Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring is in the Air

Although, they are not the best shots in the world, I finally got some photos of a red-wing blackbird displaying his epaulets as he calls out feeling those feelings spring tends to bring. :)

Over the past few days, I've enjoyed the gurgling calls and trills of the redwinged blackbirds out in my yard.  They are still hanging out in loose flocks...and they add an air of excitement to the yard.

Plug List

Perhaps it was the great, warm weather we've had for weeks--all winter really--that has had me outside even more than normal for this time of year...whatever the reason, I have been putting off creating a list of plants that I want to order as plugs from my favorite native plant nursery--Archewild in Quakertown, PA (formerly known as American Native Nursery).  I just finished composing a list and I want to post it here for future reference.

My list...although I want them all, those with asterisks *** are my top choices.

  1. Eragrostis spectabilis   (purple lovegrass)***
  2. Gentianopsis crinite (greater fringed gentian)***
  3. Tripsacum dactyloides  (eastern gamagrass)***
  4. Sporobolus cryptandrus  (sand dropseed)***
  5. Fragaria virginiana  (Virginia strawberry)
  6. Deschampsia flexuosa  (wavy hairgrass)
  7. Bouteloua curtipendula   (sideoats grama)
  8. Bouteloua gracilis      (blue grama)  PA ecotype?  I only looked at once source, but didn’t think it was native to PA
  9. Tridens flavus  (purpletop)  Height? —one source listed it as 2-7ft tall...that is quite a wide range!

Now...I'll have to call and hope they are still available.  Next, I'll move on to ordering more seed from Ernst Seed Company for my meadow planting.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spring is in the Air

Despite the dusting of snow still on the ground in the shady areas when I got up, today felt a lot like spring to me--yesterday too.  I was outside both days.  I was actually happy for the snow, since I had planted some of my meadow seeds outside yesterday (more on that in another post), and I am hoping they will go through some more freezing and thawing (although the forecast has us in the 60s this week--and it is only early March).

I took a few shots of some birds that frequent our yard because of the frequent offerings of black oil sunflower seeds.  I was hoping the emerging pussy willow buds would add a sense of spring to the photos of the birds perched there.

These were the bird photos I thought I'd be posting about.  Little did I suspect that my favorite tenants would show up today! :)

Walking into the kitchen, I peered out the window into the side yard...

It always surprises me that I can spot a bird approximately 300 feet away--although, I've been mistaken at times...this time, I felt sure that the bluebirds had come to check out their favorite nestbox in the yard.  (I'm glad I cleaned it out a month or two ago.)  In my excitement, I ran for the camera that I'd left in the other room.  Sure enough, their was a bluebird perched atop the birdhouse.

The photos are not that clear, but clearly the pair has returned (I always assume it is the same pair that I started with...or some of their descendants).  Although I am happy to see a multitude of native birds nest in the yard (and I want more), when the bluebirds return to nest, it always brings me a special kind of joy. ~smile~


Last year, for some reason, I was concerned that they would not return.  They did.  However, they only raised one brood instead of the two (sometimes three?) that they normally do--a pair of tree swallows took their favorite box after their first brood fledged.  I'm hoping that they maintain control of that nestbox and are able to raise three broods this year--if my gut is right, it will be an early spring.  If so, perhaps with an early start, they can squeeze in three broods. :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Harbingers of Spring

For a couple of weeks, I have been keeping my eye out for the return of the red-wing blackbirds.  Early, I know, but, with much warmer than usual temperatures in February, I was really starting to think spring.  As is my habit, on my drive into work, I began to scan the roadsides where I've seen red-wing blackbirds staking their claim in the past few years.  Normally, I don't start looking in mid-February though.  For the past two weeks, I'd yet to see one, then, this morning before leaving for work, I looked out the window into the back yard, and there were about half a dozen male red-wings feeding on the black oil sunflower seeds I put out!  It made my day.

I had forgotten that we had a little snow overnight.  Just a coating...but still...

In my mind, spring is really here--I was taught that the males come first to stake out their territory, then in two weeks the females arrive...along with spring!

My mood was only slightly dampened by seeing a European starling along with them.  Even that couldn't dampen my spirits.