Summer is outdoors time! We’ve finally shaken off the winter doldrums, and we soak up all that delicious mood-boosting Vitamin D from the comfort of our porches, decks, lawns, or roofs, if we happen to live in a concrete jungle.
And with all the warm weather, many of us are drawn to our backyards to grow plants, landscape, or relax with a cold drink. Before you get too comfortable, though, there’s one tiny thing you should look out for. If you find it hiding in your yard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests you keep your distance — at all costs.
Aside from those rare humans gifted with a green thumb and well-educated in their local zoology, most of us who muck around in the garden are still learning. It’d be almost impossible to decipher every clue that nature holds, which is where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service steps in.
Mikes BackyardNursery / YouTube
Called USFWS for short, this organization has a mission to conserve and educate the American public about American flora and fauna and their habitats. They’ve put out a warning to us novice gardeners in an effort to reduce negative human impacts on bird life.
While the USFWS may sound like a formidable organization, it really isn’t. It employs 9,000 people nationwide and has 700 offices sprinkled across the country, all working with the local communities to keep our human and animal habitats in harmony.
However, due to the USFWS’s status as a federal government agency, it runs into a few roadblocks when trying to help protect animals living on private or non-federal land. As luck would have it, that type of land is exactly where many animal habitats are.
Center for Plant Conservation
To overcome this, the USFWS partners with private organizations to further its work by distributing information to help landowners and citizens understand best practices to protect animals on their own. They also use social media to get information out.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Springtime is a particularly big time for the USFWS’s public service tips. Their main concern in this season is the protection of nesting birds, since families often come in contact with nests around their own homes.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Even though many nests are on private property, it’s still illegal to move or damage them, as doing so could endanger their occupants. If for safety reasons you really need to move a nest, you must get a permit, and be sure to be very careful.
May Meets June
Some nests can never be touched or moved if they belong to protected species. Robins’ nests on your porch are a lot different than bald eagle nests, which carry a $500,000 fine and prison time for any kind of tampering, regardless of whether they’re empty or occupied.
Now, because eagle nests are so large, you’d have to really go out of your way to harm one. They’re also usually high up in trees, at minimal risk of human tampering. But other birds, who built smaller nests, often accidentally end up in danger’s path.
Because of this, the USFWS doesn’t put out many warnings for eagle nests when spring rolls around. Rather, they’re concerned about really tiny bird eggs — the kind that might be easily hidden in a bush or shrub.
After all, these eggs that worry the USFWS are no larger than a thumbnail, and the nests they’re found in are the size of a ping pong ball. If you’re in the rhythm of pruning, they can be easy to miss.
backt0nature / Twitter
And while these bird eggs are tiny, their diminutive size doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of protection. Why? Well, they belong to one of the world’s most delicate birds — hummingbirds!
Because the birds are so small, they don’t weigh much, and the nests don’t need to rest high on a sturdy branch. In fact, they can build nests on clotheslines, string lights, or even bungee cords, which are closer to human activity than most other nest areas.
Celebrate Urban Birds
Again, while it’s important not to mess with any nest, it’s especially true for hummingbird nests. Hummingbirds’ small size makes them an easy target for predators, and due to a variety of threats, 15% of hummingbird species worldwide are facing extinction.
We definitely don’t want to see these guys disappear! Why? Well, they’re pretty unique: they’re the only birds that can fly backwards, kind of like drones — and they have the fastest-beating wings of any bird, up to 5,400 flaps per minute.
More importantly, these tiny creatures provide a great service to plants and humans alike. As they drink nectar, their small size allows them to carry pollen from flower to flower. This pollination helps to ensure healthy plant growth.
Hummingbirds also keep annoying insects at bay — they eat them! They snack on protein-filled fruit flies, aphids, gnats, mites, mosquitoes, and anything else small enough to swallow whole.
Blue Ridge Blog
So how can you do your part to help protect these lovely, beneficial birds? Keep an eye out when gardening, or cleaning out that shed or gazebo you haven’t used in a while. If you see a nest, leave it be.
