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Tag Archives: Wildlife Habitat

A Plea For Our Pollinators!

Susan and others have been working diligently in our butterfly garden. It’s beautiful and has a purpose. As gardeners do, Susan and I had a meaningful visit about the garden as we worked.  Here are my questions and her answers:

Why are you working so hard, selecting certain plants. You seem to be planting with a purpose.

The goal is to attract a wide diversity of pollinators and to that end, we need to cultivate a wide variety of plants all throughout the year.

Pollinators depend on us and it’s our sacred duty to provide for them in all their phases of life. It isn’t that easy, but like many things it’s very worthwhile.

Why as gardeners do we need to plant for pollinators? Isn’t this provided naturally?

Much of nature has been rearranged and habitats destroyed.  Every yard needs to count! Devote at least part of your garden to create a pollinator-friendly habitat.

Joy comes when you see these creatures thrive. If you take the step, I don’t believe you will ever go back to never-ending lawns with seas of begonias.

Keep going. it’s desperately needed and of serious importance for the next generation.

It’s up to us.

Thank you, Susan. You have inspired all of us to garden for the future.

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

Under Raincatcher’s Resources, we have a list of butterfly friendly plants to help you get started.

Pollinator week is a week away.

 

 

 

 

A Winter’s Wonder, Lonicera fragrantissima

Just when you need it the most, Lonicera fragrantissima, also known as Winter Honeysuckle bursts on the scene with its powerful scent and dainty little creamy flowers.

The blooms provide pollen and nectar to bees who are foraging on a winter’s day.

When you plan your garden, get used to including other’s needs, especially our pollinators.  Winter can be a bleak time for overwintering butterflies and bees.

Dr. William Welch suggests planting Winter Honeysuckle by a gate so when you brush by it you can enjoy the scent.  It can be grown in partial shade or full sun.  For a look at it in full sun, click here.

If you arrive early at the next *Texas Discovery Garden sale,  you might be able to take home your own small start of this fast growing fragrant bush.

Ann Lamb

*Texas Discovery Garden Sale-April 6-8, 2018

More info about Lonicera fragrantissima right here on Dallas Garden Buzz!

 

 

Tagging Monarchs at Raincatcher’s

Monarch Butterfly Sipping Milkweed, Note the Tag

With a woosh of her net, Master Naturalist, Ellen Guiling, has captured another Monarch butterfly to be tagged and then sent on its migratory journey.

As per the Monarch Watch website: tagging information helps answer questions about the geographic origins of monarchs, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during migration, the effects of wind and weather, and changes in geographic distribution of monarchs. Each year the information is collected and can be viewed at www.monarchwatch.org.

You may remember Starla found a tagged Monarch from Kansas who visited our garden in 2015.

We have many butterflies visiting The Raincatcher’s Garden and the reason goes back to the careful planning and planting of host and nectar plants for many different types of butterflies. Review the butterfly plant list in our Raincatcher’s Resources on the right of our front page and enjoy the delights of your own butterfly garden.

Ann Lamb

Pictures and video by Starla Willis

 

 

Purple Martins Have Arrived At The Raincatcher’s Garden

Deirdre starts this utube video saying “so these are the gourds where we’d really like to have a Purple Martin Colony.” She then explains the preparation and that we have been waiting two whole years for Purple Martins. No more waiting!

As of the beginning of May 2017, Purple Martins have landed at The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Purple Martin Close Up

Looking for friendly neighbors? Put up a Purple Martin house. It’s comparable to a miniature neighborhood in your backyard and Purple Martins chirp pleasantly and  perform aerial acrobatics to snap up flying insects.  Unfortunately, Mosquitoes only comprise as low as 3% of their diet.

At the end of the breeding season they gather in big flocks and make their way to South America.

Next year, we should see some of the same Purple Martins again!

Purple Martins At Home!

Video and Pictures by Starla Willis

If you are having trouble watching our Purple Martin Utube video, please click here.

Ann Lamb

Sex 101

How do you tell the “boys” from the “girls?”  In Monarch butterflies, that is.

The male Monarch butterflies have a scent gland on their lower hindwing that produce pheromones used to attract females:

Above: Male Monarch Butterfly

Above: Male Monarch Butterfly

The females on the other hand have wider veins giving them a somewhat darker appearance:

Above: Female Monarch Butterfly

Above: Female Monarch Butterfly

Our own Dallas County Master Gardener Janet D. Smith, a much requested speaker on such topics as “Sex in the Garden” and pollinators, says the following:  “I couldn’t remember if the black spot indicated if it is a male or female until I realized that it is normally the male of the species who has round things on the lower half of the body.  The darker veins on the female also remind me of eyeliner which for most of my life was only seen on women.”

