Native Plant Profile: Black Cherry
Maryland Wildlife: Coyote
Dealing with County Nuisance Ordinances
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HABITAT - the arrangement of food, water, cover,
and space -IS THE KEY! This
newsletter is a place to share ideas, information, and help answer
some of your habitat and wildlife gardening concerns.
Native Plant Profile......Black
Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Flowers: Cream –white blossoms appear with
leaves March to June.
Dark purple edible, thin- skinned drupes appear from June to October. Bears
heavy fruit crop approximately every three years.
Notes: Highly ornamental blooms, Suitable for border plantings and
woodlands. Bark of the tree peels off in square-shaped flakes. Black cherry can occur
in a variety of habitats, from moist bottomlands, hillsides, and dry situations.
It can grow on the average 50-60 feet in height and can reach a maximum of 100
feet. This is a plant that should not be located where fallen fruits and twigs
will be a nuisance, i.e. next to a sidewalk. Wilted leaves may seriously poison
Black Cherry fruit provides food for:
Eastern Bluebird, Cardinal. Catbird, Crows. Common flicker, Blue Jays,
Mockingbird, Pileated, Red-bellied and Redheaded woodpeckers, Eastern Kingbird,
Great Crested Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, American Robin, Wood Thrush, Hermit
Thrush, Veery, Cedar Waxwing, Red-eyed and Warbling vireo, Red-winged Blackbird,
Common Grackle, Orchard and Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet and Summer tanager,
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, American Goldfinch, Eastern Chipmunk Deer Mouse, Meadow
Black Cherry fruit and buds
provide food for: Ruffed Grouse, Ring Necked Pheasant, Bobwhite
Quail, and Wild Turkey
twigs and foliage provides food for: White –tailed Deer
Black Cherry fruit, bark and wood provides food for:
Black bear, Beaver, Red and Gray Fox, Opossum, Eastern Cottontail,
Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Fox, Gray and Red Squirrels
Black Cherry is the larval host for: Spring
Azure, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.
Black Cherry provides nesting places for:
Eastern Kingbird, American Robin, Orchard Oriole and Baltimore Oriole
Additional Notes: Black cherry is among one
of our most important wildlife food plants. Songbirds will fly back and forth,
often in large flocks to gorge on the wild fruits, perching nearby regurgitating
the pits, which will often become the first trees of abandoned fields.
Wildlife: Coyote (Canis latrans )
The coyote has been
found in Maryland since 1972. This mammal is found in every county of the
Length: Snout to tail tip is about 3
½ ft, with about one-third being tail. Coyote carry their tail pointed down when moving.
Height: 2 ½ feet. About the size of
small gray collie dog or small German shepherd dog with drooping tail.
Coyote do not have a tail that curves up like domestic dog.
Weight: 30 to 35 pounds in Maryland.
Males usually weigh more than females. Eastern coyote is on the average
about 10 pounds heavier than western coyote.
- Front paws 2 3/8” to 3 ½”
by 1 5/8” wide
- Hind paws 2 ½” to 3” long by 1 5/8”to 2 1/8” wide
- Tracks are
Ears: The ears are conspicuously
large and erect.
Breeding: Breeds in January. Three to
10 young born 60 to 63 days later. Pups born blind, fur covered. Female
nurses them for two weeks. Young leave the den at three weeks: by six weeks
will venture out of the den. Will hunt with the parents in the summer. Will
stay with the family through most of the fall. Young will then breed their
first winter. Dens are used only for raising young. Coyote normally take
over old fox dens, instead of digging their own. It is believed that coyote
pair for life.
Food: Coyote are predator /
scavengers. They are an important control on the populations of rodents.
Diets of east coast coyote are rabbits, rodents, carrion, insects and
fruits, such as watermelons, grapes and various summer berries. Coyote are
known to raid trash cans and backyard poultry flocks. Even cats and small
dogs are eaten. The eastern coyote is so fond of cats that the first sign
that coyotes are in an area is the disappearance of felines - Another
Good Reason for Pet Owners to Keep Their Cats Indoors - Coyote will also dig into
compost piles in search of insects.
Impact on other wildlife: Red foxes
typically disappear as their larger canine relatives move in an area and out
compete them for food and dens. Deer are also preyed upon but coyote appear
to have little impact on their populations.
Additional field notes: It is thought
that coyote moved to the east after wolves were removed from the area and
agriculture opened up woodlands creating more open country which coyote
adapted to. As coyote traveled to the east, coyote changed as well, mating
with other members of the canine family: dogs, gray wolves, and red wolves.
The resulting mix of genetic material has produced a coyote that is highly
adaptable to all sorts of conditions. Eastern coyote will form packs but not
as much as wolves. A coyote’s home range is between two and 26 square miles,
depending on its gender and availability of prey. The coyote’s territory is
smaller, an area that the animal marks with scent posts, scat and chases out
other animals, including coyote that are not part of its pack.
NOTE: Individuals that are
experiencing problems with coyote are encouraged to call the USDA Wildlife
Services in Maryland at 1-877-463-6497.
