Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for environment

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

We had so many comments on the Ruby Crowned Kinglet footage that we used in the “Window Feeder” video we decided to post a longer clip of the RCK! Hope you enjoy this view of the rarely seen crown.

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How much is that birdie in the window?

Great, now you’ll be humming that song all day, right?

Smell Like Dirt announces a new feature for the New Year! Down & Dirty Quick Tips! We will be doing a series of short videos (hopefully a minute or less) highlighting something you can do in your garden, home, workplace, etc to help wildlife, the environment, or just make life a little easier. We are launching this new feature with this short video on how to get a closer look at the birds in your backyard. During the filming we were able to capture a Ruby Crowned Kinglet showing off for its reflection in the window and couldn’t wait to share it. If you’ve ever seen RCK’s in the field, you know how difficult it is to watch these birds because they flit around so much. Its hard to get a good look at them and even harder to see the crown which is rarely seen. This video shows why…..it is not even visible unless the bird “flexes” its feathers. I hope you enjoy the video and keep checking back for more Smell Like Dirt “Down and Dirty” tips.

Habitat Steward Training

If you live near Charlotte, NC and are interested in learning more about creating habitats for wildlife and helping educate others about the importance of habitat preservation, please join us for a three day workshop being held in September. The Habitat Steward Program is a 24 hour course (3-8 hour days) developed by the National Wildlife Federation to help train volunteers to work with individuals, businesses, schools, places of worship, etc to create wildlife habitats in their communities. The course covers providing the four elements of a habitat (food, water, shelter, places to raise young), composting and soil stewardship, planting with natives, removal of invasives, wildlife identification, and a lot more. The program is being held Sept 19, 20 and 21, 8am-5pm each day, and you must attend all three days. The cost is $50 per person plus 40 service hours in your community. I will be facilitating the program hosted by Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK), a chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Space is limited so if you are interested in joining us, please send me an email at HAWKNCWF@gmail.com.

The Top Five


The pain at the pump right now is being felt by everyone. And although, high gas prices are probably going to be a good thing for the environment in the long term, its hard right now as we adjust to these new prices. So, we’re offering additional things we can all do to save money and save the environment at the same time. These are relatively easy and relatively cheap, especially when you consider the return on your investment. So try some of these hints and let me know if you have any suggestions for other quick and easy ideas.

Change your five most used light bulbs from incandescents to compact fluorescent lights (CLFs). They use less energy, last ten years or longer (the ones in our garage will be 11 in August), and burn cooler. If everyone did just the top 5 bulbs in our homes, it would be the equivalent of taking one million cars off our roads. Want to save more energy and pollution? Change all your light bulbs.

Use Dryer Balls. For about $10, you can by these balls to use when you dry your cloths. The balls help break apart the wet clothing so they dry faster using less energy!

Use reusable bags when you shop. And NOT just for groceries! Going to your favorite drug store, office supply store, vitamin shop, or hardware store? Don’t forget your bags! If you make it a hard and fast rule, it will only take two times of forgetting your bags and having to walk back out to your car to get them, to remember to take them the first time. And it makes it so handy to throw a couple over your shoulder, walk through the store filling them up and then emptying them to pay and then filling them back up again. Unless you are doing a big shopping trip, an added bonus is that you don’t have to touch those germ laden shopping carts or baskets!

Unplug appliances when not in use. Appliances burn up to 40% of their electricity even when they are in the off mode. Our TV, DVD, stereo, etc are all plugged in to a surge protector. At night, once we are done with those components, we simply switch off the surge protector. There’s no need for them to burn 40% of their electricity 22 hours a day for the two hours they are in use. We also unplugged the alarm clock and the TV in the guest room. And why should the microwave be burning electricity all day just to use it for 10 minutes (if that!) around dinner time?

Now, this next one is a little more effort, but has a big impact so its worth it: Reduce the size of your lawn! If you reduce, or better yet, eliminate the amount of grass you have, you will cut down on the chemicals (weed killers, fertilizers) you pour on the grass, you cut down on the water you use, you decrease the mowing you need to do. Consider replacing the grass with a natural area. A few native shrubs surrounded by mulch. The native plantings will not need as much care and the benefits native plant provide to wildlife is critical for a healthy ecosystem.

Ok, that last one was a little harder, but you have to admit, going green can be pretty easy and you’ll save money in the long run. And sure, there’s more you can do: install a rain barrel, buy a hybrid, start riding the bike that’s collecting dust in the garage, buy local food, etc. But even if you just do those top five things, it will make a big difference. I’d love to hear how you’re going green and saving money!

Swat a Litterbug!

Don’t you just hate litter?!?  Litter is ugly, costly to remove and dangerous to wildlife.  A lot of hawks and other raptors are injured and killed each year by cars.  And one of the main reasons is that people throw litter from cars on the roads and highways, which attract rodents to the sides of the roads.  And the presence of rodents attracts hawks and other raptors.   Many cities, counties and states have started Litterbug Hotlines to allow citizens to report Litterbugs.  Here in the Charlotte, NC area, we have two ways to report litterbugs.  You can call the hotline number (704 432 1772)or go online and fill out a report.  I have the number programmed into my cellphone.  When I see someone throw something out the window, or debris fly out of the back of trucks, I use my cellphone to report the deed!  When you witness a litterbug in action, note the license plate number, date/time and location of the incident, and the type of litter (cigarette butt, soda can, etc).  When you can safely do so, call the number and leave the information on the hotline voice mail or go online to fill out the form.  The offending party will be sent a letter informing them that someone reported their “litterbuggy-ness” and a warning of the fines that could result if s/he continues to litter.  If you live elsewhere in the United States, do a Google search for a Litterbug Hotline near you.  Maybe if offenders realize that there are eyes everywhere watching, they will think twice before they toss their trash out of the window.  So go on!  Swat A Litterbug!

Pileated Woodpeckers

Another video from our recent Smell Like Dirt Takes a Road Trip to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park in North Florida. We got lucky and stumbled upon a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers who were too focused on looking for food to care about us filming them. Pileated Woodpeckers can be found across the Eastern United States so most of us have a great chance to see them. Find a large forested area near you and see if you can find some for yourself. They are very loud so chances are you will hear them before you see them.

Special thanks to Lauri Shubert of Lake City, Florida, for letting us use the still photos of a male pileated working on a tree in her own backyard. Lauri definitely Smells Like Dirt!

Getting Kids into Nature

There’s a great article in the Charlotte Observer today highlighting the need to get our kids outside and exploring nature. Friends of Smell Like Dirt, Mark and Patti Weber, are featured due to their commitment to teaching an appreciation of nature and encouraging Alex and Matthew to Smell Like Dirt! (Alex and Matthew can be seen briefly in our “Mister” video – running through the sprinklers! Check it out in the VodPod listing on the far right of your screen) I’m counting on the Weber kids to lead the environmental stewardship movement when they get older. They’ve already got a healthy appreciation of all things outdoors and love animals of all kinds. They have lots of birdfeeders in their yard and Alex and Matthew can identify the birds that visit.

The Weber’s have been good friends for over 14 years and we congratulate them on doing such a great job raising conservation-minded kids. We hope that others will take their lead! If you want to get in touch with the Webers, leave a comment here for them and we’ll make sure they get it.

You can order the book mentioned in the article <a href=”Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder“>”The Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv right from this site by clicking here or go to the “My Favorite Books and Products” page