You know Forsythia, although you may not realize it! It’s that skinny, scraggly, bushy stuff that starts to glow with sunny yellow blooms at about this time of the year. Here in Kentucky, it started blooming about a week ago, and is found in some odd places.
My favorites are the bushes that suddenly pop into view from a woodland edge, or in the middle of a field (usually with Daffodils around). The incongruity of a beautiful gold-laden shrub against the somber backdrop of trees that aren’t even in leaf yet can be stunning, and it certainly raises my spirits just to see it.
When it’s put into a landscape as a hedge, it’s absolutely breathtaking in bloom! Even a single small shrub in a surrounding lawn makes a cheerful statement at this time of year. As Winter seems to drag on into Spring, any bit of brightness is welcome.
Forsythia is actually a member of the olive family (Oleaceae), and none of the species are native to the US. If you want to plant some in your yard or as a hedge, now is a great time! Install your hedge in full sun and well-drained soil, with each plant about four to six feet away from the next, and sit back and wait for next Spring.
Another reason to plant Forsythia is that bees love these flowers on early Spring days when few other options for pollen are available. Lots of other pollinators depend on the fast-blooming Forsythia for a much-needed pick-me-up as well, such as bumblebees, wasps flies and butterflies.
When you’re choosing your plants, make sure that you read the descriptions! Some Forsythia varieties can reach ten feet tall and twelve feet wide, and can easily begin a dramatic takeover of your yard in just a couple of years. There are cultivars that are compact, but you have to look.
Prune your Forsythia shrubs right after flowering finishes, and try to remove the older branches right at the base, thinning out rather than going for a sheared look. Next year, you can “force” blooms in your kitchen by cutting branches in early January all the way to late February. Bring them in and place in water, wait around ten days, and you’ll be rewarded with an extra early sunny blast!
Forsythia can be cut and rooted, too, so if you want to build up a hedge you can always do it this way. It’ll take a few years, but will reward you with a wall of golden beauty for many years after your hard work!
If you’re wanting to grow Forsythia from cuttings, the best time to take them is in Spring, as soon as the leaves burst from their buds. Clean your clippers with alcohol first, and then trim several four to six inch new growth stems from your shrub. Wrap them in damp newspaper and keep in a dark cool area if you can’t put them in your rooting medium right away.
Use a half and half mix of perlite and peat moss that’s nice and moist. Then, trim off the bottom leaf buds for about three inches and insert the stem into your pot or container. Cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, a clear plastic soda bottle with the bottom removed, or plastic warp. Keep them in indirect light so they don’t cook! Your cuttings should root and be ready to pot up in four to six weeks.
Forsythia only flowers for a couple of weeks, three at most, so its sunny, golden beauty is quick to pass. But because it is one of the earliest plants to flower, it will remain a favorite in gardens and landscapes all across North America!
As always, please email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with questions, comments or corrections. I LOVE to hear from you! God Bless and have a FABULOUS day!
Sources: http://www.Gardeningknowhow.com, homeguides.sfgate.com
Last year we noticed that we had our “own” mockingbird, and he would perch in the treetop across from our front porch and sing his heart out. One of the sounds he would imitate is the call of Bobwhite quail (which we have seen here, but not recently) and I would get all excited and rush out to the treeline looking for quail. Well, no quail this time, but the MOckingbird is pretty special , too.
We feed our wild birds year-round, and our Mockingbird will take some seeds but I see him a lot more on the suet feeder through the winter. I imagine the fat helps him keep warm!
Mockingbirds like to have what’s called “edge” habitat, which basically means they like to have trees to perch in, shrubs for protection, and open areas to forage for insects and invertebrates. They do like fruit, and will drink tree sap if they find it.
Male Mockingbirds are a little bigger than the hen, and his vocal ability seems to be quite important in a females’ decision about whether to choose him to mate with and raise babies. Once the female decides, she’ll stick with him for the whole breeding season.
