Photo by Kellen McCluskey

Thursday, January 19

Today is the final day to submit entries for the 2023 Juried Art Show. Click here to learn more.

Collage at Adkins Arboretum!

Fun and intensely creatively, collage is a wonderful way to turn paper into art. Beginning Sunday, join Diane DuBois Mullaly for a three-part workshop to create nature-inspired collages. Using cut and torn scrap paper and upcycled junk mail, we'll create collages on cardstock, greeting cards, and more. No special skills are required, and all materials are provided.


Classes meet January 22 and February 5 and 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. The series is $65 for members and $75 for non-members. A great time is guaranteed! Click here to register.

Experience "The Garden Electric!"

The spark of joy that comes from giving or receiving flowers—this is the moment captured by "The Garden Electric!" The PHS Philadelphia Flower Show returns indoors to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this year, and the Arboretum's bus tour group will be admitted a full hour before the show opens to the public on Monday, March 6.


With a dazzling array of colors, unique shapes and textures, rich fragrances of gorgeous floral displays and gardens, and feelings of excitement and celebration, "The Garden Electric!" promises to bring the electrifying presence of today's most dynamic designers of floral arrangements, gardens, and landscapes to visitors from around the world.


The bus leaves Easton at 7 a.m. and will stop near Wye Mills and Millington. Click here to join us!

Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Celebrate Nature's Wintry Wonders at Forest School

Hot, cold, sunny, slushy...no matter the weather, kids find wonder in the outdoors. Forest schools build on this concept to provide a student-centered approach to learning in which children's innate curiosity and sense of wonder guide their experience.


The Arboretum's new Winter Forest School runs February 7–March 14. In this series, environmental educator Erin Harmon will set the stage for students to take a starring role in their own adventures. From building tree ring castles to peeking under moss for sleeping creatures, students will get close to nature and learn to love chilly days.


Forest School is a drop-off program for students ages 5–10. Click here to learn more and to register.

Photo by Kellen McCluskey

The Nuthatches

I currently have two species of Nuthatches at my feeders. Their hyperactivity and habit of walking up, down, around, and upside down on branches and tree trunks make them fascinating to watch. There are four species of Nuthatches across the U.S.


1. The Pygmy Nuthatch is out west. Their habitat preference is long-needled pines, especially the Ponderosa Pine. One of their claims to fame is that they roost communally at night in cavities, with sometimes more than 100 gathering in one cavity. There is no documentation of a Pygmy Nuthatch ever roosting alone.

Pygmy Nuthatch: 3.5 inches long and weighing .25 ounces, about the weight of three new pennies.

Photo courtesy of All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

2. The Brown-headed Nuthatch favors the southeastern U.S. pine forests, with a distinct finger of population in Delmarva. See their range map here. The Brown-headed Nuthatch is a tool user. It uses a piece of bark as a lever to pry up bark on the tree in search of food. If the piece of bark is particularly effective, the bird will carry it around to use on other trees. Unfortunately, no Brown-headed Nuthatches are found at Adkins. However, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center has a colony that is easy to find. From the parking lot, head down the path to the canoe launch area. The Nuthatches are in a grove of pines along the path. How to find them? They are hyperactive and noisy, with their call being exactly like a dog’s squeaky toy. Listen here.

Brown-headed Nuthatch: 4.1 inches long and weighing .3 ounces.

Photo courtesy of All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

3. The White-breasted Nuthatch can be found in all 48 states, southern Canada, and deep into central Mexico. It favors mature trees, parks, woodland edges, or yards with taller trees. If you have any of this habitat and feed the birds, you most likely have White-breasted Nuthatches at your feeders.


The White-breasted Nuthatch is a year-round resident. They nest in natural cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes and will use nesting boxes. Pairs stay together and defend their territory throughout the year. Their diet is primarily insects, but they readily enjoy your black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, and peanut butter, especially in winter. When searching for insects, they typically start high up in trees and work their way down, frequently pausing to look up for another angle on insects hiding in the bark. Their nasal wah wah wah call is fairly low pitched. Listen to their wah wah call here.

White-breasted Nuthatch: 5.25 inches long and weighing from .6 ounces to 1 ounce. This is the Big Boy of Nuthatches! A large one can weigh four times as much as the Pygmy Nuthatch.

Photo courtesy of All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


4. The Red-breasted Nuthatch is, in my opinion, a real charmer. They are cute and relatively unafraid of us. They scold me for being late with replenishing the food supply and mutter while moving around the feeder or branches. During a particularly large irruption year in 2018, my daughter, with patience, got them to land on her hand for peanuts.


They are permanent residents out west. In the East, they are permanent residents from around northern Pennsylvania to southern Canada. There is a population in the Appalachians. See their range map here. Every two or three years, there is a failure of the seed crop of fir and spruce trees, meaning there will not be enough food to help them survive the cold winters of this region. This causes Red-breasted Nuthatches and different species of Finches to get on their little cell phones (where there is coverage) and conduct a food survey to decide if they need to migrate south for better food opportunities. Not really. But some innate sense allows them to judge the seed crop and determine if they need to irrupt southward. In some large irruption years, Red-breasted Nuthatches can make it to the Gulf of Mexico.


Red-breasted Nuthatches excavate their nesting cavities. The male gathers conifer sap using its bill or a piece of bark as a tool and smears it around the entrance hole, possibly to deter predators. The female also gathers sap, but she pastes hers inside the cavity. They avoid the sticky sap by diving through the hole. Their song is a nasal, horn-like yank yank yank. Listen here.

Size comparison: White-breasted (5 1/3 inches) vs. Red-breasted (4 inches) Nuthatches.

Photo courtesy of Birds and Blooms Magazine.

Enjoy the Red-breasted Nuthatches while they are here. Come April, they will head back north for breeding and will then return in two or three years after another low conifer seed crop.


Please contact me at wlsngang@verizon.net with any questions.


Jeobirdy Answer: This Nuthatch behavior gives the birds their name.


Jeobirdy Question: What is flying off with seeds to place them in a nook or cranny and pound them open with their bill...hence to "hatch" the seed?


Jeobirdy Answer: This bird creeps along tree trunks and branches (but not upside down) in a manner similar to a Nuthatch.


Jeobirdy Question: What is a Brown Creeper? The Creeper's color blends in almost perfectly with tree bark, making it difficult to see.


Jim Wilson

Birder/Arboretum volunteer

Don't miss Jim's Planting for & Feeding the Birds program, March 7 & 14. Click here to learn more.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Understanding Animal Venom

Tuesday, February 7


Valentine Partner Forest Bathing

Saturday, February 11


Introduction to Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

Saturday, February 11


Geocaching 101

Saturday, February 18


Rooted Wisdom: Nature's Role in the Underground Railroad Walking Tour

Sunday, February 19


Pear Watercolor Study with Lee D'Zmura

Friday, February 24


EXPLORE THE SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNED FOR 2023

YARNSTORMING

on view March 5–April 2


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