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Touch Of Nature
June 1, 2005 Issue

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Here At Bluebird Cove

Finding plants that the deer don’t eat is an adventurous challenge. Last week I purchased a number of St. John’s Wort plants to line a path. They are of the small bush variety. It seems that deer nor rabbits like eating plants that have strong medicinal properties.

St. John’s Wort is used for depression, and although habitat is certainly challenged for the deer and even the rabbits …. I guess depression is not one of the problems they deal with, so they leave them alone. For me, it’s rather fun to have medicinal plants considering our passion for natural remedies. There’s been a lot of research done on St. John’s Wort and depression with impressive results. If you’re interested, read more here.

We have bluebird eggs in one of our nest boxes. That’s a big accomplishment being that we are on a wooded lot. Randal hung a box out at the front of the property by the road, and it seems the bluebirds consider it theirs. They have the openness they like and plenty of sun. What gorgeous birds! There were 4 eggs in it and it appears from activity past few days that they are hatching.

We also have flycatchers building a nest in one of our boxes in the woods out back. One that the squirrels have enlarged the hole in. Wasn’t that nice of them to work for the flycatchers? I think they are Great Crested Flycatchers from the vocal ID and brief view yesterday.

A new bird sighting for Bluebird Cove: The Brown-headed Cowbird. This is considered a parasitic bird since it lays its eggs in another bird’s nest and leaves them for another mother to feed. Find more information on this inconsiderate bird in our bird segment below.

The most exciting news? Last week we saw a gray fox by the pond. I guess our pond project is bringing in more than just frogs!

Take time to look around your place …. there’s a lot of wonder out there!

Nature’s News

There’s Money In Your Trees

How much are your trees worth? Most likely more than you think. Homeowners invest a lot of time, care, and money into landscaping their property, expecting beauty and shade in return. But the unexpected "return" on that investment is that trees have monetary value as well.

While it’s impossible to prevent storms, accidents, and air pollution from causing damage to your trees and plants, it is possible to recapture your landscape losses through an insurance claim, or as a deduction from federal income taxes.

Those Amazing Birds!

Cowbirds: Feathered Parasites

With stealth and cunning, female cowbirds steal into other species’ nests when the owners are away and deposit eggs. The parents, unaware of the trickery, might raise the cowbird chicks at the expense of their own, a feat that happens across the North American landscape.

Whether at the forest edge, on a grassland fencepost or watching over a suburban backyard, Brown-headed Cowbird females usually strike just before dawn. Most often, the cowbird pair stakes out the locale to identify one or more likely host targets.

Brown-headed Cowbirds parasitize roughly 200 species throughout North America, and 144 species have raised cowbird offspring. About 50 species are known as reoccurring hosts. Female cowbirds can distribute up to 50 eggs among various species in their territory.

A number of species seem to recognize a foreign object placed in their nests and typically reject Brown-headed Cowbird eggs soon after discovery. Many species reject foreign eggs some of the time, and several species consistently reject the eggs, such as American Robins, Gray Catbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Blue Jays, Northern Orioles, Cedar Waxwings, Brown Thrashers, Crissal Thrashers and Sage Thrashers.

Species that reject cowbird eggs recognize the eggs’ different color or size and throw them out of the nest. Some species, like Bullock’s Orioles and American Robins, pierce or crush the eggs before jettisoning the remnants. Others–such as meadowlarks, Dickcissels, Cedar Waxwings and Indigo Buntings–abandon the nest and eggs and build another one.

Many people think that the parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds has contributed greatly to plummeting numbers of prairie and forest species over the past several decades.

Here’s some photos and vocal sounds

Here’s more detailed information

Nature’s Bounty For Us

Essential Oil Recipes and More – New Free Newsletter!

Emailed twice a month with an essential oils tip, recipe, Q&A, and more. As
a subscriber you will be able to submit questions to the editor. Q&A will
be placed in each issue. Enjoy the fun of using essential oils around your
home and as part of your healthy lifestyle. Aromas add zest to life!

