Georgia woods offer nature’s own red, white and blue weekend

As we get ready to celebrate Independence Day Monday, this will be a red, white and blue weekend. Countless front porches will be sporting American flags; public buildings will be draped in red, white and blue bunting.

As if nature wants to celebrate, too, these patriotic colors can be found in the wild, especially among the birds and wildflowers that inhabit Georgia’s woods and fields.

Here are some examples of nature’s reds, whites and blues at this time of year:

A brilliant red wildflower in bloom now is fire pink, found in open woods, meadows and on rocky, wooded slopes. Other blooming wild reddies include the coral bean (mostly South Georgia) and standing cypress. One of the reddest of all wildflowers, the cardinal flower, is starting to bloom.

A favorite blue wildflower is the ivy-leaf morning glory, which blooms along fence rows and in old fields across Georgia. Providing more blue are the blooms of mistflower. Blue-flowered chicory, an import from Europe some 200 years ago, is blooming along roadsides.

A showy white bloom is that of the wild sweet potato, found throughout Georgia. Its cousin, the beach morning-glory, blooms on coastal dunes and beaches. Another white-blooming favorite is the starry campion. Along roadsides, two familiar white wildflowers, Queen Anne’s lace and yarrow, are in bloom.

The birds:

The male cardinal is, of course, Georgia’s most well-known red bird. Rivaling it in redness are the summer tanager and the scarlet tanager, which tend to stay high in leafy tree canopies.

Our blue jays and bluebirds ensure that there is no shortage of blue among Georgia’s songbirds. But there also is the dazzling blue of indigo buntings and the crystal hue of blue grosbeaks.

Georgia has no all-white songbirds, but we have striking white-plumaged water birds, including the great egret, snowy egret and white ibis.

So, have a great red, white and blue weekend in your home and neighborhood — and in the woods and fields.

In the sky: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon is new this weekend; on Tuesday, it will be a thin crescent low in the west at dusk. Mars and Jupiter (near the moon Friday night) are in the southwest, and Saturn is high in the east around nightfall.