Zick is coming to town!

Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest

babybirds-plainSunday, January 22 • 2:30 p.m. Marie S. Aull Education Center (1000 Aullwood Rd., Dayton, OH 45414   http://www.aullwood.org)

Admission is $5.00/adult and $3.00 child, Friends of Aullwood and National Audubon Society members are admitted free.

One of my favorite nature peeps will be speaking in the Dayton area January 22. Julie Zickefoose is an Ohio Writer/Artist that has the heart of a angel where nature is concerned. She is a widely published natural history writer and artist. She shares her experiences through word and brush/pencil stroke, much to the delight of her fans…… Needless to say, I am one! Check out her blog at www.julieckefoose.blogspot.com 

Here is a description on her upcoming program as noted in the Aullwood Audubon newsletter:

Why and how do baby songbirds develop so quickly, some launching into flight only 11 days after hatching? In 2002, Julie Zickefoose began to draw and paint wild nestlings day by day, bearing witness to their swift growth. Over the next 13 years, Julie would document the daily changes in 17 bird species from hatching to fledging. Baby Birds is the enchanting result, with more than 500 life studies that hop, crawl and flutter through its pages. In this talk, Julie shares her influences as well as her artistic process, a must- see for the aspiring natural history artist. Art and science blend in every Zickefoose pursuit, as the scientist’s relentless curiosity joins the artist’s quest for beauty. The work, wonder and fun of studying nestlings, including being foster mother to orphaned hummingbirds, chimney swifts and bluebirds, makes for an irresistible and highly inspirational presentation.

Writer/artist Julie Zickefoose, author of Letters from Eden, and The Bluebird Effect, is a Contributing Editor to Bird Watcher’s Digest. Julie loves to introduce people to birdwatching, speaking at a number of festivals around the country, and now leads natural history excursions abroad. Because she believes birds to be the most vibrant vessels for the life force, painting baby birds as they grow has been her favorite project to date. Her new book is Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest (2016). She lives with her family on an 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in Appalachian Ohio.

Raptors: Hunting on the Wing

Great Horned Owl

This past Saturday I traveled to Cedar Bog Nature Preserve, just south of Urbana (OH) in Champaign County for a Raptor Workshop led by the amazing Tom Hissong, education coordinator for Aullwood Audubon Center. Participants were schooled on the numerous hawks, eagles, falcons and owls that can be found in at Cedar Bog as well as around Ohio.

Cedar Bog is an Ohio Historical Society property that is managed by the Cedar Bog Association. The bog is the largest and best example of a boreal and prairie fen complex in Ohio formed by retreating glaciers about 15, 000 years ago. It is home to many rare, unusual and endangered plants including the Small Yellow Lady Slipper and Showy Lady Slipper orchids. The 450-acre site features a one mile long board walk and an eco-friendly nature center, which was the location for the raptor workshop.

Small rodent bones in an owl pellet

Weird one that I am, I thought the highlight of the workshop was the opportunity to dissect an owl pellet. Less you are grossed out by this thought, would it soften the weirdness to know that the pellets were sterilized? Hmmm. I didn’t think so. Anyways, owls, as you may know, hunt and eat small animals like shrews, mice, voles and birds. They tear their food and swallow large chunks whole. They can’t digest all the hair and hard materials such as bones, so they regurgitate these in the form of a pellet. Sounds like an owl version of a cat’s hair ball!

Bones found in an owl pellet. The tiny bones just under the jaw are less than 1/4 inch.

Using a bone sorting chart (yes, there is such a thing) we discovered teeny, tiny vertebrae, ribs, shoulder bones, leg bones, sculls and teeth. It was quite interesting. It bears repeating: do yourself a favor and discover the wonders of nature by taking the opportunity to check out some of the wonderful places like Cedar Bog. You won’t be disappointed.

Yummy shortbread owl cookies. Who says birders don't have a sense of humor?

Sales alerts

Knollwood Garden Center – Beavercreek – Knollwood is really getting in some great and unusual house plant in stock. Just in time for Valentine’s Day (though who REALLY needs an excuse to buy a plant?) all tropical foliage plants are 20% off through the 18th. (Flowering plants not included.) Website HERE.

Grandma’s Gardens – Waynesville/Centerville-ish –  Grandma’s Gardens website has a $5 off a $30 purchase of regular priced items (some exclusions) through Wednesday, February 15. Coupon HERE.

Busy as a bee

Bee on a pussy willow blossom (Salix sp.)

