Category Archives: Spring

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.

Four for Spring

Carolina Chickadee with moss for nesting material just before entering a bird house

Nesting is in Full Swing

There’s a lot of nesting going on already.  We count at least 4 active nests in our yard, including Carolina Chickadee, Brown Thrasher, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Wren and perhaps a Song Sparrow.  Cardinals are eyeing nesting locations and there will probably be more soon.

Watch for Hummingbirds

A friend, who has much better eyesight than either of us, swears he saw a hummingbird in our yard yesterday.  He probably did.  The Native Honeysuckle is starting to bloom and that’s always been our indication that hummers are here, or will be shortly.

Most likely it will be a Ruby-throated Hummingbird that you see.  While they are the only hummingbird that nests in Georgia, 10 other species are seen in this state.  Time to plant hummingbird-friendly flowers and hang your feeders.

Trees Atlanta Native Wildflower and Vine Sale

Trees Atlanta is having their 5th annual Native Wildflower and Plant Sale on Saturday, April 1st at the Freedom Farmer’s Market at the Carter Center.  They will be selling native perennials and vines that are tree-friendly (it is a Trees Atlanta sale after all).

This is a chance to support Trees Atlanta and get great plants that are grown by reputable growers.  Their plant list for the sale has many of the plants that we have on our list of Perennials for Your Yard.  All good things for trees and for wildlife.

Create a Home for Native Bees

We follow an excellent blog called Using Georgia Native Plants.  In their post of March 12, they wrote about a new book titled  Bees – An Identification and Native Plant Foraging Guide  by Heather Holm.  We couldn’t do without our own copy, and it is a beautiful book.

If you read the blog post you’ll see that the author calls attention to a section in the book describing the value of trimming stems from last-year’s plants (perennials) to a length of about 15 inches.  The new growth will soon overtake the stems to hide them, but in the meantime this creates a home for tiny native bees that are so important as pollinators.  They will nest this spring and summer, overwinter in this safe haven and then emerge the following spring.

You can see the before and after efforts of our trimming below.

 

Monthly Journal – February, 2017

Spring has arrived early this year after a mild winter.  Migrants have been here in full force.  Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins blanketed the neighborhood for days and Sandhill Cranes were seen high overhead.  All that planting you did last year to provide blooms for pollinators in late winter and early spring is now paying off.

Monthly Journal – May, 2016

It’s May and, as always in this month, there’s a lot going on.  Pollinators are busy and some species of birds are raising a second brood.  We’ve seen a few Hummingbirds, but they are still infrequent visitors to our blooms.

The neighbor across the street reports that the resident box turtle was seen hiking up their driveway.  And one of the most interesting reports came from a neighbor on West Paces Ferry who sent us a photo taken in her yard of a Groundhog (aka Woodchuck or Whistlepig).  She contacted Georgia DNR who confirmed it as a Groundhog saying that while it’s unusual for them to be this far south in Georgia, it’s not unheard of.

Monthly Journal – April, 2016

There’s been much nesting activity in April, as there should be.  Three of the four houses on the Peachtree Park Nature Trail have occupants and there is  a Red-bellied Woodpecker pair nesting in a snag on the trail: (see the recent post Nesters on the Nature Trail).   The bluebird house in the Darlington Road triangle is occupied, and Bluebirds are competing with Brown-headed Nuthatches for a box three houses down.  Birds are nesting in shrubbery in multiple locations in our yard and Carolina Wrens in the oven vent.  This is occurring all over the neighborhood, and most likely in your yard.

Also, Goldfinches descended in mass in the trees inback of us for several days and emptied the thistle feeders every day for a few days.  The morning chorus at sunrise continues to be quite loud; some singers go on almost all day, like the Brown Thrasher below.  It’s a great time of year.

Brown Thrasher singing in a dogwood tree

Nesters on the Nature Trail

Trail Entrance

Peachtree Park Nature Trail – Darlington Commons Entrance

The Peachtree Park Nature Trail is a gem tucked in along the southeast boundary of the neighborhood.   When you walk this path, have you considered how much wildlife this little spot of land supports?

As a part of Ryan Tuemler’s Eagle Scout merit badge, he built four bluebird-size houses and installed them along the trail.  Here’s the cool part: three of Ryan’s four houses have birds nesting in them right now!  The one closest to the community garden appears to still be waiting on occupants.  Thanks Ryan!  Hope things are well at West Point and wish you were here to see what you’ve done.

Birdhouse #2 has Eastern Bluebirds.  This video shows they are hard at work feeding their chicks.

Take a stroll down the Nature Trail and tell us which bird you think is in house #1 and house #3.  Please read our notes on etiquette and take care not to disturb the hard-working parents.

While we were checking out the birdhouses yesterday, we noticed a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who have built their own nest in the top of a snag near house #3.  So awesome to see in our neighborhood!

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped establish and are maintaining this trail!

Notes on Etiquette

Juts a few things to remember when watching nesters:

  • Keep a safe distance from the birdhouse: 20 – 30 feet is good – you can see a lot from this respectful distance.
  • Be patient. Bird parents are especially skittish when they’ve got babies. But if you’re quiet and still, they will think you’re safe and continue feeding.
  • Don’t go up to the birdhouse and certainly don’t touch it.
  • Don’t check the house early in the morning.  Also, avoid the nest at dusk and at night.
  • If you think you’ve disturbed the birds, then back up a little and give them some more room.

Nesting season is off to a great start!  Let us know who you have nesting in your yard.

An Abundance of Gold

American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - April, 2016

American Goldfinches

Dozens of American Goldfinches descended into the trees, feeders and streams this afternoon in our yard and the yards close by.  They are beautiful and fun to watch.

Put up a thistle feeder, keep an eye on last year’s seed heads, and enjoy the show!  They are Late Nesters as reported in our blog from last July.