For additional information, visit:
The Coyote in Maryland
Just about everyone has seen honeybees, and most of us assume that they are
native to North America. This is actually not the case. Honeybees arrived in
America with the early European settlers. In recent years the honeybee
population has been decimated by a combination of weather conditions and
parasitic mites. The agribusiness crop pollination has suffered because of a
shortage of honeybees. If you want to ensure the pollination of your backyard
habitat, a good choice would be to encourage native bees.
Native bees are an ideal choice for a backyard since the majority of them fly no
further than 100 to 200 yards from their nests. Native pollinators are solitary;
there is no need to set up hives or meet zoning restrictions connected with
owning honeybee hives. All you need are flowering plants, trees and a plan on
the proper use of insecticides, since bees are very sensitive to their use.
You want a variety of bees that will pollinate plantings from early spring
through fall in order to provide seeds and fruit for wildlife year round.
Mason Bees are docile, shiny blue bees about two-thirds the size of a honeybee.
These bees are some of the earliest to emerge from the winter dormancy. They are
an excellent choice to pollinate early flowering fruit trees. Males come out of
dormancy first so that they are available to mate with the females who emerge
later. From March until June, the females collect pollen and nectar and lay eggs
in drilled holes of nesting blocks. (Nesting blocks can be made of untreated
wood in which 5/16” holes are drilled of various depths) If you so choose, in
late October you may store the bee house in a refrigerator OR other cool place.
This will prevent the bees from coming out of dormancy early and starving if
there is a warm spell in the winter.
Bumblebees are another bee that does not mind cool weather. They emerge from underground in
early spring. They are efficient pollinators of clovers as well as a wide
variety of flowers, especially dark flowered species. They are known to use old
birdhouses, which are located in the semi-shade. Queen bees will lay their eggs
to start the colony. Each colony will divide itself in castes each having a
different job to help raise the young. At the end of the summers, new queens are
produced. They mate and over winter in the ground to start the cycle again.
Preparing a patch of sandy soil in an undisturbed sunny area of the garden will
attract native ground nesting bees, such as the Digger, Sweat and Polyester
Bees. Digger Bees make burrows and cells underground and often hide the entrance
to their nests beneath leaf litter or in grass to avoid predators, Sweat Bees
are attracted to perspiration. They nest underground often with many nests in
one area. Polyester Bees don’t wear the fabric, but dig nests and cavities for
brood cells in the ground and line the cell cavities with abdominal secretions
that form a transparent, waterproof polyester membrane. They are excellent
summer berry pollinators, such as blueberries.
Mid-summer pollinators are Leaf-cutter Bee and the Carpenter Bee. Leaf-cutter
Bees nest in pre-existing holes and carry their pollen load under their abdomens
like the Mason Bee. They line a drilled hole or hollow stem with a leaf that has
been rolled, and use bits of leaves and petals to prepare the brood cells. The
entrance to their nest is sealed with a leaf lid to protect the larvae. They can
also nest underground. Carpenter Bees prefer to drill their own nest sites in
soft dry wood and their characteristic round holes are often found in wood.
These bees unlike the Mason and Leaf-Cutter Bees are very territorial. One of
their favorite sources of nectar is Catalpa trees.
For additional information on other native pollinators please check our wild
acres web site
www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Habitat/WildAcres/index.asp. Many thanks to Sharon Dick who
originally wrote articles on bees for the Wild Acres Program in the 1990’s.
County Nuisance Ordinances
You are starting to get your wild acres looking as you designed. Your meadow for
wildlife is showing active wildlife use. Then you get a letter from your
county government telling you to remove it: cut it down. The area you have
established for wildlife seems to be in violation of a weed control law,
more commonly known as the nuisance ordinance.
What should you do? Read the letter carefully. A good violation letter will
tell you (1) how you have violated the ordinance, (2) if you have an
opportunity for an administrative hearing, and (3) will give you a date by
which you must be in compliance as well as the penalty for failing to do so.
In most cases, the penalties are invoked only as a last resort in resolving
Think about your wild acre and how it fits into your landscape. Does it look
like an area that has been neglected? Are tall plants growing next to
someone’s manicured flowerbeds? Or blocking the view of a stream? Have your
neighbors complained about seeing rats running out of “your weeds” or the
weeds are aggravating their allergies?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions consider mowing the
edges of a wildlife meadow so that it has soft curves instead of straight
lines. Plant some trees or shrubs along the edges to help define your wild
acres as something “planned”. Keep the edges set back from the property line
at least 6 feet as a courtesy to your neighbors. Be sure to eliminate
noxious weeds such as Johnson grass, Shatter Cane and Canada thistle. Cut
back anything that blocks a view that you know someone else enjoys or needs.
Call or visit the government official who signed the letter. Ask what
prompted them to send it to you. Did someone complain or was the inspector
making rounds and simply discovered your wildlife area. ? If someone
complained, ask the nature of the complaint. DO NOT ASK WHO COMPLAINED. You
want to convince the official that you are interested only in keeping your
meadow, not retaliating against a disgruntled neighbor.
