Superior Views, October 2021

Ruff grouse scare me as they fly up as I walk into my yard.   A flock of juncos fly into our yard, robins are devouring the Mt. Ash berries, yellow-rumped warblers are diving to eat flies off our house. The nuthatch and blue jays are emptying the feeder, the goldfinch are munching on something in a dead white pine, and woodpeckers are busy making their marks on trees. Yes, it is October on the big lake and we are all getting ready for the winter months ahead. All the energy and activity makes us happy.

For many days thick Fog hung thick over the lake signaling the drought has subsided and rain is again common. After many dark days the sun is welcome

It has been an unusual Superior Views summer with a sun that seemed more intense than usual, and winds off the lake that were calmer than most summers. Sadly, wild fires from Canada and Northern Minnesota polluted the air quality for weeks at a time.

The warmer than normal summer changed the pattern of the plants and trees. The leaves turned earlier than normal and the flowers bloomed weeks earlier than usual. Actually, I think the native plants and flowers enjoyed the warm temperatures and milder winds, but the trees suffered with the heat and drought.

Lake Superior is not for sale! A local resident is trying to sell ground water for profit.

Pollinator Passion

“Nature is a way to escape to a healing place!” John Caddy

First there were four, then there were seven, now there are over ten monarch butterflies playing tag in my yard. This has been going on for two months. Monarchs are passionate for meadow blazing star (Liatris), and they get excited when the blazing star is blooming.  Watching them makes one happy.

Monarch butterflies love blazing star!

Our world is in crisis and we need to find ways to lessen stress on our Earth.  We know droughts, incredible heat, fires, floods, and smoky air are causing people, trees and wildlife to move to safer places or even die. Human behavior has helped to create this awful situation, and new paradigms are needed to lessen our carbon footprint. We already know that the world needs us to drive less, use less water, eat less meat, buy less, and reduce our plastic footprint.

What can we do more of that is actually good? Making a healthy change to your yard by planting native plants is a positive action you can take. Deep-rooted native plants are a win-win for our earth! They do not need chemicals and they do not need watering.

The native plants growing in my yard have produced way beyond my expectations during this harsh summer environment. Because deep-rooted plants don’t need to be watered and don’t use chemicals they create a healthier environment, and an important way to help our Earth.  Planting earth friendly plants will bring more birds and butterflies to visit your yard.  A pollinator garden brings joy many months of the year, but especially in July and August when the pollinators are crazy over nectaring plants.

How do you create this healing place for yourself and the birds and butterflies in your neighborhood? Remove some hostas and turf grass and replace them with native deep-rooted plants. You can create your own eco-system of life in your own yard. Start simple!

milkweed

Start by planting some milkweek and bee balm

and purple cone flowers.

Every yard should have purple cone flowers

Native gardens are an eco-system of their own creating food and joy for pollinators and humans alike! Create your own escape from the world by using deep-rooted plants to invite birds, butterflies and other wildlife into your space. Many birds raise their babies on the insects and caterpillars they find in the pollinator garden. Birds eat seed from the native plants all year. The goldfinch are already eating away on the bee balm, cone flowers and brown eye Susan.

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers

Cardinal flowers will bring humming-birds to your yard, but cardinal flower is not drought tolerant.

Reading list:

Study: Birds Are Linked to Happiness Levels – EcoWatch 

Wild Ones Introduces Free, Native Garden Designs – Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes

Earth Overshoot Day Moves Forward By Nearly a Month – EcoWatch

How Non-Native Plants Are Contributing to a Global Insect Decline – Yale E360 

Could Las Vegas’s Grass Removal Policies Alter the Western US Drought-Scape? | Sierra Club

Pollinator-Friendly Alternative to Hosta and Daylily – Monarch GardensCornus alternifolia Pagoda Dogwood | Prairie Moon Nursery

Weed garden wins RHS gold at Tatton Park flower show – BBC News 

Soft Landings – Bee and Pollinator Books by Heather Holm (pollinatorsnativeplants.com)

Top US scientist on melting glaciers: ‘I’ve gone from being an ecologist to a coroner’ | Climate change | The Guardian    

A Lot to Celebrate!

A Juneteenth holiday weekend, pollinator week, the longest day/summer, and Father’s Day, a lot to celebrate! Enjoy this historic weekend by planting a native tree or plant in honor of the slaves that helped build our country, the beginning of summer, and your dad. Happy Pollinator Week! Happy Juneteenth!

