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Gardening For Wildlife #37 A Potpourri
October 08, 2007

Summer in October?

The Great Lakes region had record temperatures much of this past week.

Here in SW. Michigan we hit the upper 80's on Saturday and Sunday. That's almost 25 degrees above average for this time of year.

What summer week would be complete without a trip to the beach?

Hundreds of other people had the same idea, as the beaches along Lake Michigan were quite busy.

The water was refreshing and who can resist a little bragging by saying they were Swimming in Lake Michigan in October.

The sunset was beautiful too.

Even with the summer like heat, trees continue to change colors.

Add some timely rain the past couple weeks and we just might have a pretty fall after all.

Even with the summer like weather, fall is still in the air.

You can feel and smell the changes.

Growing up in rural Michigan, there were the sights and sounds of farmers harvesting and the mills in all the little towns were busy.

There are fewer farms and mills these days, but familiar smells, sights and sounds are always reminders aren't they.

A sad reminder is having to take the hummingbird feeders down.

When you do this, remember to clean and sanitize them well before you pack them away for the season.

As trees begin to shed their foliage, keep things raked and add them to your gardens or compost piles.

Organic matter is the best thing you can add to your soil.

Are your evergreens shedding more than usuall this year?

the heat and drought many of us experienced this past summer has made things rough on plans as well.

Trees and shrubs will drop leaves to save energy and conserve water.

The same holds true for your pines, spruce and other evergreens.

Water your plants, even after they have lost their foliage.

Roots continue to grow and feed even dormant branches.

With these July like days, birds of a feather continue to flock together.

Open flocks of Robins continue to grow in size as do the Blue jays, Northern flickers, chickadees and a host of other species.

Yep, birds that migrate and birds that hang around for the winter.

Multiple chickadees are visiting the sunflower feeders as well as my peanut feeder.

As many as 13 blue jays can be seen at one time.

Even the seagulls are getting into the picture.

The warm weather is a cause for huge amounts of flying insects, flocks of red-winged-blackbirds and gulls fill the skies catching an evening snack.

If I could spend most of my day watching nature in general and birds in particular, I could do it daily and never get tired.

Nature has so much to offer and it differs all the time.

Butterflies, birds, mammals, there is always something.

This past Tuesday several Turkey vultures slowly circled South on their way to their winter homes.

Friday brought a few White crowned sparrows to my backyard.

White crowned sparrows wont visit my feeders, so I break out the scratch food for them.

They will remain for a couple of weeks and head a bit further South.

With warm weather comes a warm southerly breeze.

Warm southerly winds can mean one thing for me .....................

Hawk watching time.

All but the new subscribers know that we have Red-tail hawks around here.

Red tails like to play in the wind and thermals.

I never grow tired of watching these top of the food chain and master of the sky play in the wind like kids.

I know if I could fly I would be right up there with them.

I was watching one hawk this past week as it would catch an upward draft.

Wings arched and the tail spread out into a fan, this playful bird would also bring its head down to get maximum lift.

Hover at times and other times making a quick circle and start all over again.

Every once in a while it would flit just the tips of its wings.

I finally had to get back to work while it continued to play in the wind.

Other bird play as well.

Jays will play with food and shiny objects.

Watch other birds as they hop around or follow each other in chips and song.

For birds that mate for life, it is all part of the bonding process.

It's all part of growing up and learning how to survive.

The warm weather keeps many butterflies active.

Some butterflies will hibernate as adults and return next spring to mate.

Still other species with winter over in the pupa stage and wait till next year to pop out.

Others remain as caterpillars and go dormant in a safe hide out.

Then there is the miracle of the Monarch.

Butterflies that are still here in Michigan and other areas manage to Follow a route taken by Monarchs for thousands of years.

Yet, not a single one of these flying flowers has ever been to the migration station.

God has so perfectly wired into the Monarch when and where to go that it is only an issue to scientists that feel a need to have some kind of an answer they can understand or explain away the how's and why's this can happen.

"Nature's" very own GPS.

Chipmunks are busy stashing groceries for the winter.

Chippies don't really hibernate all winter. At times they will wake up and feel the need to raid the fridge.

By having a fresh stash of sunflower seed or corn, this helps them survive a long winter.

Some annuals are beginning to peter out now. I haven't fertilized or dead headed since late August.

Fall yard work is slow as I enjoy what I can.

I Did dig up the Calla bulbs this past week.

Most things I usually wait for a killing frost.

As your perennials and other things go dormant, feel free to give them a side dressing if you think they need it.

Not a heavy feeding, but something to feed the root system.

Roots continue to grow until the ground freezes.

Sometimes a late fall feeding can help.

If your plants still have green or show growth, keep the fall snacks away, you don't want to encourage growth this time of the year.

It is a good thing to not prune back until things turn yellow or have died off for the season.

Green tops are still feeding the crown and root system.

Do you have bird and butterfly loving flowers?

Don't be in a hurry to cut them back.

Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Liatris and others offer seed for finches and other birds.

Annuals like Sunflower and Cosmos offer up treats for birds and butterflies.

While your doing some cleaning, have you cleaned out your bird houses?

A good cleaning and sanitizing will have your nest boxes ready for next spring and in some locations, offer winter shelter.

If wasps are a year round issue, Spray your houses inside and out with cider vinegar or better yet, pure mint extract. 25% mint and 75% rubbing alcohol will keep insects at bay for weeks at a time.

Us folk in more temperate regions wont have to worry about wasps and yellow jackets after a few hard freezes.

Only the newly mated queens survive the winter.

Keep on top of clean feeders and water sources.

Sour and moldy food can make birds sick and birds do poop on and in feeders and water sources.

This has been a banner year for West Nile Virus and I know you don't want to add to the problem.

Skeeters need stagnant water to lay eggs on. As long as your water is moving or cleaned every couple of days, mosquitoes are minimized.

Clean birdbaths are important, read about baths and cleaning.

I would really like to hear about your yards and gardens.

Are there any special flowers, successes or bird activity you would like to share?

It's been a couple of years since I've written about your gardens.

Anything that is going on or new.

Bird sightings or migration?


New plantings or attractions?

I would like to share with other readers what happens in your part of the world.

Last time it was a lot of fun for everyone.


It's time to fly for now.

A food for thought.

Attitude: It is one thing which draws people to us or repels them.

What better way to show a great attitude than with your best smile.

Share it with a stranger,

You may make their day and it certainly will make you feel better.

Until next time.

"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 so they can register to recieve their free copies.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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