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Category: Wildlife


by Robinson

I have heard lots about eating ramps ever since I started paying attention to some food blogs this spring (I love Food in Jars and envy the genius of the blog title). I found G-N Ramp Farm, the world’s only ramp farm, online and might just order a pound for planting next spring to go with my planned stand of ferns for foraging fiddleheads. I have to wonder though, how do ramps fare around black walnuts?

black walnuts

by Robinson

Another step in what may become a lifelong effort to garden around and become friends with the black walnuts in my life. I bought one woodland poppy plant (Stylophorum diphyllum) while browsing the garden center yesterday. Mostly I bought it because I love the way it looks. I saw it last year but when I went back for it they were sold out, so, I grabbed it up as soon as I saw them this year. I suspected that it might be possible that a native, deep shade perennial might tolerate a little juglone in its life. I planted it today and will watch it closely for signs of toxicity. I also found another black walnut list that offers a little hope here and here. I also planted an oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) which I’m also hopeful about except that the ground has been pretty wet.

Euthanized Animals

by Scott Smith

BoingBoing points to this blog, whatikilledtoday, written by a vet tech that writes about the animals she has euthanized.

A sample–

A ferret with lymphoma, an adrenal tumor, and an insulinoma. She had no hair left and was covered in lymphatic lumps. She didn’t look like a mammal anymore. Nevertheless, her spirits were high and I fed her a hefty dose of Nutrical tasty goo before anesthetizing her.

I have long envied that euthanasia is an option for animals but not me (ignoring the option of sucide, of course). If I looked like that ferret, they would keep feeding fluids, waiting for ‘mother nature’ to end it. Horrible. 

Another Reason to Keep Ethanol Out of Your Gas Tank

by Scott Smith

Researchers have found 9,650 square miles of “dead zones,” or oxygen-depleted water, in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, the biggest area since tracking of the annual phenomenon began.

The Louisiana dead zone is caused mostly by nitrogen-based fertilizers carried by the Mississippi from America’s farm belt into the Gulf, she said. The nitrogen feeds the growth of algae, which depletes oxygen from the water.

Corn needs more fertilizer than other crops, which is probably why tests have found more nitrogen in the Mississippi this year, Rabalais said.

Reuters Article

Baby Robin

by Scott Smith

This morning when I took my compost out I found this little one perched on the ducks water tub.
I put it up in this tree after Jack discovered it and started chasing it around. Right after I did that I noticed a random tabby cat hanging around. He was probably not pleased that I put his morning snack out of reach.

Tufted Titmouse

by Scott Smith

I finally know what my ‘nuthatches’ are. They are Tufted Titmice.

After a renewed attempt to protect the babies from my dogs I sat to make sure the mama bird could get into her nest to feed her babies until she came back. I’m sad to say that my other attempts to protect the birds were less than successful, although the Tufted Titmouse has many predators and I couldn’t say for certain that my dogs are responsible. Two babies remain and I have made it so that it will be ‘uncomfortable’ for my dogs to continue their harassment of the birds.

Tufted Titmouse

Here’s an interesting fact: The Tufted Titmouse is protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act even though it is generally NOT a migratory bird (unless I misunderstand the definition of ‘migratory’). Individual birds tend to live out their short (about 2 years) lives within a couple of miles of their birth place. Fortunately the act doesn’t seem to cover unintended damage by pets, only the pursuit, hunting, taking, capturing or killing; attempting to take, capture or kill; possessing, offering to or sell, barter, purchase, deliver or cause to be shipped, exported, imported, transported, carried or received any migratory bird, part, nest, egg or product, manufactured or not.

Yet another interesting fact is that the Tufted Titmouse typically has two sets of babies each season. I really just hope that they are smart enough to move to a new nesting site before they have the next set.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Expansion of Territory
Field Guide to Birds of North America

Baby Birds

by Scott Smith

I went to check on the baby robins yesterday and found that all three had died in the nest. I don’t know what happened to them; they looked like they were asleep at first. There were a lot of ants in the nest which I assumed happened after the birds died but I wonder if its possible that the ants killed the babies. I noticed an ant hill under the tree and didn’t think anything of it before. I can only find information on fire ants (which I don’t think are in Michigan) killing nesting birds though so I don’t know.

Anyone else know?


by Scott Smith

We have lots of baby birds! I’m sure that there are even more that I don’t know about considering how wild some areas of our property are.

We have the hideously cute baby robins…

And the nuthatches (I think) that Meg won’t leave alone…

And here is my attempt to keep Meg from killing the birds and/or the tree…

Meg’s Tree

by Scott Smith

This is Meg’s tree. She likes it a lot. It’s always been her favorite resting-in-the-shade spot, but lately it’s REALLY her favorite.
I assumed maybe she’d chased something up the tree at some point that she was still looking for, but today I decided to investigate and found this hollow in the tree. When I peered in, something peered back out at me. I tried to get her picture but she was gone by the time I got back with the camera.
I think maybe it’s a nuthatch, but I’m not sure. I also think that the speckles on the eggs are actually crud that Meg has knocked onto the nest trying to get at it. I’ll have to do an internet investigation later.

ETA: I don’t think it is a red breasted nuthatch, but this website seems to support the possibility of a nuthatch. Apparently they build their nests in hollowed out trees and have white eggs with reddish speckles. I guess maybe that isn’t crud that Meg knocked down onto the eggs.


by Scott Smith