PICAYUNE — Have you been wondering why your car’s rearview mirror has developed a strange, Jackson Pollock-like pattern? Have you having a bit of trouble seeing clearly out your car window, and wondering if your neighbor’s dog could have been licking your window with a clay-covered tongue? Last week, several of the vehicles parked at the Crosby Arboretum Visitor Center had – shall we say – some visitors. Perhaps you’ve even caught a glimpse of our culprit, his bright red feathers frantically dashing against mirrored glass. Now, what could that cardinal be doing? We know that spring is on its way, evidenced by the recent behavior of these male cardinals, defending their territory by attacking that pesky male cardinal in the mirror. The problem is, he just won’t go away! Although the bird’s dance may provoke a laugh or two, when you later find yourself later faced with the cold facts of having to remove copious amounts of the bird’s “calling card” from your card door, not to mention the “modern art” on your rearview mirror, well, these sights are not for those with a weak temperament. If your yard lacks a cavorting cardinal, you can watch such capers on your favorite Internet video site. I’m considering duct-taping two plastic owls to my rearview mirrors (to prevent them from flying off while on the move). Or perhaps to institute a more cost-effective solution, such as a couple of plastic shopping bags and some rubber bands. Cloudy mirrors are just one of the “signs of wildlife” that children can keep a watchful eye out for. Last week’s Wildlife Day brought many exhibitors out to the Arboretum for a fun-filled school field trip day. Students had the opportunity to learn about Mississippi wildlife from experts in their fields–critter identification, what they eat, and where they live. We’ve been hearing news of increasing bird activity in our area. Arboretum volunteer Tom Heim reported that immediately after putting up his bluebird house, he had bluebirds move in. Tom has built some exquisite cedar bluebird houses for our Arboretum gift shop. Judging from the many features they have, including customized squirrel-proofing, it’s not hard to imagine why they are in such high demand! Tom performed thorough research to learn about when and where to locate his birdhouses. The “when” is now, because bluebirds are establishing their territories and breeding will begin soon. The “where” is to mount them on a fencepost or pole with the bottom of the box about three to six feet from ground level, facing an open field with a distant tree (for baby birds to practice flying to), and away from the direction of prevailing winds. To allow for adequate territory, locate the houses at least 300 feet apart. Finally, installing a predator guard on the pole will help to deter critters such as snakes and raccoons. Tom also mentioned that he has been going through quite a bit of sunflower seed this winter. He puts out black oil sunflower seed, which is higher in oil and meat than the typical striped seeds. Many species of birds prefer the black oil type of seed, which draws a wide variety of birds. A platform-type feeder is one way to make sunflower seed easily available. We have several at our Visitor Center that are as simple as it gets - a post with a board nailed on top. Adding a low side will keep the seed from being scattered to the ground. A final touch would be a roof to help to keep the seed dry. Last week, I enjoyed a visit to a friend’s residential garden that was alive with bird activity. This house was located adjacent to open fields on two sides. However, the beds surrounding the home were generous and wide, filled with a wonderful mix of native and ornamental plants. Even in the late winter, it was a happy and active garden, with birds swooping constantly through the beds. Vegetative edges adjacent to open areas like this are where birds thoroughly enjoy being, as they provide them with protection, food sources, and places to perch. Including plants with a variety of heights - planting in “layers” - in your garden beds will increase habitat opportunities, and attracting more species of wildlife. My friend’s garden layout reminded me of a figure in the MSU Extension publication 2402 on “Mississippi Recreational Gardens: Establishing a Backyard Wildlife Habitat”, which illustrates how you can design your yard for wildlife, and planning for areas that will provide the basic needs of wildlife: food, water, and shelter. This document includes many informative lists of plants that will attract birds and other wildlife. Native trees for attracting birds include black gum, live oak, slash pine, southern magnolia, sweet gum, black cherry, cherry laurel, southern crabapple, parsley hawthorn, native fringe tree (Grancy graybeard), hollies, persimmon, sassafras, and sweetbay magnolia. Native shrubs include American beautyberry, arrow-wood Viburnum, blueberries, elderberry, and red buckeye. Vines and perennials include blackberry, coral honeysuckle, black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, and firebush. Many trees and shrubs that are favored by local wildlife will be offered at our upcoming spring plant sale, to be held March 22 and 23 (Friday and Saturday) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Plant professionals will be available at the sale to help you choose the right plants for your own unique site conditions, in addition to informational handouts A plant list of species that will be at the sale will be available on the Arboretum’s website the week of the sale. Admission to the site will be free that day, so bring a friend along and explore the wonders of our Arboretum.. Call the Arboretum office at 601-799-2311 for more information, or visit www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. The Crosby Arboretum is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59). For further exploration: Visit the Mississippi State University Extension Service website to research Mississippi native plants you may wish to include in your home landscape with a high wildlife value, such as publication 2334, “Native Shrubs for Mississippi Landscapes” and 2330, “Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes.”
Every spring the home gardener is bombarded with new and improved petunias for the garden and landscape, making it hard to decide which to bring home from the garden center. In my opinion, you simply can’t go wrong selecting any of the Supertunias.
Spring is now in full swing at the Crosby Arboretum, and the show is well on its way toward a crescendo. The blooms of native purple Iris can be seen along the edge of the Piney Woods pond, pink “honeysuckle” azalea is flowering near the Pinecote Pavilion, and the yellow blooms of the pitcher plants — called “buttercups” by local residents — are beginning to carpet the south Savanna Exhibit.
USM set to host Children’s Book Festival
One of the most anticipated events celebrating children’s literature, the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi, will be held April 10-12 at the Thad Cochran Center on the Hattiesburg campus.
Amber Bounds breaks six-year-old state swimming record
The Southern MS Aquatic Club (Mantarays) participated in the Santa’s Best Swim Invitational in Biloxi Nov. 30-Dec. 2. The Mantarays finished 6th out of 22 teams competing from LA, AL, FL, and MS.
- Capitol Pages Jonathan Fail of Picayune, and Lorrie Warren of Poplarville recently served as pages for the Mississippi Senate.
Yellow jasmine brightens yards
According to the calendar, we are just a few days away from the official start of the spring season. But if you have been watching the garden and landscape like I have, you’ve seen signs of spring for at least several weeks. The plants are starting to wake up.
Native blooms abound at the Arboretum’s spring plant sale
The long-awaited weekend is upon us – that time which comes but once a year. Yes, it’s the Crosby Arboretum’s spring native plant sale.
Welcome Center celebrates arts and literature in March
The Mississippi Development Authority, Division of Tourism will be celebrating “Arts and Literature” during the month of March. Each of the Welcome Centers will be decorated differently for this celebration.
Lamont Rowlands house important to historical heritage
Pat Crosby first moved to the Lamont Rowlands house in 1992.
Although she found the home in disrepair, she couldn’t imagine not living there and knew that was her new home.
“It just spoke to me, and it still does,” said Crosby, the wife of the late Tommy Crosby, son of R.H. Crosby. Tommy Crosby completely renovated the home and grounds.
Pearl River County Arts League Art Show and Sale
Pearl River County Arts League Art Show and Sale will be held on Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 24, from noon till 4 p.m. at The Knights of Columbus Hall, 408 Carroll Drive. The show is open to all artists and admission is free to the public.
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