PICAYUNE — The deck outside our Visitor Center has been the location for many wildlife sightings over the years. In addition to the regular scurrying of well-fed squirrels, we’ve encountered chickadees and woodpeckers, skinks with electric blue tails, newly emerged luna moths, and fledgling cardinals trying out their new wings and developing lungs. One summer, a green tree frog took up residence under the plastic sign taped on the front door of our gift shop. Although he would go out exploring in the mornings, every afternoon he would find his way up under the sign. He may have been hidden to the visitors approaching the front door, but he provided great entertainment to those of us on the inside, and we would marvel at his tiny feet and belly squished up against the door’s window glass. Outside my office window, a post and plank bird feeder provides a secluded location for piles of black oil sunflower seed that is quickly devoured by forest bird species such as the wood thrush nesting nearby. A few years ago, I glanced out the window to find a gray fox perched on a fallen pine tree (incidentally, right next to the bird feeder). A swift dash to grab my camera luckily froze this moment in time. The following year, a film crew shooting footage in the Gum Pond Exhibit captured a red fox bounding through the woods along the pond’s edge. Green anoles, the only anole species native to North American, are very common at the Arboretum. You might see one scampering along the deck rail, or creeping among the vines that cover the tree trunks along our pathways. Anoles are often called chameleons, but although they do resemble them, chameleons are not native to the Americas. Speaking of skinks and anoles, we have lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus) blooming now in our Aquatic Exhibit, recently propagated by grounds manager Terry Johnson, part of the plants to be offered in our Aquatic Plant Sale to be held the first week of July. The sweet-smelling white bloom spikes of this plant are curved like the tails of a lizard. Lizard tail grows in wet areas such as marshes, and at the edges of ponds and streams. The plant is a food source for animal species, such as turtles, and it also provides cover for many water-loving wildlife species. On a walk from our Slough Exhibit north to the Gum Pond along the recently excavated 900 foot stream channel in the Swamp Forest Exhibit, we always see a variety of animal tracks in the soft mud. Deer, raccoons, opossums, and more obviously use the channel as a pathway and water source. Have you ever made a plaster casting of animal tracks? This is a fun project children will enjoy, especially if you make it a challenge to build a collection. Many sites on the Internet contain detailed instructions on how to make track casts, however, the method and materials needed if you are a craft-loving person: just a strip of cardboard, a paperclip, and plaster of Paris. Arrange the strip of cardboard in a circle around the desired track, press it into the soil to hold the shape and prevent the plaster leaking out, and use the paperclip to fasten the circle. Mix the plaster according to package directions. Tapping the container after mixing the plaster will reduce air bubbles, resulting in a smoother track cast. Write information on the back of your cast, such as the date, common and Latin name of the species, and where you found the track. Search the Web for handouts identifying common animal tracks, or visit your local library or bookstore for a field handbook on animal tracks. Thanks to volunteer Susan Epps, we now have a good start on a list of common bird species that have been seen at the Arboretum. On a visit to our site, perhaps you will see a ruby-crowned kinglet, an American goldfinch, or a ruby-throated hummingbird visiting the coral honeysuckle or coral bean in our Children’s Garden. Around the Pond Journey, you may spot a water bird or two, perhaps a goose, great blue heron, or white egret. Once, a green heron posed for photographs and earned the nickname “Elvis” from former Curator Melinda Lyman. She was fortunate to spot this short-necked bird that was sporting a fancy hairdo. I’ve not been as lucky! A quick trek through our grounds rarely goes without a wildlife encounter, flushing a group of yellow-rumped warblers, discover hundreds of writhing caterpillars on the trunk of a tree, or catch a glimpse of our elusive river otter, experienced by just about everyone but yours truly. Curator Richelle Stafne snapped some video footage of the otter cavorting in the pond near the Pinecote Pavilion one morning. Watching the video clip is almost as good as being there. Richelle is currently conducting a survey that seeks to determine the possible causes for reasons affecting visitation to the Crosby Arboretum. If you have not yet participated, please consider doing so. The link for the short survey can be found on our website’s homepage and will be available until mid-June. Join us this Friday, June 7, for an informative program all about passion flower vine (Passiflora) on Friday, from 11 a.m. to noon. Dr. Eric Stafne, MSU Associate Extension Research Professor, will discuss both the ornamental and edible uses of our native “maypops.” On Saturday, June 8, a gentle yoga class will be held in the beautiful natural setting of the Pinecote Pavilion from 9 to 10 a.m. by certified yoga instructor James Sones. Both programs are free to Arboretum members and $5 for non-members. For more information, or to sign up for a program, visit www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu or call (601) 799-2311. The Crosby Arboretum is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59). For further exploration: Search the Web to find an educational website about birds to “listen and learn” the calls of common species. Visit the Crosby Arboretum’s YouTube site to see a short video of our river otter having fun in the pond.
