A member of the Verbena family, American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), also called “French Mulberry” by some, is a deciduous, perennial native shrub growing up to 6 feet wide and almost as tall. One of the most eye-catching plants at this time of year, it’s the purple berries that draw people’s attention rather than the palest of pink flowers in spring & early summer. The flowers are approximately ¼ inch wide, and the berries are not much bigger than that when formed in late summer. The berries hold their bright color for many weeks, even after the leaves are gone, usually until a good frost has occurred.
American Beautyberry is one of the favorite forage plants for whitetail deer in the Oak Prairie Region of Texas. Check out the link on the ORWMA “Groups” tab above, and click on Deer, then “Links for Managing Whitetails”, click on “Favorite Forage Plants of Whitetail Deer” to learn about other favorite plants for deer in this area.While the deer enjoy the leaves, several species of birds enjoy the berries in the fall & winter, such as Bobwhite Quail, Robins and even domestic chickens.
What beauty is added to our landscapes when most others have stopped blooming in late summer and fall while adding to beneficial food sources for both deer and birds! The berries on their long stems also make beautiful dried fall decorations in our homes (but please take care to keep them away from children). Click on the following link to find out more on this wonderful plant: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=CAAM2.
We have noticed both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles here at Oakridge Ranch for the last 2 years. The Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) is slightly smaller and darker than the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula). The males of both birds are brightly colored and all are somewhat skittish. Both enjoy nectar offered at Oriole feeders, Hummingbird feeders, grape jelly in Oriole feeders or sliced oranges & grapefruit hung in the Yaupon. Although some references show our area of Texas only as a migration area for the Baltimore Oriole, other books & researchers show that both these birds spend summers here in our part of Texas. Both enjoy a deciduous wooded habitat with large trees. We have also noticed they enjoy bird baths as well as water sprinklers here at Oakridge Ranch.
Please consider adding an Oriole feeder at your home. Let’s invite more of these gorgeous birds to the Ranch before they migrate south for the winter. Keep us posted on your birds via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2013 Summer Oakridge Hummingbird Census has begun. Today through Monday, September 2nd.
Count the number of hummingbirds of each species you see on your property during these seven days. Take pictures, keep track of how many times a day you need to refill your feeders, etc. Send all your information to “Attention: Birding”(in the subject line of your email) at email@example.com. We’d love to share you pictures with others here on the website.
Live life outdoors! Have fun watching these beautiful little birds!
All life must have water to survive. Like many of these pictured here, the wildlife hidden in this beautiful Oak Prairie region of Texas will take water where they can find it.
Be sure to clean your water containers at least once a week such as stock tanks for large animals. Even our bird baths need to be kept clean and filled with fresh water during these hot summer days. Water is truly the basic need for all types of wildlife. Let’s help out our wildlife by providing clean water where we can during this season.
Little Carolina Wrens are ready to leave the nest at 12-14 days after hatching. These little ones are just about ready to fly! Today is day 12 and we are watching them as they move halfway in and halfway out of their nest. Sure hope these little birds reuse this nest soon!
Almost a week old, all 5 hatchlings are still doing well (see below). Mr. Carolina Wren (the dad) brings food to Mrs. Carolina all throughout the day. These little ones open their mouths when my camera nears thinking food is on it’s way in!
The Carolina Wren is an industrious little bird and a noisy one, too! They have a loud song for such a small bird. The male & female are similar in color & markings, only the male is slightly larger. Male Carolina Wrens work vigorously to build several different nests at the same time. These little guys are tireless! But when it comes time to actually lay eggs, the female will chose which nest she wants. Below is a picture of the male wren as he works building his nest in a flower cart on our porch earlier this month.
Once the female has chosen a nest, she sets up housekeeping and lays her eggs. This family laid five eggs most of which you can see below. Only the female sits on the nest and the male brings her food all throughout the day. She will only leave her nest about 6 times a day for water and such, much less often than other species of birds.
Hatching begins after 14 days and all the eggs will be hatched out over a 24 hour period. “Mrs. Carolina” left her nest this morning just long enough to allow me to snap this picture of her new babies. If you click on the picture below and enlarge it, you can see they have very few feathers at this point and you can see the small bones inside the wing and the claws on the feet.
The male will continue to bring food to the female and new hatchlings until they are ready to leave the nest. The male is a busy bird! It’s been a real treasure to have the opportunity to watch this happen right on our front porch. So keep your eyes and ears open for the Carolina Wren.
Red-Tailed Hawk babies are growing! See below for an update from the Petters. One baby moved down into the nest, but this one remained on the look-out. Click on the picture below to enlarge it and see more color and detail on the hawk.
The attached pictures were sent in to ORWMA by Larry Petter. Linda Petter was so excited to take these of new hawk babies! The parents are the Eastern Red-tailed Hawk. This is the 3rd year in a row they have raised little ones here at Oakridge. Both hawk parents come regularly to feed the chicks.
Red-Tailed Hawks are monogamous and are solitary nesters. This is the most common hawk in North America.
This Greater Yellowlegs came fishing at our pond late this afternoon; he’s a common sandpiper. Looks like he still has his winter plumage due to the mild temperatures we’ve had this spring. These birds like small fish, insects and snails. What a joy to find a new species on the Ranch!
Just born here at Oakridge this baby Northern Cardinal is waiting for instructions from mom & dad. But for now, he’s resting up for his first flight! Wish you could have seen his little heart beat moving his chest as he slept. Cardinals make their nests about 3 -5 feel off the ground and will often reuse the same nest year after year.
See what gifts you find on your properties and share it with all of us. Send it to ORWMA at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our website.