Category Archives: Nature Notes

Friday Photos–A Restaurant for the Birds

Bird Restaurant

Author’s Photo

This stone serves as a bird “restaurant”. Although the menu consists of only black-oil sunflower seeds, the restaurant, located close by a lilac bush, is a popular destination cold or snowy days. Black-capped chickadees swoop down from the lilac bush, grab a seed, then fly back to the bush to eat the seed. Titmice, song sparrows, doves, cardinals, purple finches, and gold finches fly in one by one to eat. Sometimes three or four birds are in the lilac bush, while several are on the ground hunting for seeds, their heads bobbing up and down. Blue jays are well-known bullies; when they arrive on the scene, everybody else leaves. Squirrels, experts at finding opportunities, appear often. Sometimes the birds leave when the squirrels show up, other times, the birds stay in peaceful co-existence.

The stone didn’t become a bird restaurant until twenty years ago or so. It was unearthed back in the 1990’s when a crew did excavating for a water line. Since it was nice and flat, we thought it would make a good stone for the yard–sort of a conversation piece. We got it for the asking. Some years later, I decided to make it the start of my bird-feeding route. Visible from the house, the stone is a conversation piece as we enjoy watching the varieties of birds coming to eat.

©P. Booher

 

 

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Nature Notes–November 12–The First Day of Winter for Me

creek-and-woods-in-winter

Author’s Photo

For me, yesterday was the first day of winter–the first day snow fell on the ground and accumulated. And though my reaction when I looked out and saw the fluffy stuff was “Snow! Yuck!”, I realize that we are fortunate to get snow this late. Some years, this area received wet snow in mid-October. One year six inches of snow fell on trick-or-treaters; another year, children going trick-or-treating walked in a mild 70°.

It’s not as though I didn’t see the possibility of snow coming. Most of the trees shed their leaves. The maples that still have their green-turning-yellow leaves are the kind whose leaves are last to change; when I see those trees changing, I know it’s November. The woods across the creek have that “November-ish” look about them: the bright colors of fall are gone, and the only colors left are the somber black, grey or brown tones of tree trunks against the green of the pines and other evergreens. The constellation Orion is back in the night sky after going away on summer vacation. Our area had some frosts; I’ve scraped ice off the car windows two or three times now. So I’ve had fair warning.

Yesterday was a variably-cloudy day. One minute, the sun shone brightly in a beautiful blue sky; ten minutes later snow fell so heavily it was close to dangerous white-out conditions. During milder periods I threw some black-oil sunflower seeds out for the birds (another sign of winter for me), brought a swing in from the back yard, and put two winter tires in the trunk of the car for my appointment today to have winter tires put on.

Why all the anguish about the snow, when I knew the time was coming? I guess it’s because Monday was 60° and beautiful, and I’d like to see the warmer weather hang on for awhile longer!

©P. Booher

 

 

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Nature Notes–Ten Special Joys of Spring and Summer

Queen Anne's Lace and trees

Author’s Photo

Some special things I can enjoy only in these warmer months in the Northern Hemisphere–things like–

  1. chimney swifts’ aerial acrobatics as they soar and dive (they remind me of the aerial maneuvers in the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun)
  2. the peony bush blooming (already that’s done!)
  3.  longer daylight
  4.  watching the stars come out–looking for summer constellations–and getting excited when I see one
  5. the varieties of blooming flowers and trees
  6. wild daisies in the yard
  7. wild roses
  8. fireflies (aka “lightning bugs” around here) Their lights liven up the night and provide fun for children as the kids chase them.
  9. lilies-of-the-valley (they are done blooming too, already)
  10. daylilies–ours are the wild variety; they have vibrant orange flowers.

How about you? Any special things in nature you enjoy in the warmer months?

For info. about chimney swifts, check out: https: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Chimney_Swift

For peony bushes: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/peony

For fireflies: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/fireflies

For lilies-of-the-valley: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulb/lily-of-the-valley

For identifying summer constellations: http://www.seasky.org/constellations/constellations.html

©P. Booher

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Nature Notes–Evicting a Feathered Neighbor, Round Two

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest

Photo by Mauriciooliveira109 on Pexels.com

I wrote about our discovery of a wren setting up housekeeping on our front porch here.

