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Gardening For Wildlife #33 Welcome to Autumn
September 24, 2007
Hi,

Welcome to the first week of Autumn.

Fall can arrive every year like this.

The nights are cool (great for sleeping) and the days warm up to almost summer temperatures.

Karen and I spent a nice partial day at the beach this past Thursday.

Holland State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan.

As you know, I love the Big Lakes and now the crowds are gone.

There were a few moms with toddlers, other than that, we had the beach to our selves.

The water was a bit chilly, but still swim able for me.

Wild asters are in full bloom now.

The blues, purples and pinks are a wonderful contrast with the remaining yellow flower heads of the goldenrod.

Asters offer nectar for butterflies and later, seeds for several species of birds.

The summer like weather has the butterlies active, as they feed on nectar.

Several Monarchs are still keeping me company.

Sulphers, Viceroys, and others are regular visitors.

The wild turkeys are back.

We haven't seen them all summer till this past week.

Bird activity in my yard is still going quite well and I hope it is for you too.

Finches are still the main stay and yes, there is still a hummer or two.

If your regular hummers have left, keep your feeders up another couple of weeks.

You just may host a migrating bird or two.

My friends in Indiana and Illinois, I expect you to take care of my hummies when they pass through.

Sometimes this warmer weather will keep a few hummingbirds from leaving right away, but the real key on when to leave is the length of day.

Some years an early cold spell will force them to leave, but what about the seasons when we don't get killing frost right away?

Two years ago, we had a very warm September and first part of October.

We had hummers well into October.

For me, that was special.

My mom passed away that September and she loved her hummingbirds.

I knew better, but it was as if God was letting me have some special moments that year.

But, these are usually juveniles enjoying all of my flowers.

The real key to hummingbirds is lots of nectar rich flowers.

You see, they are wild birds and feed mostly from flowers.

Not to mention, they can snag a protein rich insect or two.

Over the years, I have planted several beds with red salvia.

From the little one footers to the tall three plus footers.

They make a wonderful splash of red and the hummers love them.

This time of year they hit their peak.

Yes, I realize they aren't native to North America.

But, they are native perennials of South America and Latin America where many of our garden jewels spend the off season.

Be sure to plan for next spring.

Flowers, shrubs and trees also give your hummers a place to perch

These tiny creatures perch 90% of the time.

Try to make the time to enjoy these next few weeks as many of our backyard guests are making preparations to leave.

On a calm evening, you may step outside and hear the birds as they fly over.

We will have a full moon soon.

For the next couple of full moons, you can actually see the birds if the sky is clear.

Many of our migrating birds fly at night to avoid the birds of prey that migrate by day.

Hummers migrate by day and as individuals.

New readers may want to check out.

Hummingbirds migrating South


Wildlife Gardens

Wildlife gardens can be just about anywhere.

The basics are

Water

Food

Shelter

A place to raise a family.

You may have a tree or two already.

That's great, you are off to a good start.

Now, is there a way you can plant small shrubs, flowers or maybe some native ground cover?

Why,

Birds and other wildlife live in different places.

Some birds prefer tree tops while others like thrushes feed more and ground level or low growing shrubs.

Still others are mid level dwelling birds.

Ground cover and native grasses offer protection for young birds, toads, salamanders and much, much more.

A few fruiting shrubs can offer food to so many different creatures.

Native flowers are not only for our eyes, but offer seed to birds, nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, hover flies and hummingbirds.

Many native plants are more hardy and tolerant to your growing conditions.

Wildlife gardens need to be a bit unkept.

Now, that isn't a bad idea.

That means less maintenance for you and me and I like that idea.

As you are working your yard, whether for this fall or next spring, you need to do some planning and a bit of research.

WHAT?

HOMEWORK?

Not home work,

Call it fun time.

You really need to understand what grows best in your region.

Find out what best attracts the wildlife you desire.

Understand what wildlife inhabits your little corner.

Does it prefer woods edge, open wooded areas, open fields and meadows?

Here is a simple fact.

Most wildlife lives in a woods edge or soft edge setting.

There is plenty of food and protection.

Wildlife can stray a bit and if need be, hit the forest to really hide.

We have friends that have mature maples and oaks in and around their property.

They have a couple of bird feeders and maybe a bird bath.

They get a few birds, but think of the possibilities if they planted under the canopy?

Vast expanses of lawn grass is the biggest waste of time, money and virtually useless to wildlife.

Sure, I have some green grass and I have some non native plants.

But the lawn shrinks when it is time to plant.

Hey, I must enjoy the yard too.

I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years.

I make time to research and study.

I pretty much understand what is around me.

Then, when I think I know it all..........

Something comes along that I've never seen before.

Isn't "Nature" grand?

That is wildlife gardening.

Helping God's creatures also helps us.

As a Wildlife Habitat Naturalist, I am always learning and growing.

As a Michigan Certified Nurseryman, I understand most plants and the issues with chemicals.

I want to be a good steward of the land.

I better quit before I find my orange crate.

No time for that (another speech or lecture).

If you want to learn more on a building a wildlife/bird garden click on the link.

building a bird garden

Well,

It's time to fly.

Here is a little food for thought.

Attitude: Its roots are inward but its fruits are outward.

Smiles can reflect our attitude and affect others as well.

Remember......

SMILE and smile your best.

Smile at a stranger and watch them smile back

If nothing else, you will feel good and you just might confuse them.

Until next time my friend.

Have a blessed day and week.



"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: Feel free to forward this to friends and family or send them to www.gardening-for-wildlife.com so they can register to recieve their free copies.



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