Monday, June 15, 2009
A box turtle decided to lay her eggs in the middle of the meadow at Dunwoody Nature Center. Campers hiking to the creek discovered her, busily digging a deep hole in a sunny spot in their path.
"Why is she making her nest here?" they asked. "Wouldn't she be safer in the woods?"
Talk about a teachable moment!
Box turtles love to make their nests in very vulnerable spots, including dirt roads, drives, and paths. The reason is they want loose dirt and direct sun, both of which can be found in well trafficked areas.
The children were very worried about mama turtle, especially since it looked like she'd be digging most of the day. They made a ring of river rock around her and posted a sign, "Sssshhhh - turtle laying eggs!" All day, visitors watched her digging the hole, relentlessly and tirelessly.
When I came to work the next morning, mama turtle was gone, and the ground was still grooved by the arching ruts of her rear feet. (No, that isn't her photo - she'd laid the eggs in the dark of night while the park was closed.)
We've covered the spot with chicken wire to keep out predators and will watch closely to see if baby turtles emerge. Unfortunately, the spot is prime real estate for the Butterfly Festival (Saturday, June 27), so we'll have to move the cage temporarily.
Want to know what to do if you see a box turtle in the road or your yard? Check out this very helpful site: http://www.marietta.edu/~mcshaffd/boxt/faq.html.