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It's About Time - May 2014

Turdus migratorius, American robin
Turdus migratorius, American robin

I believe there is no bird call more joyous than a robin at sunrise. Chickadees are definitely cheery this season but robins deserve the main stage for pure joy. Enthusiastic males declare to any lady robin in hearing distance that he offers the best territory. Once eggs are laid, it is the crowing of fatherhood.

Flowers are blooming, bugs are out: Nesting season has begun. Nesting works well now because the food source is emerging. Feeding nestlings is easy as over-wintering insect eggs hatch and turn loose hungry larvae on tender greens breaking out from winter buds. The food chain has all its links forming and interlocking at a dizzying rate.

Out in the woods the deer and elk are dropping fawns. Remember to leave a fawn alone if you encounter one hunkered down in a mountain meadow. It is not abandoned, just waiting for mommy to return from her foraging. Seal pups on the beach are similarly just fine, waiting for return of their nursing mother. They may look stranded but should not be disturbed. A too-close presence will keep the mothers away.

Local nurseries should be experiencing their best money-making season. New varieties of colorful flowers tantalize the garden designer. Note: The availability of native species is increasing as sensitivity to attracting native birds and butterflies grows. My favorites are blood currant, red elderberry and penstemons. And fringe-cup is hugely underappreciated because although its flowers are modest, its evergreen foliage warrants a patch in ferny plantings.

David Wagner is a botanist who has lived in Eugene for more than 30 years. He teaches moss classes and leads nature walks. He may be reached at fernzenmosses@me.com.