Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baby Bluebird That Couldn't Fly

As I was walking back to the house at almost dark I saw this baby hopping around the base of a tree which was near the mealworm feeder. Thank goodness I watched him more and then realized he couldn't fly. He was from the 5 babies that fledged on August 27th. I saw most of the family hovering around waiting for mealworms everyday, but never saw them all together since the babies were usually up in the trees. Oh what a panic, it was late and had to rescue him because of not only a stray cat that had been showing up, but other predators could have gotten him. Placed him in a tub, fed him some mealworms and then called the greatest person in the world...........Mary Jane. She has a wildlife rehabilitation center which is almost an hour from my house. Rushed this baby there the next day after work. I hope he will be able to fly, so I can go and retrieve him and place him back here with his family.

The Skyes Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is located in Western Pennsylvania, which does not receive any State or Federal aid, only donations from people who of course love wildlife. Weekly dozens of injured wildlife are brought to this center. I try to give as much as I can. It just breaks your heart to see these injured animals. Mary Jane is so wonderful to work around the clock caring for them. The site is:

The parents of this baby had a very bad time nesting this year. First they had their nest already built in the regular bluebird box and a male house sparrow fought with them all day long, he wanted the box, after of course they built the nest inside. If there were eggs or babies in the box, and the parents couldn't fight off the house sparrow, he would kill and toss out the eggs and babies.

Finally the pair went to a bird house which is not a bluebird house, which I have to fix now from predators. The babies were growing and being fed by the parents, and the most horrific thing happened.....a raccoon came and ate the babies. From there the parents went to my neighbors bluebird box which I purchased for them last year. Five eggs were laid and I when I monitored the box, the day the babies hatched I was able to calculate when they would fledge. And they did, exactly the day I guessed, August 27th.

This little bird needs lots of prayers. With the invasion of HOUSE SPARROWS aka English Sparrows and losing their natural habitat to build nests, the bluebirds need human help to keep reproducing so we can not only enjoy them, but they also are wonderful for insect control, not house sparrows.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hot Pepper Spray

Tent Worms on Hydrangea Paniculata

Many of the trees were affected this year by the Tent worms/caterpillars. I don't use any type of chemicals outside so I hand picked some of these worms, then placed them in soapy water and used a hot pepper spray also. Birds have no taste so this wouldn't harm them. I find it difficult to understand that they have no taste when it comes to the favorite seeds some of them prefer. 

Caribbean Red Habanero

I have some varieties of hot peppers which I planted for my son-in-law. Happy to find out they will serve greatly in making the spray. A Scoville Heat Index can be found on the internet which is a measurement of the hotness of peppers. These Habanero's have a heat unit of 445,000, ferociously hot! Compared to the Jalapeno at 5,000; the Cayenne pepper at 60,000 and the hot banana at 500. I put these peppers in the blender, and then strained them through a coffee filter, added water also in the spray bottle. You can also add a little dish soap to help the liquid to stick on the leaves. I did notice the worms did curl up and die, but had to really douse the leaves.

Tiny Tree Frog

This little Tree Frog was barely a half inch wide sitting on the ornamental grass. I sure hope the hot pepper spray didn't affect him. But better he would get a hot mouth instead of chemicals on my plants. The chemicals are destroying not only the wildlife but the human race.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tree Swallow

This is the father Tree Swallow who perched on a dead Castor Bean stalk in May keeping watch over the mother and her babies located about 50 feet away in a Bluebird house attached to the back on my shed. It states that the male will stay faithfully the whole time at a distance of 50 feet. It was so true. I could get about 3 feet from him, forgetting he was there until he chirped a soft murmur sound. These swallows are the first to return in the Spring. The male will arrive about a week before the female. They are cavity nesting birds and will use woodpecker holes or houses. They will use Bluebird houses which can be placed close by to nesting Bluebirds. But of course they can be prey by the House Sparrow which could kill their babies. Luckily all of the babies survived. I had 7 babies that when they fledged, all came out and perched atop my tomato stakes. It was such a site........of course I never have my camera with me.

