Although the birds in my yard visit my birdbaths on a regular basis throughout the entire year, activity around these artificial ponds has definitely increased as of late. For example, in a little over an hour one afternoon this week I watched, a northern mockingbird, common grackles, American robins, brown thrashers, and orchard orioles visited the birdbath outside my home office.
While a couple of the birds that showed up drank, most were intent solely on bathing. If you have never seen wild birds bathe, you have missed a real treat.
Each bird would hop into the deepest water (only about two inches deep) and began rapidly flapping its wings. I suspect they also shook their bodies, but I cannot say for sure that was the case. What I do know is that while bathing, each bird had water flying everywhere. They would then suddenly stop, look around and repeat the process several times. Finally, when they finished they laboriously flew to nearby trees and shrubs on water-soaked wings to shake off the water and preen.
When the last bather left, the birdbath was almost empty and the ground within a three to four foot circle around the bath was soaking wet.
Their departure left me with the task of refilling the birdbath, and fond memories of what I had witnessed.
At this time of the year, we Georgians are spending a lot of time in our yards. As such, homeowners and their families are more likely to encounter a snake now than at any other time of the year. Whenever somebody does run across a snake, the first question that often comes to mind is, “Is this reptile poisonous?
According to John Jensen, senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Section and one of the state’s leading authorities on snakes, “Only every once in a while is it a venomous snake.”
It seems that only six of the 46 species of Georgia’s of native snakes are poisonous. The vast majority of the Peach State’s snakes are not a threat to humans. However, far too often, harmless snakes are needlessly persecuted. This is unfortunate because snakes are valued members of the wildlife communities that live in our yards.
One way that you can alleviate your fears that you have encountered a poisonous snake is to learn how to identify them. Since you only have to learn to identify six snakes, this is an easy task.
The Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Section has prepared two publications that make identifying Georgia’s poisonous snakes a snap. These full color pamphlets are entitled, “Venomous Snakes of Georgia” and “Is it a Water Moccasin?”. Both publications can be downloaded by visiting the Nongame Wildlife Conservation Section website at www.georgiawildlife.org/georgiasnakes.
Interest in butterfly gardening is at an all time high throughout the Peach State. At one time, his activity was one-dimensional. If a homeowner wanted to attract butterflies to their yard, they planted flowers that produced an abundance of nectar. However, in recent years butterfly gardening has taken on a new dimension. Nowadays people that are serious butterfly gardeners also incorporate butterfly larval host plants into their landscape designs.
However, many homeowners do not realize that some of the trees growing in their yards are also butterfly host plants. Here is a list of ten such trees and the butterflies that use them as hosts.
Yellow Poplar – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Hackberry – Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor, Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, American Snout
Sassafras – Spicebush Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Palamedes Swallowtail
Redbud – Henry’s Elfin
Flowering Dogwood – Spring Azure
Willow – Viceroy
Winged Elm – Question Mark
Water Oak – White M Hairstreak
Black Cherry – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple