W is for Water

 

Hello, folks! Ol’ Wally stepping in here for Nutmeg. I couldn’t let her use anything but water for today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge. First, because it’s Thursday, and our regular readers know this is the day this old squirrel runs the Thirsty Thursday column featuring water. And second, we’ve had so much rain in these parts that it’s getting a bit hard to ignore.

‘Suppose you humans know how important water is. I mean, your lives depend on it. So do ours, but we wildlife aren’t in as good a position to keep that water source clean, or even there. We are relying on you all.

That means good planning when you put in your buildings…

to where that water goes from your parking lots…

to putting in places where the smaller critters might have a damp home…

to bigger solutions for water cleaning and recycling for entire buildings…

to simply putting out water when it isn’t raining, like in the heat of summer…

or the frozen winter.

It’s not from a squirrel, but let me leave you with this wise Native American proverb:

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.

 

V is for Viburnum

Another difficult letter in nature.

But…Viburnum!

Yes, it’s a good ol’ standby for V day. We believe this one is Doublefile Viburnum, Viburnum plicatum. Those flowers are lovely, aren’t they?

Well, you humans might think that, but a bee won’t. Have a closer look…

This outer ring of ‘flowers’ don’t produce nectar or pollen. The inner ones will, and then tasty little drupe fruits will form in the fall. This isn’t a native shrub to North America, but it’s one wildlife appreciates in the suburban landscape!

U is for…Uh-oh!

Yes, we missed U day yesterday. We’ll chalk it up to three days of rain! No squirrel wants to be out in that! Not mentioning the procrastination that went on the day before because U is an exceptionally hard letter to find in nature.

So in the interest of saving time, we’ll repeat a past Blogging From A to Z Challenge post, one you humans might have missed in nature:

Underwing Moth!

This moth sits calmly on tree bark, blending in with its upper wings of gray–up until it feels threatened! Then it flashes those underwings of bright orange…enough to scare even the hardiest squirrel–*cough* Hickory *cough*–off a branch.

Go looking for them if you are bored!

T is for Turtlehead

Just take a look at these funny flowers!

Turtleheads are a fun plant that love moist soil. The little tricksters are designed so a bee gets completely brushed with pollen getting into the nectar at the bottom.

To see the bee completely inching in, hop back to our post entitled Getting Into Pink Turtleheads!

Just a side note that not all turtleheads are pink. The native ones are white, but we haven’t seen those in our suburban neighborhood. A human planted these showy pink ones.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Have you seen this growing about?

Let us know in the comments, and I’ll return later with your answer!

~~~

As one of our regular readers said, the important thing to know about this plant is you can never get rid of it! So true.

Creeping Charlie, or what Miz Flora’s wildflower guide calls Gill-Over-The Ground, Glechoma hederacea, is a member of the Mint Family. (Bet you can see the square stem!) Rather than standing upright, it creeps, putting down new roots where the nodes touch moist ground.

The blue or violet flowers bloom in spring and early summer, and because it’s a common plant, they feed bees while the other plants are getting going. The blossoms are quite small–meaning we had a really touch time getting a close photo.

But we are sure you can find one in your lawn to check them out!

S is for Squirrels!

Yes, folks, squirrels.

And everything we love–

Big oak trees,

Acorns,

Leaf nests,

Birdfeeders,

Sunning on your decks

Running on the golf course.

This is our squirrel world and we love it.

 You see, today is Earth Day.

We hope you love your world, too. Maybe you’ll take care of it for all of us?

Happy Earth Day!

 

R is for Raccoon

 

These burly fellows are very much a part of suburban life and we squirrels like to think they make us look good. Raccoons seem to get into more trouble than we do…or at least bigger trouble!

Come on, who else would get stuck on a fence!

Even if you don’t see raccoons, since they like to prowl around at night, you might see signs of them.

Q is for Queen Anne’s Lace

By branching out of our season, we squirrels have a few more choices of plants to use for those difficult letters!

Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota, is a summer-bloomer, a wildflower brought over from Europe. It supposedly is named for Queen Anne of England who was also a lacemaker. In North America, it can go quite wild and take over a field, but you humans probably see it most often lining rural roads.

The ‘jewel’ in the crown of flowers is simply another flower, but along with the naming story from Queen Anne, people say it’s a drop of blood she shed when she pricked herself!

P is for Painted Lady

Specifically, the American Painted Lady butterfly!

You might see this beauty already. Painted Ladies migrate north in the spring from their wintering grounds in the Southwest. It’s one of the most widespread butterflies North America, so definitely look for Painted Ladies this summer. And you may need to look twice, because the underside of the wings is patterned differently from the topside.

Pretty cool, huh? Their populations vary from year to year, and scientists don’t know why. They do not migrate back in the fall, so die with the first frosts.

O is for Owl

The Barred Owl, who keeps watch in our neighborhood!

And maybe O is for Oops! Sorry we’re so late this morning, but now I bet you see why we weren’t too enthused about today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge letter. We could only thing of something dangerous!

Yet as dangerous as owls are, they are endangered themselves. You humans don’t seem too keen on keeping dead trees around, and dead trees are where many owls nest. Have you considered putting up an owl box on your property? They can be purchased or made from plans…and it seems like most of the plans we are seeing in a online search are for barn owns, which need lots of open land.

In spite of our squirrel instincts to avoid owls, we’re going to hunt down some plan sources for your humans. In the meantime, here’s a good overview of why you should want owls in your life from Rodales Organic Life.