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Posts Tagged ‘Kerry Wixted’


Backyard Birding Tips

There is no better time to connect with wildlife in your backyard than now. With spring underway, many bird species are increasing their activity. Winter birds like dark-eyed juncos are heading north while migrants like ruby-throated hummingbirds are returning to Maryland. 

Maryland Native Wildlife: Mining Bees

With spring underway, many species are emerging from their winter rest, including our local bees. By far, the most well known bee is the non-native European honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, Maryland is home to over 430 species of bees, many of which are native and all of which provide important roles in pollination.

Native Animal Profile: Cedar Waxwing

Often heard and not seen, the lovely Cedar Waxwing can be found year-round throughout Maryland. Cedar Waxwings sport a pale brown, crested head with a sleek black mask that runs from their bill and around their eyes. The mask has white outlines which help accentuate it. Waxwings have a brown chest that fades into a  Read the Rest…

Winter Greens for Wildlife

Woody plants are essential for wildlife. In the winter, evergreen plants can provide much-needed shelter and food for local animals. Consider adding one or more of these native plants to your backyard landscape to provide for local wildlife. 

Habitat Project: Eastern Screech-owl Boxes

Did you know? Maryland is home to eight species of owls, several of which are year-round residents while others visit during migration. The smallest resident owl in Maryland is the Eastern Screech-owl, which is often under 10 inches in length. Eastern Screech-owls are formidable hunters and are adapted to survive in both suburban and rural  Read the Rest…

The Cultivar Question

While searching for the best plants to include with a garden, you have likely come across cultivars for sale. The use of native cultivars (aka nativars) has been growing as the popularity of native plants surges. 

Seek and Destroy: the Spotted Lanternfly

Despite its name, the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) isn’t a fly, rather it is a plant hopper, which is native to China, India and Vietnam. The first infestation in the United States was reported in Pennsylvania in 2014; this insect has now been detected in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York. The first Maryland  Read the Rest…

Lawn Alternatives

For many years, the American lawn has been viewed as a status symbol. Traditional lawns, described as a single warm season grass species like zoysia or bermuda, completely covering a yard space and maintained at three inches or shorter, are unfortunately often ecological wastelands that require excess water, nutrients, pesticides and maintenance. Traditional lawns also  Read the Rest…

Native Animal Profile: Baltimore Oriole

With striking orange and black plumage, it is no wonder why the Baltimore Oriole was selected as Maryland’s state bird. The male’s colors resemble the coat of arms for Sir George Calvert, First Lord of Baltimore. Baltimore Orioles are medium-sized birds. Male Baltimore Orioles are flame orange and black with a solid black head and  Read the Rest…

Books for Backyard Wildlife Habitat Gardeners

Here is a confession: I love books! I’ve always been a bookworm and I often bring books as reference materials to my presentations for fellow book lovers. So, if you are like me and are interested in adding to your backyard book collection, below are a few of my recommendations.

Rethinking Spring with Native Plants

This winter felt like it was almost endless. When the crocuses finally popped in my yard, I was ecstatic. For me, crocuses and daffodils have always been harbingers of spring, but these non-native plants in our landscapes offer little benefit for our native wildlife. There are many native plants, however, which co-evolved with our local  Read the Rest…

Native Animal Profile: Evening Grosbeak

Multiple species of finches make their home in Maryland. Some are year-round residents while others, like the evening grosbeak, are part-time visitors. Evening grosbeaks are chunky finches. Males have striking yellow and black plumage with prominent white and black wings. Females are mostly gray and also possess white and black wings. Both sexes have thick,  Read the Rest…

Native Birds Need Native Plants

Here at Wild Acres, we like to promote using native plants in backyards to attract local wildlife species. Over the years, Doug Tallamy’s research has shown a clear relationship between native plants and birds, linking the importance of native plants for supporting insects like caterpillars. Tallamy’s research has revealed that native oaks can support more  Read the Rest…

Native Plant Profile: Silky Dogwood

Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) is a medium-sized, native in the dogwood family (Cornaceae), and its blue berries are savored by many songbirds. More than 45 types of songbirds and game birds have been documented consuming the fatty berries in the fall.

Paw-Paw (Asimina triloba)

What in the world is a paw-paw? Paw-paws (Asimina triloba) are America’s forgotten fruit. These trees with mango-like fruits can be found throughout moist woods and along streams in Maryland. There are even a few local farms that grow paw-paws!

