Monday, September 15, 2014

Late Summer Pollinators

Installed just one year ago, the small wildflower meadow on the campus of the Brandywine Conservancy is providing habitat and sustenance to some common pollinators pictured here: a Black Swallowtail feeding on Joe-Pye Weed nectar and a common bumble bee foraging for nectar and pollen from a Jewelweed flower. Insects that rely on flowering plants as their only food source need to be able to find those flowering plants for the entire season. For example, bumble bees, queens and then drones, forage from early spring to early fall and a consistent supply of flowering plants is important for their survival. The late-season flowering plants in our meadow are providing a bridge from late summer to early fall for those insects still looking for a mate or a suitable location to overwinter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quarantine in Effect: Do NOT Move Firewood

Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), a disease complex that kills walnut trees, Juglans spp., has been detected in the Commonwealth. There is no cure for a tree once it is infected. The fungus Geosmithia morbida is vectored by the walnut twig beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis, causing small cankers under the bark of the tree. The beetle introduces the fungus while it tunnels beneath the bark. As more beetles attack the tree, the number of cankers increases until they coalesce to girdle twigs and branches, restricting movement of nutrients and eventually killing the tree. Thousand Cankers Disease was first detected in the Commonwealth in Bucks County in 2011.  It has the potential to spread to uninfested areas by natural means or through the movement of infested articles.

To halt the spread of TCD, the PA Department of Agriculture has expanded a quarantine of black walnut wood to include Montgomery, Philadelphia, Delaware, and Chester Counties.  The quarantine takes effect on August 2, 2014.

Black walnuts infected with TCD.
Learn more about Thousand Canker Disease at these links:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Got Habitat?

If a tree dies in the forest, should you remove it?  If the dead tree is not threatening people or property, we say no.  Dead trees provide food and shelter for wildlife and, as they decompose, return vital nutrients to the soil.  They can also make for great discoveries.  Just look at what we found earlier this week in a dead tree in our Laurels Preserve.

It's a garter snake, hiding out in the trunk of a dead tree....

...and it recently molted, leaving its old skin behind.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Littlest of the Littlest

What's cuter than a baby bird? Easy, a baby falcon! Pictured here is a freshly hatched American kestrel. The American kestrel, or Falco sparverius for you lovers of Latin or budding ornithologists, is the smallest of our native North American falcons.

Although the American kestrel is the most common and widespread falcon in the U.S., its populations are in decline throughout most of the country, including the Northeast.  Since these birds are cavity nesters--meaning they lay their eggs in holes in trees or other crevices--they will often nest in appropriately sized wooden nesting boxes.  The baby bird pictured here was hatched inside a wooden nesting box that Conservancy staff installed on a private property.

Learn how to build a kestrel box here:

And if you don't have the right habitat for kestrels, put up a box anyway,  as the same size box is often used by screech owls!  But please, do not handle baby birds as you could cause them more harm than good.  The bird shown above was handled by a trained professional; for your safety and that of the birds, please do not try this at home!