Tag Archive | Backyard Secrets

BACKYARD SECRET: CLOUDLESS SULPHURS CAN BE SEEN IN WINTER

          Once again, we are experiencing what I call a yo-yo winter.  This is a winter when temperatures go from being very cold to very warm.  Whenever this happens, it is possible to see a handful of butterflies in our backyards.  The cloudless sulphur is the species that most often makes an appearance in my Middle Georgia backyard.

        The cloudless sulphur is the largest predominantly yellow butterfly most of us are apt to see in the Peach State.  It has a wingspan that can range anywhere from a little more than two inches to slightly less than three inches in length.

        Each winter some cloudless sulphurs can be seen flitting about our backyards, especially when temperatures soar to 65˚F and above.  Last week when temperatures reached the high 60s, cloudless sulphurs made appearances in my yard on two consecutive days.  These individuals are the only butterflies I have spotted this year.  I was not the only one lucky enough to see a cloudless sulphur.  A friend told me she spotted a cloudless sulphur in Thomasville last week also.

        There is a good chance that you might see a cloudless sulphur this winter as long as we do not experience temperatures that dip to 20˚F or below.  When it gets that cold, most cloudless sulphurs cannot survive.

        Whenever I spot a cloudless sulphur during the winter, it is a welcomed sight.  Its lemony, yellow color always brightens and otherwise drab landscape. 

BACKYARD SECRET: CAROLINA CHICKADEE WINTER FOOD

       During the winter, a Carolina chickadee must eat an average of 150 black oil sunflower seeds per day just to survive the bitter cold. 

       The birds rarely depend solely on our food offerings to survive.  However, our feeders offer the birds a dependable source of food when natural foods cannot always provide the tiny birds with enough food to meet their nutritional needs.

       Although the birds prefer sunflower seeds to all other feeder offerings, they will also dine on suet and pieces of various nuts.

BACKYARD SECRET: OTHER NAMES FOR CARDINALS

       BACKYARD SECRET – In winter, we are more likely to see groups of cardinals than at any time of year.  When several cardinals are seen flying about or feeding together, we commonly call such a group a flock.  Everyone understands this term.    However, some bird enthusiasts employ far more imaginative words when referring to gatherings of cardinals.  These names include a Vatican, radiance, deck, conclave and college. If you tried out one or more of these fanciful terms on your friends, do you think they would know you were referring to a bunch of cardinals?

BACKYARD SECRET: THE CHIPPING SPARROW WAS ONCE CALLED THE HAIR BIRD

Back in the day when horses were our main form of transportation, the chipping sparrow was called the hair bird because horse hairs were often found woven into their nests.  Nowadays since horses have given way to cars, chipping sparrows rarely use horsehair to construct their nests anymore.  However, deer and cow hair are sometimes found in the nests of this common sparrow.

BACKYARD SECRET: Coneflowers Are Great For Wildlife And People Too

        The coneflower’s value to wildlife is widely recognized.  It is a source of food for native pollinators such as native bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  In addition, long after its blooms fade, American goldfinches and other birds feed on the plant’s prickly seeds.

       Those of us that plant this plant in our gardens enjoy the beauty of it uniquely shaped, colorful flowers.  However, according to many herbalists, the value of this plant to humans may go far beyond its pleasing appearance.  It has been purported to be beneficial in treating a wide variety of ailments.  For example, it has been reported that chemicals found in the coneflower a natural antibiotic and even enhance white blood cell counts.

       While I cannot substantiate claims of its medicinal values, I can attest to its value to wildlife.  This year, for example, my wife and I enjoyed watching bumblebees and carpenter bees daily visiting the blooms of coneflowers growing in our backyard.   In addition, the flowers produced by these plants were particularly popular with common buckeyes.   In fact, this year we saw more common buckeyes on coneflowers than any other plant growing in our backyard.  Numerous times, a single flower hosted four or more buckeyes.  

BACKYARD SECRET: IN GEORGIA, MOURNING DOVES NEST THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

       Remarkably, mourning dove nesting can take place in the Peach State throughout the entire year.  The nesting season usually kicks off in south Georgia in February.  Nesting is at its peak throughout the state from mid-May to July and normally winds down in mid-October.

       On the average, a female mourning dove will nest three times during this long nesting season.