Explain to the official that you manage your land for wildlife. Take copies
of literature you have collected for creating habitat. Describe your
long-term plans for your property. Ask if there is a waiver provision in the
ordinance, which can be applied to your situation. If no waivers apply, ask
your official for an administrative hearing.
At an administrative hearing, a hearing officer, the county official and
yourself will discuss your violation. You need to explain that it is not
your intention to violate the ordinance, but that your wild acres are part of
your landscape plan. Ask for either a waiver from the ordinance or that the
government consider your area as not meeting the definition of a nuisance.
Be prepared to explain the concept of landscaping for wildlife habitat. Make
a drawing of your property that shows your landscape design.
Advise the officials how wildlife species will benefit or are benefiting by
the presence of a meadow. Show what steps you have taken to make the area
neat and attractive for the enjoyment of anyone who can see it. Show the
steps you have taken to control noxious weeds. If neighbors have complained,
describe what efforts you have made to to resolve those complaints. Reply to
their concerns in a courteous and professional manner.
After the hearing is over, the hearing officer will review the transcripts
and render a decision on your case. If they decide against you, you may
pursue a negative decision by writing your elected county officials.
Consider sending a letter to the editor of your local paper. Share your
thoughts on why wildlife areas should be excluded from your local nuisance
ordinance. Suggest that if others share this opinion, to please make it known
to your local officials. You may be the starting point for amending your
local nuisance ordinance for the benefit of wildlife.
Tips on Making Wild Acres Without Upsetting the Neighbors
If possible talk to your neighbors about what you are going to do.
Check your local ordinances, or homeowner’s bylaws to see if you wildlife
plan is going to be a violation. If it is, work on changing these
Try starting small and gradually expand your wildlife habitat. This will be
less of a shock to others.
Put out benches, paths etc. to make the area look less wild.
Mow or mulch a border around your wild acres.
Choose native plants that have ornamental value such as colorful fruits,
flowers or leaves.
Offer tours of your property to neighbors, explaining the benefits your
Note: Thanks to Wanda Cole and National Wildlife Federation for their
experiences and their articles on this subject which this author gratefully
Click here for online back issues.
Photo of Black Cherry Tree Flowers & Foliage courtesy of James
L. Reveal @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Looking up at Black Cherry Tree Photo courtesy of (c) 2002
Steven J. Baskauf, Bioimages home
Black Cherry Tree Collage – Photo of bark and close-up of
flowers, courtesy of (c) 2002 Steven J. Baskauf, Bioimages home; Foliage &
Fruit, courtesy of Michael Hogan, Trees of Alabama and the Southeast,
Photo of garden bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) in flight courtesy of
Dan Tunstall Pedoe, Space For Nature – Wildlife Gardening Forum @ http://www.wildlife-gardening.org.uk/
Photo of a blue orchard bee pollinating a zinnia courtesy of
Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Photo of coyote courtesy of John White
Illustration of coyote tracks courtesy of Wade Henry
Thanks to Wanda Cole and National Wildlife Federation for their
experiences and their articles on this subject which this author gratefully
Many thanks to Sharon Dick who originally wrote articles on bees
for the Wild Acres Program in the 1990’s.
Here is a listing of phone numbers, web sites and organizations that you might find helpful or interesting in your search for ideas to manage your wild acres.
DNR Online... Inspired by nature!
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at
backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North
America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each
species they see at their feeders from November through early April.
FeederWatch helps scientists track broad-scale movements of winter bird
populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Project
FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership
with the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and Canadian
Nature Federation. http://birds.cornell.edu/pfw
National Wildlife Federation - Details on their backyard habitat program www.nwf.org or call them at 1-800-822-9919.
Native plants - The Maryland Native Plant Society offers information dedicated to protecting, conserving and restoring Maryland's native plants and habitats, visit them at
Maryland Cooperative Extension offers home and garden information, tips publications, plant problems, Bay issues, and other links at
Their Home and Garden Information number is statewide and can be reached at
1-800-342-2507, and from outside Maryland at 1-410-531-1757.
Bioimages, a project of
Vanderbilt University, provides educational information to the public on
biologically related topics, as well as a source of biological images for
personal and non-commercial use.
Maryland's "Becoming an Outdoors - Woman Program
"- One of the topics covered in the three-day workshops is Backyard
For a free wildlife & native
plant newsletter, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute at
and subscribe to the WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-newsletter. You can
also visit this website to learn how you can become a certified wildlife habitat
For more information on butterflies - visit the North American Butterfly Association at
Warm season grasses and wild meadows for upland nesting birds visit Pheasants
Forever at www.pheasantsforever.org or e-mail:
We want to hear from you!
Letters, e-mail, photos, drawings. Let us know how
successful you are as you create wildlife habitat on
Write to Me!
Natural Resources Biologist II
Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service
MD Dept of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis MD 21401
Habichat, the newsletter for Wild Acres participants, is published by the
Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Click here for online back issues.
The facilities and services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are available to all without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, physical or mental disability. This document is available in alternative format upon request from a qualified individual with a disability.
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