Skinks, anoles, and lizard tails
Picayune Community Spotlight: Picayune Police Department
The Picayune Police Department has had a year of progress in the war on drugs, 911 capability and high visibility which in no small part has been due to focus on goals; cooperation of city officials and community support and departmental commitment— for example, everyone received the Chief’s Award from Police Chief Bryan Dawsey at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet.
Parker brings Christmas to 95 children
Cathryn Paker has spent all year diligently working on giftboxes for children she will never see. On Thursday, for the fifth consecutive year, she presented those 95 giftboxes for children in need to Christian Care Ministries on behalf of herself and her church, St. Barnabus Anglican Church.
Third annual Christmas on the Rails and Shopping by Candlelight
The Third Annual “Christmas on the Rails” is from 5 until 8 p.m. Friday in conjunction with Picayune Main Street’s Shop by Candlelight and Art Works sponsored by Greater Picayune Arts Council (GPAC). Art Works and Shop by Candlelight go on until 9 p.m. Sometime during the evening, the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce will announce the winner of the Best Decorated Store Front contest.
CWC Pilgrimage: A second time around
D.L. and Sandra Barker Bolton invite you to join them for the “second time around” as they open their home for the Civic Woman’s Club Christmas Pilgrimage to be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 2 until 7 p.m.
Both of them were on the first tour of homes when Civic Woman’s Club started the Pilgrimage in 1986. D.L. and his late wife, Wanda, had a Renaissance Christmas, and Sandra and her late husband, Larry, had a Victorian Christmas.
Business withstands test of time
McDonald Funeral Home, now owned and operated by Steve and Ann
McDonald, is a 96-year-old family run business with several long time
employees and was the recent recipient of the 2013 Excellence in
Business Award from the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.
Vocability: Did Black Friday make you blue?
The holiday shopping season has begun and in its honor this week’s
column relates to retail terminology.
Anyone who has either had a part-time job or has been known as a
frequent shopper has most likely encountered several of these terms.
Match the ones you know and learn the others because it will give you
a whole perspective on your shopping experience.
As always, the answers are at the bottom of the column.
Partners delivers Presents for Pearl River County
“Our vision was to coordinate with all three county school districts and have students anonymously adopted like the programs used with ‘Angel Tree’ and such,” said Herndon, who is Children's Minister at First Baptist Church in Picayune. “We have two locations for trees that will have ornaments representing children in need. One is at Coast Electric in Picayune and the other is at the Poplarville Courthouse.”
Coast Electric is located at 6375 U.S. 11, in Picayune. The Poplarville Courthouse is located at 200 Highway 26 E, in Poplarville. The trees are conveniently located for access when the facilities are closed.
Toys for Tots registration and drive
Boxes are available in Picayune, Poplarville, Crossroads, Millard, McNeill and Carriere.
In Picayune, a few of the many locations to find them are: Crosby Library, Highland Community Hospital, Picayune Police Department and SPCA. In Poplarville, a few of the many locations to find them are: Jacob’s Well, Chamber of Commerce and Hancock Bank. In Crossroads, a box is located at Crossroad Seafood and Grill. In McNeill, a box is located at McNeill Travel Plaza. In Carriere, boxes can be found at Hide-A-Way Lake and PRC School ROTC.
To sign up, go to WORC from Monday, Dec. 2 through Friday, Dec 6, during the hours of 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. through noon. Those needing further information can call 769-926-1333.
Fred Cruse Foundation again giving away bicycles
All donations can be either dropped off or mailed to Fred’s Westside Pharmacy located at 207 Kirkwood St., Picayune, MS 39466. For more information call Diane Cruse at 601-798-8888.
Angel Tree for children
Trees with angel ornaments to adopt can be found at Wal-Mart and Highland Community Hospital. Those who would like to sponsor a child through Angel Tree, or find out more about it, may call the church at 601-798-6301 or visit the Internet site at www.angeltree.org.
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