They are described as glossy metallic Iridescent blue-green color on their backs, with a forked tail. One of my favorite birds, which catch their prey in the air, they only eat the flying insects and will eat berries when those are not available. In long periods of rain the flying insects are scarce and they can actually starve. After their nest is built they line it will large feathers, it almost looks like the eggs and babies are nestled in a cocoon. The eggs are white and sometimes have a pinkish color to them, they lay 4 to 7 eggs. Of course I forgot to take a picture when I cleaned out their house. I was amazed at the large white feathers, they must have traveled a distance to get those, the only chickens and ducks are quite a distance down the road.

I enjoyed the flock of these birds all Summer while they flew and dived around catching the bugs. I think they have already headed South. They usually migrate in early Fall. Can't wait until they return.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wildlife Kept Me Busy

Baby Bunnies

First thing in the Spring as I was walking past my raised beds couldn't believe these baby bunnies were nesting here. Right out in the open to be a feast for the hawks or other predators. I went and barricaded them and knew it was not going to help. Mother rabbit came later on that night and moved them. With all the thickets and briars close by I find it hard to understand how these rabbits can be so stupid.

This new nest of bunnies was only found because every time I let the 4 dogs out in the back yard, 2 of them ran to the fence and kept trying to dig under the fence. Had no idea what they were doing as it seemed they were going crazy to get at something. I walked around the outside of the fence and found this bunny nest. Oh my heavens, another stupid mother rabbit. One foot from the fence in the open grass she dug her hole and had her babies. The only thing I could do was barricade on the inside of the fence with cement blocks and a large ladder so the dogs would not get a tunnel dug and reach the bunnies. On the outside of the fence I had just placed a pile of straw nearby in case the mother wanted to cover the hole better. She did use the straw, but after a few more days of the dogs constantly trying to dig, she gave up and moved her babies.

It is so important to look around your yard for signs of nests. The poor bunnies get killed with lawnmowers, cats and other predators so often. I have huge dense gardens that I hope they would use in order to stay safe and help themselves to all the extra vegetables I plant.

One Baby Robin

Only one baby robin in this nest. The only reason I was able to get a picture so close-up was because this mother robin made a nest in a shrub 3 feet off the ground. What a terrible place this was. I had to warn everyone not to walk near there and plus keep the dogs away. Always worried this baby would have been killed by the House Sparrows aka English Sparrows. Perhaps that is what happened to the other eggs. But eventually this baby grew and saw it many times near my gardens with its mother. I had many robin eggs destroyed again this year by those horrible House Sparrows. When those sparrows tried to take over the Bluebird boxes and then laid they eggs, I would monitor those boxes weekly and destroy their eggs. House Sparrows kill too many of our native birds. This is the second year in a row that my friend's baby Bluebirds were killed by a male House Sparrow.

Green Horned Caterpillar

I had quite a few of these Caterpillars on my tomato plants again this year. I felt a little guilty that I fed them to my Bullfrogs and also placed a large deep dish near the Robin's nest and fed them. The Caterpillar is hard to see on the plants since he blends in so well. They are usually found clinging to the underside of the leaf. A sign to spot him easily is to locate his large droppings found on the leaves underneath him. 

A Very Large Snakeskin

Oh what a shock early one morning!! As I went to turn on the hose, something didn't look normal. I stood back and had to let my brain register what I was looking at. This was a snakeskin over 3 feet long and when I pulled the rest of it out of the hole, it showed the snake was coming out of my house. 7 a.m. I was screaming at my family that they better start cleaning up the basement, because of all of the wonderful hiding places these creatures would have. Last year I had a large nest of baby milk snakes in the basement. I never kill snakes, I just relocate them. The last small one I found I took him down the road to a cemetery, actually let him loose by my grandparents grave. The only reason I do not want snakes in my gardens is because they eat my toads and frogs. Snakes are truly helpful for gardeners to control slugs, mice, moles, etc. But I love my toads and frogs too much to have them live here. Don't know what became of this large snake, the dogs are always near this area.