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Early Spring Nature Walk

Updated on December 16, 2014
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Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

Photo Tour of Louisiana Habitat

Spring usually comes early to southeastern Louisiana, but in 2010, the flowers were a couple of weeks later that normal. The wet cold winter provided good conditions for most plants, especially the flowering bulbs and wildflowers.

My husband and I hope you enjoy this virtual tour of our National Wildlife Federation certified backyard wildlife habitat. We snapped some pictures of both native and cultivated flowers as well as wild and domesticated animals and arranged them in categories for your viewing enjoyment. An explanation about the plants and animals is provided for each photo, so it is almost as good as actually taking the walk. Perhaps after visiting our backyard habitat, you may wish to dedicate a portion of your backyard to wildlife or for a sustainable garden. Creating such a habitat has many benefits such as increasing biodiversity of plant and animal species which will help to keep things in balance.

We've also provided a video quiz, just for fun. Now let's join Rio (our part Catahoula and Pointer dog) for a pictorial tour of the Little Tchefuncte Hummingbird Hill Habitat when the flowers are just beginning to bloom in spring.

Tour Around Our Backyard Habitat in Early to Mid March, 2010

Early Blue Violet Up Close

Source

Native Plants - Perennials

Early Blue Violet grows wild in the rich soil of the hardwood forests. The first leaves are heart shaped and leaves that grow later in the spring are more deeply lobed.

Blue Violets Postcard

Langlois Violets bloom early in spring. Violet leaves make delicious and nutritious additions to early spring salads.

Many of the photos seen here can be purchased in Naturegirl7's Zazzle Shop and the old-fashioned flowers from Lalagniappe as print-on-demand products such as posters, cards, apparel, mugs, etc.

Native Trees and Shrubs

Red Buckeye Flower Buds
Red Buckeye Flower Buds

These Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) flower buds will turn into a spike of lovely red, nectar rich flowers in a few weeks. The hummingbirds love these flowers.

Green Hawthorne Flowers
Green Hawthorne Flowers

Green Hawthornes (Crataegus spp.) decorate the woods and roadsides with their early spring blooms. The lovely white flowers attract many pollinators to the garden.

Wild Mexican Plum Blooms

The beautiful flowers of our native Mexican Plum tree (Prunus mexicana) color the landscape. In summer, the trees will bear tasty plums.

Service Berry Flowers
Service Berry Flowers

Service Berry (Amelanchier arborea) flowers turn into delicious berries that are one of the Eastern Bluebird's favorite foods.

Wild Blueberry Flowers

We think native "wild" blueberries are tastier than many of the domesticated kinds. The flowers of this variety, probably an Elliot's Blueberry, open in late February.

The "old folks" call these berries, Huckleberries and they are delicious fresh or in recipes.

If you'd like to see more photographs of early spring flowers, click on the link.

Forest Plants of the Southeast

Excellent photographs illustrate this interesting book which details the wildlife uses of many forest plants. I used this guide to help identify and choose plants for the backyard wildlife habitat here.

Old Garden Favorites

Flowering Bulbs

Because of the exceptionally cold winter, the bulbs did very well this year. Many years we don't have the required 40 days of cold weather that most of the spring blooming bulbs (like Tulips and Hyacinths) require. Here are a few of the flowers that always put on a show in spring.

Snowbells

Source

Daffodils

These are called rush-leaf daffodils because of the tubular shaped leaves.
These are called rush-leaf daffodils because of the tubular shaped leaves.

Golden Daffodil

This is probably a King Alfred. They naturalize well, even in the warm winters of South Louisiana.
This is probably a King Alfred. They naturalize well, even in the warm winters of South Louisiana.

Pink Snapdragon

These beauties will bloom from fall into spring during mild winters and are used by winter hummingbirds.
These beauties will bloom from fall into spring during mild winters and are used by winter hummingbirds.

Annuals

In the coastal south, we plant pansies and snapdragons in the fall and they winter over then burst into bloom in early spring. By May most of them have shriveled in the heat.

St. Francis Among Pansies

Perennials and Small Shrubs

Perennials like this purple Homestead verbena are the backbone of our garden. These old-fashioned plants come back year after year. This verbena is a butterfly magnet and makes a great ground cover for sunny areas.

Homestead Purple Verbena


Little Imp is a small kind of Abutilon, that will survive cold winters if mulched well and when it is planted in a sheltered area. Hummingbirds feed from the nectar rich blooms and it starts blooming early in spring.

'Little Imp' Abutilon Flowers

Shamrocks
Shamrocks

Irish Shamrocks send up leaves during the cool weather. It's very hard to grow them here in the humid south.

The more rounded leaf next to it is a Beards-tongue Penstemon. Its lavender flower will appear in late April.

Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Japanese Magnolia or Tulip Trees are another old southern favorite that blooms in the very early spring here in Louisiana. We love the purple and pink shades of the flowers and there are several different varieties on the market.

