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The wrens are coming to Kansas from their winter resorts in the south, as far as South America. The lil’ songsters sing from dawn ’til dusk. Their mission is searching for tree stumps, abandoned woodpecker tree nests, and “believe-it-or-not” a preferred backyard birdhouse. Here are some birdhouse construction tips:
- Choose the following type of materials that are decay resistant wood such as cedar, redwood or exterior plywood or recycled plastics
- Wrens prefer a house that has an entry hole dimension of 1 1/8”. Any larger hole, sparrows and other less desirable birds will use the entry
- The floor should be 4” square and 3-6 inches below the entry hole
- NO perch is needed
- A slanted roof will shed the water and keep the nest dry
When placing a wren birdhouse, it should be in a shady area about 3’-10’ from the ground and 100’ from other bird boxes. Wrens are fiercely territorial. Both male and female will destroy the eggs or nestling of nearby cavity nesters in the process of taking over a nest site. These sites need to be near an abundant food source and protected from predators.
Male wrens arrive first in early Spring. The male usually return to the same ground year after year. Sometimes females will return, also. The male wren first seeks out an area where he establishes his territory for nesting. The male will prepare several nesting holes with twigs, sometimes as many as twelve different sites. These songsters happily sing from dusk to dawn, serenading the females during mating season. After a female accepts his proposal, she will select one of his nesting sites. She will make a small depression at the back of the cavity, line the nest with pine needles, grass, and spider egg sacs, which help control mites in the nest. When the spiders hatch, they eat the mites. The female will lay one egg each day until a clutch of 5 or 6 eggs are laid. The eggs are white with brown marks. The female will nest for about 12-15 days. Soon the hatchlings will be stretching necks with open beaks. Both parents will feed nestlings insects and worms. The fledgling fly away in about 12-18 days. The wren parents will most likely find a different location for the second brood of a season, after which, the parents separately fly back to their winter resorts .
The Arboretum hosts many fun parties and events like Luminary Walk, Brewfest, Stems, Hot Summer Days and more – but did you know we also have weddings throughout the year? Many weddings are what we call “drop in weddings”, where the couple shows up with a justice of the peace and they exchange vows and are in and out in 15 minutes. These require no action on our part. The majority of our weddings, however, are for couples wanting a little more preparation and detail. The volunteers we are highlighting this month are ladies that make sure our wedding couples leave with wonderful memories. Sharon Rakos, Carolann Hart, Angie Landes, Heidi Scarsella, Maggie Rudzik, Carol Dean, Marie Jones and Kathy Koenig are the volunteers responsible for navigating our excited couples through this process with patience and grace, giving them a memory of a lifetime! This is why we think they are special.
Sharon Rakos has been volunteering at the Arboretum since 2014. She has participated in wine tastings, Kansas Day activities, tours, field trips and more. She is currently the Green Ambassador lead for Stems and the entertainment lead for Brewfest and also serves on the Geo committee. Prior to volunteering, Sharon worked for the Blue Valley School District as a lunchroom supervisor and volunteered at church, school and state level organizations. When asked why she likes to help with weddings, she states “weddings are full of abundant love and joy, exactly like the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. It is fun to be a positive influence on a couple’s wedding and be in a beautiful outdoor setting.” She goes on to say that, “working with all the fantastic volunteers makes me the most happy. I am awestruck with all the professional and talented people that donate their time and talents for the Arboretum. I learn something new every time I volunteer at the Arboretum.”
Carolann Hart has been volunteering at the Arboretum for many years. Her past activities include leadership roles in Stems and Brewfest in addition to helping with wine tastings, Luminary Walk, tours and greeting. Prior to her volunteer years, she worked for a property management company where she managed a large property in southern Johnson County. She also had a small private business called “Floral Finishings” where she designed custom arrangements for individuals as well as for several interior designers and their clients. When asked why she enjoys being a Wedding Administrator, she says, “who doesn’t like seeing people, friends and family sharing one of the happiest days of their lives, in one of the most beautiful surroundings in the area. It is a joy to help make their special day go smoothly and I am very proud to be a part of sharing the Arboretum.” She says she has enjoyed being a part of the Arboretum in whatever role (she was a staff member for a brief time) and says it continues to be a wonderful experience. She says, “I consider it a gift, to share with people who have been visitors and volunteers for many years as well as when people discover it for the first time.”
