Mockingbird Romance

by Betty Struckhoff

Deciduous holly leaves and berries

Ilex decidua

Yesterday morning I was stretching in my favorite spot at my gym, next to a second story window overlooking some Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua).  A mockingbird was nestled in the branches full of fresh new leaves.  Finally she poked her head up and opened her mouth like a baby bird.  A male came and nuzzled her, then flitted among the branches and came back with one of last year’s berries still on the bush and fed her.  He repeated this another time and then flew across the street to perch in a tree.

What a delightful vignette of spring!  Do you suppose the aged berries are like fine wine?

Pollinators in Early Spring

by Bill Hoss

Hover fly

Some Hover flies mimic stinging wasps

With many trees and flowers blooming so early in 2012, I been wondering what bees, butterflies and flies people are seeing.  By middle to late March I was already seeing a Spicebush swallowtail, one of the smaller sulphurs, a Cabbage White and a couple Pearl crescents in my yard visiting early the bloomers.  Honey bees, one species of bumble bee Bombus bimaculatus, the large carpenter bee Xylocopa virginica and one species of hover fly were also in evidence.  What I wasn’t seeing were the small native bees.  I had heard or read somewhere that while plants were triggered by temperature, most pollinators were triggered by the length of daylight and as a result, there might be lower pollination of early bloomers.

Hackberry is Berrying!

By Amy Redfield

Last spring I planted a new shade tree – a hackberry, Celtis occidentalis. Thanks to some pretty intensive babying – slow soaker watering every other day for that entire dry and hot summer – I’ve been rewarded with hackberries!

green berries on a hackberry tree

Hackberry trees are among the best food and shelter plants for wildlife, and support five species of butterflies. And those berries? In the fall the birds go bananas for them!