April wildlife tips

Many animals begin to move during the month of April. Animals such as the box turtle and various species of snakes are coming out of hibernation. Box turtles are one of the first. They are becoming scarce in Maryland due to the loss of their habitat and road mortality. Please do not collect these turtles as pets. Take pictures of them, watch them, and enjoy the encounter, but let them go on their way.

Toads are out too! Eggs of amphibians like frogs and toads are found in small pools, wet areas, and along streams and creek beds. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles in a couple of weeks. Soon we will all be hearing spring peepers serenading us in the evenings.

Many birds are returning to Frederick County. Now is the time to clean out your bird houses and make them ready for nesting. Set up a bird bath in your garden or yard, but remember to change the water weekly to prevent mosquito larva from hatching.

It is time, once the weather stays warm at night, to plant your window boxes, containers, and flower beds with summer color. Remember to consider planting flowers that provide nectar, pollen, and eventually, seeds for the butterflies, bees, and birds.

Spring is also a time that those peaty rabbits, moles, voles, raccoons, skunks, and sometimes woodpeckers arrive. Fencing can be used for rabbits, raccoons, and skunks. Netting and hardware cloth can be used for woodpeckers. Garbage cans with tight lids keep the raccoon and skunks out. Check with the local box stores to see what they recommend for these nuisance visitors.

Feeding wildlife often causes some species to become a nuisance or encourages aggressive behavior. Homeowners are strictly prohibited from trapping or shooting wildlife outside regulated season unless it is a public health problem or safety issue.

To report nuisance, injured, or sick wildlife, call toll-free Maryland Department of Natural Resources at 877-463-6497.

So, be on the lookout for visitors in your yard or garden. Give them a habitat if you like them, but encourage them to leave if you do not appreciate their habits.

Article by Dawne Howard, Master Gardener and FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 4/30/2017