Melanie Schuchart
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Monarch on Gregg's Blue Mist Flower

There has been a lot in the news lately on the 90%  decline of the monarchs, but what can you do to help?  In the Fall as they migrate south, they need nectar to build fat reserves for the winter.  October is the peak month in North Texas for us to feed the Monarchs. If you look around your yard, do you have flowers in bloom to provide them nourishment?  If not, that is a good place to start.  While Monarchs will nectar on a variety of plants, the most popular ones are native plants that are in bloom in the prairies such as liatris, goldenrod, sunflowers and fall blue aster.   Other plants that are popular with the Monarchs are frostweed, cowpen daisy, gregg’s mist flower, lantana and turk’s cap.  While milkweed is critical for their survival and reproduction, they depend on milkweed in the Spring in North Texas as they make their migration North while the fall flowers are most needed now for them to survive through the winter season

If you want to learn more about creating a habitat for Monarchs, check out Gardening for Monarchs from Monarch Joint Venture which is a collaboration of organizations including several from Texas.  If you are looking for native plants this fall, check out the Discovery Garden fall plant sale on October 30-31 at Fair Park.  You might even see me there.

Melanie Schuchart
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Did you know that only a short drive away on Lake Lavon sits the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center?  Situated at Brockdale Park, this facilitiy houses several raptors including owls, hawks and falcons.

The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center’s educational birds of prey are the highlight of their outreach programming.  Their purpose is to inspire audiences to think about and actively participate in helping preserve raptors and the environment for generations to come.  The 1st Saturday public events are one of the outreach programs where you can get up close and personal to see and learn more about the birds in our area.  Below are some of the activities you might want to participate in during your visit:

  • Meet our raptors up-close at one of our programs, 11am and 1pm
  • Take a walk with a Master Naturalist to learn about Blackland Prairie
  • Learn what birds are on the move through Texas
  • Touch wings and feathers from raptors, find out how they use their feathers to stay warm
  • Enjoy our new Bird Blind, see what birds come to our water dripper.
  • Enjoy the outdoors with a picnic
  • And Much More!

At this time the park is only open to the public during these First Saturday events. 

The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center is continuing their expansion of their educational program based on a master vision.  This includes completed construction on their ambassador permanent residences and most recently a hospital and appropriate flight caging for the rehabilitation of injured, sick and orphaned birds of prey. 

For Directions and more information on this organization, check out their website

Melanie Schuchart
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The Texas Master Naturalist program develops local teams of “master volunteers” to provide educational and outreach services aimed at the better management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. The Texas Master Naturalist program is a partnership between the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and other local partners. 

If you love being outside, enjoy nature and are looking for like-minded people, this is the place for you. Classes for 2015 will start in February and run through May. 

Additional details can be found on our Chapter website or the Texas Master Naturalist Website.  If you decide you want to be a part of our next class or want to explore it in more detail, then check out the class agenda and requirements that are located here. Don't delay as the deadline to join is January 23rd and class sizes are limited.