When Purple Martin Babies Fall Out of the Nest

by Donna Lewis

So, we have a little time until our Purple Martins return, February 2022 to be exact.

If you prepare now, you won’t have to go out when it’s cold to build something. As my friends know, I do not like cold weather. That means that now is good time to brush up on things we might encounter when the Martins are here.

The series of photos show the temporary house for the stranded young bird.

A question I get often is, what do I do when a baby is on the ground? First of all, it’s not a good thing for sure.  But it happens.

I am only going to address this situation if the nestling is in good health but is not old enough to fly on its own. Sometimes they fall out, and sometimes they are knocked out by first-year Martins (teenagers) who like to get into mischief.

This happened to me last year and I was successful in helping the baby fledge (fly on its own).

I put together a makeshift emergency house for it, so the parents could feed it. It just needed a few more days until it could fly. I was not sure it would work, but I gave it a try, since staying on the ground is bad.

I had a feeder a friend made for me, and I added some cedar scraps I had to keep the wind out and protect it. I added some pine needles and a little nest in the corner and put it near the Gourd Rack up on a shepherd’s hook.

I watched for several hours, and nothing happened. Just as I was getting depressed thinking the baby was doomed, one of the parents brought it a bug. YES!!! Some success.

The parents only came once a day, but it was enough to save the baby. It was hungry and after the third day it jumped out and flew.   

The temporary home

I was so happy. So, you see that sometimes you can help a little bit and life goes on.

When a Four-Year-Old Takes Hold of Your Camera

by Carolyn Henderson

On Sunday, November 21, I discovered that four-year-olds have a natural eye for photographing nature. It started on the Saturday evening before when a friend asked me what I was going to do on Sunday, and I said I was going to go “iNating” at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron. And she said she and her daughter (the 4-year-old), would like to go with me. 

Vivi and the lady beetle.

Around noon on Sunday, we met at the park. Spring (the friend) had printed a nature scavenger hunt for Vivi (the 4-year-old). The idea was to keep Vivi occupied while learning about nature. It didn’t take Vivi long to find everything pictured except two with the help of Spring. A pinecone was not going to be found at Wilson-Ledbetter, because there is no pine tree there. We didn’t see a squirrel either. 

Wilson-Ledbetter Park bridge

She had been interested in me taking pictures of Birds-eye Speedwells, Straggler Daisies, Santa Maria Feverfew, Docks, and a Black Willow sporting yellow fall leaves. She asked me what each one was, and luckily I knew them – so far. This is when she decided to help me take pictures. Spring tried to divert her by offering her cell phone, but Vivi wanted the camera, and I was willing to share. It’s old and I need a new one, anyway. 

These seeds are not delicious.

After a few times reminding her to keep her fingers from in front of the lens, she had it down. She took a particular interest in holes in the ground, anything that had a “V” shape, because she knows that’s the first letter of her name (and the other letters, too), the blue seeds on an Eastern Cedar (which we had to dissuade her from tasting), Carolina Snailseed, Frostweed (which was still blooming), dandelions, and Lady Beetles, which she could also catch.  She had as difficult a time as I do trying to get some little yellow butterflies to be still for a minute. 

Carolina snailseed

All the pictures shown except for her holding the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle were taken by Vivi. She asked me to tell Santa Claus that she wants a camera for Christmas. I quickly sent the message to Santa. ; )

Donna’s November Garden

by Donna Lewis

Hello everyone,

As promised, I am showing you photos of my pollinator garden through all 12 months of 2021. You can get an idea of what changes take place.   

My garden is 95% native plants and trees. That fact has made it more resilient to temperature and other factors making it easier to manage. Even now I have a few Monarchs, Fritillaries, Swallowtails, Sulphurs, and a host of other butterflies.

It is pretty warm in the garden so many plants like Salvia and Blue Mist Flower still have nectar to provide. Today it is cloudy and windy, not a good day for the butterflies to be out and about. The garden also has more shade now because of the location of the sun. Butterflies need sun to warm their bodies. They cannot regulate their own temperature.

The leaves are starting to cover the open areas and the plants. This provides the needed cover to protect living things from chilly weather. I have tree frogs moving around under the vines.  You can find chrysalis of several butterfly species under branches and along the fencing. Yes, it might look messy, but not for the wild things.

As I like to remind all of us who love nature… you must remember who you are gardening for? Look at the garden from the bird and butterflies’ point of view.

Soon it will be time for the winter nap.

Mystery Flower Revealed

By Carolyn Henderson

The mystery flower at the El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalist Wildscape that we shared a picture of a few days ago revealed itself one week later at the second weekend of club members working very hard to spread native Texas wildflowers. It is a Purple Coneflower

The flower in its mystery state

This particular Purple Coneflower is somewhat unique in that it is a very late bloomer, its bloom is unusually large, and no one knows how it got there. It has several other buds that I hope get to open up before a hard freeze. 

Now it looks familiar!

If you’d like to see the mystery (now revealed) flower, the ERCTMN members will be holding one more weekend of giving free native Texas Wildflowers to anyone who’d like some. Pots to put them in when they are dug up ran out last weekend, so bring something to put them in to take home. The Wildscape is on County Road 334 at the Bird and Bee Farm

Echinacea purpurea

The only plant that doesn’t have extras is the Purple Coneflower. Cultivator Catherine Johnson hopes to collect seeds from it to share next spring. 

A Hidden Visitor

by Donna Lewis

Camouflaged and silent…

I was out this beautiful morning cleaning and filling my hummingbird feeders. I finished with that, then filled up the ant moat which the chickadees drink from.

I was so shocked to see a very green tree frog not making a move in the crutch of the shepherd’s hook.

I had done all that work and sprayed with a water hose, and it never moved.  Boy was I both shocked and happy at the same time.   

While I was happy, I bet it was scared that I was a predator fixing to get him or her. It was a “Barking Treefrog”.  So wonderful to see.

Today was your lucky day, little one. A planet Earth person who loves nature was the one who found you. You made me smile. I guess we were both lucky today…