A Touch of Nature – 02/15/02 – The Herbs Place

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A TOUCH OF NATURE
February 15, 2002 Issue

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This newsletter is sponsored by The Herbs Place.com.

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DONNA’S COMMENTS
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*BLUEBIRDS WILL BE NESTING SOON!*

We’re half way through February and in many places we’ll soon be seeing Spring popping up and out all over. If you want to provide some nesting boxes for bluebirds, it’s time to get them up. They need to be up by the end of February for the first nesters. Bluebirds nest early in areas around open fields, pastures, golf courses, cemeteries, gardens, and large lawns. These areas usually provide plenty of insects to eat. Avoid areas that use insecticides since it kills off the food supply or the bluebirds when they eat ones with insecticide.

Place boxes 4-6 feet above the ground and 50-100 yards apart. Face the boxes south or southeast, if possible. Select places where trees, shrubs, utility wires, or fences are within 25-100 feet of the boxes for perches while feeding and for first flights of the young birds. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and wrens may use your boxes, but they are also beneficial for keeping the insect population under control and should be welcomed.

*BIRD COUNT BEGINS TODAY – JOIN IN ON THE FUN!*

The Backyard Bird Count will take place February 15-18, 2002. Count the birds you see at your backyard feeder, local park, or other area and log them into the BirdSource database, managed by the Lab and the Nat’l Audubon Society.

*DO YOU LIVE OR SPEND TOURIST DOLLARS IN MISSOURI?*
I was so shocked to read of the news that deer are being killed so inhumanely in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has granted permits, to residents of communities with an over-population of deer, that allow them to trap deer and then kill them with a bolt pistol which is particularly difficult to use effectively while an animal is struggling and terrified. Wildlife protectionists across the country are concerned that MDC’s decision to sanction the use of this device by homeowners is a terrible precedent to establish. What a horrible and cruel method! All I can think about are children who might witness this.

The Humane Society of the United States has been doing research on humane methods and have several established deer immunocontraception field sites, including locations in New York, Maryland, and Ohio. The email I received back from the MDC indicated no interest in considering any humane method.

Submit your comments by email. You might also want to consider writing the Governor of Missouri, The Honorable Bob Holden.

Critter hugs to you!
Donna

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CRITTER FACTS
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BLUEBIRDS

The bluebird, like the robin, prefers open areas such as roadsides, cutover woodlands, old orchards, parks and yards in cities and towns. In these areas, the bluebird tries to find a hollow tree (cavity tree) in which to build a loosely woven nest of grasses.

These cavities are often hard to find because non-native species like the house sparrow and starling also use cavities for nesting. The bluebird will use man-made cavities, like boxes, for nesting, which can be built to prevent larger birds, like starlings, from using them.

Bluebirds produce 2-3 broods a year depending on the part of the country. The female lays one light blue egg per day for 4-6 days and incubates them for about 12 days. Young birds remain in the nest for about 15 days after hatching. The male is in charge of the young bluebirds when they leave the nest. He feeds them and teaches them how to find food to feed themselves. He continues the training for several days after they leave the nest, while the female remodels the old nest or builds a new one for a second brood.

In the yard and garden, bluebirds consume grasshoppers, flying insects, beetles, and caterpillars. They also eat berries and fruits found near their nests, especially in the winter when insects are scarce. The widespread use of insecticides decreases food supplies for bluebirds and many other birds.

Source: Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Circular ANR-687

Bluebird boxes should be put up by the end of February for first nesting, but you can place them any time of the year for use since they’re also used in the winter for shelter.

Get info on building them

Get lots of bluebird info

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CHARACTER QUALITIES IN NATURE
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DEDICATION: Female American Alligator

Unlike most reptiles, the female alligator hasn’t completed parenthood after laying eggs. She maintains a long and constant vigil over the nest to protect against predators and is aggressive against intruders, not afraid to use sharp teeth and a powerful tail against any enemy.

For two months she will be dedicated to the maintenance of the nest while deep inside the mass of decomposing vegetation, heat is being generated to warm and incubate the eggs. One day she will tear into the nest till she reaches the eggs and will carefully grip one at a time to gently release it from the heavy mass and help the young escape from the leathery-like confinement of their eggshell.

How does she know when to they are ready to hatch? She lays her head next to the structure and gives a low grunt and waits to see if the young inside answer. She will continue to do this every day. If she is not aware of the right timing and uncovers them too soon, the eggs will lose heat necessary for incubation and will not hatch. If she returns too late, the young may have been able to cut themselves free from the eggshells, but the heavy mass of vegetation would suffocate them. The ability of the alligator to dedicate herself to this vigil helps ensure that the young will hatch successfully

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GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE- Restoring the Balance
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COMMUNITY GREENS

Are you a city dweller who is envious of your friends in the suburbs with their big backyards? Do you want to make a difference for birds and city critters but don’t seem to have enough "green" to make a difference?

Community Greens is a new program that will help city dwellers create shared green space inside their blocks.  Read more.

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"GREEN" INFO- Making It a Way of Life!
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NATURAL HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS

For day-to-day house cleaning, you can save money by using these familiar products you probably already have on hand. Read more from Barbara Whiting, Stay-at-Home Parents Guide at About.com.

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REDUCE, REUSE, THEN RECYCLE
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RECYCLING EYEGLASSES

Your old frames might work just fine for someone in need. Used eyeglasses can be repaired and refinished to match the prescriptions of people who cannot afford to buy glasses of their own. Contact your local Lions Club, which sponsors the most comprehensive collection program.

You can also turn in your old eyeglasses at any of these chain stores:
LensCrafters, For Eyes, and Pearle Vision Centers

Source: Co-op America‘s REAL MONEY newsletter (Oct. 2001)
Authors: Nate Albee and Josh Sadlier
(800) 58-GREEN

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CREATION IN THE BIBLE
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Isaiah 43:18-20 KJV

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, [and] rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.

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MUSINGS: POETRY & PROSE
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"What better answers are there to prove God’s holy being
Than the wonders all around us that are ours just for the seeing."

Helen Steiner Rice

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GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUR PLANET
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ONE BLUEBIRD HOUSE MAKES A DIFFERENCE

In the spring of 1986, Bob Hammond of the Ivy Creek Foundation in Virginia, built and erected a bluebird nesting box in an open area near his home. A pair of bluebirds built a nest within days. That summer, 9 bluebirds were fledged from the one box. Each summer since, there have been at least two (and in some years, three) broods raised in this house, with an amazing total of 96 young bluebirds fledged in 9 nesting seasons. Not only did this one box make a big difference in the number of bluebirds in the area, but it added hours and hours of enjoyment for the entire family. Other bluebird boxes have since been added to the neighborhood. There are now 25 bluebird boxes with many, many bluebirds being fledged each year.

One house DOES make a difference!

Source: Ivy Creek Foundation, Charlottesville, VA

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The content, suggestions, and web links in this newsletter are for informational purposes only and not necessarily endorsed our sponsor "The Herbs Place.com" This is a personal publication by Donna Watkins. The ideas and information expressed in it have not been approved or authorized by anyone either explicitly or impliedly. In no event shall Donna Watkins or "The Herbs Place.com" be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from any action arising in connection with the use of this information or its publication, including any action for infringement of copyright or defamation.