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Gardening For Wildlife, Issue #012 Spring, gardens and Killdeer
April 16, 2007

What a beautiful April day in Southwest, Michigan.

After record low temperatures and some record snow, spring will once again attempt to make an appearance.

At least in the Great Lakes region.

Now it's the Northeast's turn.

The snow was so bad at times, I had five rabbits munching on bird feed in broad daylight.

Now that doesn't happen to often.

Everyone here is back to good health and eagerly waiting spring.

Yolanda complains about her braces.

She doesn't understand the discomfort will hopefully make things easier down the road.

The birds are happy as they go about their daily routines.

The Blue heron is back visiting the pond once again.

The first Turkey vultures of the season are soaring above.

The juncos are still hanging around and more purple finches have joined the crowd.

Many of the male goldfinches are close to full molt while others are still a patch work in progress.

Yep, the weather doesn't slow down some birds.

Now other birds like hummers, the cold will slow them down.

If you recall last spring, we were warmer than normal and hummers were a bit early in some locations.

Warmer weather brings on flowers and insects and the cold will keep things dormant longer and even kill off some early blooms.

Hummers need food and some warmth. Survival dictates to stay put even when some urges say to move on.

Insect eating birds like Purple martins die off in masses when cold snaps like this happen.

When temperatures get to cold, some eggs may be lost if the parents aren't sitting.

There isn't anything we really can do to help or prevent egg loss.

Parent birds will desert a nest and start over if eggs are lost.

If we interfere, they usually leave the nest and start over elsewhere.

In nature, it is often survival of the fittest and as cruel as it sounds, things happen.

To your garden.......................................

Hardy blooms like daffodils and tulips rebound nice after the cold.

Things in bloom like Magnolias are hit and that's it.

Frost and freeze may have killed off some early growth on your plants but they too will rebound, just give them a couple of extra weeks.

In some locations, frost kill will happen again.

The concern may be in berry and fruit producing shrubs and trees.

If they were in bloom or buds were swollen, the cold very well may have killed off much of this seasons potential fruits.

That is a concern for farmers and for us birding types.

This past Wednesday, in the middle of a snow storm stood several Killdeer.

Your heart goes out for nature when the elements throw them a curve.

The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a member of the plover family.

Plovers are typically shore birds yet Killdeer are often found far from water.

You may see them on golf courses, near air ports, farmers fields, gardens, and even walking around in parking lots.

98% to 100% of a Killdeer's diet consists of slugs, snails, worms and insects.

Rarely will they eat seeds.

Farmers welcome these adorable and sometimes comical birds as they consume large amounts of insects that are harmful to crops.

You can imagine why they would have a difficult time when the ground is covered with several inches of snow.

Killdeer nest on the ground in open fields, gravel areas gardens etc.

The lay 3 to 4 light brown eggs with darker brown spots.

As a kid, it was comical to play the killdeer game when they would try to lure me away from a nest.

This ploy is used on predators.

When nesting in a pasture Killdeers use a different ploy as they fluff up, raise their tales and spread their wings and charge the cow or other farm animal that is near a nest.

Like all shore birds, Killdeer babies are off and running as soon as they have hatched and dried off.

Baby down is very similar in markings as the adult birds.

Yep, miniature versions of the adults (long legs included).

Killdeer are found and breed throughout all of North America below the arctic circle.

They are very adaptable to habitat from rural grounds to gravel roof tops of city buildings.

A shore bird that does quite well miles from water.

Some of nature can adapt with humans.

Nature and humans?

Why not?

Appreciation and respect for all of God's creatures.

I did lose several readers as I do when I speak about my faith.

In return, I had some wonderful, uplifting notes from several of you and I thank you so much for your encouragement.

I finished a section on

shrubs of the Northeast and Great Lakes

Now these aren't all the shrubs, but they are proven winners in northeast wildlife gardens.

More is on the way.

April 22nd is Earth Day, plan on doing something nice this week for our planet.

Well <>,

It's time to fly for now.

Remember to wear your smiles and share them with a stranger.

A smile is real easy to do and you just might make someone's day and maybe create a snowball effect with smiles.

Wouldn't that be GREAT?

As always,

"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

Take care my friend and have a blessed week.

Your friend indeed,


Gardening For Wildlife.

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