Live. Love. Harm no one. Help when you can. Be happy.
By: BriarCraft , 7:12 PM GMT on February 20, 2013
The robins returned en masse on February 18, a gray day. The sun came out on the 19th, as did my camera. According to the map below, found on All About Birds, robins are year-round residents here. But they're not. They appear in February or March, court, mate, build nests, and make babies. By July, 80% of them are gone. A few remain until September or October and then they are gone, too. I don't know where our local robins winter. Perhaps someplace less soggy or with more berries or bugs. It can't be for lack of worms, as there are plenty here.
Robins eat large numbers of both invertebrates and fruit. Particularly in spring and summer they eat large numbers of earthworms as well as insects and some snails. They also eat a variety of fruits, including chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, and sumac fruits, and juniper berries.
For pictures of robin nests and instructions how to make a nesting shelf for places where natural nesting sites are in short supply, click here.
Pacific Tree Frogs, also known as Pacific Chorus Frogs come in a variety of colors. In my yard, they are mostly green, although in late summer they change color to varying shades of brown. I found a page at Getty Images that shows our little froggies in all their various colors. So how can you identify one? They all have a dark stripe running through the eye from nose to back of head and they all have sticky toe pads. There are some interesting pictures and information about them at mister-toad.com. Here is one of their YouTube videos, because hearing them is half the pleasure.
Where I live, they provide a nighttime chorus at odd moments from December through February. There is no predictable time. It might happen at 9pm or 2am. It might last for 5 minutes or an hour. One moment the chorus is so loud it rivals the decible level of some power tools. The next moment, absolute silence, as if someone or something startled them.
In springtime, one or two frogs take up residence in my greenhouse, keeping my seedlings bug-free. In May and June, I can't walk across the lawn without seeing dozens of half-inch-long baby frogs jumping around my feet. When it's time to mow, I keep an eye out for frogs and slow down to give them time to get out of the way. During our dry summers the frogs have to get creative about finding moisture. They love the dew-wet grass in early morning. During hot afternoons, they take shelter under cabbage or primrose leaves.
Together, the robins and tree frogs, by their very presence, assure me that these few acres are good habitat for more than just people and cats. No insecticides or poisons are used here. Beyond the mowed grass, patches of briars and brambles and low-hanging branches are left untouched to provide shelter. The seasonal pond is never drained, but allowed to dry out naturally.
People and nature can do more than just co-exist. We can live in harmony. In urban areas, there can be backyard habitats. Even in an apartment, there can be a butterfly-friendly plant in a container on the balcony. And we can help make sure that natural areas are set aside and preserved or restored for the benefit of us all.
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