by Patti Muzny
Late April, Early May 2015
Due to various circumstances beyond our control, the lawn in our front yard became sparse and pitiful, especially under the large oaks. So I purchased a blend of grass seed and began to slowly convince it to grow and cover the bare spots so our soil would not end up escaping down the drive, into the street and into Lightening Creek. I managed to get a few spots to grow last fall, but it still needed more seed, so this spring I sprinkled more seed all around.
Because of the sparse lawn, our front yard became a migrant trap for a large flock of mostly Chipping Sparrows. I looked out the window early one morning and saw them all over the yard and in the driveway. They are such cute, busy little birds. THEN I realized that the main attraction was the grass seed! I viewed the gift of Chipping Sparrows with mixed emotion. I think they ate most of that batch of pricey grass seed. (Maybe I should just “xeriscape” and plant river rock!)
I then sprinkled bird seed in the driveway. For almost three weeks I loved opening the blinds and watching a yard full of Chipping Sparrows, with a Clay-colored, Lincoln’s and sometimes a House Wren. Then on May 3rd, I opened the blinds as usual and saw absolutely not one little sparrow! I guess time ran out and the flock passed the word around to get moving to their nesting grounds. It’s rather sad!
In our back yard, the Brown Thrasher that was absent all winter, suddenly burst into song and they never seem to quit. Of course the resident Mockingbird, Cardinal, Blue Jay and Robin join in. The ever-present Cooper’s Hawk still makes daily passes through the yard. Our Bewick’s Wrens are nesting in one of the houses.
At Byars, on Sunday, May 3rd, I was treated to singing Painted and Indigo Buntings. A Pileated Woodpecker zipped across the pond in front of me and disappeared into the trees. The Dickcissels were also back and the Summer Tanagers were singing and chirping at several locations. Our “Porch Phoebe” is back on her nest on the light fixture. She just won’t choose the “Phoebe shelf” that we put up for her. A screaming Red-shouldered Hawk is always on patrol. In late April the Chuck-wills-Widows were also singing.
I have noticed that any fruiting tree or shrub on our property was covered in blossoms. There should be enough wild blackberries and plums for anything that dines on them this year.
I’m a fan of munching on all sorts of greens and this year the pokeweed has done well and provided me with all the “poke salit” I can eat. A good friend told me how to cook it to avoid any unpleasant repercussions to the digestive system, and if her rules are followed, it’s extremely tasty. And there is plenty left for the birds who love to eat the purple fruit and leave purple calling cards on our driveways and vehicles!
Another tasty wild morsel is the tip of the greenbrier vines. While the vine itself is thorny and downright malicious, the tender tip of new growth tastes a lot like asparagus. Our property has more greenbrier per square foot than most, so there is plenty of that to go around as well. Looking forward to fall and “possum grapes.”