They’ll raise two or even three clutches of babies in a season, with two to four eggs in each clutch. The hen incubates her eggs for twelve to thirteen days, and once they’ve hatched both parents feed the nestlings for another twelve to thirteen days until they fledge. If the hen does lay another clutch, she starts as soon as the first clutch of babies is hatched! The male bird gets to take care of the first clutch while she incubates the next.
Northern Mockingbirds make their nests high up (ten to sixty feet off the ground) to protect from raccoons, squirrels, snakes and blue jays and crows.
Adult birds have to look out for hawks, and for Brown-headed Cowbirds that will parasitize the nests of Mockingbirds. Cowbird chicks will push the Mockingbird fledglings out of the nest.
Male Mockingbirds flash those white wing patches as a territorial display, warning other males off. They sing to show where their territory boundaries are located, to attract hens, and just because they can!
Here’s an interesting fact: female Mockingbirds sing, too! Another odd thing is that some birds will sing into the night. Scientists think that the night-time singers are unpaired male birds.
Mockingbirds can sing up to 200 different song patterns, and they’ve been known to imitate other birds, animals, car alarms and chainsaws. They’ll imitate each other and apparently any sound that catches their attention.
So celebrate the Northern Mockingbird today, in all his glory. They’ll entertain you with their song and their antics, and they’ll brighten your day every time you let them!
As always, please feel free to email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with questions, comments or criticism. I love to hear from you!
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Here in Kentucky, the Daffodils have started to bloom! As you’re driving to work you’ll pass open fields and pastures that frequently have a clump of Daffies right in the middle. I asked my husband about this when we first moved here, and he told me that nearly anyplace that a house stood in the last hundred years or so, you’ll find “spring flowers”, even though there’s no sign of a house.
It’s so cool to see that chunk of sunshine in a pasture that’s still mostly brown from winter. According to Teleflora, Daffodils symbolize rebirth and new beginnings, and it’s easy to see why.
Chinese people associate Daffies with good fortune, and the Japanese give it the meaning of “joy and mirth”. At the end of winter, it’s a real “bright spot”, whatever meaning you want to give it!
The Daffodils that we most commonly think of are the pure yellow trumpets with a yellow corolla, but they come in an increasing variety of colors and shapes now, including pink, orange, pure white, and any combination of those that you can imagine.
Some Daffies have a fragrance, especially the small ones, but a lot of the more modern varieties don’t. If you’re looking through those beautiful catalogs for types to plant in your garden, check to see if they smell good, too!
Daffodils are classed as a narcissus, are frequently called jonquils, and in England are often called the “Lent Lily” ! But by any name, they’re a bright spot in the landscape or in a pot on your kitchen table or desk.
If you want to put Daffies in your yard for next spring, mark your calendar to plant them in October or November, so that they’ll surprise you next Spring. They seem to start coming up just when it feels like winter will never go away, and will put some sparkle in your day!
If you’ve got a pot of cheery Daffie blooms on your desk, wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting them in your flowerbed. The leaves will die back in the heat of summer, but don’t worry! They’ll surely come bursting out right on time next spring, to brighten your garden and landscape.
One of the nicest things about these flowers is their ability to naturalize, like the “wild” clumps I see here in Kentucky. If you’ve got more space than a flowerbed, you can plant your daffodils in a sunny spot pretty much anywhere. They don’t need a lot of care or feeding, just a bit of room and a little compost. They’ll reward you next year, as the dreary part of winter drags on…
As always, please feel free to email me with comments, quotes, or stories at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com. I LOVE answering your emails!
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Today I got to see our first pair of House Finches at the feeder. I always celebrate each new birds’ arrival with a few extra sunflower seeds, a couple of raisins, and a mealworm or two, just in case the new birds don’t get their favorite from the tall feeder right away. According to AllAboutBirds.com (from Cornell Labs) the House Finch is a relatively new bird here in the East. I had gotten used to seeing them back home in Arizona, and so was surprised to read that!
