July 5, 2020 at 5:33 pm #8548
Great news! The 4 blue eggs hatched on Independence Day! Happy for that. And I also Van Ert’ed that pesky male HOSP that’s been chirping for 10+ days! Yday was a big day here!
On the topic of no one likes HOSP…My new relaxation activity is hand-picking Japanese beetles. We’re having a bumper crop year of those. They gravitate to the asparagus ferns, so I typically spend 10-15 minutes circling the patch knocking them into soapy water. While doing that, I heard this chirpy ruckus in the big rhododendron. Suddenly a pair of small brown birds rolled out of the rhodie and across the lawn, with one ending up on top, clutching the other by the throat. It was a song sparrow pinning a HOSP female!! I witnessed this twice in 2 days. The song sparrow has a nest in the yew beside the rhodie, so I’m guessing that was a territorial dispute. But it made me laugh and think, “Wow, no one likes HOSP.” Couldn’t wait to share that. The birds here seem to be scrappy little fighters!July 5, 2020 at 7:48 pm #8550JamieParticipant
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Babies!!! :) Grats on getting the HOSP, looks like I’ve got one on trying to claim a box again too. It is quite a way from the house and will be hard to keep an eye on, and in this heat I’d definitely have to keep eyes on every minute. I guess a day out on the front porch with the binoculars is in my future.
I love song sparrows. Mine seem to love water! They are often at the birdbath and one year even made a nest in a vine that was only a couple feet from the watering area. It’s nice to hear a story of a “good bird” getting the best of a HOSP. Hopefully, the beatdown will make the HOSP think twice and stay away.July 5, 2020 at 9:26 pm #8552
To my surprise, a pair of HOSP moved into that box immediately today!! They were nest-building tonight, so the trap will go in tomorrow. My husband keeps suggesting putting out the DRST, and I’m considering, but have had poor success with it the last 2 times it was out. Maybe I’ll try again and have good results catching young ones.
You are so right about the song sparrows liking water! I frequently catch them sipping from plant saucers. I have a little bonsai gingko forest, and I keep it in a small footbath pool thing. The song sparrows usually bathe there in summer, skipping the birdbath entirely. It’s so funny to me how they find any water that’s just-right for them. I love having them around for their perky song.July 5, 2020 at 9:27 pm #8553Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
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Julie, I am also hand-picking off those beetles – mainly on my crape myrtle and some on my knock-roses. Some just grab the insecticide and spray poison into the air – it is almost fun and challenging to find those beetles and pick them off one by one. I got an early start and caught them in the breeding process, so most of the time got two at once. Last year they were a lot worse but then again we are just getting into the real summer season.
Congrats on the new baby blue and catching those HOSP.July 5, 2020 at 10:55 pm #8554
Carol, my knock-out roses are covered, too. They look so terrible! Happily they flowered early, so there are no new blooms yet for the beetles to ruin. I’ve investigated various options to treat the roses, but they’re all toxic, so it’s me, a squirt of dish soap, and a pair of gloves. Today I saw a catbird grabbing beetles out of the weeping cherry tree. A wonderful sight!! So happy to have a helper in this beetle project! Fingers crossed to catch 2 HOSP in a box this year–you have inspired me! And the male and female were going in and out this evening like clockwork. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.July 6, 2020 at 8:06 am #8555Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
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The good thing about the beetles is that they only eat the foliage, not the blooms, and do not kill the plant itself. The skeleton-like look on the foliage is not pretty but buds are not harmed. Right now my crape myrtle shrub is beginning to bloom so when I pick off the beetles I have to be careful not to get the bud. I believe I got a good start on picking them off, so the knock out roses have not had many lately.
P.s. You mention “knocking them off into the water” – when I try to do this they fly away so I just pick them off gently. Any special secret to your method?July 6, 2020 at 8:29 am #8556
Carol, I use a tall squarish container that sunflower seeds (or other bulk dried fruit, etc.) came in. I do gently pick them off, but I also try to maneuver that container beneath them and then knock them off their perch. They usually drop instinctively, and in they go into my soapy mix! Sometimes they do fly off, but they’re more docile (not warmed up) in early morning and evening (dusk). I’ve noticed that if I see one flying into a plant to land, they hover around until they find a cluster of other ones, so I patiently watch and then try to get them all at once. With a container that’s wide enough for one hand to hold securely, I can use the other hand like a scoop or scraper, moving them toward the container and then covering it with that hand. Sometimes I get 8-10 at once! That’s when there are bunches. Usually I get doubles, triples or singles. They eat my rose flowers, the raspberries (leaves usually but many berries ruined this year–grr!), and the cherry tree leaves the most. I tried something new to me and natural for the lawn grubs this year. We’ll see if it works. Won’t know ’til fall or next year. We had a skunk digging the lawn last fall for grubs, but I don’t want to poison the lawn…but I also don’t want a dug-up lawn!July 6, 2020 at 9:00 am #8557blue diamondsParticipant
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Since you are talking about garden pests…..the last couple of years I have been using cornmeal to get get rid of ants or at least deter them. I sprinkle some around the base of the bluebird box poles. It’s safe for the birds and seems to work quite well. Also use it around the perimeter of the house and gardens.
Judy-MichiganJuly 6, 2020 at 4:30 pm #8559
Judy, thanks for sharing that! Love using simple stuff we already have on hand!
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