Enjoying Nature

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

One of my very favorite birds is the mourning dove, Zenaida macroura. I counted forty-six of them a few minutes ago as they flew back and forth to our platform feeder, perched in the trees, and picked up pieces of corn and sunflower seeds off the ground. We feed them cracked corn, black sunflower seeds, and white millet, and the amount they can consume in a day is quite amazing. Many of the birds have become so used to us they will eat from our hands.

This Really Makes Me Angry

I have decided not to buy any of the mixed bird seed this year after reading about the lawsuit against the Scotts Miracle-Gro company and the toxic pesticides they knowingly put in their wild bird seed a few years ago. They have since admitted that they coated their seed mixes with pesticides to protect the seeds during storage… and these were extremely toxic pesticides that they knew would kill the birds.

And That’s a Warning We Take Very Seriously!

Almost every evening for several days now we’ve been watching three tiny baby skunks as we work in the garden. Two are mostly white except for black markings on their faces, and the third baby has the more usual black-and-white skunk coloration. They are about the size of six-week-old kittens, and they’re just adorable! They’re also very playful and roll and crawl all over each other as they nose around looking for something interesting to eat.

Can Toads Climb Trees?

“Can ordinary garden toads climb trees? I know I have seen them climbing trees but I can’t find any information to back that up. The toads we have are toads, not tree frogs and they do not have any kind of flat suction pads on their toes. These are just ordinary garden toads and their feet have claws.”

White-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

One of my favorite birds to watch is the white-breasted nuthatch, Sitta carolinensis. These small, delicate looking songbirds have a very large head, a long bill that turns up slightly at the end, and a short tail. They have a solid white breast, jet black eyes, and a completely white face except for a thin dark line at the outside corner of each eye. They have bluish-grey feathers on their backs, a black or grey cap, and they often have areas of a rich chestnut color under their tails. White-breasted nuthatches are the largest nuthatches in North America.

Just Passing Through… We Hope!

Almost as soon as the ice and snow melted off our small pond this spring, we noticed that the pond’s usual crystal clear water was now always slightly muddy.

A Life Worth Saving

Yesterday morning I was watching my husband drive our small tractor over the bridge that crosses the brook in our meadow. It’s a sturdy little bridge made of small logs and planks, but it flexes when anything heavy goes over it, and this morning as the planks shifted I saw something small, dark, and furry drop from the underside of the bridge into the water. The water in this brook is quite deep with many strong currents, and this little furry something was immediately swept downstream. I could see it struggling furiously as it got further and further away, but its struggles clearly were no match for the force of the water.

Why Bumblebees Buzz

I always thought the loud bumblebee buzz was the sound of the bee’s wings beating. Not so!

It Just Doesn’t Stop Growing…

A week ago, I noticed what looked like a small white egg lying at the base of one of our garden stone walls. A closer look showed that the egg was actually an almost perfectly round white mushroom. I have never seen anything grow so fast…

Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus americanus)

The Eastern American toad (Bufo americanus americanus… bufo is Latin for toad) is usually some shade of brown, but colors can vary from olive to tan to gray to red and can change depending on the toad’s surroundings and age. Eastern American toads are short and broad, from two to around four inches long, and have a wide head and short, muscular legs.