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News Filed Under Urban and Backyard Wildlife

A single hummingbird stands out against a blurred background as it feeds on homemade nectar at a feeder.
September 25, 2018 - Filed Under: Plants and Wildlife, Places for Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

It’s September, and that means hummingbirds are preparing to migrate to warmer climates for the winter.

These tiny creatures need lots of energy to make this trip. You can help by providing feeders for them to visit as they pass your way. (Photo by Jonathan Parrish)

A butterfly gathers nectar from a yellow flower in a group of yellow flowers.
June 15, 2018 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Places for Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

PICAYUNE, Miss. -- Pollinators are important to flowering plants and the food supply, but dwindling numbers of some of these creatures, including monarch butterflies and bees, have captured the public’s attention.

Many people want to help. But what can homeowners do to support these important pollinators?

Jennifer Buchanan, senior curator at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, shared her top three tips for creating a pollinator-friendly garden.

A red-throated hummingbird hovers over a red geranium.
May 3, 2018 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures and fun to watch. We usually begin to see them in Mississippi in March. Here are a few tips to draw them to your landscape.

Two birds visit a platform feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds
January 9, 2018 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

2018 arrived with a breath of fresh, frigid air. Colder temperatures can mean limited food for our feathered friends. Many people like to provide supplemental food for birds in the winter, which is a great way to draw birds to your backyard for observation.

flowers
December 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

Teaching your children or grandchildren about nature can start in your own backyard. Birdwatching is a simple, inexpensive way to start a conversation about our natural resources and their importance in the ecosystem.

But first, you’ll need a set of binoculars that you can actually see through clearly. If you have only one set, you’ll want to adjust them properly for each user. 

 A closeup of the official Monarch Waystation sign is shown in the revitalized children's educational garden at the MSU Crosby Arboretum
December 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Master Gardener, Plants and Wildlife, Places for Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

A project by the Pearl River County Master Gardeners aims to help increase populations of monarch butterflies by providing habitat and educating the public.

This past spring, the group revamped a portion of the children’s educational garden at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum to serve as an official, certified Monarch Waystation. Master Gardener members recently dedicated the garden with the placement of a sign from Monarch Watch, the nonprofit organization that manages the waystation program.

A teenage boy proudly holds up a catfish on his fishing line.
October 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The first settlers of North America did not realize all that they were going to find in the New World.

When European settlers came to North American, they wanted things to be different in their new country. History books tell us the promise of religious freedom, cheap land and economic opportunities gave them courage to make the long, dangerous and expensive trip. 

Healthy mourning dove populations allow opportunities for recreational hunting. Habitat establishments begin in the spring by planting small fields with a variety of grains such as sorghum, browntop millet and sunflowers. (Submitted photo)
August 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mourning doves are popular game birds and songbirds in North America. Common in urban and suburban environments, they often are seen perched on utility wires or feeding in fallow grain fields or on the ground under bird feeders.

Mourning doves have a plump body, small head, buffy feathers with scattered black wing spots, long tail feathers, and short, pink legs. It is smaller and less colorful than its pigeon cousins that are often seen around city parks, bridges and silos.

Retreating into its shell will not protect this box turtle from most road dangers. If conditions are safe, render aid by moving or encouraging snakes and turtles off roads in the directions they are already headed. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Evan O’Donnell)
July 14, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With the temperature rising daily, it is getting more common to spot turtles and snakes basking on the roads. Being aware of this change in reptile behavior can help drivers avoid hitting them.

Armadillos dig up gardens in search of insects to eat but do not typically consume garden plants. (File photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
June 16, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Whether summer gardens are for beauty or food, this time of year is sure to bring wildlife into close contact with people's property.

Many gardens provide healthy and nutritious food for local critters such as armadillos, raccoons, white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail rabbits and a wide variety of insects. Gardens are usually easy for wildlife to access and offer an inviting buffet with such easy pickings concentrated in one area. All that time and labor you spent during the spring should not be tossed out due to these garden pests.

Young people enjoy canoe excursions on Bluff Lake in the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, located south of Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Evan O’Donnell)
June 2, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As a child, some of my favorite times were spent outdoors. Sadly, spending time outside is no longer the norm for many people.

