- Although The Butterfly Site (http://www.thebutterflysite.com/tennessee-butterflies.shtml) lists over 50 butterflies that are common in East Tennessee, I have seen exactly one butterfly in my back yard in the two years I have been here. I will be looking for butterfly-magnet flowers and shrubs at the East Tennessee Plant Swap in May. For now, I’ll content myself with drawing my own:
- The real bee lures currently working magic in my yard are the two Carolina Cherry Laurels (Prunus caroliniana).
Dozens of bees visit it all day long in springtime. I have two very well established shrubs about shoulder high. Soon, the honeysuckle bushes in the vacant lot next door will finish blooming out and the bees will congregate there while I enjoy the sweet fragrance.
- I put hummingbird feeders out the last two springs but no hummers found them. I will keep doing that whether any ever do show up, and just keep watching PBS’s “Nature” program “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air” on DVD. (The full episode can also be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6rmZmw1cvQ.)
- To share characteristics of your property online for community benefit and to learn how to make your place more bird friendly, I recommend Yard Map, an offering of the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. It is a “free, social, interactive, citizen science mapping project about habitat creation and low-impact land use.” People can provide a “map” of their own property or a nearby park or other bit of land, share questions and information, and become part of a community whose purpose is to increase bird-friendly habitats. We name trees, log bird sightings and report on whether our berry bushes are providing food for our feathered friends.
THE SCIENCE OF YARDMAP
What kinds of questions are we seeking to answer with your help?
- What practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes?
- Which of these practices have the greatest impact?
- Over how large an area do we have to implement these practices to really make a difference?
- What impact do urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats have on birds?
- Which measures (bird counts? nesting success?) show the greatest impacts of our practices?
- Science News: Magazine of the Society for Science & the Public has a nice article about Yard Map, “See Your Lawn Through a Bird’s Eyes with YardMap”. It is at https://www.sciencenews.org/article/see-your-lawn-through-bird%E2%80%99s-eyes-yardmap. My own Yard Map shows which parts of my property are lawn, imported trees, natural undergrowth, building, pavement and shrubs.
- I see there are other Yard Maps in Knoxville, and I plan to try to make contact with the mappers for possible personal sharing on the local level. It will be fun to find out whether any of them participate in the East Tennessee Plant Swap next month! I know of two online presences for Yard Map. Its home page is at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/projects/clo/yardmap. Learn more, and look for the “Head to the YardMaps website” link. Be a part of Citizen Science Central.