It’s About Time – June 2015

Nesting season is coming to a close this month, easily noticed with geese and turkey nestlings that leave their nests and swim or run right after hatching. One of the enjoyable sights of early summer is watching a troop of goslings or chicks paddling or scurrying around after their parents. They are out feeding for themselves, learning how to find and handle their food by following their parents. Most songbird babies stay in the nest until they are ready to fly. After they fledge and leave the nest, they are pretty much on their own.

The spring flush of flowers has reached its climax in the valley bottoms. Seedpods are developing in all but wetland plants, where flowering and fruiting tends to occur later. The dry seeds of fringe cup are interesting in that they will not germinate in the summer. The seeds have a summer dormancy that prevents them from germinating during occasional rain showers. Otherwise they would dry up and die when the usual summer dry period resumes. Only after midwinter are their seeds ready to sprout.

Most flowers are relatively passive when it comes to courting a pollinator. Bright colors and sweet scents work quite well when bees and butterflies are around. The Scots broom is different in that it acts like a trap for heavy insects like bumble bees. Its stamens are spring-loaded and snap out when the petals are pushed down, slapping a load of pollen on the back of the bee.