April in Bloom!
So many beautiful natives are blooming now, here are a few.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) have been feeding bumble bees and offer nectar to butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. Some blooms are decidedly pink, a natural variation in color determined by a higher pH in the soil.
Red Buckeye blossoms (Aesculus pavia) are opening and beckon Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, due to arrive any day!
Eastern Redbuds are at their peak, attracting tiny pollinators.
This plant takes many forms, and though not blooming, it pays to be aware of it and give it a wide berth. Do you know it? Poison Ivy! (Toxicodendron radicans) "Leaves of three, let it be!" (Not good for us, however, it does attract insects and provides berries, both food for birds.)
Tiny native mining bees (Andrena spp.) are ground nesters and pollinators of Blue Violets. I finally took time to watch them go head first down into the flower to gather pollen, then back out quickly and fly to another.
One breezy day, I followed a small Black Swallowtail to where it landed and sheltered out of the wind, on a Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum).
An immature accipiter came into the woodland on 4/1/23 and stayed on this branch for just over an hour, likely digesting a meal. It gave me time to study it and identify it as a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
It is in the same family as the Cooper's Hawk, and this composite photo shows how similar and confusing they can be. The Sharp-shinned are migrating through in April, whereas the Cooper's are year-round residents. A pair has begun a nest in a white pine in an adjacent yard. Birds will need to be on alert now.
Eastern Bluebirds have been busy and now have five eggs in their nest. The female takes very quick breaks to come and get a drink while the male watches the nest box.
Carolina Chickadees also keep close to their nest box. Soon, they'll be bringing inchworms and tiny moths to feed their young.
We moved box #2 to a different location. There has been interest by another pair of bluebirds and this Downy Woodpecker.
This female Downy Woodpecker was not pleased with that male. "Mine!" We have at least two pair of this species around, there's always competition for food and nesting sites.
Mourning Doves display affection for each other throughout their courtship period, and they mate for life. They seem very comfortable here.
The first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the year popped in at the bubbler on 4/7/23. It was a quick look around.
Just the other day on 4/13/23, our FOY #58 Yellow-rumped Warbler finally showed up at the sump puddle in the swampy thicket. It was not seen again. I've also heard Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Northern Parula singing, but no photo opportunities as yet. Birds are in a big hurry right now! Here's a look at peak migration dates. Global Big Day is Saturday, May 13, 2023. Birds will be moving through for the next six weeks.
Migration Map courtesy Cornell Lab
Our sanctuary is feeding residents and ready to welcome the migrating birds! Is yours?
Thanks to everyone who watched my program in the Partners for Native Landscaping Series.
There are a few in-person events yet on the schedule.
Find a way to get more native plants into your landscapes, help regenerate diversity and get on the map!