Prairie Warbler

Setophaga discolor

Prairie Warbler, Setophaga discolor

Every day new birds arrive. Today I saw two new Warblers:
Prairie Warbler

Both of these birds nest at the PGT. Most of the Warblers that are simply passing through on their way to Canada haven’t arrived yet. They should be showing up in a week or two.

This Prairie Warbler was in a cedar tree not far from our family cemetery.

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Rose Verbena

Rose Verbena, Glandularia canadensis

Rose Verbena, Glandularia canadensis

The rush of the Spring Wildflowers is on! One of the short flowers that is easy to overlook is called Rose Verbena. I photographed this one near our barn.

Rose Verbena has the longest bloom time of any wildflower; it can bloom from March into August. It’s a great butterfly magnet and is native to most of eastern and central United States.

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Blue-winged Warbler

Vermivora cyanoptera

Blue-winged Warbler, (Vermivora cyanoptera)

Today I saw my first Blue-winged Warbler of the year. This is a gorgeous bird with a funny song. They nest in the thickets at the PGT and you are sure to see one if you know how to identify their call. When they first arrive I often find them gleaning insects on the Wild Plum trees.

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First Black-and-white-Warbler



Today we found the first Black-and-white-Warblers of the year. They were along the path to The Point. The popcorn white flowers of the Serviceberries (Amelanchier arborea) are also in full bloom.

To see the other 35 species of birds we saw check the birding hotspot called “Prairie Garden Trust” on eBird:

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Polyester Bee – A Native Bee that Makes Plastic

common solitary univoltine bee

Polyester Bee, (Colletes inaequalis)

This afternoon while photographing the tiny golden flowers of Aromatic Sumac I got this shot of a native bee. I didn’t know what they were and asked around. Mike Arduser identified these as Colletes inaequalis. They are nick-named Polyester Bees because they create a biodegradable synthetic plastic. The female bees lines their egg cavities with a polyester secreted from their abdomen. There is as fascinating story about it in the Washington Post click here.

Here is Mikes email to me:

An absolutely beautiful shot of a mating (or almost mating) pair of Colletes inaequalis, a common solitary univoltine (one generation a year) spring bee throughout Missouri (in every county), the midwest and much of the US, in a great variety of habitats but especially in rich mesic forests with deep soils.. Usually found nesting in large aggregations (in the ground) forming small 1/8th cup-size mounds of soil with a small hole in the center. The elements wear down these tumuli and sometimes there’s just a hole in the ground and no tumuli. The females collect pollen primarily from woody plants (sugar maple, redbud, plums, etc.) and are important pollinators of a portion of our native vernal flora, probably making several nests.. By mid-May they are gone, surviving as the next generation underground, until next spring.

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Tick Treatment

Today was “Tick Treatment” Day at the PGT. Every year in early spring I dip all of our outdoor clothing in permethrin to prevent tick and chigger bites. I prefer this to using insect repellants like DEET which is found in OFF because it doesn’t smell as bad, it seems to be more effective and it only needs to be done once a year.

Here is my recipe:
1. In a large barrel mix ΒΌ cup of Permethrin (38.4% concentration) in about 10 gallons of water.

2. Dip pants, shirts and socks until they are wet with the mix.

3. Pick up the dripping wet clothing and drape them over outdoor furniture to dry.

The Permethrin that I use came from an agricultural store and was sold as Pounce 3.2EC Insecticide.

I’ve tried other kinds of repellants like powered sulfur and Avon Skin-So-Soft but they did not seem to work as well.

Another very helpful technique is to always wear long pants and tuck the pants into your boots.

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Early Spring Wildflowers

Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica)

Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica)

The peak of Spring Wildflowers is still weeks away but every day I find something new. Today I saw my first Spring Beauties.

Spring Beauties are one of the most common wildflowers at the PGT. In a few weeks the oak woodlands will be carpeted with millions of their blooms.

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First Warbler of the Year

Parkesia motacilla

Louisiana Waterthrush

Walking along Hiller’s Creek this morning I heard my first Warbler of the year; a Louisiana Waterthrush. They are drab for a Warbler but their loud ringing song is wonderful:

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Tree Planting

Matt Barnes Planting Redbud Seedlings

Matt Barnes Planting Redbud Seedlings

UPS delivered 3,000 seedling trees yesterday. Here is a snapshot of Matt Barnes getting some Redbud in the ground today. We got a mix if native species including:
Deciduous Holly,
Chinquapin Oak,
Swamp White Oak,
White Oak,
Pin Oak,
Bur Oak,
River Birch,
Shellbark Hickory,
Tulip Poplar and
2,000 Flowering Dogwoods.

We really love Flowering Dogwoods!

The seedling come from the George O. White State Forest Nursery run by the Missouri Department of Conservation

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H is for Hawk

Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis

Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis

I’m just finishing “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald. I’m surprised by the amount of positive press the book is getting considering it is about a woman training a Northern Goshawk to fly. The book is so well-written that it appeals to people even if you aren’t interested in birds or falconry.

Last year I was able to get this picture of a Northern Goshawk at the PGT. Justin Robertson brought her out to fly as I took pictures. Goshawks are amazing birds; very powerful and intense.

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