Plant native plants and trees.

This is National Pollinator Week.

What are pollinators? Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, or other animals, or by the wind.

Pollinators are essential to our environment.  They are necessary for most of the world’s flowering plants and crops. Habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced diseases are taking an enormous toll on our pollinators.

Agriculture, land development, mowing and chemicals to reduce weed and insects have resulted in loss of habitat loss for our pollinators. These essential pollinators are necessary for most of the world’s flowering plants and crops.

Urban areas are food desserts for pollinators. Turf lawns and hostas contribute to these urban food desserts. My yard is full of plants for bees, birds and butterflies, but I’m surrounded by too much treated turf grass.  I encourage everyone to help pollinators by creating and maintaining native habitat to help bees, birds and butterflies. Native plants and native trees are excellent choices for pollinators. Their deep roots keep them surviving during droughts and heavy rains. Dig out some hostas or grass and plant something helpful to our earth. See suggestion in reading list.

This is an exciting new holiday weekend, in recognition of the day 156 years ago when the enslaved people of Texas were finally met with the far overdue promise of freedom. Juneteenth | History, Meaning, Flag, Importance, & Facts | Britannica

Our new United States holiday!

Reading List:

https://www.ecowatch.com/lawns-must-die-2653462778.html

Pollinator Supportive Trees – Michigan Pollinator Initiative (msu.edu)  

TreesShrubsPoster.indd (msu.edu) 

Trees for Bees and Other Pollinatorss – The Arbor Day Foundation

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center | Xerces Society

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation 

Some Minnesota dragonflies are peaking – StarTribune.com 

Attract Birds: A Dozen Native Trees and Shrubs that Birds Love (abcbirds.org) “Every single person who owns a piece of property of any size can make a difference. They can begin by removing non-native plant species on their land and replacing them with natives. Why native plants? Native plants are important for many reasons, but they are essential as virtually the only hosts for many native insects. Insects are essential food for many birds, particularly nesting songbirds. … A small yard, even in the heart of a city, can provide these crucial sites.”

Twelve spotted skimmer

Marvelous May

Marvelous May

Cheers for May! May is the queen of months. We celebrate mothers, observe baby wildlife, outdoor time and new beginnings.

I challenge you to spend a minimum of 10 minutes outside everyday during May. Take deep breaths and look for amazing changes in nature. Watch the trees change, listen and watch for birds, and look for new butterflies. Sit in the sun, go for a walk, turn off your phone and listen for the sounds of May. Appreciate the intense beauty of our Earth. Search for peace, smile and enjoy.

Don’t miss a minute of May flowers

Write a poem:

Cheers for new May life

Watch for blooms and butterflies

A black cloud rumbles

Actions for Happiness Calendar for May

Make your May Meaningful

Happy Arbor Day

Trees are strength and beauty, resilience and change

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Snags, or dead trees, also give life to wildlife and landscapes. Don’t cut them down unless they are a danger to humans or buildings.

Trees can be dead but full of life and survival. Snags are home to many plants and animals

Fungi growing on a dead tree

Birds love dead trees, and many animals rely on dead, dying or hollow-rotted trees. Woodpeckers, bats, ants and caterpillars live in snags. Woodpeckers nest in cavities excavated in snags (or dead parts of living trees) while using those same dead trees to drill for food.

Trees offer shelter and safe places to perch and watch and rest. Trees, dead and live are complete neighborhoods. Dead trees are actually teeming with life! Fallen logs and snags play a vital role in the lifecycles of hundreds of species of wildlife, providing a place to nest, rest, eat and grow. Before you cut or burn logs and trees realize it is a vital part of the neighborhood!

Many birds rest and watch in this tree

Before you cut a leafless tree. Remember it is a friend to lots of birds and wildlife.

The Elegant Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak, often the first butterfly to appear

March 14, is National Learn About Butterflies Day. Have you seen a butterfly yet? A perfect reason to go for a walk, to look for butterflies. On sunny March days it is possible to see Mourning Cloaks even in northern North America and southern Canada.
The Mourning Cloak is often the first to appear and lives in most of North America. This large ( 3-4 inch wingspan)) elegant velvety butterfly is a real treasure. They often overwinter hidden in bark or woodpiles. Tree sap is their food source, and willows, elms, birch and aspens are hosts for their caterpillars. Mourning Cloaks often live longer than other butterflies with a life span of 10 to 11 months, and even after sleeping all winter they are beautiful. Let me know if you spot one.