As you can see from these photos, the male has a pretty reddish or purplish head and breast. Both birds sing, and it’s a long, “twittering” song, but mostly what I notice is the noise from the groups that will perch in our trees and “bomb” the feeder in bursts, sometimes scaring off the smaller Chickadees, Nuthatches and Titmice.
Purple Finches appear to prefer the black oil sunflower seed the best, and I can see them tossing out the safflower and smaller millet seeds as they work their way through the offerings I have out for them.
Apparently, some enterprising business person tried to sell House Finches as a cage bird (“Hollywood finches”), but when that experiment failed, they were turned loose on Long Island to fend for themselves. They successfully made the transition from a Western bird to the East, and have colonized across the eastern US and Canada since that release in the 1940’s.
The male House Finches’ color is dependent on its diet! Whatever he eats while he’s molting has a direct effect on how red he is, and females prefer to mate with the brightest red males they can find. This makes sense in that the better fed the male, the better chance he’ll be healthy and able to help feed babies.
Another way that House Finches are different is that instead of defending a territory, the male bird defends his mate. Like many birds, he helps by bringing nesting material to the female, but she’s the one who does the actual building. House Finches have been seen nesting in hanging plants and old woodpecker holes, and when she’s got it just right, she’ll lay two to six eggs that are bluish with a bit of small speckling. She’ll incubate the eggs for 12 to 14 days, and baby birds fledge anywhere between 11 and 19 days later.
Baby House Finches are exclusive vegetarians! Parents don’t feed their young any insects at all, which is pretty rare. The parents must have to work extra hard to find enough protein to keep those babies growing. The male bird will continue to feed the young for a while after they’ve left the nest, but the hen will often find a new mate and start another family while the rooster takes care of the first clutch.
Purple Finches have a lot more red on the males, and the females’ belly stripes are more clearly defined. They’re a common winter bird here in Kentucky, but are often confused with the House Finch.. I know I’ve seen a few that I wasn’t sure which species it was!
Purple finches are the losers in the colonization game. They appear to be losing territory to the introduced House Finch here in the East, and seem to be less assertive at the feeder and in other “birdy” interactions.
An interesting fact about Purple Finches is that they add sounds of other birds to their warblings. Some of the birds they’ve been recorded as imitating are American Goldfinches, Barn Swallows, and Eastern Towhees.
Purple Finches like to forage in open forests or scrubby cover, sometimes on the ground. Their favorites are sunflower seed, millet and thistle seeds. They’ll nest in a tree fork or on a horizontal branch, or possibly on a small ledge under your porch roof!
Male Purple Finches have a lovely little courtship “dance”, where he raises his tail, puffs out his chest, and droops his wings. Then he will vibrate his wings so that he lifts into the air just a bit! He may sing a song to the hen as he dances, and he may also hold nest material in his bill during his performance.
Purple Finches migrate during the day, unlike many songbirds. They will travel in a flock, and they tend to move sporadically during spring and fall.
These finches like to eat tree buds, berries and small fruits in the spring and fall, and in the summer they’ll take beetles and caterpillars. Seeds are the mainstay of their diets through the winter months, and if you want to attract them, plant a few Ash or Elm trees, along with a big block of Sunflower and Safflower. You’ll be rewarded with crowds of these and other small birds through the summer, fall and winter!
Happy Birding, and as always, feel free to drop me a line at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com if you have questions, corrections, or comments! I LOVE to hear from you 😉
You’ve seen that crazy video of the tiny infant with a baby Sloth and you just HAVE to get one? Well, dear reader, perhaps you want more info first…!
SO, there’s a BUNCH of stuff about Sloths that you’d need to know BEFORE you brought one into your home. For instance, did you know that Sloths only poo once a week, and that when they do, it’s a pile that amounts to about a third of their body weight? (Ewwww!!!)
