to offer that much down?

I am really angry about this.

I don't bring up political issues often, (this isn't that type of letter).


For the past three weeks, I have had to listen to and watch the city run a 30 foot path through the small woods that runs about a 100 yards from here (just the other side of the pond).

What we heard is, for a future sewer line.

In the mean time, untold birds and other wildlife have lost nests and so on.

Destruction like this happens every day.

Without some kind of political clout, we can do little to alter many issues.

We can however, create habitats within our own gardens, fields.

By planting as many native flowers, shrubs, trees and grasses as you can, you will help your native wildlife.

When gardening for wildlife is mentioned,we often think birds and butterflies.

However, habitats also mean toads, lizards and even rabbits or other creatures will follow.

You can find many plants that are native that are critter resistant.

Butterfly flower, Monarda, Sages, Native grasses, Viburnums and several other plants offer food birds and pollinators, yet are resistant to deer, woodchucks and rabbits.

Create a water garden and you will have toads and maybe a few frogs.

Because I live within a hundred yards of water, there is no shortage of toads.

My yard is full of baby toads.

Some of you may not realize that toads are a breed of frog and require water.

Some of you may not realize that toads are a breed of frog and require water.

Eggs are laid, hatch into tadpoles and become baby toads within a short period of time.

Hop out into a strange world where many become food for other creatures (including birds).

Frogs as you know them to be, remain tadpoles much longer (some species, up to 2 years).

I understand that a swath of land is nothing compared to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, (I weep over this) but it all adds up.

The Gulf mess is political from beginning to end (like it or not).

Yes, many issues are political like the Asian carp that are about to invade the Great Lakes and this will be a huge disaster in a different way, that seems to go unnoticed.


I digress and must apologize for this, but I need to vent sometimes.

Check out a couple of local butterflies.

No, not a Monarch, but a Viceroy.

Monarchs are much larger than the look alike, but the Viceroy takes advantage of the similarities to minimize becoming bird food.

There were two of them, but I couldn't capture the mating dance and chasing.

This Gray hairstreak is less than 1" in size.

I took this picture last Monday.

I can't help but admire the markings a beauty of this diminutive butterfly.

Notice the markings and even the antennae.

Both are common butterflies.

One is often mistaken, while the other may go unnoticed in your gardens, parks and open fields.

Fireflies, you may call them Lightening bugs, are plentiful right now in Southwest Michigan.

The flying beetle itself is harmless, but the glow worm or larval state is classified as a beneficial.

glow worms eat insects and slugs and that is a good thing.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it! - letter to Abigail Adams, April 26, 1777

John Adams (1735-1826) Second U.S. President


May we become God fearing, God loving nations once again.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

"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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