New Year Journaling Plans

Happy New Year!

This year I want to keep a journal of the insects, animals and blooming plants I see in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. There are many ways to keep a nature or field journal. It can be easy as a note book and pencil. You may decide to sketch or use watercolors to paint what you see. Try to make an entry at least once a week and have a much detail as possible. Make a list of animals or insects in your habitat, what plants are coming up or blooming, what the weather is like or when you see the first queen bumble bee. Keep track of the first tree frog call or cicada. Plan to spend some time in your habitat just observing. When the weather is a little warmer, sit outside and just watch. It is amazing what you see.

Keep your journal near the door or by your garden shoes, so you remember to grab it as you go out the door. Take pictures and use them to identify what insects and plants you see.  I keep a journal each year for my home gardens and pollinator habitat. I like to look back at past years to see when the snowdrops bloomed or saw the first monarch for the year. This is a fun project for kids too. It is a great way to get them outside and see nature around them.

MJ Frogge

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Bird Feeders

Today was a nice and sunny day to hang our bird feeders in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We have American goldfinch, northern cardinals and dark-eyed juncos visit our habitat.  It is important to leave native grasses and plant cover for them during the winter months.

MJ Frogge

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Snow!

Snow has come early to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We usually have a long fall season, but not this year. We have had three snow storms and more is predicted for the weekend. We have good cover in the habitat for wildlife and many plant stalks with seed heads for seed eating birds. The habitat is still an active place in the winter.

MJ Frogge

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Tracks in the Snow

After a fresh snow fall, I like to visit the pollinator habitat to see who has been visiting. It is often obvious when you view the tracks from the night before. I found many bird tracks around the feeders. At least one rabbit had passed through. The deer tracks were interesting to look at.  I could see where it was entering and exiting the habitat. I also added my own tracks.

MJ Frogge

Feeding Birds

The Cherry Creek Habitat hosts many American Goldfinch. I placed three sock feeders for them in our mature trees that border the habitat. I also hung the sunflower seed bird feeder for our seed eating birds. We often see Dark-eyed Junco and Northern Cardinals in or near the habitat.

M J Frogge

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from all of us here at Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County!

Today, we recycled the fall decorations from our office by placing them into the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It will be fun to watch the wildlife on the live camera as they check out the pumpkins, squash and cornstalks. You can watch at http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml

While working around the insect hotel, I noticed an opossum has been raiding the black oil sunflower seeds, chewing the seeds up and then regurgitating almond-sized pellets or “nuggets”. People sometimes notice these same pellets around bird feeders and aren’t sure what they are! Now, you know!

To learn how to create your own pollinator-friendly habitat, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml.

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

“For the golden corn
and the apples on the tree,
For the golden butter
and honey for our tea;
For fruits and nuts and
berries, that grow
beside the way
For birds and bees and
flowers, we give thanks
every day”
–author unknown

She’s a Killer, a Cicada Killer

You may see one of these amazing wasp on one of the flowering plants in your garden. Learn more about Nebraska’s largest wasp.

Home Wise! Family Smart!

The annual or dog-day cicadas are back for their free daily concerts which I call, “The Sound of Summer”. Anyone who isn’t familiar with the cicada sounds, can look and listen to this video that I took of a cicada over the long weekend.

This post isn’t about the cicada, but a predator of the cicada called the cicada killer wasp. They are out and about right now, scaring homeowners who are concerned about being stung by these huge wasps.

Cicada killer wasp is a large wasp on sedum Cicada killer wasp is a large (up to 2″ long), black wasp with bright yellow markings on the abdomen. Adult wasps feed on nectar and larvae feed on cicadas.

The cicada killer is the largest species of wasp in Nebraska. They are sometimes mistaken for killer bees, yellow jackets or hornets but they are a type of solitary wasp. Solitary wasps do not live in large colonies with multiple individuals…

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Hummingbirds: Feathered Pollinators

Home Wise! Family Smart!

HummingbirdSheri1In the continental United States, hummingbirds are key in wildflower pollination. Source: USDA Forest Service

Late this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a tiny hummingbird dodging rain and fighting wind to check out my feeder – no nectar! I rushed in the kitchen and made a batch of nectar (the nectar recipe is below). Once the nectar was cool, I put on a poncho, rain boots and headed out to fill the feeder. Thankfully, she came back.

Hummingbirds are fascinating! Enlist the help of the entire family to attract these tiny birds to your landscape.

Spring migration occurs from mid-April through May. This time of year, hummingbirds move through the area pretty quickly so visits to your feeders may be brief. We’re lucky in eastern Nebraska because some folks have Ruby-throated hummingbirds all summer long.

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Bird Feeders

Today I placed our sunflowers seed bird feeders and thistle seed feeder in the habitat.  First, I cleaned and disinfected our bird feeders.  It is important to do this to prevent the spread of bird diseases. Take a minute to read over these recommendations of feeder maintenance and hygiene by Audubon.

MJ

Disinfect your feeder and birdbath: To keep pathogens at bay, immerse your seed feeder or birdbath in a nine to one water-bleach solution, rinsing it thoroughly, one to two times per month. In the presence of outbreaks, disinfect twice as often.
Empty water from your birdbath every day: Brush or wipe it clean and rinse, then refill the birdbath with fresh water.
Discard old seed and hulls: When you clean your feeder, get rid of the old seed. Rake or sweep up any uneaten hulls on the ground. The disease-causing Trichomonad protozoan, for example, can live for up to five days in food and several hours in water.
Avoid overcrowding: If possible, provide more than one feeder and spread them out. Crowding only expedites the spread of disease, so give the birds variety and plenty of room. Source: Audubon