And, despite that lovely video, you might want to know that Sloths don’t really like being held and cuddled after they’re about a year old. So don’t expect that cute “huggy” stage to last very long!
Most of the Sloth species are at least classed as “endangered”, which means that there are already not enough of them in the wild. Even more distressing is the fact that most of the baby Sloths that are made into pets have seen their moms shot and killed, so that baby is about the right age to be “cuddly” for some amount of time.
And, even worse is the fact that people who are unknowing or unthinking enough to buy a wild animal for a “pet” have no idea what to feed them, how to take care of them, or how long they live.
These facts add up to Sloths in rescue centers, very likely never able to survive in the wild and never being able to reproduce and have their own babies.
The Tropical rain forests where Sloths live are slowly being cut down to make room for cocoa plantations, cattle grazing operations, and cultivation. Sloths can’t live in those areas anymore, and most species are slowly dropping in numbers.
Sloths sleep for ten to twenty hours every day. They have a really difficult time regulating their body temperature, so have to move into and out of the shade to stay comfortable.
A Sloth will generally only leave its protective canopy spot once a week to go poo in its particular potty spot. It’s very vulnerable then, to jaguars and other predators, and the only other reasons it will come down and go walkabout is to find a mate or because it has run out of food in that area.
Orphaned baby Sloths take a lot of care and holding to grow up properly! Moms hold their babies for around six months, and the babies usually stay close to their Mom’s range, continuing to communicate with her for a year or more.
Oh, and that cute smile? It’s actually just the way their mouth is shaped! They look like that even when they’re upset or uncomfortable.
Want to learn more about the six different species of Sloths? Still fascinated? Purchase “My Sloth Journal” at https://amzn.to/2TxaHOA, and spend the next couple of months with facts, trivia, and a few quotes to help you be more mindful of the countless ways that Nature has found to increase life on this, our amazing planet!
As always, feel free to shoot me an email at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with questions, corrections, or just to chat!
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The short answer to that question is: A Coatimundi is a long-nosed raccoon. But, if that’s not enough for you, here’s a bit more on the subject;)
Coatimundis are an interesting exotic pet, and a really intelligent animal. Here’s a photo…
As you can guess from this photo, Coatis are flexible, a little cat-like, and very entertaining. Zoo keepers describe them as escape artists, and with their clever little hands (a lot like a raccoons’), that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Coatimundis are native to the southwestern US, Mexico, and all the way down into Central and South America. There are several different species, but they all have that long narrow snout and a long fluffy tail. Some species live almost entirely in trees, but most are comfortable either there or on the ground.
They eat fruit, insects,small mammals and reptiles, poking their long nose under rocks, and digging with their long claws. Females and young generally travel in bands of 10 to 30 individuals, while males are solitary.
Some Coatis are nocturnal, but others forage during daylight. Bands traveling in tall grass keep track of each other with clicks, grunts, barks and even whistles.
As a pet, a coatimundi will definitely keep you on your toes! They’re extremely curious and very high energy, so they need a lot of early socialization and daily attention. They’re not a pet for the faint-hearted or timid person, as they can and may bite if irritated!
If properly socialized and kept active and engaged, though, a coati can be a treasured part of your family for many years. Coatis have been known to live to 16 years old in captivity, so they really take some planning and commitment.
Many people who have kept coatis in their families describe them as “like having a perpetual three-year-old”, so if you’re not ready to coati-proof your home, it’d be best just to visit some at the zoo!
If you do decide that a Coati is that perfect companion animal for you, do find a reputable breeder who will give you all the information you need to keep YOUR Coatimundi healthy, happy and lively for many years to come!
As always, feel free to drop me a line at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with any questions, corrections or concerns. I LOVE to hear from my readers!
If you’re interested in learning more about Coatis, purchase “My Coatimundi Journal”, available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2E71VOF
for more facts, trivia, and quotes to get you thinking about how amazing this planet and all its life really is!
