Nature Notes - May 2015
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Green Heron at Bog Garden - Photo by Dennis Burnette
Green and Gold,
Chrysogonum virginianum (top)
Eastern Bluestar,
Amsonia tabernaemontana (bottom)

Wildflower Walk Series Report

By Dennis Burnette
This spring TGPAS did something different from past years – we had a series of mid-week wildflower walks.

Each Wednesday from the end of March through most of April we went to different trails and natural areas to watch the progression of spring through wildflower blooms.
The fun, educational and interesting series of walks was the brainchild of Ann Walter-Fromson, one of our most active members. Ann has been studying native plants at the NC Botanical Garden this year, and she offered to share with us what she’s learned both in class and on her own.  She did a fabulous job of planning, organizing and leading these walks.
Ann scouted the sites ahead of time, drew up a “target” list of flowers we could see, planned the walks at each site to coincide with the varying bloom periods of each species, and recorded what plants actually were seen by the group.

Every walk was a learning experience, thanks to her good teaching skills. Each Wednesday morning we met in the Whole Foods Market parking lot in Friendly Shopping Center to carpool to the site of the day. Ann suggested that we bring wildflower field guides, water, and a snack, and also encouraged participants to bring binoculars so that we could watch for migrating birds.

We walked out and back for a total of two to three miles. We saw lots of wildflowers!
Thanks to Ann Walter-Fromson for sharing her time, knowledge and identification skills with us!
 Above: Three phases of Downy Serviceberry beauty:
flowers, fruit, and foliage.


Going Native:
Planting Downy Serviceberry
for Birds

 By Dennis Burnette
Audubon has launched its Bird Friendly Communities project, a partnership program that targets our conservation efforts in towns and cities where most Americans live.

The idea is that all of us can play a role in fostering healthy populations of birds and other wildlife. One of the important aspects of the project is encouraging folks to include native bird-friendly plants in their yards and gardens. (For more on the project, check out Audubon NC’s website:
TGPAS is involved in this project in several ways. In addition to other efforts such as distributing Brown-headed Nuthatch nest boxes, we are helping our members find and use native plants around their homes. We have given away seeds and plants at our meetings, and we’re providing information on growing native plant species.
In this month’s Nature Notes we’re spotlighting Downy Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea. This is a great bird-friendly native shrub or small tree for home landscaping. Some folks may already know about this plant by one of its regional names such as shadbush, service- or sarvis-berry, or juneberry. It occurs throughout the eastern US and southeastern Canada.

Downy Serviceberry, a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in late winter and early spring (March and April). In fact, one of the regional names, shadbush, refers to the spring spawning period of shad fish. The name “service” (or “sarvis”) berry comes from the use of its pretty white flowers in spring church services.
The USDA PLANTS website ( reports that at least 40 bird species eat the fruit of Amelanchier species (June). The site goes on to say that mammals enjoy the fruit, as well. This includes people. The fruits taste somewhat like a sweet blueberry with just a hint of tartness. If people can beat the birds and other critters to them, the fruits can be eaten fresh or cooked in desserts.
A typical specimen in our area can be 10-15 feet tall, although plants in shady woods can grow taller. It’s a woodland or woodland edge plant, so it can take partial shade to full sun. Although it prefers the rich moist soils of woodlands, it will grow in drier sites.
Serviceberry shrubs are beautiful ornamentals. They have purplish- or grayish-brown bark, pretty white spring flowers, reddish-purple fruits, and autumn leaves that range from bronze through orange and gold to yellow-green.

Growers finally have noticed this plant and have begun to select cultivars for variations in size, shape, flower size, and leaf color. Garden centers sometimes have the plant in stock, and they can be ordered on line.
Showy flowers, tasty fruits, and great autumn color on a bird-friendly shrub…this plant has just about everything the home landscaper could want. Would you like to see some specimens? Step outside the front door of the KCEF Branch Library in Price Park and take a look at the tall shrubs that are on each side of the entry walk!
Pearson Audubon members and friends participated in the Great American Cleanup at the Audubon Natural Area in April. The group included Lynn Allison, an Audubon member, who brought 10 people from her Newcomers Club. Fourteen people total ipicked up trash in the creek and along the roadsides along Tankersley and adjacent parts of Elm and Church.

Email Addresses

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Dennis Burnette
Sue Cole
Judy Hoag
Jack Jezorek
Margaret Kane
Lynn Moseley
Gregg Morris
Marie Poteat
Courtney Vass
Stella Wear
Tom Wear

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Note: All photos in this issue of Nature Notes are by Dennis Burnette.

Parched, cracked earth may be one sign of global climate change. This photo shows an area in Guilford County during a recent drought.

Save the Songbirds:

Climate Change & Birds

What: Monthly Meeting
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14  (refreshments at 6:45 p.m.)
Where: KCE Family Branch Library at Price Park, Greensboro
Who: Heather Hahn, Executive Director, Audubon North Carolina
Heather Hahn, Audubon North Carolina's Executive Director, will present the latest information collected by the National Audubon Society regarding the effects of climate change on birds over the next 65 years.

Audubon scientists have determined that of the 588 North American birds 314 of them are at risk of losing 50% of their habitat by 2080. Even worse, the data  gathered over the seven-year Audubon study, predicts that 126 of our birds will lose 50% of their habitat by 2060.

