Checking the Martins after Five Days of Rain

by Donna Lewis

The purple martins at my property had just started laying eggs the last time I checked them. So I knew they should have babies anytime now.

After the f days of rain, I knew I needed to check to see if water had gotten into any of the gourds. A wet nest can be deadly for birds.

Checking the gourds

The first thing I do is gather everything I might need to clean and replace wet nesting material. You should always clean the site and not throw  anything on the ground. All that does is alert snakes that there is food up the pole.

So, nesting material, recording paper, a sack to put debris in, and clean towels to wipe out the gourd should be taken with you as you go to the housing. You don’t want to have to run back to get something. It’s best to not lower their housing for longer than 30 minutes at best, especially when they are feeding young.

All my material is gathered

As I thought, there were eggs in three gourds and young in the other nine gourds.

New life

YEAH!!!!!  How exciting! I love babies. Sadly one of the gourds with eggs had gotten a lot of water in it.  The nest was wet and not fit for the martins. The eggs were cold. I had to remove everything, clean it and put in fresh pine needles.  It is possible that the martin might lay a second set, but not probable. 

I measured one of the oldest healthy babies to be five days old.  Now I will know when I should check on them again.

Babies!

A wonderful day.

Blue Birds Hitting Window Panes

by Donna Lewis

The second week of May brought an issue up at my house that I have not had before.  Blue birds hitting my windows trying to catch insects. I was worried they would hurt their beaks and my window panes.

I tried putting objects in front of the window, placing furniture inside of the house that showed thru, decals made just for this purpose and just waiting outside to scare the birds away. All with no luck.   The pounding went on all day.

Then Linda remembered that we had saved some plastic construction fencing from when our house was built.   Strong and lightweight. So we put some up around the house and it worked.

Bird Proofed!

I don’t know what was different this year that caused the birds to do this, I just hope it doesn’t happen again.

Shutting that one blind helped, too.

Stinging Nettle, Not Your Friend

by Donna Lewis

Ouch!!

This week, I bare handedly pulled what I thought was a little weed in my garden. Hot Dog!!!  The little beauty was a stinging nettle plant  (Urtica dioica).   

Stinging nettle. The owie plant.

Stinging doesn’t really describe it; it’s more like intense pain instantly!!  The family and genus comes from the Latin uro which means “I burn”.

Being a Master Naturalist, I try not to label anything a “weed.” Everything has a purpose for someone. Nettle plants actually have a lot of good things nature and humans can use them for. Here are some examples:

  • This nettle is the host plant for the Red Admiral and Question Mark butterflies.
  • It makes a soothing tea. 
  • Parts of it are edible when cooked properly.

The stinging nettle is not to be confused with the larger Bull Nettle, which also has redeeming qualities, like beautiful white flowers.

But, beware to handle it with care. Some leather gloves might help.

I bet, at least for a while, I will be more careful.

PS: This post was from the end of April, but your blogger has had some issues getting posts done. Time to catch up!

Earth Day 2021

by Donna Lewis

The beginning of this movement…

On April 22, 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson decided to do something about global pollution of our air, water, and land.

He knew that college students were the best ones to embrace this call to action.

Since then over 20 million Americans have demonstrated and worked towards saving this planet.

The work goes on.

As Master Naturalists we also work towards protecting our natural resources.

So put our planet in your thoughts,

Put it in your hearts,

Then put all that into action.

We have to succeed for every living thing.

By the way,  I was in college  in 1970, and proudly attended one of the first Earth Day Events, along with 3,000 other students.

Donna’s Garden, Early April

by Donna Lewis

As promised, I am taking photos of my pollinator garden every month or so.

The “Uri” storm or as I called it “The Arctic Beast” pretty much took a terrible toll on the garden. I was very upset about it. I understand that nature has its own way.

Nothing could stop the verbena!

The garden, along with so many animals and plants could not stand 10 days of freezing weather.    Many were lost to it. 

I and many others put out tons of extra bird seed. I know it helped some of the birds. I tried to keep water for them also. You have to do what you can.

Plants are returning! And there’s water for the birds.

So for the last couple of weeks, I have been trimming and cutting back all the dead plants in the garden. I’m using lots of love and TLC to bring it back for all the bees, birds, and butterflies that come to it. It has been a slow process.

It’s nice to see something green again.

But the very reason we try to get people to plant native plants is that they are tough and hard to kill. I am seeing green leaves and little buds everywhere. It makes me happy to see it and know that nature is very resilient. 

Looking healthy!

The monarchs are still coming through now. I hope I will have something blooming soon for them.   As Master Naturalists, we never give up trying to save our beautiful planet filled with amazing animals and a green paradise of plants.

As my favorite saying goes…

…we were not born to do everything,  but to do something.