Spring in the Pollinator Habitat!

Spring officially begins with the vernal equinox today.  We are so ready for spring weather.  Plants are just starting to green up in the habitat.  The purple poppy mallow is starting to grow.  All winter I have kept the sunflower seed bird feeders and finch sock feeders filled for our habitat bird population.  We have seen northern cardinal, American goldfinch, purple finch and dark-eyed junco visiting our feeders. In the evenings, raccoons, skunks, rabbits and deer have been seen on our live cam.  We are pleased so much wildlife is visiting our habitat.  We look forward to seeing our insect pollinators soon.

MJ

Purple poppy mallow growing in the habitat.

Purple poppy mallow growing in the habitat.

Habitat view and bird feeders in early February.

Habitat view and bird feeders in early February.

Are You Working on Your Native Bee Nest Boxes?

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

Now’s a great time to be working on your native bee nesting blocks and insect hotels. Make your structures simple or complex, basic or creative. The native bees won’t care – you’ll just want to provide a variety of hole sizes in the blocks or tubes you provide.

Check out Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape. This resource also includes directions on how to make native bee nesting blocks. Once you’ve made your nesting blocks/structures, you can set those out in your landscape this spring.

Speaking of spring…It won’t be long and we’ll start to see “spring” in the Cherry Creek Habitat. You can enjoy the seasons with us on the live cam. The native bee nesting box structure and insect hotel are on the north side of the habitat – near the back of the camera view. Enjoy – watch live here.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

New Year Resolution

Here is a new year resolution I plan to keep.  Plant more native plants. We have over 3o native plants growing in our habitat.  We hope to plant more this spring. Here is a list of a few that we have growing.  Hope it will inspire you to plant more natives this year.

Smooth aster in the habitat.

Smooth aster in the habitat.


Pasque flower Anemone patens
Butterfly milkweed Asclepias tuberosa
Common milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Whorled milkweed Asclepias verticillata
Swamp milkweed Asclepias incarnata
Pitcher sage Salvia azurea
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea
Plains coreopsis Coreopsis tinctoria
Smooth aster Aster laevis
Spiked gayfeather Liatris spicata
Rough gayfeather Liatris aspera
Dotted gayfeather Liatris punctata
Thickspike gayfeather Liatris pycnostachya
Common yarrow Achillea millefolium
Hoary vervain Verbena stricta
Purple poppy mallow Callirhoe involucrata
Prairie aster Aster turbinellus

Happy New Year!

MJ

Butterfly Byway in Nebraska!

Butterfly Byway poster by Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.

Butterfly Byway poster by Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.

I received an early Christmas present from my husband.  I framed this fabulous poster and hung it in my office.  I love that our state is promoting the great assets we have here in Nebraska. Assets that have always been here and will continue to be here if we are good stewards. There are 12 posters in the collection.  Go to Visit The Prairie at http://visittheprairie.com/ to see the collection and order a poster or postcards.  My husband picked up my poster at Hardin Hall here in Lincoln (33rd & Holdrege). The Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition is committed to promoting environmental conservation and building thriving communities through nature-based tourism in the Great Plains. The Coalition includes both non-profit and for-profit members and is coordinated by staff at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

MJ

Sunflower Seed Feeders for the Habitat

Today sunflower seed bird feeders were placed in the habitat.  Soni found sturdy metal brackets to hold the bird feeders I obtained for the habitat.  Chris installed the brackets on our blue pole and helped me hang the feeders after I filled them with sunflower seeds. Thank you Chris! The cardinals, juncos and other birds in the area will appreciate the feeders this winter.

MJ

Sunflower seed feeders added to habitat.

Sunflower seed feeders added to habitat.

Close up view of sunflower seed feeder.

Close up view of sunflower seed feeder.

Give Thanks to Pollinators

As we sit down with family and friends to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal, we need to remember one out of every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators.