National Audubon Society
And if you hang up a hummingbird feeder, be sure to clean it and replace the sugar water often, to reduce any bacteria or fungi growth in the water that might harm the birds.
Remember, America’s wildlife is counting on you to help protect it! Always be diligent about living in harmony with the native creatures around you. One of America’s most influential figures just took major steps to in that direction.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Plenty of performers in Hollywood only care about big box office hauls and awards season. Morgan is certainly proud of his Academy Award — that’s for his supporting role in Million Dollar Baby — but that’s not the only gold he cares about.
In 2014, the megastar went on The Tonight Show and spoke about a bold new career move. It wouldn’t affect his acting work, sure, but this particular calling was unheard of among the showbiz elite.
Morgan explained that when he wasn’t busy on set, he liked to spend most of his time on his Mississippi ranch. There, he could get away from the city noise and simply enjoy nature. However, he soon learned about a major issue.
The actor read about the overuse of pesticides. Though they helped protect certain plants, they wiped out other species that pose no danger. In fact, he saw that pesticides could even eliminate an unappreciated cornerstone of the ecosystem.
Critically, these toxins were devastating the worldwide bee population, with losses of 30-40% each year. While this may seem like a niche crisis at first glance, the thinning of bees has monstrous implications for mankind.
That’s because the vast majority of agriculture relies on bee pollination to produce food. Without friendly bees, countless farmers would go broke trying to incorporate manual pollination services into their budget. A huge food shortage would ensue.
This revelation shook Morgan to his core. He knew he could only do so much about the overuse of pesticides around the world, but perhaps he could still help the bees. He looked at the magnificent estate around him.
From end to end, the actor’s Mississippi ranch covered an impressive 124 acres. With so much space at his disposal, would it be possible to set aside a section for bee preservation? Morgan frantically made a few phone calls.
Within days, he made contact with an apiary — that’s fancy talk for “bee farm” — in Arkansas. They had more hives than they could handle, so they agreed to box a bunch up and ship them over to Morgan’s place.
University of Florida
As soon as the bees arrived, the Oscar-winning actor knew he made the right decision. “We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation,” he explained.
Despite a complete lack of prior experience, Morgan Freeman dove right into beekeeping. He found that he loved it. The bees apparently love him too because he made a huge claim in front of The Tonight Show crowd.
If you believe Morgan’s take, he’s never been stung by a bee — not even once. He’s so trusting of the insects that he doesn’t even wear the protective beekeeping gear.
All those full-body suits and netted hats are supposedly for humans who fail to “resonate” with the bees. Morgan, on the other hand, feels a natural kinship with the life buzzing around him.
Plus, at the end of the day, Morgan says the bees know he’s the one providing their food. They have enough social awareness to not bite — or sting — the hand that feeds them.
The actor said he’s not necessarily looking after the colony for its honey, but that doesn’t mean he’s not benefiting. Thanks to the bees’ hard work, his ranch’s flower gardens will be looking lusher than ever.
Morgan is quite aware that beekeeping isn’t your typical Hollywood hobby, but for him, it’s right on target. Also, he has one interesting quality in common with his beloved bugs.
He loves to fly! Morgan obtained his pilot’s license in his ’60s, and he since purchased a number of aircrafts. When he’s not making the next blockbuster, he can soar above the Earth, confident he’s doing his part in making it a better place.
Morgan Freeman has certainly done a lot for nature, though luckily he’s not the only pro-environment celebrity out there. Other famous faces have worked tirelessly to keep our planet safe and beautiful for all types of life.
Willie Nelson: The infamous hippie’s goal was always to improve the environment — music was just a way to raise awareness. So the 85-year-old created BioWillie fuel out of soybeans, and supports small-scale farmers all over America.
Drew Barrymore: Not only is this comedy queen an outspoken activist for animal rights, she’s also created an eco-friendly makeup line that makes all its products in the U.S., lowering transportation impact on the environment.
Matt Damon: Getting in the game early, Matt Damon founded an organization called Water.org in 1990. Since then, he has provided thousands of people with clean drinking water! What an interstellar accomplishment.
