Arboretum Paths: Home for spring break? Wildlife day this Thursday

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What frog is this? Attend the program on "Frogs and Toads of South Mississippi on April 16 to find out! (Photo by Pat Drackett).

What frog is this? Attend the program on “Frogs and Toads of South Mississippi on April 16 to find out! (Photo by Pat Drackett).

Families with students home for spring break this week – are you looking for something to do?
Crosby Arboretum’s Wildlife Day will take place Thursday, March 31 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, and is our annual educational event featuring exhibits on Mississippi wildlife. Classes from schools in session this week have signed up for the event, and homeschool families are also planning to attend.
But even though some schools are on spring break this week, this doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of this great event focused on area wildlife.
Students on spring break may attend for two dollars, and the adults accompanying them may attend free. This year, exhibitors will include the Wetlands Express from the New Orleans Audubon Nature Institute, through a grant from Visit Mississippi, the Hattiesburg Zoo, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the Pine Woods Audubon Society, exhibits on monarch butterflies and bees, and many other exhibits that will focus on wildlife.
This year, a special exhibit is planning to make an appearance at Wildlife Day – the Wood Magic Science Fair from the Mississippi State University Department of Sustainable Bioproducts. The traveling exhibit will provide demonstrations on everyday items made from wood products, the properties of wood, paper making, and how plywood is formed.
Although Wildlife Day comes once a year at the Arboretum, we encounter critters on our property year-round. In addition to the many birds that visit our deck for a feast of black oil sunflower seeds, we will sometimes spot gray and red fox. A sly river otter is known to live in the Piney Woods Pond, and visitors enjoy feeding our turtles and fish from the Pinecote Pavilion.
Blue-tailed skinks, anoles, plump squirrels are common on our Visitor Center deck.
An out-of-state visitor asked last week about the crawfish mounds he spotted in the Pitcher Plant Bog. While these are a common sight to residents, the structures are certainly an oddity to those who have never seen them.
We occasionally see deer, but none seem to have made us their home. Fortunately, we do not harbor wild hogs!
Want to learn more about Mississippi wildlife? Visit the MSU Extension Service website, to research topics from invasive species such as feral pigs, managing wildlife in timber plots, or attracting backyard wildlife.
Extension Publication 2402, “Establishing a Backyard Wildlife Habitat”, is an extensive publication containing lists of plants to attract birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies to your garden. Just in time for your spring garden projects!
Speaking of garden projects, the Arboretum’s Spring Plant Sale will be held Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23. Choose from a great selection of hard-to-find native plants, including species for bird and butterfly gardens.
This week will bring other not-to-be missed opportunities for the public to visit the Arboretum. Attendance is free on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3. Both days, you may view work by area artists in the Annual Art Show gallery exhibit, sponsored by the Crosby Arboretum Foundation.
On Sunday, April 3, the Strawberries & Cream Festival will be held on the Pinecote Pavilion from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The event celebrates the early history of the Arboretum when it was a Depression-era strawberry farm. Our 64 acre parcel is a tenth of a square mile of the strawberry fields that once stretched westward across where the interstate is now.
Awards for the winners of the Art Show will be announced at 2:00 p.m. at the Strawberries & Cream Festival. Enjoy fresh strawberries, ice cream, and Picayune Frog lemonade, and tap your foot to music by the group Indian Summer at 1:00 p.m., and the Jordan River Band who will perform after the awards are announced.
Teachers and homeschool groups may still call to sign up for Wildlife Day on Thursday, March 31, for groups of 10 or more. Call 601-799-2311 to schedule your arrival time. Although the weather looks like it may be damp that day, in past years we have had classes come prepared in their rain gear. We usually have some hardy exhibitors, and we are able to accommodate classes under the Pavilion. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
The Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director, and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

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