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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

empty nests: what to do with them

A question I often get  about now concerns "used" bird nests. My answer recognises the fact that we live in The South, with its longer summers and higher heat. 

These combine to spur the growth of microscopic mites, which can pester nestlings mercilessly. And we may even have more mites this coming season since our winter was relatively mild - even for Texas.

My advice is to remove the empty nest from wherever it was, soon after the newborn birds fledge. They will never return! But eggs of mites will hatch in time. So shred the old nest and just scatter the pieces on the ground. The exposed mite eggs will die, and the nest-builder can re-use the shreds if he/she wants.

Friends of mine, and me, will stop our cars and take action whenever we see a turtle making its way slowly across a road. Without being picked up and moved, it probably wouldn't make it across.

If you do this too, please make sure you relocate the turtle to the side of the road where it was headed. Otherwise it may just crawl onto the pavement again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bat reduction could make food cost more $$$$

Mexican Freetail bats

BATS SAVE US MONEY.  Pest control provided by bats save American agriculture as much as $53 billion a year, according to U.S.G.S. analysis. The flip side of that is: if our native bats didn't provide this service for free, our groceries would certainly cost a lot more.

On a cautionary note, there could be noticeable economic losses (and higher food costs) in the next 4 or 5 years as a result of threats to bat populations, including loss of habitat. Reason: bats eat a tremendous quantity of flying insects that would otherwise ruin crops

Red Yucca
A favorite plant in north Texas is the Red Yucca. Not only because it's colorful and relatively disease-free, also because its appearance is uniquely "Texan" - it looks like it should be growing in the wild west. Actually, it did!

It grew here naturally before the west was "tamed". It still does, in some small areas. But it's often used in landscapes with terrible soil in full sun. It requires almost no care, and lives through drought and temperatures of over 100.