Natalie Portman: Not only does this brainy actress have her own line of vegan shoes, but she puts in the hard work to save gorillas in Rwanda and create environmentally focused media.
Gisele Bundchen: Supermodel? More like superhero! She’s been a Global Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program and is adamant about protecting the Amazon rainforest.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Leo may be the Wolf of Wall Street, but he’s also the UN’s Messenger Of Peace on Climate Change. He saved a species of critically endangered porpoises in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hayden Panettiere: As an avid surfer, Hayden is intent on saving the ocean one protest at a time. She’s the spokesperson for the Whaleman Foundation and often protests dolphin killings. She must have learned a thing or two from Heroes!
Brad Pitt: Speaking of Hollywood hunks, Brad Pitt was not afraid to get his hands dirty by rebuilding 150 houses for victims of hurricane Katrina. And guess what? All the houses were built for green energy.
Rachel McAdams: Co-founder of the website “Green is Sexy,” the avid biker and actress is determined to raise awareness for all things environment. By offering fun quips and tips, she hopes to make environmental matters regular topics of conversation.
Neil Young: The T-shirt says it all! Neil wrote an entire album about his electric car, regularly campaigns against oil sands developments, and donated $100,000 to David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Initiative!
Cate Blanchett: When she isn’t planning elaborate heists with Sandra Bullock, Cate is launching rainwater harvesting systems and installing solar power roofs for places like the Sydney Theatre Company.
Pierce Brosnan: This former James Bond became the Environmental 007 when he campaigned against whale hunting and fought to protect wetlands. Oh, and he just happened to be named Best-Dressed Environmentalist, and we can’t disagree.
Mark Ruffalo: This Avengers actor started a campaign to ban hydrofracking, a controversial method of natural gas extraction. He also fights for clean drinking water, walking the walk and taking to the streets.
Gwyneth Paltrow: She holds the same standards at home as in her business. She raises her kids vegan, uses a natural water filtration system, and cleans her hair with non-toxic shampoos. She also promotes natural products through her company, Goop.
Jack Johnson: Aside from making banana pancakes, Jack Johnson is also famous for keeping the beach clean and donating 100 percent of his tour profits to environmental charities. This guy loves mother nature like no other!
Bono: When you think “celebrity philanthropy,” Bono should always come to mind. The U2 singer fights against AIDS and poverty, and for fair trade and the popularization of Greenpeace. Now that’s one love.
Alicia Silverstone: Something Alicia isn’t clueless about is veganism. She published two lifestyle books on plant-based diets and is often spotted buying tons of veggies at her local farmer’s market.
Emma Watson: She’s a feminist, an ally to minorities, and a fashionista who uses her platform to promote sustainable fabrics. In fact, she used her Beauty and the Beast press tour to blog a sustainable outfit every day!
Woody Harrelson: Believe it or not, the former True Detective eats, sleeps, and breathes green. The raw vegan co-founded the paper company “Prairie Paper,” which specializes in producing paper made from 80 percent wheat straw fiber. Cheers to that!
Olivia Wilde: With her friend Barbara Burchfield, Olivia created a guide for conscious living by promoting causes, brands, and people that are forging a new paragon of living. Who doesn’t love the Wilde-life?
Pearl Jam: It should come as no surprise that Eddie Vedder’s band is eco-friendly. They donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to environmental causes and worked with UPS to create a greener way to ship their merch to fans.
Jamie Oliver: The chef who sets a healthy example for kids sure knows how to lead by example. Jamie only eats meat 4 days a week and promotes growing one’s own food, while powering all his restaurants by wind turbines. How does that taste?
Adele: It’s hard not to care about the environment when you’re married to the CEO of Drop4Drop and Life Water, charity organizations that aim to provide sustainable, clean water globally. Hot tip: don’t set fire to the rain.
Ian Somerhalder: This lost little vampire started the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which distributes funds and resources towards global environmental conservation, green energy development, deployment, and educational tools.
Pharrell: In 2009, Pharrell Williams became the creative director of Bionic Yarn, which takes old, used plastic and turns it into yarn to make clothing. The yarn is then used by companies like GAP and Topshop!