Wood duck

A male wood duck floats amongst the lily pads in a pond on Old State Road in Pittsfield.

Q: A friend tells me she sees wood ducks on the pond side of the Onota causeway. I've looked and looked, but only see mallards and common mergansers there. Have you had reports of wood ducks there?

— Nancy M.

A: Nancy, I went (last) Monday morning to the Onota causeway and did not see a wood duck or nest box, or any other ducks for that matter. There were a few Canada geese and an immature bald eagle, and a mess of fishers (fishermen). I also checked Thomas Island and only saw a few geese. I would imagine that most of the waterfowl seen earlier are off breeding.

Q: I am spending the last week visiting friends within walking distance to Springside Park in Pittsfield. I have recently gotten interested in wildflowers. Can you suggest some of the flowers I can find there?

— Mathew, Springfield

A: In late April, I saw (in other years) toothwort, blue cohosh, meadow rue, hepatica, bloodroot, trout lily, and brought from Europe by early settlers, coltsfoot and dandelion. While at Springside Park, visit the gardens near the newly painted Springside House and American chestnut research plot.

Q: I know I am late in taking down the birdfeeder, but I have it out of the reach of squirrels and bears, and want to see how the regulars change from winter to breeding plumage. It is exciting. Especially the goldfinches! A few days ago, I had something that I hadn’t seen before; I think it is a chipping sparrow with a bright chestnut stripe on its head. Isn’t it early? Also, I have had a song sparrow that I have seen before.

— Jimmy P.

A: This common breeding bird arrives by mid-April. One arrived at our sunflower heart feeder this past April 14. I think it is one of a pair that nested near our house in a neighbors' yard. It found where I spilled seed while filling feeders in our garage and would visit the seed on the floor. When I got around to cleaning it up, I placed the remaining sunflower hearts in a saucer just outside the door where the sparrow would find it. When I stopped refilling it, it found the hanging feeder and continued visiting it through Nov. 6.

Q: Is the day lily a native flower? It is one of our favorite wildflowers, and we hope to get some soon for a corner of the yard.

— Jackie B., Pittsfield

A: More correctly called the common daylily, this flower is found along roadsides, edge of woods, and often next to a long-forgotten home.

It was brought to the New World by early European immigrants and their ancestors got theirs from traders along the silk routes. It is an old plant, naturalized by the early 1800s, but belongs in the corner of any garden.

Q: We have doves nesting in shrubs beside our house. The song is so mournful while being soothing. We want to make them want to stay. What can we feed them?

A: We, too, have a pair nesting somewhere nearby. “Ours” often bask in the sun on our deck railing.

According to www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mourning_Dove, “Seeds make up 99 percent of a mourning dove’s diet, including cultivated grains and even peanuts, as well as wild grasses, weeds, herbs, and occasionally berries.”

Despite their attractive qualities, mourning doves are the most frequently hunted species in North America!

Thom Smith, NatureWatch columnist. Email him at naturewatch41@gmail.com or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.