26 February 2012

2011-2012 Winter Feeder Count Results

Each winter, Lindsay and I participate in the Indiana Audubon Society Winter Feeder Bird Count, which takes place the 20th to 25th of November, December, January, and February.  You can see our reports on surveys from previous years here and here

American Goldfinches and House Finches on our platform feeder in November 2011.
Our species counts during each month and overall were similar to those in the past two years.  This year, we had 18 species in November, December, and January, and 17 species in February.  We tallied 21 species at our feeders during the count periods in 2011-2012; our complete list is included at the end of this post.

Pine Siskin eating black oil sunflower seeds in December 2011.  We only saw Pine Siskins at our feeders during the December count period in 2011-2012.
Species observed most frequently (those present during all four count periods) in 2011-2012 were Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura), Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea), White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), and House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). Species observed in greatest abundance during a single count period (with the greatest number observed at one time in parentheses) were American Goldfinch (29 in December, 13 in February), Mourning Dove (28 in December), American Tree Sparrow (24 in February, 18 in January, and 16 in December), House Sparrow (18 in December and 17 in January), European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris, 14 in February), Northern Cardinal (13 in February), and Dark-eyed Junco (13 in December).  The most abundant species based on average over the four count periods were American Goldfinch (15.75), American Tree Sparrow (15.25), House Sparrow (10.75), and Mourning Dove (10.5).

White-crowned Sparrow, a reliable species for us in winter, on our platform feeder in February 2012.  Unfortunately, we only saw one individual during each of the four count periods in 2011-2012.
Although overall it has been a warm winter, the temperature range during the count period was comparable to in previous years, with a low temperature of 6 degrees Fahrenheit in January and a high temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit in November.

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker at a suet feeder in February 2012.
Our biggest highlight of the 2011-2012 count came in December, when Lindsay saw a Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) at our feeders on the first day of the count period.  Most Gray Catbirds migrate south of here for the winter, but a few stick around, and we were lucky enough to find one at our feeders.

A sign of the coming spring, a male Red-winged Blackbird, on our platform feeder in February 2012.
2011-2012 Winter Bird Feeder Count Species ListMourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Gray Catbird
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
House Finch
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus)
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

25 February 2012

Let's Get It Started!

As you may have read in my previous post, (Official Diagnosis.... In Over My Head) I might have gone a bit overboard with my seed purchasing this year. Well, we can't let all those seeds go to waste (plus I need to prove to Scott that all his eye-rolling at me was unnecessary because I can totally pull this off), so it was time to get planting.

After a recent "run-in" with Strongbow cider I have given up drinking so my bar seemed like the perfect place to transition into a make-shift greenhouse. The planters contain starts for 4 different kinds of onions, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, roma tomatoes, wax peppers, bell peppers, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, brussel sprouts, okra, eggplant, cauliflower, artichokes, cabbage, and leeks. As you can see we even have them in warming trays and under plant lights.

Looks like a good start to our summer garden. After a few weeks growing indoors they will hopefully be good and ready to transplant outdoors.

Now I'm just left to wonder which one will sprout first! Any guesses?

09 February 2012

Official Diagnosis..... In Over My Head

During my most recent "delusion of grandeur" I convinced myself that I was a master gardener. The result of my delusions has lead to the following!

Yep, that is over 100 different seed packets that will make up the Namestnik garden this year. The mix is a variety of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs, most of which I have never attempted to grow before including a couple vegetables that I had to google because I've never even heard of them.

Please stay tuned throughout this spring and summer as I bring you updates about the triumphs (and disasters) involved with taking on my newest challenge.

05 February 2012

Frozen Fog

Ever wonder what happens when fog freezes?  Well, we get frost flowers! They're not the same frost flowers as those that show up south of here, typically on dittany (Cunila origanoides) and wingstem (Verbesina spp.), but they're beautiful and intriguing nonetheless.  I was lucky enough to be outside this morning at the right time, and below are some of the shots that I took.

Looking out over a foggy winter landscape.

Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Frost Aster (Aster pilosus) (that's really the common name!)

Frost Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)... okay, the common name of this one is really Eastern Cottonwood

Tall Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Canada Rye (Elymus canadensis)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Hungarian Brome (Bromus inermis)

Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

A black-and-white shot

An obligatory Bootypants (Canis bootypantsii) photo

04 February 2012

A Roseling By Any Other Name...

... continuing my look back to May 2011 and the excursion that Justin Thomas and I took to study the flora of South Carolina...

At Shealy's Pond Heritage Preserve, we came across this interesting spiderwort... but guess what... it isn't a spiderwort.  This is Piedmont Roseling (Callisia rosea), a plant of the southern Atlantic coastal plain and Gulf Coast, known from Maryland to Alabama and Florida. 

Don't allow that distribution description to fool you, though... aside from South Carolina, southern North Carolina, eastern Georgia, and central Florida, the county distribution of Piedmont Roseling is pretty spotty.  And this distribution is based on the species in the broad sense.  Taking a more liberal approach, Piedmont Roseling is found primarily in South Carolina and eastern Georgia, and Grassleaf Roseling (Callisia graminea) has its greatest county distributions in South Carolina, southern North Carolina, and Florida.  Most authors currently split Grassleaf Roseling from Piedmont Roseling based on the width of the leaf blades and the width of the blades in relation to the sheaths.  However, as noted by Faden (2000),
"The evidence that this [Callisia rosea] and the following two taxa [Callisia graminea and Callisia ornata] are species, instead of varieties or subspecies, is hardly compelling. It is a matter of the author's preference. The work of N. H. Giles Jr. (1942) clearly demonstrated cytological diversity within Callisia graminea, but the remaining taxa have never been investigated in the same detail. The taxa appear to hybridize when they come in contact."

"So you're telling me that this isn't a spiderwort??"  Well, if you must call it a spiderwort, I won't argue.  Piedmont Roseling is also called Cuthbertia rosea by some authors, and it was once known as Tradescantia rosea.  There it is... Tradescantia = spiderwort.  The flowers of species in the genus Tradescantia are subtended by large, leaf-like bracts, whereas those of species in the genus Callisia are subtended by inconspicuous bracts.  No matter how you treat it taxonomically, there is no denying that this is one good-looking little plant.

Should you want to find this attractive member of the day lily family (Commelinaceae), your best bet would be to search sandhills and dry, open woods and barrens with sandy or rocky soils.  It is also occasionally found along railroads and on roadsides, as well as in grassy meadows and swamp forests.

Faden, R. B.  2000.  Callisia. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. Vol. 22, pp. 187-190.