Japanese Magnolia Blooms

I brought these Bridal Wreath plants from my Mother's yard many years ago. Pass-along plants are the very best kind of plant, because so many memories of the person who gave them to you come with them. Every time I see them bloom, I think of the happy times I spent in my Mother's beautiful flower garden in north Louisiana.

Bridal Wreath Blooms

Red Camellia japonica and Honey Bee
Red Camellia japonica and Honey Bee

Honey Bees are already active gathering nectar from these red Camellia japonica flowers. Here in Louisiana, some begin blooming in December and continue into April. Of course the unusual freezes that we had this year, killed some of the flowers, but most of the tight buds survived to bloom in the spring.

Vegetables and Fruits

Various Leaf Lettuces
Various Leaf Lettuces

We plant our cool weather crops, like these leaf lettuces, in fall and winter so they will mature in the early spring before it gets too hot.

Sweet Kumquats

The Kumquat, a kind of Citrus tree, is an old Louisiana favorite. We like to eat them whole right off the tree. If you plant them in a sheltered place, they will bear most of the year.

The more rounded ones that are shown here are sweet. The oblong varieties are more tart. Both make good marmalade when mixed with oranges and other Citrus fruit such as Satsumas and Meyer lemon.

Growing Citrus

Here is one of the newer guides for growing Citrus trees in your own backyard. Citrus is a very versatile plant which is used by wildlife and humans, too.

Bluebird Pair Early Spring

Birds and Other Animals

Bluebirds start looking for nesting sites in late winter. This pair has decided on a cypress nest box that was made according to precise specifications, complete with a predator baffle. The blooming plant in the background is 'Plum Delight' Loropetalum, a kind of witch hazel.

Red-bellied's Red Belly

Ever since Hurricane Katrina left so many dead trees standing throughout our habitat, we have had plenty of woodpeckers, like this Red-bellied male. You can see how they get their name.

Brown Headed Nuthatch Female

This female nested in one of the bluebird boxes and raised a brood.
This female nested in one of the bluebird boxes and raised a brood.

Brown-headed Nuthatches, which are only indigenous to the pine forests of the south, are also taking advantage of the additional natural cavities that Hurricane Katrina left.

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmice are permanent residents and enjoy black oil sunflower seeds to supplement their diet of native seeds and insects. They also nest in bird houses and natural cavities.

Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Ruby Crowned Kinglet

The Ruby Crowned Kinglets visit the logs where we feed the birds. They pull insect larvae and small pieces of sunflower seed out of the cracks.

Gray Squirrels are common in our habitat. In areas where there are few natural predators, they can become overpopulated, but the hawks, owls and other predators keep their numbers down here.

Eastern Towhee
Eastern Towhee

The male Eastern Towhee is a beautiful bird with its unique "drink-your-teeee" and other calls. They scratch around in the leaves for seeds and insects.

Red-winged Blackbird Male and Females
Red-winged Blackbird Male and Females

During the winter and into spring, flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds visit our feeders. They hang around, devouring every seed in sight, until spring when they return to their nesting grounds.

Orange Crowned Warbler in Cherry

Orange Crowned Warblers are migrants that arrive early in fall and leave late in spring. They hang out around the suet and hummingbird feeders, frequently making use of both.

Many birds, like this Ruby Crowned Kinglet enjoy the home made suet that we provide.

Male Ruby-throat

The first male Ruby-throated hummingbird returned to our habitat on March 13th, this year. He was about 2 weeks late, probably because of the cold weather that we had this spring. The females will start showing up towards the end of March, then the breeding season will begin.

We're hoping that we will be able to participate in Linda Beall's Ruby-throat breeding study again this year. Last year we couldn't because of family obligations.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

Mockingbirds are making a comeback in our habitat. We enjoy their antics and their creative songs.

Male Cardinals are gorgeous this time of the year. They stay here all year long. This one is sitting in an American Beech tree that is just beginning to leaf out.

The Sibley Guide to Birds

One of the best bird guides on the market. This will help to identify the birds that you see in your backyard.

Bird Identification Quiz

Pepper, the neighbors barn cat
Pepper, the neighbors barn cat

The neighbors "rescued" this little black cat, called "Pepper", from the shelter and thought that she would make a good "barn" cat. She has adopted us and since the neighbors only come to their place once a day, we are feeding her daily in hopes of limiting her hunting kills.

We have 3 inside cats and we keep them inside to protect them from the wildlife and the wildlife from them.

How to Create a Wildlife Garden

If you'd like to try your hand at creating your own backyard wildlife habitat, this book includes step by step instructions, directories and over 800 photographs.

© 2010 Yvonne L. B.

Did you enjoy the tour and the quiz? - Tell us how you did.

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    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 2 years ago from Covington, LA

      Thanks Marisa. I'm happy you enjoyed them.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 2 years ago from Sydney

      Great photos!

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Yes, I certainly enjoy the tour! Wonderful. Had never heard of the Little Imp before. It's very pretty.

