The first signs that spring is just around the corner are here! Robins have been spotted in large flocks foraging for insects in fields and back yards, and finally consuming holly and sumac berries that have been hanging on trees since last fall. Spring peepers and chorus frogs have been heard on warm, rainy nights. Canada geese pairs are parsing out territories on just about every small pond—rural or urban—to begin nesting. Great horned owls and eagles are well on their way toward spring and have been sitting on eggs for some time now. And of particular interest to Richmonders, the resident pair of peregrine falcons is back and has been observed courting and more recently establishing a “scrape” in their nest box. For more information about the Richmond pair of peregrine falcons, you can visit the Falcon Cam blog.
There are a few things that we should consider now to get ready for spring:
- Nest boxes can be fun and a relatively easy thing that will benefit many species, especially cavity-dwelling species like the eastern bluebird, tree swallow, purple martin, and flying squirrel.
- New nest boxes should be built and erected soon. Many species have already begun to look for nest sites, but if they are up by the middle of March, it should be fine.
- Existing nest boxes need to be cleaned and inspected. Clean all of the old nesting material out of the box and check the box for structural stability. Predator guards should be checked or installed if you do not have them already. Nest boxes are great ways to help with species conservation, but can also be traps if predators are allowed access. Here’s more information about bluebirds, nest boxes, and predator guards—including plans for construction: Bluebird Are Back!
Finally, as spring arrives and we begin to think about yard work, gardening, and just cleaning up around the house; consider how your efforts may impact wildlife.
- Pay close attention and follow labels on fertilizer and insecticides.
- Consider using organic or natural products were you can and remember that too much of a good thing can often have negative impacts to wildlife.
- When cleaning up consider leaving a little cover where you can. A small brush or rock pile can provide habitat for a variety of birds, reptiles, or small mammals.
Even small things that we do around the house like nest boxes and brush piles, can make a difference for wildlife. For more information about things you can do around your house, see our Habitat At Home website.
Photos by Eugene Hester.