Thanks for reading and God Bless!
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Do Seahorses make you scratch your head and go “Hmmm…”? Seahorses are fascinating creatures that have captured human imagination for thousands of years. Maybe because of their distinctive shape, slow moving style, the fact that the male carries the eggs and “gives birth”, or maybe it’s that tail or their camouflage?
Whatever your reason, it’s a good one! And if you’re thinking how cool it would be to have a few in an aquarium in your home or office, here’s a few things to remember:
Seahorses are NOT a beginner’s fish! They do need a “cycled” saltwater tank with a filter, protein skimmer, lots of anchor points for them to hang onto, and appropriate sized food.
They can be kept in a smaller tank, though, if you’re only keeping a few. It depends on what size Seahorse you’re wanting, as well. The Pygmy Seahorses are smaller but are more hardy and a bit easier to keep alive, and you could keep a larger group in the same size tank as a couple of the larger species.
Please do your research first! Your Seahorse tank will be a touch of serenity in your space, but only if they’re healthy. You’ll have to feed them two or three times every day, and the water temperature needs to be between 74 and 76 degrees. You need to set up a shrimp hatchery so that you can feed them live shrimp, as well as feeding dried or frozen Mysis shrimp.
You’ll also want to remember that Seahorses don’t do well with other types of fish, and can be hurt by a fast-moving tank-mate.
Get your Seahorses from someone who has raised them or knows where they were raised! Captive-born Seahorses are healthier and will live longer.
Don’t expect a lot of flashy movement from your Seahorses! They like to grab a seaweed frond or coral branch and wait for food to come to them!
If you still want to get Seahorses after you’ve done your research, go for it!
They’ll make a lovely addition to your home or office, and there are few things more attention-getting than a well maintained Seahorse tank!
Also, please consider purchasing “My Seahorse Journal” (at https://amzn.to/2T8bHII ) to help you in your horsey journey! Feel free to contact me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with questions – while I may not know the answers, I can sure find them;)
As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!
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I think I fell in love with horses the first time I saw one, because I can’t remember not loving them. I adored everything about them, the flowing mane and tail, those lovely expressive eyes, those muscles! And Drafts seemed to me to be even more than a regular horse, so much more.
Even draft ponies like these Haflingers get my attention! Something about the power inside that warm, furry body, the intelligence in the eyes, just speaks to my heart.
We got our own draft cross several years ago, and she’s amazing. Our Belgian, Tess, is so darned smart and funny that it seems crazy sometimes.
When we got her she was barely trained to ride, and despite the stereotypes of Drafts being sedate, she was an adventure! The first time I rode her she tried to buck me off (although I do have to say that she didn’t try very hard), then set off at a dead run. Whew!
Draft horses (and ponies) have a long history with humans, and although they are hardly seen in the mainstream media, they have some very devoted followers. Here’s five facts about Drafts you may not know:
There you have it, 5 things you probably didn’t know about Draft Horses.
If you’d like to learn more about these gentle giants, I invite you to purchase “My Draft Horse Journal” on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Evzf0u for people who love Drafts, want to learn about them, and practice mindfulness and gratitude all at the same time.
Thanks for reading, and have a FABULOUS day!
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Owls are fascinating if only because they are so quiet in flight. I have been “overflown” only once, but I distinctly remember the feeling of my hair lifting and the breath of air that brushed my cheek as I realized an enormous Great Horned Owl had just gone past!
If you’ve ever seen the talons on one of these guys close up, you can only have respect for these fierce but silent predators. Those Great Horned talons are nearly as long as my fingers, and razor sharp!
At home in Arizona, we started having problems with something killing our chickens. They were roosters, in a big cage on the ground, where they’d be safe from skunks (which we had a lot of) or raccoons. We had an acre that was fenced with 6 foot chainlink, so I never worried about the coyotes.
