Is breeding native plants to look differently good for wildlife? Native plants sprout naturally in their region (i.e. scientific name Echinacea purpurea), while nativars (native plant cultivars) are artificially cultivated by plant nurseries (i.e. scientific name Echinacea purpurea "Wild Pink"). You can identify nativars by a marketing-driven common name (i.e. Wild Pink coneflower). I planted one nativar when I first started my garden. It was supposed to be a cardinal flower, but it was magenta instead of red in color. The hummingbirds ignored it, so I pulled it out. The next year, a native plant vendor had a beautiful, native red cardinal flower. When I planted it, the hummingbirds immediately fed on each of the plant's blooms. I have since used its seed to cultivate more plants in different areas of my gardens. I never planted another nativar. Caterpillars and other creatures that have evolved using native plants are unable to digest the nativar leaves. Read more about why it is best to buy beautiful native plants from National Wildlife.
Where do bullfrogs go in the winter? Underwater and ice at the bottom of ponds. Frogs are able to breathe through their lungs or their skin, but when they are underwater in winter, they breathe exclusively through their skin. During hibernation, the amount of sugar in vital organs is increased and acts like antifreeze in a car. A frog could be encased in a block of ice, but because the bullfrog’s internal organs aren’t completely frozen, the bullfrog should thaw out in spring and swim away.
Thanks to the dedicated bird-lovers who read December Nature Scoop, I found out that dryer lint breaks down when wet, contains chemicals and should be kept out of our yards. The bumblebee queen in my yard must have used native plant material for insulating her eggs. If you leave plant materials through spring, you are supplying wildlife's nesting needs naturally.
Good news: The U.S. Department of Interior released a national framework to protect our nation's land and water from invasive species. The National Invasive Species Council is to provide leadership in stopping the spread of invasive species through early detection and rapid response, and to find and eradicate potential invasive species before they spread and cause harm.
- Don't be alarmed if you see skunks in your yard in winter. They may come out of their dens on a warm day to get a bite to eat
- Brush snow away from leaves under your trees so birds can scratch around and find winter food
- If you don't normally feed birds, consider putting high-energy food (like peanuts in my yard pictured above with a Carolina Wren) spread on the ground or on top of frozen snow or a brush pile, like hulled sunflower seeds and broken up pieces of suet during the sub-zero temperatures
- 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
- Read the wildlife friendly yard to go green and get your yard certified with National Wildlife Federation for the New Year
- Don't be alarmed that hawks must eat some birds to survive the winter
- Ohio Division of Wildlife Private Land Biologists can help you manage your land for wildlife conservation and even find reimbursement programs to help. Check to see if your state has this program
- If the ground freezes, a Robin's soft beak cannot break seeds or get to worms, and berries are scarce or frozen. To help, put ice-free water 10 to 15 feet from cover and feed Robins hulled sunflower seeds and dried fruit, like raisins or currants on the ground
- Always observe wildlife from a distance that is safe and comfortable for them. Use binoculars or scopes and a blind (i.e. your window)
- Do not feed mammals food scraps to avoid unwanted interactions with other people
Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
- 1/14, Native Spring Ephemerals, Wild Ones Columbus, Dublin