Sandhill Crane Chick

moon phase Week of 06/22/2008 Favorable time for planting late root crops. Also good for vine crops. Set strawberry plants.

Raccoons learn quickly how to follow the scent of a human, because it often leads to something to eat. My daily path to the bird feeders leaves a scent that leads the coons to a tasty treat of bird seed. There's really nothing that can be done about it, it's something I just have to live with but keep in mind. There are places that I walk where I don't want the coons to follow. The solution for me? Don't go near these places. For example, there are several brush piles on the property, and the birds often build their nests concealed deep in the protection of the branches. I always try to avoid getting too close to these piles of sticks during the nesting season. I rarely go near a bird house during this time for the same reason—I don't want to leave a scent trail for a predator to follow. It doesn't make sense to me to provide a place for the birds, only to put them in jeopardy by inviting trouble to follow me.

Sandhill Crane Chick

It's a Bluejay's nature to hoard and stockpile food, even in the summer. It's a little hard to swallow when you watch a Bluejay fill his crop with sunflower seeds, then fly off to hide them, over and over. I try not to think of the price of the sunnies these days. One jay in particular is a little more industrious at doing this than some of his brethren. Yesterday, I counted as he picked up 126 seeds and flew off to hide them. Only 60 seconds passed before he was back for more.

The same rules apply to bird seed as the bird houses I put out. It's a first come, first serve rule, with no preferences given to who gets the house or the seed.

I heard the call of a Cuckoo just before dark last night. I didn't get a look at him, but hopefully he will stick around so I see him from time to time. They are good to have around if your fruit trees have the webby nests of tent caterpillars. Cuckoos are one of only a few birds who will eat furry caterpillars.

It seemed like forever for the bed of fragrant, lavender Irises to bloom. The first ones appeared on Tuesday as well as a few bright, red Poppies. The Poppies provide a "quick fix" of color in the yard, one I look forward to each Spring. The trouble is, they don't last very long, so I enjoy them while I can.

Most of the perennials in the yard and garden bloom in mid to late summer, so there isn't much here right now for the Hummingbirds. The reason I haven't seen many hummers yet is because they go where the flowers are. They look for wildflowers where ever they can find them—in the woods, meadows, stream banks, marshes, and roadsides. The Hummingbirds can get lots of nectar from Spring wildflowers, and they also supplement their diets with small insects. I've learned to be patient where the Hummingbirds are concerned. I know they will come when the Bee-balm blooms; they always do.

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