Janet always gets a laugh from the audience after she tells her way of remembering how to sex Monarch butterflies— and you probably won’t forget how to tell the difference either.

Carolyn

 

Note: Both pictures courtesy of Janet D. Smith

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If You Feed Them, They Will Come

Though the Demonstration Garden doesn’t consistently put out food in our bird feeder since DCMG volunteers are not present at the Garden every day, within a very short time after the Garden’s feeder was filled, Starla, our talented Garden Buzz photographer, captured these pictures of Red-winged Blackbirds, Sparrows, and Brown-headed Cowbirds, feasting on the seeds.

Red-winged Blackbirds are some of the most abundant birds in North America. The Red-winged’s count was estimated at 190 million in the mid-1970s. The male Red-winged Blackbird proudly displays his distinctive red shoulder patches, or “epaulets” when flying or displaying.  When resting, the black male shows a yellow wing bar.  The female Red-winged Blackbird is much drabber and has a streaked feather pattern.  Blackbirds are omnivorous and will eat both seeds and insects.  Though they tend to build their nests in fresh and saltwater marshes, in winter they can be found in fields and pastures.

Above: Female Redwing Blackbird at our Feeder

Above: Female Redwing Blackbird at our Feeder

Brown-headed Cowbirds are a species of blackbirds often found among flocks of Blackbirds and Starlings feeding on the ground.  They can be recognized by their shorter tail and thicker neck than most blackbirds.  They also have a rich brown head that sometimes looks black in poor lighting.  Females do not build nests but instead lay their eggs, sometimes as many as three dozen a year, in the nests of other birds, These foster parents will raise the cowbird chicks as their own.  However this is often at the expense of some of the parent’s natural chicks.

Above: Blackbirds, Brown Headed Cowbird, and Sparrows at The Demonstration Garden Feeder

Above: Blackbirds, Brown Headed Cowbird, and Sparrows at The Demonstration Garden Feeder

Sparrows, of course, are the most familiar of all wild birds.  They have adapted easily to the urban environment and are found throughout all of North America.  They too are omnivorous and will eat both insects and seeds.   At backyard feeders, they especially like to eat millet, corn and sunflower seeds, all of which are often found in seed mixtures.

If you are interested in learning more about birds and identifying the birds you might find at your feeder, there are many sites on the internet (the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is one) www.allaboutbirds.org that can be used as field guides for identification and behavior.  Some sites, such as the Cornell website, even have audio recordings of bird calls so you can identify a bird just by its sound.   In winter, though birds have throughout the ages managed to survive without supplemental feed from humans, as Starla said about the number of birds that quickly came to the Garden’s feeder:  “They were super appreciative of the feast.”

Carolyn

Pictures by Starla

Fall Clean Up in Your Wildlife Garden-Don’t!

There’s a discussion going on in our garden.  How tidy do we want to be?Should we dead head and prune all our perennials and rake our leaves ? Maybe not, our fine feathered friends are looking for food all winter.

“If you’re not careful, you can yank the welcome mat right outfrom under all the birds, insects and small mammals your garden has been home to throughout the rest of the year.”

Debbie Roberts, Fall Clean Up in the Wildlife Garden.

Above: A view into our Wildlife Garden looking through PInk Muhly Grass. Grasses provide cover for wildlife and their seed heads provide food.

Above: A view into our Wildlife Garden looking through Pink Muhly Grass.
Grasses provide cover for wildlife and their seed heads provide food.

Less work? I am all for it. Look at some of the blog titles written on this subject:  Drop Your Rake and Look to the Skies and Fall Wildlife Garden Chores.

Above: Seedheads will be left unpruned to provide  winter food in our garden for wildlife.

Above:  Rudbeckia Seedheads

Looking for other ways to accomodate wildlife in your garden? Birds feast on Berries like Beauty Berry and Yaupon Holly in winter months.

A View of our Wildlife Habitat at The Demonstration Garden, looking North.

Yaupon Holly berries on the right, maize on the left under a bird feeder

So less work equals a more friendly wildlife garden; we can handle that!

Ann

Pictures by Starla and Ann

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