Friday, February 19, 2010

Organ Pipe Wasp Nests

organ pipe wasp nest
Minding my own business at the computer yesterday, the sound of pecking outside the window was enough motivation to go out in the cold to see who, or what, was trying to take the siding off the house.  Slowly approaching the pecking sound, now identified as coming from the underside of the deck above the window, something fell down and bounced on the patio, and then a downy woodpecker flew out.  The photo above shows one of the several organ pipe mud dauber wasp nests constructed under the deck.  You can see the damage the woodpecker has done (to the nests), probably looking for larvae or spiders that the wasps left last fall.  Mud dauber wasps tend to be nice to have around, they are not aggressive, eat lots of spiders, and are, in turn, eaten by birds - I've watched bluebirds take wasps on the wing.
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

No, we are not burning the prairie yet. Although, I have always wanted to do a prairie burn on Ash Wednesday. I am tired and weary of all the snow. Mostly because it looks so tired and weary marked by deer beds, pawing and other nasty things. So, we are preparing ourselves for spring! And what better way to start than with Hot Cross Buns.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Brushpiles

We were out snowshoeing today,
and noticed trails into all the brushpiles.
We have set up several brush piles on the property. These piles are mostly honeysuckle bushes that we had cut down last summer. We haul and pile up the branches in good spots, the best being locations at the edge between two adjoining habitats. The photo above shows a pile at the edge between the woodlands and the prairie, and quite a path coming from and going into the pile. I could not discern individual tracks, so I am free to speculate what is making these paths. Various animals use brush piles for both home and shelter from predators. Chipmunks, rabbits, voles, groundhogs and even Bobwhite quail (if you are lucky ebough to have Bobwhite quail!) use brushpiles. I checked several sources and not one mentioned squirrels using brushpiles, but we have so many squirrels here that they are probably the ones making or at least contributing to these paths.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Last night it snowed yet again. Everything was covered in snow this morning and it was beautiful! So many people say that they are getting so tired of the snow, but I cannot really say that,  for each snowfall has been so different.  Each snowfall has created it's own unique scenes at Habitat Home.