If your yard or property looks anything like my family’s, you may agree that it’s been a marvelous spring. Just outside my basement woodshop window, I’ve witnessed earlier and more brilliant blooms on nearly all our flowering plants and shrubs than I’ve seen since we moved onto this hillside, wooded property eight years ago. The azaleas are especially vibrant. I’m no meteorologist, but I suspect a combination of temperatures, rainfall and sunshine over the past several weeks have produced this amazing display of reds, oranges, purples, greens, pinks and more. 

With all the beautiful botany and the onset of breeding season, we’re also witnessing a profusion of song bird activity. Like many bird-lovers, we intentionally populated our property with bird-attracting plantings. Several of the summer migrants have already visited our feeders or woods, including Indigo Buntings, Gray Catbirds and Blue and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks. 

Most excitedly, we have 3 nesting pairs of birds using my handcrafted nesting boxes, many of which are available for sale at AACC (shameless commercial pitch intended). First, there are a pair of Carolina Chickadees parenting in a small red box perched on a volunteer Tulip Poplar in our herb garden – the photo below shows one of the parents (discerning the sexes in Chickadees is difficult) carrying small green worm-like creatures in for their young. We are hoping to see the fledglings sometime in the next few weeks.

A pair of Eastern Bluebirds began building a home in a “House of Blues” box (find yours at the AACC Gift Shop) along a fence line about 4 weeks ago. They continue to come and go, but we’re not yet certain if there are just eggs or youngsters yet. In a few weeks, I’ll open the side hatch and take a look. Bluebirds aren’t easily disturbed by human ogling and will quickly return to the nest once the hatch is closed.

Finally, a pair of Carolina Wrens overcame the pestering of a House Sparrow to build their nest in a prototype box I built earlier this spring intended for Titmice or Nuthatches. The box is placed on a 4 foot pole about 15 feet into our woodlot and near some intentional brush piles. The photo below shows one of the pair delivering some building material.

With such an amazing spring in full swing, we’re looking forward to a great summer. You’ll have a chance to prepare your gardens and yard for summer with the help of the AACC Annual Plant Sale, which runs from May 8 through May 22. It’s a perfect time and place to find wildlife attracting plants as well as practical and whimsical yard arts and crafts.

Dean Johnson