Out My Backdoor: Black Bluebirds and Other Backyard Oddities

By Terry W. Johnson

I learned a long time ago that when it comes to wildlife, never say never. Over the years I have answered a lot of calls from folks reporting unusual things going on in their backyards. Now, I'm not talking about the behavior of their neighbors or little green men. What I am referring to are the sightings of rare animals or wildlife engaging in seemingly bizarre behavior.

Out My Backdoor: Invite the State Bird to Your Backyard

By Terry W. Johnson

I have a question for you: What is the state bird of Georgia? Is it: a) northern bobwhite; b) cardinal; c) northern mockingbird; or, d) brown thrasher?

Times up. If you guessed the brown thrasher, you are right. On March 20, 1970, after a 35-year campaign waged by The Garden Club of Georgia Inc., the Georgia General Assembly designated the brown thrasher as Georgia's official state bird.

Out My Backdoor: The Wondrous Pokeberry

By Terry W. Johnson

One of the most fascinating and valuable plants in my backyard is not found in a flower bed, nor is it watered or fertilized. It grows in a narrow, undeveloped border between my yard and my neighbor’s garden. Here you will find an ungainly plant that some might consider nothing more than a weed on steroids. Most Georgians call this native plant pokeberry, pokeweed, poke, poke salad, pigeonberry or inkberry.


Out My Backdoor: This Honeysuckle Is a Good Guy

By Terry W. Johnson

To many, the mere mention of the word honeysuckle conjures up the image of Japanese honeysuckle.
As its name suggests, Japanese honeysuckle is an alien plant. It was introduced into America as an ornamental in 1906. From its new home on Long Island, N.Y., during the 20th century this aggressive vine quickly wound its way across untold thousands of acres across the country.

Out My Backdoor: the Wildlife Christmas Tree

By Terry W. Johnson

If you were asked to name four plants that are associated with Christmas, what would you say?

You could not go wrong if you listed the holly, poinsettia, mistletoe and the Christmas tree. All of these plants will always be inexorably linked to this special holiday. However, in the hearts and minds of most Americans, the plant that symbolizes Christmas more than any other is the Christmas tree.

Out My Backdoor: Backyard Wildlife Love Acorns

By Terry W. Johnson

Acorns rank as one of the very best wildlife foods. For generations stately oaks have been rooted in backyards across the state. Although the beauty of these trees has long been recognized, their importance as valuable food plants for backyard wildlife remains largely unappreciated.

With more than 30 species of oaks native to the Peach State, regardless of whether you live in the city or country, the mountains or the coast, there is an oak that will grow in your backyard.