A list of just a few pollinated foods:

Cranberries-pollinated by over 40 native bees and bumblebees

Pumpkin-squash and gourd bees, bumblebees

Apples-honey bee, blue mason orchard bees

Cherry-solitary bees, bumblebees, honey bees

Blueberries-bees, bumblebees

Raspberries-bees, bumblebees, flies

Melons-bees

Vanilla-bees

Coffee-bees and flies

Chocolate-bees and flies

MJ

Bumble Bee

Bumblebees pollinate pumpkins and cherries.

Nature’s birdfeeders

Rudbeckia flower heads provide food for birds in the winter.

Rudbeckia flower heads provide food for birds in the winter.

Leave seed heads standing in the landscape over the winter.  The dried seed heads of flowers like purple coneflower, Rudbeckia and sunflowers are nature’s birdfeeders. Junco and cardinals have been visiting the habitat and eating sunflower seeds. We have three squirrels that visit too.  If you have pumpkins left over from a fall display, put them outside for wildlife.  Squirrels and deer will be happy to feed on them.

MJ

Thank you Gary

This week our UNL Extension unit leader in Lancaster County Gary Bergman is retiring. We want to thank him for his years of leadership and support for creating the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. After Soni and I returned from attending BOW-Becoming an Outdoor Woman in the fall of 2012, we were inspired to build a structure for pollinators and beneficial insects. We approached Gary about this project, explained our idea and its educational value. As we looked over a possible location, it became clear that we had available space behind the Extension office. The area was large enough to plant a pollinator habitat too and Gary was immediately supportive of the idea. He encouraged us to develop a plan and share it with the Extension Board members. Along the way he has helped with design ideas and always encouraged us to expand our vision. We have been grateful for Gary’s support and the opportunity to create a habitat that is educational to people and beneficial to pollinators.
MJ

Gary helping with the first truck load of soil for the new habitat in May 2013.

Gary helping with the first truck load of soil for the new habitat in May 2013.

What’s in Your Habitat?

Tiger lilies in my landscape that will be replaced with pollinator plants.

Tiger lilies in my landscape that will be replaced with pollinator plants.


Your yard is a habitat.  Many insects and animals live there even if you do not notice them. Consider planting more native plants for pollinators. Fall is a great time to evaluate your landscape and plan for next year. Take time to walk through your yard and evaluate each plant. For some of us that will take a while. While you are looking, ask yourself these questions. Is the plant healthy? Has it out grown its location? Do I have to use pesticides to keep it healthy and disease free? Is it a good pollinator plant? Is it invasive? Is it a water hog? Do I even like this plant? Where did that come from?

This spring, summer and fall I have asked myself these same questions as I walk through my landscape. I had a shrub that had a lot of winter damage. I removed it and was amazed at how it opened up the yard. It was in a prime, full sun location. In another part of the yard I have tiger lilies. Their pollen stains my clothes and I avoid them when they are blooming. These two areas will be planted with native perennials and other plants beneficial to our pollinators. I am still working on my list, but common milkweed and Culver’s root have already been planted. I know I need more early spring and early August blooming plants. It is important for pollinators to have plants blooming April through October. I am excited at the opportunity to plan these new garden areas and it will help me survive another cold Nebraska winter.

MJ

Common milkweed planted where I took out shrub that had severe winter injury.

Common milkweed planted where I took out shrub that had severe winter injury.

Fall in the Habitat

We have been enjoying beautiful fall days this week in the pollinator habitat.  Chris helped me unload another truck load of bark.  Thank you Chris and I promise this is the last load for this year. Soni and I spread the bark and placed new pavers, donated by Jim.  The pavers make it easier to walk through our dry stream bed that was added for erosion control and direct foot traffic through the habitat.  I planted the seeds of native plants that we have collected this month. We also have planted several trees. Redbud, oak and spruce trees will benefit all wildlife when they mature.

MJ

View of habitat in the fall.

View of habitat in the fall.

New paver walkway.

New paver walkway.

Praying mantis in container flowers looking for next meal.

Praying mantis in container flowers looking for next meal.