Garden4Wildlife plans. Winter birds...
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Nature Scoop January 2020

My rock helps beneficial insects
A new year is here. It's time to think about how we can improve our yards for wildlife. Consider bee-friendly, native plants when you plan your garden for this year. Eight million wildlife gardeners planted gardens and registered them for the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) in 2015-2018. We can keep the MPGC momentum alive. Plant 3 for 3: three native flowering nectar plants that bloom during each of the three seasons. Simply buy some large, light-colored rocks to add to sunny places in the yard. Insects will bask on them for needed warmth. This includes butterflies and dragonflies, like the female Common White Tail pictured above in my yard last year.

In early spring, consider adding some spring ephemerals that will pop up in the cold spring weather, add some cheer and then disappear until the next spring. I didn't think they made an impact, but we are just discovering what they do. For instance, the Trout lily hosts the Trout lily miner bee; the Spring Beauty hosts the Spring beauty miner bee. Did you know that Dutchman's breeches can only be pollinated by the bumblebee? Do not take these plants from the wild, and check with your vendor to make sure they do not take plants from the wild. More complex relationships are described here.

Birds have two layers of feathers, the one we see and an inner layer of down, like a down jacket. They puff their feathers up twice their size to trap their body heat next to their skin. They use up more fat to keep warm in winter, so they eat more food. When birds roost at night, some roost in dense evergreens that block winds, some in a tree cavity or a birdhouse they used in spring and some huddle together to share body heat (e.g. in a roosting house.) Others go into torpor, slowing their metabolism so that they use less energy and lose less fat. The fattest birds live. We can help save the lives of birds by providing native plants that produce winter seeds and berries, and by providing high-fat food (e.g. hulled black-oil sunflower seed and suet.)

Good news: Minnesota Homeowners are going to get paid to create habitat in their yards to help pollinators. Be inspired.

Toni Stahl, Habitat Ambassador Volunteer, @naturescoopohio - please retweet, Please explore my website

Tips for Your Yard

-  Brush snow away from leaves under your trees so birds can scratch around and find winter food
-  Put cover over the tops of bird feeders to keep seed dry and accessible and use a soft brush to clean snow off the edges of heated bird baths
-  A robin's soft beak cannot get to worms when the ground is frozen or crack seed shells, and berries they look for in winter are now scarce or frozen. To help, put ice-free water 10 to 15 feet from cover and feed them sunflower seeds with the hulls removed, dried cranberries (or other dried fruits except raisins because raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs and cats that might be in the area) and/or broken-up pieces of suet on the ground
-  Always observe wildlife from a distance that is safe and comfortable for them. Use binoculars, scope, camera with zoom lens or a blind (i.e. your window)
-  Do not feed mammals food scraps because they become less afraid of humans and may cause unwanted, dangerous interactions with other people
-  Don't be alarmed that hawks must eat some birds in order to survive the winter
Feeding birds in winter
-  If you don't normally feed birds, consider putting high-energy food spread on the ground or on top of frozen snow, like sunflower seeds with hulls removed (hulled) and broken-up pieces of suet during the sub-zero temperatures
-  In freezing weather, consider adding a rock to the center of a heated bird bath so that birds can drink without getting wet
How to plan your yard to pass a weed inspection
When planning your wildlife garden - don't forget the neighbors
Consider adding a patch of prairie
-  See if your department of natural resources (or equivalent) has a Private Land Biologist to help you manage your land for wildlife conservation and find reimbursement programs; if you're in Ohio, Division of Wildlife Private Land Biologists can help you
-  See more Eastern Gray Squirrel antics? They breed in Dec-Jan and May-June
-  Don't recycle plastic bags because they get caught in sorting machines. Return them to recycle bins found at most grocery stores. Use paper and re-usable fabric bags instead
-  How to ID and manage a major disease affecting Colorado Spruce
Tips to photograph wildlife in your backyard
Backyard Birding ID Basics
-  Birding ID apps: Sibley eGuide to Birds App, Merlin Bird ID App - Cornell Lab of Ornithology, iBird ID App

Nature News

Sing for the Climate - inspirational musical video
-  See an image of the Eastern Monarchs in January
Greening Away the Girth
-  Explore the Eastern Monarch's Winter Habitat in Mexico - click on pictures to see all the slides
Stormwater Ponds: Buffers and Native Plants - See bottom of p. 3
Safe Harbor for Chimney Swifts
How "forest bathing" clears the mind and body
The Decline of Birds - Scroll to page 4. Report includes common backyard birds

Ohio Habitat Ambassador Nature Events

Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
-  Enjoy your yard

Other Ohio Nature Events

Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
-  1/11, Ohio's Scenic Rivers Program: Preserving Ohio's Highest Quality Rivers Since 1968, Wild Ones Columbus, Columbus
-  1/28, Ohio Environmental Council: Ohio Update, Columbus Audubon, Columbus

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