Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for water

Water!

After a long dry spell (pun intended), we’re back with a video about water.

Of the four elements of a wildlife habitat: Food, water, shelter and places to raise young, I think water is the most important. EVERYTHING needs water and being creative in providing water for wildlife can lead to hours of enjoyment watching the birds and other wildlife in your backyard.

If you have some creative ways you are providing water in your habitat, please let us know by sending pictures or videos.

BRRRRR!!!!!!

It may not be winter according to the calendar but it is according to the thermometer!  It will be down into the 20’s every night this week.  And while you are all snuggled up inside your warm home, its important to remember the wildlife outside.  Make sure you have fresh water available for the wildlife, birds included.  Its important that they be able to keep their feathers clean to help keep them warm.  And of course everything still needs to drink water, no matter how cold it is  A birdbath heater will help keep the water from freezing.  And if you haven’t put up any roosting boxes, now is the time.  Birds will use them to for protection from the weather.

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!

Summer Reruns

Network TV can do it, so I figure, why can’t SLD?  Its July and the temps are in the 90’s pretty much every day now, and we are all spending a lot more time in the air conditioning, including me!  But we can’t forget the wildlife in the backyard who don’t have the option of coming in to get out of the brutal temperatures.  So I figured this is a great time to revisit our very first video, The Mister.  At about $20, the mister is cheapest and most fun method of providing water for birds and other wildlife.  And a great excuse to climb a tree!  Come on, you know you want to.

Rain Barrels

Its raining in the southeast and when it does, we gets lots of hits from people looking for information on how to buy rain barrels  I decided to do a short post so that the information is easy to access.  If you live in the Charlotte NC metro area, there are two easy ways to order rain barrels in April.  In Charlotte, order your rain barrels through Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District but hurry, deadline to order is April 7.  If you miss that deadline and live near Matthews, Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK) and the Town of Matthews have teamed up to sell the same rain barrels at the same price as the county.  Send an email to HAWKncwf@gmail.com to order yours today, deadline April 15.  And if you don’t live close enough to the Charlotte area to take advantage of these sales, contact your local county extension office and ask where you can get a rain barrel .

Real Estate Boom

bbhouse.jpgWith all the talk about the real estate bubble bursting across the country, its definitely a buyers market right now.  And plenty of “buyers” will be visiting your backyard in the weeks to come.  February is when we start to see the birds staking their claims to the bird houses in our backyard.  The bluebirds will be among the first to check out the boxes in our backyard, so the first of February is when I make sure that I have cleaned out the houses well to welcome any pairs who may stop by.  There are disagreements among the experts about whether or not you should leave the old nests in the boxes, or clean them out, so I compromise by leaving in the old nests through the winter for insulation, but cleaning them out in February.  If you want the best shot at attracting a pair of bluebirds to your yard, start with a house specifically designed with bluebirds in mind.  There are many plans on line or you can visit your local bird store, like Backyard Wild in Matthews, to buy one.  All the books say to place your bluebird house so that it is facing an open area, preferably south or southeast.  Sometimes the birds have read the same books, but others have not.  The best way to ensure you will get a pair of bluebirds in your backyard is to offer them their favorite food, mealworms.  Although bluebirds will come to your traditional seed feeders, they are primarily insect eaters and can be easily trained to come when you whistle if you regularly offer them mealworms.   Start by picking a time of day that you consistently at home, for me, its in the morning.  Set up a worm feeding station.  It can be a dish on a deck rail, or a specifically designed feeding station that hooks onto the post where you have your bluebird house attached.  Every day, at roughly the same time, go outside and whistle, ring a bell or make another non-threatening noise and put your worms in the feeder.  Then go back inside and wait.  The first day or two, it make take a while for the birds to find it, but after that, they will learn that the time of day and the whistle or other noise you make means MEALWORMS! and they will be there waiting for you.  If you’re quiet and patient, you may even be able to stand near the feeder and watch them gobble up the worms.  Once you have the birds trained that there’s a reliable source of their favorite food in your backyard, they will most likely nest in the bluebird house you have provided for them, not matter what direction its facing.   And while you’re at it, don’t forget our other feathered friends.  Put up a variety of birdhouses. Different sizes with different size entry holes.  That will provide a place to raise young for a large variety of area songbirds and ensure your backyard is filled with beautiful birds all spring and summer.  A large variety of food will also attract a large variety of birds.  Add one final element of fresh water and you will be guaranteed a large demand for the birdhouse real estate in your yard!