    • KANEsUgAr profile image

      KANEsUgAr 6 years ago

      wow such beautiful pictures.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I do love this Lens, delightful!!

    • profile image

      scar4 6 years ago

      I got a fairly low score, 29%, my poor common knowledge!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      Spring comes so late here in Scotland, so thank you for letting me share your springtime sights in the meantime.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      Very cheerful and colorful, thank you!! :)

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      Very cheerful and colorful, thank you!! :)

    • Adriana Daniela profile image

      Adriana 6 years ago from New Market

      Beautiful pictures!

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 6 years ago

      good lens! nice pictures!!

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 7 years ago

      Beautiful lens. Makes me want to visit Louisiana.

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      Very cute pictures!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      What a lovely spring walk and gorgeous photos. Congrats on your Purple Star! Happy Spring. :)

    • naturegirl7s profile image
      Author

      Yvonne L. B. 7 years ago from Covington, LA

      Thank you everyone for all the lovely comments and congratulations. I just got back from an impromptu early morning walk. Dax the cat got out and wanted to play hide and go seek. I see that the native Azalea flower buds are beginning to open up. That will be one of today's projects, to get photos. The light is very good right now.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Lovely. Congratulations on the purple star!

    • semas profile image

      semas 7 years ago

      Amazing lens-5*! beautiful photos and it was a great nature's walk you took us sitting in front of the computer!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      superb! Balloons and confetti purple star celebration

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 7 years ago

      Beautiful photos. Spring began early here in Seattle -- need to go out and take some more photos of the changing land.

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 7 years ago from WNY

      yummeriferous!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      The changing of the seasons is so exciting, but none more so than winter to spring. Thank you for sharing this. I love the photos!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      What a beautiful lens!!! I love your variety of nature. :) Blessed by an Angel and lensrolling to my Nature Walk for Children lens.

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 7 years ago

      What a wonderful spring walk with wonderful photos. It's a pleasure to visit this lens.

      Congrats on the well deserved purple star.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow, I am envious of your backyard! Blessed!

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 7 years ago

      I just had to come back to let you know I've tweeted, faved, 5-starred, posted on my Facebook Fan Page (Norma Budden on Squidoo) and created a blog about this beautiful lens you've created. The blog, if you wish to take a look at it, can be located at http://as-it-happens.crabbysbeach.com/blogs/

      By the way, congratulations on your newest purple star. :)

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 7 years ago

      I just added this lens to your feature at More Purple Star Awards.

      It is absolutely stunning! Would you permit me to live in your photographs? I'm sure this lens will live on in my memory. Wow!

      How would you like to visit my lens featuring Angel Blessings?

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thanks for the tour...spring is such a wonderful time of the year and your photos are always a treat!

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 7 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      this is a wonderful lens, thanks so much for taking me along on your walk.

      cheers

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is absolutely gorgeous and I have thoroughly enjoyed the early Spring Nature Walk. Your photographs are amazing. I didn't do too well on the first quiz but did know about a Pass Around Plant. I have an Angel Wing Begonia that I call a Friendship Plant because I have shared cuttings with so many friends. The video quiz was so interesting. I got a few right and loved hearing the BobWhite. Great work. Blessed!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      great lens with lovely pictures. i want to give you more stars but squidoo restricted me to give 5*. great work. book marked it.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      When my sons were very young, we used to go for 'signs of spring' walks...a treasured memory. Thanks for the 'signs of spring' walk. 5*s!

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 7 years ago

      Nice lens...I so enjoyed all the pictures ...I've never seen dark purple Japanese Magnolias...they are gorgeous. And I also have lots of red-winged black birds now that it's spring (in NH). However, I have no flowers or leaves even.....and you've made me miss my southern camellias... wonderful lens...thanks so much for adding my suet lens!! I will lensroll..

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      Awesome lens though I have to admit I didn't do so hot on the quiz. I love the springtime and the fact that it arrives earlier here in SC than in Minnesota. As a Minnesota kid I didn't think winter would ever end.

      Thanks for sharing

      Lizzy

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 7 years ago

      What an educational tour this is and all in your own vast 9-acre backyard. I really enjoyed this Louisiana adventure and learned a lot about flowers, birds, but I flunked your quiz! I got one out of 7 :(

      There is a lone bluebird around my house and I believe it has a nest in the front yard. I wish I could find the nest and take a picture of it.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 7 years ago from UK

      It is lovely seeing and learning about Spring where you live. Beautiful photographs. I really love Spring, and am especially enjoying it after the severe winter we had. We are seeing the first snowdrops, crocus and shoots of daffodils, a very welcome sight! Lovely lens -thank you for sharing :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Everything, every picture is so very beautiful. I believe I could spend all day looking at your photos! Now I think I need to move to Louisiana :) My favorite bird in the world is that bluebird. Oh, and that little squirrel is adorable. I have always loved that little streak on red on the red-winged blackbird and you have to admire the sassy mockingbird. Gorgeous! Angel Blessed!