Natural Solutions by Health Topic

Do you need to build better health and wellness? Herbs have been used by people around the world for thousands of years. Get information about a health topic you would like to know more about.

Gardening For Wildlife – Restoring the Balance

Drip Irrigation

One of the best ways to water is through drip irrigation. These systems use less water, prevent fungal diseases by keeping the leaves dry and provide precise control on watering only what you want watered (not the weeds).

Here are the options:

Soaker hose – Also called weeper hoses, these are affordable, good for general use, and resist freezing and heat. However, they can burst if water pressure is too high (over 10 lb/sq. in.) and don’t provide much control.

Drip tubing with punch-in emitters – Lengths of 1⁄2" diameter hose in which small emitters are inserted. Very easy to target water to specific spots. However, drip rate can vary from one end of the line to the other if there is a slope or the line exceeds 100 ft. Add pressure compensators to solve.

Drip tubing with inline emitters – Same as punch-in except that the emitters are pre-installed – usually about 12" apart though other lengths are available.

Kits – many vendors now sell complete irrigation kits that include combinations of soaker hoses and drip emitter systems as well as flow valves, pressure regulators and even digital timers! Be sure to shop around for the best price.

"Green" Info – Making It a Way of Life!

Green Shopping – Windmills for Energy

Wind harvesting is getting to be a home-grown affair with a new crop of smaller, quieter, turbines. What’s more, many states now offer backyard wind (and solar) producers. There is some form of "net metering" provided by local utilities. If you generate more power than you’re using, the utility will credit you for the excess going back into the grid. Find out specifics for your own state.

Detoxify Your Soaps and Cleaning Supplies With Sunshine Concentrate!

This environmentally-friendly cleaning and washing concentrate is nothing less than wonderful. We’ve used it for 15 years for laundry, hand soap, pet baths, soaking produce, dishwasher, cleaning, and a multitude of other uses. This product has saved us money and health. No more "itch" of chemical soaps.

Muse On Nature

In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.

– John Sawhill, The Nature Conservancy

Recycling – Making a Difference!

Unloading Items You Don’t Want to People Who Need Them

Whether you’ve had a garage sale and still have leftovers you’re not sure what to do with or if you’d like to clean out your attic or basement but want to know your things are going some place that they’re needed … here’s a couple of websites that will allow you to match up your discards with others’ needs.

ExcessAccess matches business and household items with the wish lists of nonprofits that can provide pickups.

ThrowPlace allows you to list excess possessions and surplus merchandise on the site for donation to charities or to businesses and individuals for reuse, refurbishing and recycling.

Pets Are Nature At Home

Pet Supplement Catalog by Health Topic

Pet Success Stories Using Nature’s Remedies

Free Natural Pet Email Newsletter

Healthy Pet Corner for Birds, Cats, Dogs, Horses, Rabbits & Reptiles

The Frugal Life – Living Well With What You Already Have

Living more simply is a great way to effect change in your own personal environment. It helps the planet also. The Frugal Life website has lots of ideas on getting back to basics. They also have a free newsletter emailed twice a month.

Written to encourage families wanting to stretch their dollars, it includes articles or tidbits on topics such as: finance, decorating, gardening, and household tips from subscribers and questions from the website forum.

Sign up for their free email newsletter.


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Copyright and Reprint Information

© 2005 Donna L. Watkins

The content, suggestions, and web links in this newsletter are for informational purposes only and not necessarily endorsed by our sponsor “The Herbs” This is a personal publication by Donna L. Watkins. The ideas and information expressed in it have not been approved or authorized by anyone either explicitly or impliedly. In no event shall Donna L. Watkins or “The Herbs” be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from any action arising in connection with the use of this information or its publication.

You may forward or use this copyrighted newsletter on a website if you include the following credit:

Editor, Donna L. Watkins, of, provides this free newsletter to subscribers. The Herbs Place provides quality Nature’s Sunshine Products at wholesale prices. Visit now to view the list of free newsletters available.