The warm weather is bringing more out than the bees! Note the pollen sacs on this hard worker in the photo…. Everyone seems to want to clean up their beds. Including me. While in the garden, I managed to embed a big sliver of a plant stem so deep in my knuckle that it required visit to the doctor. One tetanus shot, a scalpel and a suture to close the incision and I was good to go. That’s when I wish my imaginary gardener, Thor, wasn’t so imaginary!

Baker’s Acres Greenhouse opens!

Saturday, March 26 is Opening Day at Baker’s Acres. Crazy people like me can and will drive 2 hours to visit this greenhouse in search for unusual annuals and perennials. Located east of Columbus, yet west of Granville, you will not be disappointed. Consider this: Over 100 varieties of coleus, give or take. See what I mean?

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark prepares for Patrick Dougherty Exhibit

Willow saplings for the Patrick Dougherty installation

This spring, internationally renowned artist Patrick Dougherty will create and install one of his unique outdoor sculptures at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. The massive structures are made entirely of woven saplings and resemble nests, lairs, and mythic shelters. While visiting the Englewood MetroPark I came across one of the semi-trailers that is already being loaded with young willow trees to be used in the exhibit. He will be in Dayton from April 4-22 and with the help of many volunteers, create an original woven-branch sculpture that will remain in place for about two years. Sponsored, in part, by the Wegerzyn Gardens Foundation.

Bald Eagle Cams

I can’t believe how easily I got hooked on watching, or at least checking in on, the Decorah (Iowa) Bald Eagle nest cam. I feel like I’m right in the nest with them. The best part, other than the view, is that the cam streams audio as well so that you can hear what is going on. There are three eggs in the nest and the estimated first hatch date is around April 1.

This isn’t the only bald eagle nest cam around. Here is a link to one at the Norfolk (VA) Botanical Garden. It does not have audio but the three chicks have already hatched and you can watch the parents feeding them. You can also participate in a moderated discussion board on the eagles.

Locally, we have eagles named Jim and Cindy on a nest at Eastwood Lake. Here is that link.  On Tuesday I saw another local nest in the Englewood MetroParks area. If you want to check it out, you have to park in a tiny improvised specially-marked parking spot off of River Road in Englewood and then walk about 1/2 mile to an observation point. Once there, you are still about a 1/4 mile from the nest. Even from that distance, it is a neat thing to see.

Calendar updates

Be sure to check the Calendar Events tab often as I update items there that may not be featured in the regular posts. What’s new? Aullwood Audubon Center’s Native Plant Sale and more.

Blooming in the Rain

While the skunk cabbages might be blooming out in the wetlands of Ohio, they aren’t exactly a poster child for ‘early spring beauty’. This week I’m going to nominate the witch-hazel for the ‘early AND cute’ award.  While visiting Five Rivers MetroParks’ Wegerzyn Gardens today, I spotted a spectacular witch-hazel specimen in full regalia. Yes, today. In February. From a distance, you might think this yellow shrub was a forsythia, but no – it is too early for those. The witch-hazels (Hamamelis) all belong to the Hamamelidaceae family and are primarily understory plants. I think I NEED one.

 

Aullwood Holds Waffle House Spirit Fundraiser (Wednesday, February 23)

You can help the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm and fill your tummy at the same time. Just head to either the Englewood Waffle House (9295 N. Main, Englewood) or the Beavercreek Waffle House (across from the Greene, 4382 Indian Ripple, Beavercreek) between the hours of 2-9pm. Tell them you are are there supporting Aullwood and Waffle House will donate 25% of your order to Aullwood. Ohio’s former first lady Hope Taft will be at the Beavercreek Waffle House around 5:30pm that day. I’m dreaming of my loaded hashbrowns right now!

 

Knollwood Garden Center Announces Spring Seminar Schedule

Knollwood Garden Center in Beavercreek (OH) will hold Saturday seminars beginning March 12 and running into April. Featured programs will spotlight many different topics including herbs, fruits, fairy gardens, and even an opportunity to tour their growing range. Check it all out at their website.

 

Great Lakes Hosta College – March 12 (Piqua, OH)

The Great Lakes Region of the American Hosta Society has opened registration for the 2011 Hosta College on March 12. The event features 6-12 different programs each of the 6 periods of the day. The school is held at the Upper Valley JVS Center in Piqua and the $40 registration price includes lunch. Some classes have additional class fees. Hosta Society members can register on-line now. On-line class registration opens to the public February 26 at 12:01 am.