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?
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: The honeybee can beat its wings approximately 11,400 times per minute and fly 15 miles per hour.
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.
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.
From now into autumn, untold millions of birds that nested throughout North America will be migrating southward to their wintering grounds. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the birds that nest across the length and breadth of the continent migrate.
Some of the migrants that nest in our backyards include the gray catbird, orchard oriole, Baltimore oriole, barn swallow, tree swallow, chimney swift, summer tanager, great crested flycatcher, wood thrush, and ruby-throated hummingbird.