Back to Back Issues Page
Gardening For Wildlife #59 Signs of Spring, Bird Immigration?
March 17, 2008

A Happy St. Patty's day to you.

Yes, it seems as though everyone finds a bit "O" the Irish in them selves today.

Including the Patterson house, as we plan on a dinner of "Corned beef and Cabbage" later today.

Here is a bit-o-trivia for ya today.

Did you know that Ireland has more tourists than residents?

5 million visitors a year compared to 3.8 million citizens.

Ireland is the best place on the planet to avoid an earthquake. No epicenter has ever been records there.

The only town in the world to be named St. Patrick is in Missouri.


Where to do I start?

The first week of daylight savings time was a dream.

For most of the week, we had sunshine and temperatures in the 40's.

Friday actually made to 55 degrees.

Now that felt like a heat wave to me.

Since March 1st. we have had only 3/4" of snow.

With the warmer days and no snow, it appears that winter has lost its strangle hold here in SW. Michigan.

In years past, you could almost bank on at least one snow of several inches within a week of the robins showing.

Not the case this year, but winter still isn't over.

The only snow on the ground is from piles at the end of driveways, parking lots and shaded areas.

We need a good rain to wash away the winter dirt and crud.

A late week stroll brought me to the woods and a swollen "Plaster Creek," What a joy to see and hear the sounds of "Nature," and that includes the sound of moving water.

Robins are singing away. Red-winged blackbirds near the Marsh are in full chorus.

Then there are the clinkers, as Canada geese have settled in as well. The pond is still frozen, but the creek remains flowing and water fowl use it.

A chance spotting of a single Sandhill crane flying over head. As always, I hear before I see them.

One single Crane making a mad dash North.

Feeder action had dropped off with the nice weather.

I haven't seen my Red-breasted nuthatch pair for several days now.

These are the birds I was hand feeding.

I assume they have taken off for the North country too.

The Common redpolls remain and I think I saw a Goldfinch or two starting to change.

I'll know for sure in a few days.

With the warmer weather we are eager to get outside and start some clean up and what ever we can do just to get outside.

Remember, wet lawns and soil compact when walked on.

Digging in flower beds is not a wise move until you can pick up a handful of soil, squeeze it and have it crumble.

You can ruin your soil when it is compacted from walking on or digging in.

Soil needs oxygen so roots can breathe.

I think last year I did a letter on dirt and you can find it in the "archives"

Later this week is the first official day of Spring.

Ya, gotta love it.

I know in Michigan we can still have some winter, but it is something we need to look forward to.

At least us Northern folk need it.

Easter is next Sunday (more on that later).

"Praise The Lord"

Do you hard boil eggs for Easter.

To hard boil eggs, they should be at least a week old. The shell peels better on older eggs than on new eggs.

Eggs age about a week if left out of the fridge for one day at room temperature.

Problem solved.



This time of year, migration captures all the headlines in the bird world.

Why not, so much is going on.

There are birds to welcome and there are others to bid farewell to.

So why would I bring up immigration?

Birds as immigrants?

You may not give it a first or second thought, but yes birds and immigration.

We are all aware of introduced species of birds like European starlings, House sparrows, Rock pigeons and Mute swans.

Well, you now have immigrants.

Much like our fore-fathers, they were introduced to North America and as they say the rest is history.

But you see, these birds are immigrants.

And they have immigrated across most of North America and have caused great damage to our native birds and crops.

What about illegal immigration in the bird world?

Florida, Hawaii and other states are filled with illegal aliens.

Birds that are smuggled in for the exotic bird business and birds that have been released and escape that have caused problems.

Non-native Immigrants flourish while our native birds struggle and some are no longer. Native parakeets of the deep South and Passenger pigions are gone forever.

Okay, I mentioned two forms of immigration, but there is a third form of immigration.


We don't look at expansion as immigration, but it is.

I have written several times on Northern cardinals. How they once were strictly a bird of the deep South, but due to man , Expanded or immigrated North and West ward as the conditions were in the birds favor.

Cardinals can be found in Arizona, Hawaii and were once shipped to Europe as a caged bird.

In limited numbers, the same holds true for Tufted titmice as they were once a deep South bird and are now Common in New England and the Great Lakes region.

House finches introduced from the West coast to the East coast and immigrating West.

Since the 1950’s the Brewer’s Blackbird, a relative of the Red-winged blackbird, has been moving eastward first from the West Coast of Oregon and California, to the Great lakes Region and then towards the East Coast,

Why, food and new breeding grounds

The Inca dove first arrived as a native of Mexico and has slowly expanded Northward into Kansas and Arkansas.

For much of the same reason.

A lack of habitat and better habitat has some bird populations on the move.

This is happening with several native and non-native birds.

Call it what you want, expansion or immigration, it is all the same.

It works for people, birds, insects and some aninimals as well.

Coyotes, once a symbol of the West now occupy most of North America, even in our largest cities like Chicago and New York.

What has made the Coyote so successful while other creatures were being destroyed.

They are a solitary creature.

They get together to mate, the rest of the time they live alone.

The solitary interloper is able to hide, survive and thrive.

Now from the West coast to the East coast.

Immigration has kept several birds and critters alive and well.

At the same time, several birds have suffered from immigration.

Legal or illegal immigration, we are all here because of it.

Twice a year a write a special edition letter on Christmas and Easter.

The importance of Easter and Christ in my life.

What it means to me, my faith and how I look at creation.

If you have no interest, than don't read it.

But for me it is important to share from time to time.

Please join me on Good Friday, later this week.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Here is a thought for you.......

"A Great man is he who doesn't lose his child's heart."

Mencius: 317-291BC

Man and woman, how important to keep that child's heart and child like faith.

To be happy and smile at the world.

Keep your child's heart and SMILE.

Smile at the world, smile and be thankfull for what you have and for who you are and can be.

Share your smiles, they are a gift from God and meant to be shared.

The cost nothing, yet can be worth more than any amount of money at any given time.

Until next time my friend.

"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 recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page