Rhode Island Red hen

Eggs are pricey: Is now a good time to start raising chickens in WNY?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Everyone is talking about how expensive eggs are in Western New York, so maybe this a good time to start raising a few egg-laying hens in your backyard. On the other hand, a big reason for the increase in the price of eggs is avian flu, a deadly disease for poultry. Maybe this is a bad time to start raising laying hens. “There’s not any good or bad time to begin to raise chickens,” said Amy…

bumble bee on Joe Pye weed in Amherst New York

Some native pollinators could become extinct in NYS; you can help

by Connie Oswald Stofko More than one-third of native pollinators in a recent survey are at risk of becoming extinct in New York State. “It is a sobering finding,” said Erin White, zoologist and project coordinator with New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP). The recently released Empire State Native Pollinator Survey 2017-2021 confirms concerns about the health of some pollinator populations in New York State, but there are things we gardeners can do to turn things around. Some findings about…

box tree moth

Update on box tree moth & more from WNY Gardening Matters

The box tree moth (BTM) was discovered in traps in Niagara County in July 2021, so everyone in Western New York has to be on the look out, said Lyn Chimera in the article Box Tree Moth: A New Invasive to Watch For. That article is part of WNY Gardening Matters, produced by the Master Gardeners of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Erie County. The BTM damages boxwood as well as euonymus and holly (Ilex species). The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)…

bees on swamp milkweed

It’s Pollinator Week! Get tips on how to make your yard inviting

by Connie Oswald Stofko Pollinator Week is all about spreading awareness of the butterflies, bats, birds and bees that are essential to plant reproduction. Find out how you can help protect pollinators. Pollinator video Provide a place for pollinators by making your backyard a better habitat for plants, insects and birds. Watch the video Green Your Backyard from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It gives great tips you can use whether you have a large suburban…

hummingbird at honeysuckle

When to hang hummingbird feeder in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Hang your hummingbird feeder two weeks before hummingbirds are expected in Western New York. Get more details below as well as tips on attracting hummingbirds to your garden and When to expect hummingbirds in Western New York Hummingbirds will return to Western New York in about mid-May, said Penny Durnin of North Tonawanda, who for many years was moderator of the Hummingbird Forum. (That forum is no longer online.) Hummingbirds could arrive earlier if they get a…

monarch flying off swamp milkweed

Monarchs are in danger; how you can help in Western New York

by Connie Oswald Stofko Monarchs should be on the endangered species list, said Jay Burney, executive director of the Pollinator Conservation Association (PCA), based in Western New York. For years there has been a massive decline in monarch butterflies, but last year the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declined to add the monarch to the endangered species list, Burney said. The FWS said there will be a yearly review and the monarch will stay in the running for…

banded wooly bear

Banded wooly bear: caterpillar that sticks around during winter

Legend has it that the banded woolly bear can predict the weather. The size of their middle band is supposed to tell us whether the winter will be harsh or mild. There are other versions of this folklore, too, though none of it stands up to scrutiny. But the banded wooly bear is a cool caterpillar. It is one of the few species of moth or butterfly that overwinters as a full-size caterpillar, according to the Butterflies & Moths of…

bat illustration

Bat update: hopeful news for one species, work continues

by Connie Oswald Stofko Bat populations have suffered devasting declines for more than a decade, with a disease called white-nose syndrome playing a role. There still isn’t a treatment for bats suffering from white-nose syndrome, though a collaborative effort is working on it. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Department of Health are partnering with researchers from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and experts at universities across the country….

sparrow at birdfeeder in Western New York

Put your birdfeeders back up; birds no longer getting sick

by Connie Oswald Stofko Although the cause of the mysterious illness that was killing songbirds this summer is still a mystery, birds are no longer getting sick. You can put your birdfeeders and bird baths back up, according to an updated statement on All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To try to prevent the spread of the illness, home gardeners were asked to take down birdfeeders and bird baths so birds wouldn’t congregate there. The cause of…

red admiral butterfly

Citizen scientists: Help with BioBlitz on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor

by Connie Oswald Stofko Be a citizen scientist and help the Pollinator Conservation Association with its BioBlitz through Dec. 1 on the Outer Harbor in Buffalo. Help to discover and identify flora and fauna there to improve conservation planning for future projects. The area includes Times Beach, Tifft Nature Preserve, the Union Ship Canal, and all of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation land and State Park land on the Outer Harbor. You can post pictures and observations on INaturalist.org….