Potter Wasp (Eumenes fraternus)

Oftentimes, the word wasp incites fear and anxiety. However, many of Maryland’s 1,200+ wasp species are relatively small and docile in nature. One neat group is potter wasps; they serve as both pollinators and predators in the garden.

Wildlife Education Trunks Available for Loan

Free Resource for Hands-On Learning The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is offering a variety of wildlife education trunks for use by classroom teachers, home-school educators, naturalists, scout leaders and other instructors. These unique, interdisciplinary teaching tools designed to educate and engage students about local wildlife while building on fundamental disciplines like art, language arts, math, physical  Read the Rest…

Bird Safe Windows

BAM! Have you ever had a bird hit one of your windows? Nearly a billion birds collide with windows each year, half of which happen with home windows. Unfortunately, the majority of birds die as a result of their injuries; even those that may be able to fly away often sustain life-threatening injuries. The good  Read the Rest…

Flower Flies

It’s a bee! No, it’s a fly! Have you ever seen a fly masquerading as a bee in the garden? If so, then you may have encountered a flower or syrphid fly. More than 130 species of flower flies are found in Maryland, and these animals serve both as important pollinators as well as predators  Read the Rest…

Moss Phlox

Are you in need of a good, native groundcover? Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) is a creeping groundcover in the Phlox family (Polemoniaceae). This herbaceous perennial grows up to 9 inches tall and forms mats across the ground. It prefers full sun, but it can grow in sandy or rocky soil just as well as loamy  Read the Rest…

Deer Resistant Plants for Pollinators

In sections of Maryland, high concentrations of white-tailed deer have created a demand for “deer proof” plants. In reality, though, there is no such thing. Deer may nibble on anything once, especially when hungry, but they do dislike aromatics, prickly leaves and thorns. Unfortunately, many of the “deer proof” plants offered at stores include invasive  Read the Rest…

From the Field: Kerry Wixted

A Baltimore City native, Kerry was always outside as a child. When she got on her first bicycle, she was off to Herring Run Park—exploring, investigating, listening—curious about the natural world within the city.

Winter Nest Box Maintenance

Now that nesting season is over, it’s time to take care of your nest boxes. This is a great time of year to inspect any nest structures that you have and replace any potentially rotted material. 

Winter Wildlife Safari

In winter, the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. Animals deal with these changes in different ways. Some animals—like Baltimore orioles—migrate, or travel to other locations. Others—like little brown bats—hibernate, or go through a deep sleep. Others still—like gray squirrels—adapt to the cold by changing their daily activity patterns and layering on fat  Read the Rest…

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers

Have you ever noticed an almost straight line of holes gracing the trees in your yard or neighborhood? Most people generally identify these holes as belonging to a woodpecker, but only one species in our region feeds in a horizontal line: the yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius).

Backyard Wildlife: Tracks

Tracking wildlife is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy. One of the most important items for tracking wildlife is a field journal. By keeping a field journal, you can record observations you have made and can preserve your finds. You also can write down crucial information that may be helpful for identifying animal tracks  Read the Rest…

Fall Seed Sowing

Did you know? Fall is the perfect time to sow many wildflower seeds! Why sow seed in the fall? Here’s a list of advantages: Clay soils are easier to work Earlier blooms High moisture conditions More time to plant Natural cold stratification In Maryland, the best times to sow seeds range from mid-September through the  Read the Rest…

Fueling Fall Pollinators

While many flowers are finished blooming by the fall, pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and flower flies are still out foraging for food. This late group of pollinators also includes the monarch butterfly, which needs nectar to fuel its southward migration. Feed fall pollinators by providing late-blooming nectar resources.

Native Plant Profile: Persimmon

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a high wildlife value tree in the persimmon family (Ebenaceae). The genus name, Diospyros, literally translates to “Fruit of the Gods,” but when unripe, the fruit can be quite distasteful! This large fruit tree can grow up to 80 feet in height and prefers partial to full shade environments. It grows best in  Read the Rest…

Native Wildlife: Opossum

Lurking in backyards around Maryland is an unsung hero: the Virginia opossum. With its rat-like tail and 50-tooth grin, the Virginia opossum isn’t always revered. However, recent research from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies has indicated the Virginia opossum as an important tick predator, grooming off and consuming almost 4,000 ticks per week! In  Read the Rest…