Put Nature on Your Shopping List


‘Tis the season to buy, give and give to charity, but when you shop (no matter what time of the year it is), put nature on your shopping list. Arrow down to see all the things you can buy that will help our environment. In addition, buy USDA meat because Brazil is tearing down the rain forest to create farms. This is vital habitat where many of our summer birds go for winter. It’s all about supply and demand. If we buy things that are beneficial to our planet, then manufacturers will stop making things that cause harm.

I got my Christmas gift early and probably from the dryer lint I put outside for bird nests. I had a bumblebee nest in my yard this summer. Bumblebees are efficient at cross-pollination because they flit from plant to plant. This feeding behavior is unlike the European Honeybee, which tends to nectar on the same plant before moving on. I can tell you firsthand that bumblebees are a gentle and non-aggressive ground nester. From what I’ve read about bumblebees, the queen in my yard nested in early spring in a well-camouflaged hole, already dug by a mouse or other small creature, which was located behind plants near the side of my house. She laid her first eggs, covered them probably with my dryer lint and sat on the lint to keep them warm. She laid more eggs as those eggs hatched, fed the newly-hatched worker bees and repeated this process.

I noticed more and more small, worker bumblebees in my yard during the summer. By early fall, I had several hundred bumblebees. It was easy to follow their trail as they gathered nectar and flew back to the nest to feed the queen. They flew right by me like I wasn’t there, and I watched them go into the hole one at a time. Then they went back out to gather more nectar, which you can see in my photo above. They even slept on the native plant blooms, and when they awoke in the morning, they went right to work. The queen never left the nest. I had friends over to see the flights, and no one was stung. The Humblebee Bumblebee book states that in the fall, two young, large female queens and two males fly great distances to find other bumblebee families and mate. All bees die except the young female queens, which over-winter by burrowing into the ground. In spring, they dig out to find another hole to start the entire process over again. I am honored to have provided a home for this family and am still in awe. You too can Help Bees in Your Yard.

Good news: Your wildlife-friendly yard makes a positive impact on our environment. No matter how large or small your yard is, it makes a big difference. I talked with Ohio Animal Companion about significant ways it helps. Read the good news.

Toni, Habitat Ambassador Volunteer, Please explore my website www.backyardhabitat.info

Tips for Your Yard

–  Live-cut Christmas trees can become the greatest gift to wildlife. They can provide quick cover in a corner of your backyard where birds and other wildlife can be safe from predators. If you prefer, you can also cut or chip them up for mulch or compost. Keep them out of our landfills, and don’t throw them in parks, where they can damage native plants
–  Buy locally harvested firewood (less than 50 miles away) because tree-killing insects and diseases are spread by moving wood – Notify your Dept. of Agriculture or Natural Resources if you spot infected trees – Asian Longhorned Beetle was just found in Ohio (again)
–  Winter is a great time to plant native seeds directly over the frozen ground or over snow
– Consider feeding birds in winter. A 3-year study in Wisconsin concluded that when temperatures fall below 10 degrees, Black-capped Chickadees without access to feeders have a 37% survival rate as opposed to a 69% survival rate for those able to use feeders
–  See what Cornell Labs recommends to feed common backyard birds
–  Add eggshells to food to help with digestion and provide extra calcium. Bake the shells at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, then grind them into small bits and put in bird food
–  Help scientists by counting birds in your own yard and reporting them to Cornell Lab’s Project FeederWatch
–  Put up bird houses and roosts for places birds can spend the cold winter nights
–  Deer bother some readers by eating their plants in winter, so put deterrents in your yard before the deer come to encourage them to go elsewhere. Try putting a barrier around the plants you want to protect by laying chicken wire flat (not standing up) because deer don’t like to get their hooves caught in it. If you want to try multiple methods, look for harmless ways on the Internet and be sure that they are water resistant
–  In icy conditions, use ice melters or sand because rock salt is toxic to plants, animals and waterways. Animals may accidentally ingest it or step on its jagged granules. It increases saline and reduces oxygen levels in local water
–  If the ground freezes, a Robin’s soft beak cannot break seeds or get to worms, and berries are scarce or frozen. To help, put ice-free water 10 to 15 feet from cover and cut up dried fruit, like raisins or currants. Keep the fruit dry, or it will freeze

Nature News

–  In winter, it’s easier to see beautiful birds. Call 1-800-WILDLIFE to receive a free copy of many Ohio birding resources
–  Edible Christmas Tree for Wildlife in Your Backyard
–  Make Suet Ornaments
–  Providing birds with cozy winter roosts

Ohio Events with Backyard Habitat Information

Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
–  Happy Holidays. See you next year

Other Ohio Nature Events

Please send your backyard conservation educational event with a link the month prior to the registration deadline (e.g. May 1 for June issue)
–  Reg by 12/5 for 12/12, Where is Away?, K-12 Educator, Fee incl breakfast, Columbus
–  12/14, Audubon at Home: Creating Your Own Seed Bombs, native plant seeds, Columbus
–  Reg now for 12/27, Wild in Winter Day Camp (Wildcare), Fee, Ohio Wildlife Center, Powell
–  12/28, Christmas with the Critters, Fee, Ohio Wildlife Center, Powell


Via Nature Scoop December 2016

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