As I indicated at the end of that post, I thought placing a scented pouch in the plant took care of the problem. However, this evening I took the hanging basket down. As I did so, a startled wren burst out from among the leaves of the plant, startling me. I carefully searched through the planter, but didn’t see any nest. Whether the wren was looking the area over in preparation for another round of nest-building I don’t know. I suspect that every time I watered the plant the peppermint/spearmint pouch lost more of its scent, until the bird didn’t notice it. This time, my mother and I decided to move the plant inside. Round Two over!

©P. Booher

 

 

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Nature Notes–Evicting a Feathered Neighbor

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest

Photo by Mauriciooliveira109 on Pexels.com

A pair of wrens set up housekeeping on our front porch. That didn’t surprise me because wrens, like American robins and Eastern Phoebes, don’t mind nesting near human activity, and they are opportunistic birds who use human paraphernalia to build nests in. (Once I left a open box of garbage bags on a workshop porch. Imagine the surprise I got when I went out to get a bag and a little brown wren was sitting in the box!) Unfortunately, this spring the wrens built a nest among the leaves and stems of my mother’s spiderwort plant.

My mother and I admired the wrens’ single-minded focus on building the nest. From the living room window we watched the birds make trips back and forth to add to the nest. I saw one wren marching up the sidewalk with a twig in its beak. Evidently the bird decided the twig wouldn’t work, because the bird tossed the twig aside and scoured the nearby grass and weeds for more suitable material.

As much as we admired the birds’ determination, however, my mother didn’t want to stand by and watch her houseplant be ruined. I remembered hearing that birds don’t like peppermint/spearmint scent, so I went to a nearby hardware store and bought some peppermint/spearmint scented mouse repellent. The repellent comes in small pouches, so it was handy for our purpose. I took each of the three hanging planters down and put a pouch in each one. When I took the spiderwort down, I found a 3″–5″ round, thick nest made up of twigs, grass, moss, and a feather or two among the stems and leaves, though fortunately, no eggs were in it. From the wrens’ point of view, it was the perfect homesite. From our point of view, it wasn’t.

Since putting the scented pouches in the planters, I haven’t heard the wrens’ loud calls coming from the porch nor have I seen fluttering wings or leaves among the spiderwort, so I think we accomplished our mission. We’ve been keeping an eye on the plants; so far, the scented additions to the planters hasn’t affected the health of the plants.

For more info. on spiderwort plants, (common names: Inchplant, Wandering Jew, or Wandering Willie), check out: https://www.thespruce.com>Gardening>Houseplants>Houseplant Basics or–https://www.gardeningknowhow.com>Houseplants>Wandering Jew plants.

For info. on the perky little wren, check out: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Wren.

©P. Booher

 

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Friday Photos–Spring Flowers

Red Trillium

Trillium

Trillium grows in moist areas in woodlands. Around here it occurs in patches–where you see one, you see another close by. Sometimes the flowers are red; sometimes they are white. They brighten the otherwise green or brown surroundings.

daffodils-by-hill-in-front-of-house

Daffodils

I think of daffodils as “sunshine on a stem”. I brought some into the house to liven up a corner.

hyacinths-on-hill-in-back

Hyacinths all in a row

Purple Crocuses

Crocuses, a sure sign of spring

All photos by author.

If you’d like more info. on trilliums, check out:

https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/trillium_erectum.shtml

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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Nature Notes–Chicory–Blue, Beautiful and Tough

Chicory is a beautiful blue wild flower. This fragile-looking plant thrives in rough environments. Chicory grows alongside roads and in gravel driveways–places where I wouldn’t expect anything to grow, let alone anything so delicate looking. Chicory adds beauty and softens the rough places. Any time I see it I smile at this tenacious little flower which defies its harsh surroundings.

One day I brought a couple chicory plants into the house, thinking the light blue color would perfectly accent my blue vase.  I looked at the plants an hour or so later. Surprise! No longer standing tall the plants wilted pitifully in the vase.  Unlike the wild daisies I’ve picked before,  the chicory plants couldn’t handle the “cushy” indoor life. Their visual charm is strictly for the outdoors.

©P. Booher

Resources for pictures and more information: http://www.ediblewildfood.com/chicory.aspx

https://www.britannica.com/plant/chicory

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