Summer – there’s no other season that nature exists in such abundance as this, when plants and animals seem to be in a race to procreate, grow and otherwise take full advantage of the sun’s energy.
By now, many birds are already raising their second or third broods of the year. Unlike large mammals; whitetail deer, black bears, bobcats, etc., female birds will start laying a new clutch of eggs as soon as their young from the previous nesting have fledged and start feeding themselves. Eastern bluebirds and mourning doves are especially adept at making the most of the breeding season. If you have bluebird nest boxes in your yard you can encourage re-nesting by cleaning them out after each successive batch of baby bluebirds hops out into the big world.
During this Year of the Snake in N.C. State Parks, it’s proper to give snakes their due as efficient predators of songbird nests. Both eggs and hatchlings are on the menu and snakes seem to specialize in locating bird nests this time of year. Several of our native snakes are excellent climbers and will go high into the branches to grab an easy meal.
For bird enthusiasts, protecting nests from snakes and other predators means installing barriers to keep would-be eggeaters from climbing posts where boxes have been located. A 24-inch wide sleeve of light sheet metal around the post will keep the majority of snakes and other agile predators from climbing.
It’s also the season for spotted fawns to begin taking their first steps. Doe whitetails have given birth by mid- to late June and now those tiny deer are following their mothers around and learning what it takes to survive. You can help by paying attention as you drive on park roads. If you see a deer on the side of the pavement, assume it’s going to step out in front of your vehicle and assume it’s got a baby in toe. If a doe crosses the road, give it a few seconds to see if a fawn isn’t bringing up the rear.
The best nature watching is in the early mornings and late evenings. Hope to see you out on the trail!