Reading and watching list:

Butterfly: A Life | National Geographic – Bing video

How to Attract Butterflies (joyfulbutterfly.com) 

National Learn About Butterflies Day – Things Everyone Should Know (nationaldaystoday.com)

10 Fascinating Facts About Butterflies (thoughtco.com)  

10 Tips for Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard (thoughtco.com)

Glitter is a Microplastic

 

ban glitter
Glitter does more harm than good.

My least favorite thing about the December holidays is glitter! How many of the holiday cards will you receive that contain glitter? TOO MANY! Please do not purchase cards wrapping paper or anything containing glitter. Some spread it everywhere by putting it in their hair or in their make-up.

I know some think glitter is festive, but glitter is something we can live without! We know what a mess glitter is to clean up and it creates the same problem in our waterways. It’s impossible to manage and I am sure we ingest some of it also. It is not healthy and some scientists are calling for it to be banned.

A few facts about glitter will surprise you!

  • Glitter is made of a microplastic known as Mylar, which is hurting ocean life
  • This plastic accounts for 92.4% of the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean
  • Marine life is mistaking glitter for food, which is damaging their livers
  • Every tiny sparkly bit takes thousands of years to break down

3 Major UK Retailers Are Banning Glitter This Christmas Over Environmental Concerns – EcoWatch 

Superior Views, Summer 2020

Extra fresh? Extra wet? Extra extra? Extra beautiful? Extra Great? Extra gitchy? Extra deep? Extra wide? Extra voluminous? Extra fishy? Extra rocky? Extra clean? Extra cold? Extra Superior?” @Lake Superior (twitter)

monarch butterfly
Monarch on goldenrod

Yes, extra Superior! A world pandemic is still raging, elected leaders incite violence, forest fires and hurricanes are constant, but no drama on Lake Superior. By  August the lake has warmed and the contrast between the cold lake and warm air isn’t so extreme causing less drama. This lack of drama makes the big lake more peaceful as the gentle waves ripple to shore.

The loons call, and the eagles screech from their tree towering over the lake.  The hummingbirds like little fairies hover and suck nectar from the last of the plants as they prepare for  their long journey south.

Frittilary butterfly in July
August garden on Lake Superior.

Plants are turning brown, and yellow golden rod dominates. Blooming plants were early this year so they lose energy and turn brown sooner. Only a few butterflies remain, they have been replaced by grasshoppers, and like the birds the chipmunks are already busy preparing for winter.

July was a perfect time to indulge in watching butterflies and monarch caterpillars. Every new caterpillar was a celebration. Unfortunately, something else found them to be joyful food, and they disappeared.  We suspect the chipmunks. Their numbers were too many this year, and they seemed to be watching my treasured caterpillars as much as I was!  Every new butterfly I see I hope they were one of my precious fat caterpillars.

hummingbid sits at feeder
Female ruby-throat hummingbird

Surprisingly,  in July the lake had a harder time keeping us cool from the hot humid summer south of us, but August brought 70 degrees days while a hundred miles south it was a hot humid 90 degrees.

On to September and more change, turning leaves and intense beauty! Extra beautiful!

 

A Magical Time on Lake Superior

swallow tail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly

June can be the best time of the year for pollinators. In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota it is an awesome time for seeing bees, and butterflies! Within two minutes I observed monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, northern crescents, painted ladies, dragon flies, and many skippers and bees on a small patch of hawkweed and daisies.

Hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed

Everyone comments about the beautiful lupine near Lake Superior, and it is beautiful to human eyes. If you look closely, very few butterflies and bees crave lupine like they crave Canadian anemone, blooming chives, wild geraniums, blooming trees, forget-me-nots or daisies. The blooming plant that has surprised me the most this year is the orange hawkweed. It is not a native plant, but the butterflies love it.

Female American Redstart

It’s not the best time of the year to see birds, but if you can recognize their songs they bring constant musical joy. The song sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, and a pair of red starts joyfully sing all day.

Lupine on Lake Superior

As long as the sun shines the birds, bees and butterflies seem oblivious to the battle taking place on the big lake. The cold lake ties to dominate the warm tropical winds from the south, and the temperature can fluctuate from 60 degrees to 80 degrees every few minutes. It’s fascinating and refreshing!
The days are long in these northern climes with the sun setting past 9pm and twilight lasting beyond 10pm. No matter where you live get outside and enjoy the marvelous butterflies of summer, in a few weeks they will be gone!