Out My Backdoor: For Beauty and Wildlife Food, Dogwoods Deliver

By Terry W. Johnson

As I write this column, the leaves of the flowering dogwoods growing in my backyard are bathed with a blush of red. Soon, however, they will turn scarlet and, together with their already bright red berries, light up the autumn landscape. If the flowering dogwood's breathtaking beauty is not enough to endear this small native tree to us, perhaps the fact that it is also one of our most valuable wildlife food plants will.

Out My Backdoor: Feed Birds With Flowers in Fall

By Terry W. Johnson

The stress of the long, hot summer is beginning to show on the flowers in my backyard. For weeks, the zinnias, salvias, coneflowers and a host of others along with untold numbers of hummingbirds and butterflies attracted to them have treated my family to a veritable kaleidoscope of color. Knowing that soon the flowers time will be over, I must admit that I am filled with mixed emotions. Hummingbirds are departing in droves. As the flowers continue to wither and die, the butterflies will also disappear.

Out My Backdoor: Hummingbird Migration Begins in Your Backyard

By Terry W. Johnson

For the past several weeks, hummingbird fanciers have enjoyed watching squadrons of ruby-throated hummingbirds displaying their aeronautical skills in backyards across the state. These tiny dynamos have been flying between feeders and flowers, gorging themselves on sugar water and nectar. When they haven't been feeding, they seem to have been trying to keep others from enjoying the sweet bounty.

While we find their activities entertaining, to hummingbirds it is a matter of life and death.

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: Location Critical for Bird Nesting Boxes

By Terry W. Johnson

In the real estate business it is often said the value of a property is determined by three things location, location, location. The same holds true for nesting boxes. Where you erect a bird house will determine what bird will nest there since all cavity-nesting birds prefer to nest in certain
habitats and will rarely nest anywhere else.

For that reason, try as we might, it is difficult to get an eastern bluebird to nest in a heavily wooded backyard or a screech owl to use a box in the middle of a large open yard.