During late spring and early summer, spectators and photographers should limit stress for nesting birds, such as this Canada goose near a pond in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, on May 7, 2017. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
May 19, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Late spring and early summer is the time when wild animals are raising their young, but it also the time when people gear up for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, playing baseball, riding all-terrain vehicles and visiting beaches.

We are fortunate to have ample green space in our state, but with this great resource comes the responsibility of respecting wildlife that use these spaces to raise young. The phrase "respect the nest" is an easy way to remember this responsibility.

Grey rat snakes, such as this one, are commonly seen here in Mississippi. They are not venomous and generally would prefer to be left alone. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Evan O’Donnell)
May 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- No other creatures provoke as many conflicting feelings as snakes do. We are attracted and repelled, and we are intrigued by them and ready to kill them, all at the same time. These feelings date back to antiquity.

Simply taking children outside will open their eyes and hearts to the outdoors. While canoeing with adults on Bluff Lake in Noxubee County, Mississippi, this child searched for alligators and birds with her binoculars. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Evan O’Donnell)
April 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Most of us spent our childhoods outdoors in a constant state of motion, but many of today's youngsters are not experiencing the outdoor activities we remember with pleasure.

When I reminisce about my childhood, the memories that make me smile the most are of times spent outdoors with family or close friends. I still enjoy many of those same activities today.

Spring is the best time of the year to hang purple martin houses, such as these found at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge on March 23, 2017. Place houses 15-20 feet in the air on a pole in an open space, preferably near water. These birds will be happy to help reduce the mosquito population from the area. (Submitted photo by Vicki Maples)
March 24, 2017 - Filed Under: Urban and Backyard Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- The purple martin is one of the most appreciated and desired birds in the state. It is a summer resident found wherever multi-celled or multi-roomed housing is available.

While they lack the notoriety of the colorful and acrobatic hummingbird, purple martins are by far the most beneficial of the backyard birds. One purple martin can consume thousands of mosquitoes in a single day. Since they are heavily dependent on humans for their shelter, purple martins seem to enjoy being around people, as well.

Don’t let the colder weather prevent outdoor adventures this winter. This group is staying comfortable by layering their clothing. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Evan O’Donnell)
December 2, 2016 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- For many Mississippians, cold and wet conditions make this the least likely time of year to venture outside, but an outdoors lover knows it just takes a little preparation and a positive attitude to hit the trail and enjoy viewing wildlife.Having grown up in a climate much colder than Mississippi's, I learned a valuable skill to help cope with unpleasantly cold weather: layering clothing.

Before I venture outside, warm socks are my first priority. I prefer wool blends with mostly wool for two reasons: comfort and warmth.

Hammocks offer great resting spots whether the excursion is a day trip or an overnighter. (Photo by MSU Extension Service)
November 4, 2016 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cooler weather brings a great time to get outside, set up a hammock and "just hang" between two trees.

When I am outdoors, one of my favorite ways to enjoy the wildlife and wild places in our state -- other than when I am hunting or fishing -- is to spend time in my hammock. Whether I relax in it while hiking or sleep in it while backpacking, lying in a hammock allows me to be comfortable while enjoying in the great outdoors.

Before European settlement, mountain lions were part of the native Mississippi landscape, but changes in their habitat and overharvest by humans have resulted in no remaining wild populations of these big cats in the state. (Submitted photo)
August 12, 2016 - Filed Under: Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Most Americans over the age of 30 will recognize this line from the “Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy and her friends were traveling the Yellow Brick Road through the dark and wild forest, worried they might encounter these fearsome creatures.

Brown-headed nuthatch (left) inspecting a recently cleaned-out nest box in a backyard in Clinton, Mississippi. Nest boxes with easy access doors make cleaning the boxes for the new breeding season simple and quick. (Photos by MSU Extension Service/Adam T. Rohnke).
April 1, 2016 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- One of the key elements of creating a wildlife-friendly yard is providing areas for animals to nest.

Migration is one of the ways wild creatures, such as these Canada geese, adapt to the onset of colder weather. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
December 25, 2015 - Filed Under: Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Winter months bring short days of weak sunlight, cold nights and icy rain. Even though Southern states have relatively mild winters, the more extreme weather conditions make life more difficult.

We humans hide indoors in furnace-warmed air, put on layers of clothing to combat the chill and use insulated coats, hats and gloves when forced to go outside. But what about the creatures that live outdoors? How do they survive until spring’s warm breezes and sunshine once again return?

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