Anyway, these roosters were pretty happy in their cage, they got moved every day to eat grass and had a roof to keep from getting hot and provide some shelter if it should rain. And the cage was made out of one-inch chicken wire, so we figured they’d be fine.
But one morning I went to feed before going to work and two of my roos were dead. They’d had their heads ripped right off! Ewww!!!!! Their poor bodies were just lying there, and the rest of the roos were terrified.
We immediately thought “skunk or raccoon” and so that night my hubby set the live-trap up on top of the cage. We double-checked the live-trap to make sure it was ready to go, and went to bed, expecting to have to carry some furry miscreant creature off to the release site (20 miles away) the next day.
Imagine our surprise in the morning when we found, not a skunk (thankfully), not a raccoon, but a nearly full-grown Great Horned Owl in that live-trap! Now, I have to say, that Owl was determined, because he didn’t have room to turn around once he got in that trap.
And those eyes! His (or her) eyes were as big around and just as bright as a new copper penny! I could have held his head in two hands (If I wanted to lose some flesh in the process) it was so big. That wicked beak! And remember those talons, too!
We could tell that it was not mature just by the fact that it had gotten crazy enough to climb into the trap, and were really relieved that it wasn’t hurt. When hubby released it, he said it was just incredible to see that nearly six-foot wingspan unfold out of that 8X8 inch trap!
I remember one researcher that I worked with many years ago telling me a story about an owl that didn’t like him – he was playing a recording of an owl call to find a particular species, and one night he finally called one in. The last time he played the call that night was just before the owl flew up behind him and bonked him on the head with its balled up talons. He said it felt like getting hit with a ball bat!
So, remember tonight to listen for the owls, whether huge, majestic Great Horned Owls or itty bitty Burrowing Owls. They’re all amazing!
I have to say that I never realized how fun a “simple fish” can be as a pet until I met my Aunt Lorraine’s Betta, “Mr. Fish”.
I started feeding Mr Fish in the evening after work for her, and he quickly figured out what was going on! Within two weeks, he’d come up to the surface of the water under my hand to get his food, and a week after that he started jumping for it!
My hubby was still working out of town at the time, and I was hanging with Auntie to keep her company while we sold our property down the road.
Mr. Fish learned really fast that if he jumped out of the water at my hand, that I’d let the food drop, so it became a twice a day ritual. I’d call his name, touch the side of the tank, and here he’d come, rocketing out of his hiding place, ready to roll!
I remember telling Jim on the phone about it one day because his reaction was complete disbelief! He actually thought I was making it up! I told him “Fine, but I’ll show you when you get home for the weekend…”
Boy was he surprised t how high Mr Fish was able to jump to get a bite of food, and how funny the look on his face was!
Fast forward about 15 years, and our son asked if we couldn’t get some fish….
Okay, I told him, but just a couple of guppies or… “This one! I want this one! Look Mom, he’s red, white and blue!” And so, Rico came home with us. Rico was your average WalMart Betta, small, very hungry and VERY shy.
And, so it took a little longer for Rico to figure out that when I said his name, and touched the side of the aquarium, that meant food was on the way. But, figure it out he has!
Last week I had Tyler feed Rico, and he actually followed instructions…He said Rico’s name, he touched the side of the tank, and then he put his hand down over the water.
Then he jumped and hollered! “Mom, he touched my finger! He jumped out of the water to grab his food!”
And so he had. Rico may be “just a fish”, but he’s a special Betta to us. He’s helped show our son how special every life is, and how much we still have to learn about animal intelligence and behavior.
Betta fish are easy to care for and can teach you and your kids a lot! Give a Betta fish a great home, and they’ll repay you with their beauty, elegance and relaxing ways for years to come. What better investment for just a few dollars and a bit of your time?
Want to learn more before you jump in the water? Not sure your kids are ready for a pet?
Available on Amazon: My Betta Fish Journal https://amzn.to/2QZy7H4
As always, feel free to drop me a line at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments!