The roadrunner showed up this morning with a large plump caterpillar clamped tightly in the tips of its bill. The first hint the bird was here came in the form of rapid pecking of the glass storm door at the side of the house.
The roadrunner showed up this morning with a large plump caterpillar clamped tightly in the tips of its bill. The first hint the bird was here came in the form of rapid pecking of the glass storm door at the side of the house. I watched the bird swish its tail back and forth like an irate cat. It then jumped off the step and ran around to the front glass door. Here it not only pecked and smeared the caterpillar on the glass but purred while vigorously swinging its tail. Sammy cat was not amused. He hopped out of his warm bed and rounded the corner to look at the roadrunner. All I saw was a flurry of feathers and the bird was gone. Satisfied, Sammy returned to his chair.
The Oklahoma Master Naturalists hosted their third workshop this year on urban and wildlife ecology. Another cold day with driving rain. Mark Bays, Urban Forestry Coordinator of the OK Dept of Agriculture Forest Services visited Italy earlier this year. In many European countries, pollarding is done to keep trees to a set height. All the upper branches are removed. The tree responds by producing dense branches and heavy foliage. Originally pollarding was done to provide food for animals and wood for fuel. Many deciduous broadleaf trees can become pollards, but not most conifers due to their growth pattern. Trees develop thick trunks and tend to live longer, but require consistent maintenance.
Oklahoma has 176 plant communities (areas where groups of compatible plants grow together). The communities form 13 Ecoregions across a state ranging from 300 feet to 4900 feet in elevation. Twenty-six species of oak live in Oklahoma. A 20-foot-tall tree could well be 400 years old! Oldest Oklahoma redcedar is over 600 years. “Trees are necessities, not niceties.”
The afternoon brought thunder storms and Wildlife Diversity Specialist Mark Howery. The biologist works with the Dept. of Wildlife Conservation. He presented directions on construction of birdhouses and nest shelves, landscaping ideas for wildlife, ecological frameworks and a summary of the wildlife in Oklahoma. Mammal species number 106, birds (379), reptiles (82), fish (167), amphibians (53) and thousands of invertebrates which include freshwater mussels and crustaceans. Several species are of concern, protected, threatened or have been eliminated in Oklahoma.
Two things to remember. (1) Native wildflowers produce nectar and seeds which grow insects that feed wildlife. (2) Rinse out hummingbird feeders with vinegar. Vinegar is a good cleanser.
The culmination of the Easter season is tomorrow, a very important time for those of Christian faith. Always on a Sunday, Easter is based on the phases of the moon and the arrival of spring with the renewal of life in nature. Both the name Easter and its bunny courier stem from the pagan festival of Eostre, the northern goddess symbolized by the rabbit or hare.
Hot cross buns are a tasty and traditional way to enjoy the Easter season. In the United Kingdom, Simnel cake is served. This light version of fruitcake has a layer of marzipan in the middle and another on the top. The Victorian tradition was to add 12 marzipan balls to represent the apostles.
When my family lived in England, our neighbor Beryl haunted our village pond before Easter to collect duck eggs. She swore duck eggs made her Simnel cake the best. The egg is a symbol of new life. So, early Easter morning, decorated eggs are carried or hidden by the Easter Bunny. Bunnies are rather good at making many more bunnies. It’s all quite logical.
Easter Monday is Earth Day. Actually, every day should be Earth Day. After all, if it weren’t for Mother Earth, we would not be here. The goal for Earth Day 2019 is to ‘Protect our Species.’ In 1962 Rachel Carson said “In nature, nothing exists alone.” All things have intrinsic value and each plays a part in the web of life. All of us across the world need to work together—consumers, parents, kids, voters, politicians, teachers, whoever—to help, care and restore nature. Too many plants and animals are losing the battle and we are the enemy.
Margaret Mead, American Anthropologist, supported having Earth Day on the Equinox in March, first day of spring. John McConnell, designer of the Earth Flag, peace activist and creator of Earth Day also preferred the Equinox. Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, another founder of Earth Day, is responsible for setting the day on the 22nd of April since it fell between spring break and college exams. Nelson was a champion for environmental “Teach-Ins”.
This Earth Day, make it your goal to perform an act of kindness for the earth. Collect trash along the road, conserve your water, reduce your waste or plant a tree because Arbor Day is April 26th.
The first Arbor Day in the world was celebrated in the small Spanish village of Villanueva de la Sierra in 1805. Spearheaded by the priest, the entire town turned out. Arbor Day here in the US was founded in 1872 by Julius Sterling Morton. That day, over one million trees were planted in Nebraska.
First signed into effect by President Nixon in 1970, the last Friday in April is always National Arbor Day. Individual states have different days or weeks. In Oklahoma, it comes the last week in March.
The Arbor Day Foundation was founded in 1972, a non-profit organization supported by corporate sponsors, donations and tree sales. Located in Nebraska City, Nebraska, their mission is to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Arbor Day Foundation is a sponsor for the Tree City USA program, involved in replanting damaged areas in the nation’s forests and the Rain Forest rescue.
Shawnee was designated Tree City USA in March of 2014. Twenty-one cities and two air force bases are certified Oklahoma Tree Cities. Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) has for two consecutive years earned Tree Campus recognition. OBU joins eight other Oklahoma campuses.
Time to look at your trees and note any damage from storms or disease. Check out local plant nurseries for trees. Walk around your neighborhood and public areas. Consider where trees would be a welcome addition. Go native!
This Arbor Day, join with the Tree City campuses and communities, the Arbor Day Foundation and others across the earth. Plant a tree. Heck, plant several trees. Protect our species.
Easter, Earth Day and Arbor Day. What a week to be mindful. Be kind to each other and the Earth.
Becky Emerson Carlberg, graduate of Oklahoma State (Plant Pathology) is a teacher, artist, writer as well as certified Oklahoma Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at Becscience@att.net.