Early Summer Plant and Animal Activity
Since the last issue, we had our summer solstice (June 21), the day of the year when we have our greatest number of daylight hours.
On May 30, the smoke was quite thick, especially in the evening, and as I was walking home along 95 Street I had a surreal moment of seeing what appeared to be a group of nine pelicans float gently out of the haze above the houses.
For many animals and birds, the past few weeks have been the weeks of raising children. Two of our common species in the neighbourhood are hares and magpies. A family of white-tailed jackrabbits has been raising their young at the OFRE Orchard, and I’ve encountered them there several times throughout the season. You’ll see young rabbits without their mother nearby in the spring and early summer – it doesn’t mean they’re orphans. In my understanding, their strategy is to stay still, either under a low plant or trusting their brown fur to camouflage them.
I’ve also watched the growth of a magpie family with its nest in a spruce tree in my front yard. I heard the begging of the juvenile magpies every day outside my window, starting around the end of May. Later, around June 10, I noticed that the magpie fledglings were learning to fly in my front yard. Subsequently, their parents have been teaching them lessons about how to find their own food.
Another activity that fills this season of the year is pollination. At the OFRE Orchard, several times I saw Hunt’s Bumblebees visiting the blooms of the lupine flowers that were planted in the garden bed at the Orchard Opening event.
Two common plants I see growing in the boulevards this time of year are the common dandelion and plantain, both plants that can benefit humans. The leaves of common plantain (not to be confused with the plant that is similar to a banana) can be chewed and applied to the skin to reduce swellings, such as those that result from insect bites or stings. Every part of the common dandelion is edible, and I’m noticing it’s more common these days for people to have dandelion root tea.
Nathan lives in McCauley.