As spring continues, young wildlife is going to venture out from their dens and nests. It’s important to remember that wildlife doesn’t have the same parenting procedures as we do, and they often ‘free range’ their young. Check out our page on Think Twice Before Rescuing Young Wildlife to learn about the normal behaviors of young animals during this time of year. 


Salmonella outbreaks are occurring among songbirds this year in record numbers. In some states, the recommendations have been to take bird feeders down entirely. While Maryland hasn’t had the same level of outbreaks, it is important to always keep your feeder clean. It may also be a good idea to increase your feeder cleaning schedule to once a week and apply vigilance if you see any birds that appear to be sick visiting. Another option is to take your feeder down entirely as many birds will be eating insects and plants this time of year anyways. 

Salmonella occurs when bird food gets wet. The bacteria grows on wet seed and is spread through feces. The signs to look out for are drowsiness and diarrhea. Any bird is capable of getting and spreading salmonella, and we are also susceptible to this bacteria. Consider using gloves when touching and washing feeders and then thoroughly washing your hands afterwards to prevent the spread.

As an alternative to feeders, consider using more native plants to support their needs. Check out our article on Native Birds Need Native Plants for ideas on plants to include in your landscape.

Pine siskin at feeder by David Seibold CC by NC 2.0 Credit: David Seibold CC by NC 2.0

Happy Spring HabiChat fans!

After what seems like the longest winter, I am happy to see signs of spring popping up in my local landscape. The queen bumblebees have emerged from their winter slumber. The ruby-throated hummingbirds are beginning to migrate back to Maryland. The trees are all starting to leaf out. So much is happening right now!

One big event slated for Maryland this year is the emergence of Brood X, the 17 year periodical cicadas. Learn more about these fascinating critters, what to expect, and their benefits with this season’s article on cicadas.

Spring is also a great time to add native plants to your garden! This edition of Habichat features golden ragwort, a native perennial which lights up gardens with a pop of yellow this time of year. Check out the Maryland Native Plant Society website for a list of local nurseries that supply native plants. This time of year is also a great one to tackle some of the invasive plants that may have found their way into your yard. Check out the Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas for information on common invaders and how to properly remove them.

This edition of HabiChat also includes an article on how to make your backyard owl friendly as well as a few new backyard books for 2021 and small blurbs on young wildlife in the garden and the current salmonella outbreak with feeders.

Finally, don’t forget to check out our Wild Acres webinar series. Each month, we feature different topics relating to Maryland’s wildlife and natural resources. In June, we’ll have guest speakers from the University of Maryland Extension and Calvert County to speak on topics such as forest succession and American kestrels.

Happy Habitats,

Kerry Wixted


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