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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Put out the welcome mat now for Purple Martins


 

Purple Martins
Purple Martins start scouting out potential housing in north Texas in late February. They’ll keep looking (until they find a home) into late April. Lots of people are “landlords” because Martins are pleasant singers, and exceptionally good and graceful fliers. They look for multi-unit homes on a tall pole. The housing they prefer to nest in is usually the kind that comes in a box, is well-ventilated, and isn’t welcoming to other birds. White is by far the best color in Texas, since it reflects heat. The homes are typically made of aluminum, and look like little apartments with round doors.  The dimensions of the holes, and the “apartment” itself, are crucial in deterring predators and excluding pests.

 
Not all yards are good for Martins, however.  They need a treeless (grassy) circle around the house with a radius of about 25 to 50 feet, so they can hunt for insects an fly around.

 

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Are Monarch butterflies disappearing permanently?


Monarch
 
Every year, millions of colorful Monarch butterflies migrate from all over North America (including north Texas) to one small part of central Mexico, where they are right now. (They’re one of the few insects that actually migrate).  However, illegal logging in this “Monarch  Butterfly Biosphere Reserve” has cleared more than 1,000 acres, imperiling their survival.

 Monarchs (migrating)

Now’s a good time to clean feeders       With avian activity winding down somewhat, most birdfeeders have gotten dirty. I know mine have! Cleaning is easy and good for birds. I soak mine for a few hours in a 10:1 mix of water and bleach (although I’m told diluted vinegar or laundry detergent is just as good). Several times during the “soak” I agitate the feeder to get stuff out of tight spaces. Then I brush it inside and out, and rinse it with fresh water. I’ll let the sun dry it, and the birds could be “feederless” for less than a day.

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.