Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Residents Warned Not to Plant Unsolicited Foreign Seed Shipments

Photos of seeds sent to Virginians unsolicited/VDACS (Source: Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

Various news sources are warning residents not to plant any seed they receive unsolicited from unknown sources "because they could be a pathway for introduction of invasive species, insects and plant diseases." Apparently, these seed shipments are part of a massive international internet scam possibly originating from China.

If you live in North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia or Georgia, you've probably seen this warning in the news. It seems to be making the rounds. I suspect, however, that the scam is not limited to those states. So let this be a warning to you.

For more information, check out the following sources:



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Saturday, July 18, 2020

About The Cardinals

Northern Cardinal - Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels
Northern Cardinal

And how to attract them

When the word Cardinal is mentioned, four things come to mind – the bird, the baseball team, a church official and something of major significance. All of these converge in the bird.

The bird – crested and often clothed in bright red – is ubiquitous. Depending on the species, its range spans most of the United States, into Mexico and South America.

There are three perky species in the genus, two of which are common in North America.

Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis

The Northern Cardinal male is crested, brilliant red with a black mask. The female is olive with a reddish cast. It’s so common, widespread and stunning that this species has been designated the official state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is not the state bird of Missouri.

Though the bird is figured in the logo of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, the team was not named for the bird, but for a color in their uniforms. That color – cardinal – is the shade of the cassocks of certain high-ranking officials in the Catholic Church. Important, indeed!

The Northern Cardinal ranges from Maine and Canada, throughout the eastern U.S., westward into Texas, into Mexico and as far south as Guatemala.

It feeds on fruits, seeds – particularly black oil sunflower – and insects, which its thick, sharp beak can dispatch in short order. These are easy enough to find.

The Northern Cardinal sometimes displays the curious behavior of pecking at glass and other shiny surfaces. This is because it’s very territorial, especially in spring. That reflected image of itself is taken to be a threat.

Pyrrhuloxia - Cardinalis sinuatus

The Pyrrhuloxia or Desert Cardinal is mostly found in the arid southwest and Mexico. It is also crested and resembles the Northern Cardinal, though the male is colored gray with a red mask, breast and crest. The female is gray sans mask.

Its diet also consists of insects, fruits – particularly cactus – and seeds.

Vermilion Cardinal - Cardinalis phoeniceus

By FĂ©lix Uribe, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81342201

This one is quite similar to the Northern Cardinal with vibrant coloration and a more distinctive crest. It’s native only to the South American countries of Colombia and Venezuela. Since you won’t likely see it in your yard, you don’t need to worry about feeding it.

If you build it, they will come – certainly!

As noted before, cardinals are common in the United States. But they love to hide and nest in dense shrubbery. A good cardinal habitat will include a landscape of shrubs and low trees, seed-bearing grasses, flowers - particularly of the Asteraceae family.

Northern Cardinals are crazy about sunflower seeds, but they also eat cracked corn, safflower, peanut pieces, milo and millet. I love watching them adorn the winter branches of crape myrtles, devouring the seeds.

Pyrrhuloxia are fond of sunflowers and cracked corn. Bird-watchers in the Southwest should plant flowering, fruit-producing cacti.

If you really want to view them up close, seed feeders will surely draw them in. A vast selection of tray feeders, hoppers, tube feeders and ground feeders are for your choosing. However, if you’re a cat owner, or neighborhood cats visit you, skip the ground feeders.

Cardinals stand out in the crowd. Offer them attractive habitats, hiding places, water for bathing, their favorite foods, and you’ll be rewarded with a yard full of these delightful little creatures.

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