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…

cardinal and sparrow in snow in Cheektowaga NY

Help researchers with Great Backyard Bird Count

The 25th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which will be held Friday, Feb. 18 through Monday, Feb. 21, is a way for you to help researchers right from your own backyard. Anyone, from beginning bird watchers to experts, can take part. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Each checklist submitted during the Great Backyard Bird…

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…

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…

flower on common milkweed in Amherst NY

For butterflies & fragrance, choose common milkweed!

by Connie Oswald Stofko If you like butterflies, you probably have a kind of milkweed called butterfly flower (Asclepias tuberosa). You may even have swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Consider adding common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) to that mix. Not only is it a plant that monarchs love, it gets a pretty flower– and it’s fragrant! Dan Murak pointed out the fragrance this summer when I visited his landscape, which was shared on the Snyder-CleveHill Garden View. Another thing I like about common milkweed is that…

wild turkey

Help count wild turkeys in your area of Western New York

It’s not uncommon for Western New York gardeners to see turkeys trotting through a nearby field or even across their own lawn. How many wild turkeys are there this year? That’s what the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would like to know. And they’d like your help. During August, you can participate in a survey, recording how many adults and poults (young of the year) you see during normal travel. To make a report, click the “Summer…

robin died from mysterious disease

Mysterious bird deaths—stop feeding birds for now

by Connie Oswald Stofko Sick and dying songbirds have been showing up from Florida to Pennsylvania with strange symptoms: crusty eyes, blindness and headshaking. Birds may be found on the ground, disoriented and unresponsive.  This has been labeled a “mortality event”– where a large number of animals die within a short period of time due to what appears to be a similar cause. No affected birds have yet been reported in Western New York, but one was found on July…

cardinal in snow by Stofko

Where have the birds gone & what can gardeners do about it?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Have you noticed that you haven’t had as many birds at your bird feeder lately? The cause is simple: lack of snow. Something you probably didn’t notice is that the number of birds in North America is down by almost 3 billion birds since 1970. That’s a big concern, but there are things that gardeners can do to help. No birds at your feeder? A reader left this comment on a previous article: I live in…

bee covered in pollen on swamp milkweed

Support fireflies, plus 4 more reasons to get rid of some of your lawn

by Connie Oswald Stofko Attract fireflies, support pollinators, save yourself some work and have cleaner air. Those are some of the benefits you can reap when you get rid of some of your lawn. Support pollinators Pollinators include butterflies, insects, birds and other animals. To support them, turn a section of your lawn into a garden and include native plants. Native plants are better than non-natives in providing what native pollinators need: nectar, pollen and seeds, according to the New…