These predicted losses are only from climate change and do not take into account effects from other causes. This is a greater level of detail than we have ever had about which birds are threatened and where.
Heather will discuss with us what we can do today and tomorrow to shield our birds from these climate change effects. She says, “This new information about the threat climate changes poses to birds will add clarity and urgency to our work in a way that few things have before.”
Heather is a wonderful speaker and delightful person and we are indeed lucky to have her at the Audubon helm in North Carolina. Please join us for this program and discussion about saving our birds.

Climate change is the elephant in the environmental room and we need to talk about ways to shoo it out the door. Join us about 6:45 for snacks, drinks and conversation.

Let's Visit Richardson-Taylor Nature Preserve

What: Second Sunday Nature Walk
When: Sunday, May  10, Meet at 1:45 p.m. in the Whole Foods parking lot, 3202 W. Friendly Ave., for carpooling
Where: Richardson-Taylor Preserve, Guilford County
Our Second Sunday Nature Walk on May 10 will be to one of Guilford County’s newest natural areas, the Richardson-Taylor Preserve.
This 444-acre preserve has walking trails down to a marsh and beaver dam where there is a colony of Red-headed Woodpeckers. We often see Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Broad-winged Hawks soaring above the marsh from an overlook platform that was constructed as an Eagle Scout project. Red-winged Blackbirds, Tree Swallows and Belted Kingfishers are common in the marsh.
The trail through the upland portion of the preserve passes through a pine forest, a large patch of American Holly, and deciduous hardwood forest. The forest floor has several interesting native wildflower species including an uncommon fern and at least four species of small orchids.

The woodland is home to Wild Turkeys, deer, ‘possums, raccoons and other critters, although we’re likely to just see their signs in the middle of the afternoon.
As usual, we will meet 1:45 next to Friendly Avenue in the Whole Foods parking lot, 3202 W. Friendly Ave, Greensboro, NC 27408. We plan to leave at 2:00. If you would prefer to meet us at the site, we plan to be there about 2:25. For GPS purposes, the Richardson-Taylor Preserve is just east of 451 Plainfield Road, Greensboro, NC 27455 (a private residence not part of the preserve) about half way between Lake Brandt Road and Church Street.

Wood Thrush, a species we will look for that is in peril due to climate change

Beginning Birder Walk on May 17

Join us for our Beginning Birder Walk on Sunday afternoon, May 17, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. We will meet in Price Park in front of the KCEF Branch Library, 1420 Price Park Road, Greensboro. It’s near the intersection of Hobbs and New Garden roads.
As we’ve said for our earlier beginner walks, this is designed to be a fun, laid-back experience especially for beginners, although more experienced folks enjoy these walks, too.

The emphasis is on learning to identify birds using clues such as size, shape, markings, habitat, and behavior; and we have fun finding and watching the birds in a relaxed, no-pressure setting. It won’t matter if we make mistakes because we’re here to learn and have fun doing it.
As in the past, we’ve called it a walk, but there won’t be much walking involved. We’ll be in Price Park around the KCEF Branch Library. We’ll walk slowly, check out the bird feeders, and practice building our identification skills by watching common birds.
This outing is especially for people who think of themselves as beginners. The knowledgeable birders in our group started at the beginning, and we will, too.

We won’t even need binoculars! Birds can be identified without binoculars or field guides, which are just tools to make it a bit easier. On the other hand, if you have them, bring them. We’ll talk about how to use these tools, and we’ll try to answer any questions participants have.

As always, supervised older children are welcome, but no pets, please. We hope that you’ll join us for this late spring/early summer bird walk on Sunday afternoon, May 17!
Contact the leader, Dennis Burnette, at, if you have any questions.
The April Second Sunday Nature Walk was a delight for 26 participants. We found three different species of salamanders, and several people got down and dirty in the creek at Guilford College Woods to find them.

Hummingbirds at Home: Helping Hummingbirds in a Changing World

From the National Audubon Society
When you travel, do you like to plan your destination in advance? Do you like to know where you will stay and dine when you arrive? Hummingbirds like to know this too.
Hummingbirds must sync their migration with the flowering of nectar-bearing plants so that they can refuel after their long journeys. They can lose as much as half of their body weight during their migration. But what if they migrated and rather than finding their expected nectar plants, they found wilted flowers dry of nectar?
Scientific research will be essential for helping to understand how climate change is affecting hummingbirds and for learning how to mitigate those impacts. But it’s not that simple. Collecting the necessary scientific data across large areas is difficult and costly.
That’s where you come in. You can help make a difference for hummingbirds by becoming a citizen scientist.  Thousands of volunteers now routinely go out and record feeding hummingbirds through Audubon’s newest citizen science program,
Hummingbirds at Home. The purpose is to gather data that will help Audubon better understand how changing flowering patterns and supplemental feeding by people relate to the timing of hummingbird migration and breeding success. Moreover, we can learn how hummingbirds are impacted by feeders, non-native nectar sources in gardens, shifting flowering times, and climate change. 
You can help protect hummingbirds by capturing this crucial data with just a few clicks. It’s easy – just submit your observations using Audubon’s free app for smart phones or through the Hummingbirds at Home website.
To get started, go to

May 2 (Sat) Spring Bird Count. Contact: Elizabeth Link 336-273-4672
May 10 (Sun) Second Sunday Nature Walk: Guilford County Open Space Preserve – Richardson-Taylor Nature Preserve
May 14 (Thur) Program: “Save the Songs:  Climate Changes and Birds” Speaker:  Heather Hahn, Executive Director of Audubon North Carolina
May 17 (Sun) Beginner’s Bird Walk at the KCEF Library starting at 1:30 PM, joint program with PBC
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