Nature Notes – March 1st, 2018

Welcome to EMSWCD’s Nature Notes series!

When EMSWCD purchased this property for our office, the yard consisted of a weed-filled lawn with a few trees. Our staff kept the trees, removed all the grass, and began landscaping and installing hundreds of native plants. Every year since then we’ve continued to add plants and make adjustments as needed, and the landscape is now totally transformed!

In our new Nature Notes series, we’ll share small moments and interesting observations from our property, as well as related natural history tidbits, on a weekly to monthly basis. It’s important to us to be present on the landscape, to really see the world we move through every day—both its changes and its consistency. The more aware we become of the natural world around us, and of how plants and animals interact, the better we can help people care for land and water.

March 1st, 2018

Our tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) and red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) are about to bloom, and our resident Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) was performing its mating display over the budding shrubs today!

When a female arrives on his territory, a male will fly over 100 feet straight up, then dive straight down at speeds of over 50 miles per hour. At the bottom he’ll pull up suddenly, spreading his tail feathers at the very last second to produce an explosive “squeak.”

This medium-sized hummingbird is one of the Pacific Northwest’s year-round residents, and some hardy individuals winter as far north as southern Alaska. During the winter, hummingbirds feed on small insects and spiders picked off vegetation or caught in mid-flight.

If our male’s mating display is successful, the female will also need a good supply of insects this spring to feed her growing babies. Planting native plants, reducing or eliminating chemical use on the landscape, and leaving natural cover like leaf litter and brush piles are all great ways to provide habitat for 6 and 8 legged bird food! Find out where you can get native plants here!

Find local sources
of native plants!