Wild pollinators, such as honeybees, bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies and other pollinating animals, are responsible for pollinating 75 percent of the world’s plants. In fact, roughly one-third of all the food we eat comes from plants pollinated by animals.
Here in Georgia, in late winter and early spring, it is difficult for honeybees and many of our native pollinators to find enough pollen and nectar to meet their needs. In many locales, the redbud is one of the only plants where these animals can find an abundant source of pollen and nectar. This is because this small native tree blooms long before many other plants have sprouted leaves or flowers.
Earlier this month when the redbud in my yard was in full bloom, it literally hummed with activities. The trees pink, bean-like blossoms were swarmed by countless bees. Although I didn’t see any butterflies visit the tree this year, in past years, they have joined the feeding frenzy.
If you would like do something to benefit the pollinating insects in your neighborhood, plant a redbud tree. In addition, it will provide you with beautiful blossoms in the spring, shade in summer and pleasing fall color provided by purple seed pods and greenish yellow heart-shaped leaves.
It is amazing how much this small native tree has to offer.
I spotted my first rubythroat on the evening of March 18. Remarkably, my wife saw our first hummer in 2015 at our Forsyth home on the same date.
Friends that live nearby Lizella reported seeing their first hummingbird Thursday, March 17. This is the same date that a lady in Americus saw her first ruby-throated of the spring.
As usual, friends that live in the Southwest Georgia city of Colquitt spotted their first rubythroat long before one was seen in Middle Georgia. A male rubythroat visited a feeder in their backyard March 5.
If have not seen your first ruby-throated hummingbird of the spring yet, you should see one any day now.
Which hummingbird food you use is a matter of choice. Some prefer to purchase commercially prepared food; others like to make their own. Some swear by red-colored nectar while some say that clear nectar is the best. The hummingbirds don’t seem to prefer one type of nectar over the other.
If you prepare your own hummingbird food, mix four parts of water to one part sugar. Boil the mixture for at least two to three minutes. Let the liquid cool to room temperature before pouring it into a feeder. Store the surplus in the refrigerator.
The third week in March is a special time for Monroe County hummingbird enthusiasts. This is the week rubythroats traditionally arrive in the county.
The earliest that my wife and I have ever seen the bird in our backyard is March 18, however, some years local residents have reported it a day or two earlier. By the same token, the first hummer is sometimes seen March 19 -21.
Friends in Southwest Georgia usually spot their ruby-throated hummingbird up to 5-7 days earlier. In comparison, residents of North Georgia often do not see their first rubythroat until late March or early April.
Females make their appearance 7-10 days after the males.
This delicate, little butterfly prefers to live in open woodlands throughout the northern two-thirds of the state. It is also an uncommon backyard visitor anywhere from late February to early June. I see this species most often in Monroe County during March. It has only one flight per year so, if you don’t see it during the short time it is on the wing, you will have to wait until next year to enjoy its beauty.
The falcate orange tip has a wingspan of only 1.25 – 1.75 inches. The butterfly’s forewings are hooked and display a small black spot. Although the upper side of the wings is white, the tips of the male’s wings are orange. From below, this butterfly displays a marbled gray pattern.
The falcate orangetip’s host plants are members of the mustard family and include a number of plants including field peppergrass and rockcress.
Water is used by wildlife for drinking and bathing. Additionally, species such as amphibians (frogs, salamanders and the like) damselflies and dragonflies need water to reproduce.
Many backyards and neighborhoods have no open water whatsoever. In fact, open water is often not found nearby. This can seriously limit the number and kinds of wildlife that will use a yard.
Believe it or not, you can actually attract for more birds with water than food.
Water can be provided by adding a small pond or bird bath to your yard. If you decide to purchase a bird bath, select one that has a gently sloping basin that is not over more than an inch and a half to two inches deep at its deepest point.
A number of backyard birds nest in tree cavities. The list of these birds includes the eastern bluebird, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, great crested flycatcher, screech owl, brown-headed and white breasted nuthatches, purple martin, tree swallow, Carolina and house wrens.
The problem is there are rarely enough natural cavities to go around. In addition, the suitable cavities that do exist are often taken over by aggressive introduced species such as house sparrows and European starlings. As a result, often few, if any, native cavity-nesting birds nest in Georgia’s backyards and neighborhoods.
Fortunately, many cavity-nesting species will nest in nesting boxes, Consequently, by erecting one or more nesting boxes in your yard, you will help alleviate this severe housing shortage and increase the diversity of birds using your yard.