Angie Landes has been volunteering since 2012. Her time at the Arboretum has been spent helping with special events like Stems, Brewfest, Luminary and wine tastings as well as that of a regular Tuesday morning gardener. She also created a unique container featuring a running water feature during our container garden exhibit. Angie recognizes that weddings are a happy occasion and she loves “helping make the couple’s day as special as possible with as little stress as possible to them. It makes me happy to see nothing but smiles on their faces and the faces of their guests.” When asked what makes her most happy, her list includes family gatherings, spending time with her husband and kids, gardening, competing (she admits mostly against herself in sports), watching the sun rise and set on the lake and loving on her cats and other pets. She so beautifully states, “life is full of happiness and I try to embrace it all.” She says that volunteering at the Arboretum is one of her most rewarding experiences – that “giving back to the community and working with this staff is absolutely amazing.”
Heidi Scarsella is one of our newer volunteers, coming to us in January of 2017 after relocating from North Carolina. Prior to moving, she worked as an oncology dietitian at the Duke Cancer Center. She has been busy the last few months getting settled in a new place and starting a new job but says she is ready to get back into volunteering this summer. When asking Heidi why she chose to become a Wedding Administrator, she states, “I love volunteering and especially like the idea of being a Wedding Administrator and helping people on their special day.” She also says that spending time with family and friends brings her the most happiness. We are excited to have Heidi’s positive attitude and giving spirit.
Maggie Rudzik has been with us since January 2016. She is one who has done it all – from working special events, to outreach functions, to gardening and greenhouse – not to mention, she is our “go to” tour guide and our Area Point/Operations lead for Stems this year. She is crafty and creative and has designed wonderful pieces for the container garden exhibit; she also works with kids, teaching them techniques in creative art. She literally does too much to name. When asked why she enjoys helping with weddings, she says “I love making people happy – I love seeing the different styles.” She goes on to describe one wedding she helped with that had a 3-piece orchestra, a large wedding party and formal attire; then, the next one she helped with, the groom wore a Hawaiian shirt and the ceremony was very casual. She said it is a lot of fun to see all the differences. She goes on to say she enjoys helping make sure their day goes right and “making sure their dream becomes a reality.”
Carol Dean is one of our most tenured Wedding Administrators. After she retired, she had more free time so she started volunteering in the gardens. Her daughter then got married in 2006 and Carol took the lead in planning her outdoor wedding; assisting with weddings at the arboretum seemed like a natural choice for volunteering – especially since she was limited physically from gardening due to two knee replacements. Carol has been assisting with weddings since 2007. She says, “I love working with the brides and the entire wedding parties. It is fun to see all the different ideas come together for a lovely ceremony.” When asked what makes her most happy…”traveling, my family, grandchildren, pets, and gardening.” We are grateful to have her as a long time Wedding Administrator.
Marie Jones has been a volunteer since November 2015. Besides weddings, her activities at the Arboretum include helping at wine tastings, Brewfest and as a tour guide. Prior to coming to the Arboretum, Marie spent her time at her three sons’ schools in various areas; she also helped those in need at the Emergency Center at the KCMO Gold Dome. When asked why she wanted to be a Wedding Administrator, she states, “weddings are such a beautiful gift of love we are able to share with those around us. I am thrilled to be a part of and witness such joy.” When asked what makes her most happy, Marie breaks it down – she says with volunteering “helping others” but with life, “being given chances to see beauty over and over.” I’m sure Marie’s kind spirit is very comforting to our wedding couples.
Kathy Koenig has been volunteering at the Arboretum since February 2010. Kathy and her family moved, on average, every 2-5 years. She tells about their many homes with extensive gardens surrounding them – how she planted rows of cedar trees to substitute for a fence at one of them; then, when they transferred to New York, she only had a 5’ x 3’ space to plant flowers. After almost 4 years in NY, she returned to KC and lived in an apartment for another 4 years. As you can imagine, this was not ideal…she needed more space; she claims that in order to keep her sanity, she started volunteering at the Arboretum. She enjoys being a Wedding Administrator because the time commitment isn’t as structured as gardening and it satisfies her need to help and to celebrate something she believes in – marriage. She says that “keeping them focused on what is important, their commitment to each other and to help them feel the peace found in the gardens” is what makes her most happy. She goes on to say “we know that the closest to heaven and God is in the gardens.” Kathy observes that couples choose the Arboretum for their ceremony for various reasons but, whatever reason, “they all include the peacefulness and serenity that surrounds you while here.”
As you can see, we have some incredible ladies that lead our weddings. Not only are we lucky to have them but the families that come to the Arboretum for their special day are lucky to have their guidance, patience, flexibility and nurturing resolve. Thank you girls for all you do!