Where did this spring go? The last couple of months have been crazy busy, but so much fun too. I have had the opportunity to make some amazing nature-related discoveries both around my own property and while traveling.
Below are a few of the nature-related discoveries I’ve made on our property over the last couple of months. The discoveries I share below don’t even begin to capture all the different observations I’ve made – I can’t always get pictures of everything I see. So, what interesting nature-related discoveries have you made in your yard and community over the last few weeks? I always enjoy hearing what others are finding too.
At the end of March we had three trees near the house taken down for safety reasons. We stacked all the branches that were too small to cut into firewood or use for other purposes in a pile to be moved to another part of the property and turned into a brush pile. However, the sparrows and wrens didn’t wait for us to move the brush. They immediately began hopping in and out of the temporary pile. Then life happened and the brush pile didn’t get moved as quickly as we had planned on moving it.
I’m certain that we have nests in it by now, so the temporary brush pile will stay where it is until this fall. I have to admit, that I do like sitting in my bedroom or on the front porch watching the birds and other critters play in it even if I would prefer not having a permanent brush pile right there. If you’ve never thought of creating a brush pile, I encourage you to do so. Brush piles are a great way to create fast cover for a variety of wildlife. Here’s an archived Backyard Ecology blog article that talks more about brush piles
We have a good diversity of frogs on our property and I commonly hear spring peepers, leopard frogs, bull frogs, grey tree frogs, and cricket frogs, along with American and fowler toads. This is a cricket frog that I found several weeks ago sitting on a cup plant leaf next to the driveway.
The wild turkeys were also quite active in our yard at the end of April and early May. We often saw the hens in our yard eating the clover and bugs. Based on their behaviors we’re certain they have nests nearby. They’ve also stopped coming around much lately which indicates that they are probably sitting on those nests right now.
There were also a couple of tom turkeys that occasionally ventured into the yard to display for the hens. Despite the toms’ adamant displays, the hens pretty much ignored them. The hens would just go about their business pecking at bugs and clover, while the toms followed them around all puffed up, trying (and failing) to get the hens’ attention.
The carpenter bees are definitely back. We have a healthy population of them around us. They really like hanging out around our barn, but we see them in other parts of the property too.
I was really surprised by a nature-related discovery that Anthony made a couple of weeks ago about carpenter bees. He stumbled upon a pair of mating carpenter bees and was able to get a video. The surprising part was that the mating occurred on the ground. Honey bees mate while flying and I always assumed that was the case for all bees, but evidently not.
Despite the fact that they can make holes in our wooden structures, carpenter bees are important pollinators. There are also some really good, non-lethal ways to discourage them from creating holes where you don’t want them. This archived Backyard Ecology article talks about one of those ways.
If you looked at the tree tops around our farm in early May, it looked like they were covered in snow. That was because we had an amazing black locust bloom this year. Black locusts are in the bean family. The flowers produce abundant nectar and have a very sweet smell. They are highly attractive to honey bees, lots of native bee species, and hummingbirds.
We also have quite a bit of ragwort (Packera sp.) blooming right now. Ragwort can be found at this time of the year along roadsides and in open areas. They are in the aster family and, like most asters, are attractive to a wide variety of pollinators. I love how bright and cheery they are.
I’m currently doing a survey with my Backyard Ecology podcast. The survey will be open for a couple more weeks, but I’ve been taking sneak peeks at the results as they come in. One of the surprising findings so far is that quite a few people who listen to my podcast don’t realize that I also have a blog. That got me wondering if the opposite is also true. Do some of my blog readers not know that I also host a podcast? So, just in case it is true, I want to quickly mention that I do have a podcast as well if you want more Backyard Ecology information. The podcast and the blog come out on alternating weeks.
Backyard Ecology: Creating Space for Pollinators and Wildlife
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I started Backyard Ecology as a way to share my love of exploring nature and learning about different plants and animals. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.