Category Archives: Habitat

Monthly Journal – April, 2017

April was a busy month with much nesting activity all over the neighborhood.  Three of the four bird houses on the Nature Trail have occupants.  Two neighbors on Darlington Commons had nests in shrubbery right outside their front door, and we counted at least four nests in our yard, including  a Brown Thrasher pair who nested in the Carolina Jessamine vine on the side of the house.

Most trees have leafed out now.  American Basswood, Pignut Hickory, Georgia Hackberry and Southern Sugar Maple along with eight other species were identified on the Nature Trail and will be marked.  Hummers are here for sure, and flowering plants like Crossvine and Native Honeysuckle are in bloom for them.

And it looks like the Wild Turkey hen has moved on.  We hope she’s safe and well.

Celebrating Atlanta’s Original Forest

We’ve had a special guest staying with us the last few days:  Dr. Joan Maloof, author and Professor Emeritus at Salisbury University in Maryland, founded the Old-Growth Forest Network to preserve, protect and promote the country’s few remaining stands of old-growth forest.

“Teaching the Trees” – Joan Maloof

She’s been in Atlanta to induct 13 tracts of land in and near Atlanta into OGF Network (see the list below).  This is a remarkable number of additions and underscores what we already knew: Atlanta truly is a City in The Forest.

These forests have been identified and protected by many dedicated individuals who see their value and importance now and for future generations.  There are many heroes in this story,  but one who stands out is Kathryn Kolb, director of Eco-Addendum (Eco-A).

Eco-A is an organization whose stated mission is “is to raise awareness about Georgia’s rich natural environment, and through education, to reconnect people with the natural world”.  Sign up for one of Eco-A’s “Walk About Down Yonder” hikes;  they’re great and you’ll learn a lot about Atlanta and our forests.

Eco-Addendum organized and produced last night’s event, “Discovering Atlanta’s Original Forests”, on the Emory campus with over 200 people in attendance.  The program included a panel discussion about Atlanta’s trees moderated by Maria Saporta,  writer and frequent contributor to the AJC and the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and founder and editor of news website SaportaReport.com, and tree champion.

While Peachtree Park doesn’t qualify as an Old Growth Forest, it is a very valuable urban forest with many old, valuable trees.  We asked Joan to walk the Nature Trail with us yesterday and identify some of the trees.  She spent over 2 hours with us and helped us realize just how special this land is.  She also identified over a dozen species of trees which will be marked with information signs.

Loblolly Pine

Then we asked her to identify the pine tree in our back yard.  It’s a Loblolly, but the real news is that she estimates it to be over 130 years old!  We were stunned!  And we learned that Loblollies can live to be 200 – 300 years old.  We’ve lived beside this tree in our back yard for over 30 years and all the while had no idea it was that old.  There are many trees like this in Peachtree Park: old-growth trees that sustain wildlife and make this neighborhood a wonderful place to live.

Old-Growth Forest Inductions – April 25, 2017

  • Briarlake Forest and Hidden Acres Nature Preserve – DeKalb County
  • Cascade Springs Nature Preserve – City of Atlanta
  • Cumberlander – City of Atlanta
  • D’Agnese tract – City of Atlanta
  • Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve / Herbert Taylor Park – City of Atlanta
  • Deepdene Park – DeKalb County
  • Fernbank Forest – DeKalb County
  • Herbert Greene Park – City of Atlanta
  • Lionel Hampton-Beecher Hills Nature Preserve – City of Atlanta
  • Lullwater Conservation Garden – City of Atlanta
  • Osborne Park, City of Brookhaven – DeKalb County
  • Outdoor Activity Center – City of Atlanta

and these two private forests:

  • McConaughey Nature Preserve and Historic Site – DeKalb County
  • Mosman Forest – City of Atlanta, Fulton Country

 

 

Ready for Spring?

Even though it’s been a mild winter, about this time of year we begin thinking of warmer weather and dressing up the yard with annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.  As you ready your yard for Spring, we offer these thoughts:

Native Be

Native Bee on Blueberry

  • Plant with wildlife in mind (this is, after all, a blog about wildlife) – insects, pollinators, birds and critters.
  • Include plants that provide nectar, pollen and food.   We’ve compiled a list of suggested perennials for your yard that work well here in Peachtree Park.
  • Plant for all seasons – aesthetics for you, and food and shelter for wildlife year-round.
  • Leave dead stems from plants like River Oats, ornamental grasses, Goldenrod, and Joe Pye Weed in place all winter since the seed heads are valuable for the birds, and hollow stems are used by small native bees.  Since we’ve started gardening this way, we’ve realized that our yard is as attractive in the winter as it is in the other seasons (see our post Brown is Beautiful).

    Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

    Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

  • Make more butterflies by including host plants for their caterpillars: e.g. Pipevine for Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars and milkweed for the Monarch butterfly.
  • Use mostly native plants when you can.  No need to be a purist, but natives have lots of advantages and there are many wonderful native plant alternatives for common non-natives.
  • Expand diversity in your yard.  The more diverse, the greater the variety of insects (food for birds) and native bees that you will attract.  And, correspondingly, the greater the variety of  birds and critters you will attract and support.
  • Reserve areas for nesting and hiding.
  • Don’t use pesticides and don’t spray for mosquitoes.  Build a healthy ecosystem and encourage nature to control pests.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - July 13, 2016

    Ruby-throated Hummingbird

    Don’t buy plants that were treated with lethal chemicals, especially neonictinoids – support local growers who know their plants’ histories.  If you live in Atlanta, there’s a list of suggested growers below.

Nearby Toxin-free Plant Suppliers :

We contacted a few plant suppliers in and near Atlanta and came up with this short list of those who get it.  That’s to say they understand the dangers of chemicals, including neonictinoids, and avoid them either by growing their own plants or screening growers for you.  These sellers are doing the right thing.  It’s good to support them.

If you shop at a big-box store, ask which plans are toxin-free.  They may or may not be able to answer your question, but at least you’ll let them know that it’s important to you.

Credits:

Thanks to  Nearly Native Nursery  for their list of native plants as alternatives for non-natives.

Good News About Trees

trees-atlantaIf you live inside the city limits, Trees Atlanta will give you up to 3 free trees for your front yard and even plant them for you!  It’s part of Trees Atlanta’s NeighborWoods program.  Check it out and sign up for your trees at www.treesatlanta.org/freeyardtree.  These are all wonderful shade trees free for the asking! Now how can you beat that?

While you are on their site, please consider signing Trees Atlanta’s Canopy Alliance Pledge (www.treesatlanta.org/pledge).  These signatures will show Atlanta’s policy makers and influencers your support for protecting our urban canopy!   It only takes a minute, costs nothing and will really help.

Linda's lot prior to construction

Tree-save fence – Darlington Rd. White Oak

Another piece of good news is shown in the photo to the left.  It’s a picture of a tree-save fence around a wonderful White Oak on Darlington Rd.  We estimate the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) between 36 and 42 inches, making the estimated age about 100 years!

The owners were very careful to make sure that the new house will be situated to save this tree.  Given the recent spate of clear cutting, it’s a very encouraging sight.

Not only the tree is being saved, but so are the countless birds and critters that depend on it.  Photos below show some glamour shots as well as birds enjoying this magnificent tree. Thanks to the owners, and welcome to Peachtree Park!

Future posts will report on the neighborhood’s efforts to significantly improve tree preservation.  In the meantime, you can add to our canopy and increase your property value with free Trees Atlanta trees.

Trees Atlanta –
Free Yard Tree Program
Tree Species List

Monthly Journal – January, 2017

January was an unseasonably warm month.  Lots of bird activity with many of the usual suspects and one unexpected rare appearance by a Wilson’s Warbler (see our recent January 14 post).  In addition to the photos below we had visits from a Great Blue Heron and a Red-tailed Hawk.  The Northern Flickers in the photo below were engaged in a territorial fencing display, which we have seen one other time.

Small Post, Big News

Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla - Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - January 10, 2017

Wilson’s Warbler – Cardellina pusilla

On Tuesday afternoon this week a very small bright yellow bird showed up and was foraging for insects on and near our deck.  We grabbed a camera just in case he was somebody cool; turns out, he was indeed very cool.  The bird is a Wilson’s Warbler and is a migrant rarely seen in Georgia.  The sighting is even more unusual because this little bird should have been in his Central American winter home a couple of months ago.

Unsure of ourselves, we asked our trusted bird-savvy friends to confirm the ID.  On Thursday we posted a note on UGA’s Ornithological list-serve announcing our find.  On Friday, Atlanta Audubon sent a very knowledgeable person over to see if he could see the bird – and he did!

This is just one of many reasons why urban neighborhoods like ours are so important.  This migrant lost his way or his timing and has been able to survive here in spite of the cold. Probably because food, water and shelter are all available.  We’re still on the lookout hoping to catch another glimpse.

References and Additional Information

[1]  Cornell – All About Birds:  Wilson’s Warbler

Monthly Journal – December, 2016

Neighbors and friends contributed great photos of wildlife in December:  Sandhill Cranes flying south over Peachtree Park,  a possum looking for birdseed, a Cooper’s Hawk hunting in a parking deck at Lenox mall and an owl box newly mounted way up high at owl-height.  Credits and photo descriptions are at the bottom of the post.  Thank you all and Happy New Year!

Photo Credits

[1]  Greg Thomas heard the unmistakable sound of Sandhill Cranes flying high over Peachtree Park on December 22 and snapped this great photo with his iPhone.
[2]  Stella and Jack Wissner have a guest living in their back yard.  Stella took two great photos their resident possum looking for food under their bird feeder and resting in a tree.
[3]  Cindy Mayer convinced somebody to mount her Barred Owl box very high in a pine; we reckon somewhere between 30 and 40 feet judging from the photo.  See our post: Here’s Looking at You for more on Cindy’s Barred owls.
[4]  Jan Kuttnauer sent us a photo of a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on an automobile as she was coming back to her car from an exercise session at Lenox mall.  Think he’s hunting for rodents?