Entries in bluebird (9)


Images of Early Spring 2018

Many trees are still bare, and some oaks even now hold stubbornly to dead fall leaves; but those dried holdovers from autumn are destined to fall soon as new leaves push them out. And the birds are busy, singing and cleaning and preening to make themselves presentable and generally creating a ruckus as they announce: Spring has arrived!I am not sure these male bluebirds were enjoying their spring bath, but it was nescessary!By the way, I recently heard something I had never heard before: a Red-shouldered Hawk cooing! These hawks have the most unpleasant shrill call, but one day I witnessed a male and female hawk rubbing beaks (Kissing must be a universal sign of affection!), and the female was making the softest cooing sound. I bet her tone will change when she is nest bound and demanding food!

Every day brings more bright green, pink, purple, and yellow colors as fresh growth sprouts throughout the garden. I am in a flurry of activity, trying to get weeds pulled, new plants put into the ground, and other plants pruned or transplanted to new places.

But never too busy to take photos! Recording images of the garden is one of my favorite pastimes, and by looking closely at pictures I have taken, I can appreciate their beauty, as well as spot problems in design or identify problems with individual plants. (For example, I will sometimes catch white flies or aphids in photos that my naked eye missed. Or I will see that a certain shrub really looks terrible in its present location or that it needs a companion plant to bring out its best features.) So here are some recent photos of spring blooms in my garden. I hope you enjoy!

Early daffodils in the front garden:

Flowering Quince. Sometimes people ask me if these plants produce fruit. The answer is yes! But very bitter and best reserved for quince jelly:


Assorted Camellias:

Edgeworthia; I often say the blooms remind me of ballet tutus:

Cercis canadensis, or Eastern Redbuds are in full bloom. Despite the name, mine bloom purple:

Everyday I see new blooms:Clockwise from top left: Phlox subulata, commonly called Thrift; Unidentified variety of Euphorbia - a passalong plant from another gardener; Viburnum burkwoodii, a very fragrant species; Iberis sempervirens, also called Candytuft, a low-growing evergreen perennial that may be used a ground cover.

Clockwise from top left: Grape Hyacinth; Redbud blooms; Sanguinaria canadensis or Bloodroot; Magnolia 'Jane.'Many of these early spring blooms will fade as others come to life. I walk through the garden to see how plants have come through the winter. Some will have flourished; others I may never see again. Every spring day is an adventure!


Searching for a New Home

A flash of blue wings outside the kitchen window caught my attention this week, and I stopped what I was doing to look. At least a half dozen male bluebirds were flying about, taking turns checking out a new birdhouse mounted only a few feet from the glass doors to the kitchen.When I bought the flashy red abode with metal roof and grand iron columns on each side of the entrance, I thought only about its decorative value. I already have birdhouses scattered over the property, and most of them have been occupied in past seasons by a variety of birds, including bluebirds, wrens, titmice, and chickadees. But this one was primarily ornamental, and I gave little thought to what critter would be attracted to it.

Nevertheless, the bluebirds were checking it out, and they completely ignored another birdhouse a few feet away, also decorative but not as ostentatious. Bluebirds do see colors, and I know they are drawn to the cobalt blue house next to the arbor garden. I did not know they also love red! 

I was amazed that all these male birds took turns looking it over, having heard through avian real estate channels about the latest addition to the neighborhood. No one tried to chase another away, and they were quite orderly. They even allowed a little yellow warbler to have a turn! This was obviously an open house affair. Perhaps the rusty bird on the back of the birdhouse was a draw.Maybe, like a lot of humans, they were curious after hearing rumors about a new house and wanted to see details for themselves. It was remarkable to me that the bluebirds not only arrived together, but departed all at the same time, too! 

Birds often choose their nesting boxes ahead of time. They may select several sites and then allow the female to make the final decision. It will be interesting to see who actually ends up in the red house come spring. 

It may not be a bird! I once had an anole lizard lay claim to a birdhouse, and he stayed there throughout the summer. So I was not surprised later that day to see this fellow, with his chameleon-like body assuming the exact colors of the rusty accessories.:An anole lizard checks out the new red birdhouse.

Of course, not all birds nest in boxes. Many are do-it-yourselfers, preferring to make their own nests. I caught this hawk with talons full of leaves, destined to be used as building material:With winter yet to come, these birds are already planning for spring. Or maybe those bluebirds were thinking of winter after all. During severe winter weather, birds often will crowd together in a sturdy house for protection from the elements. Whatever they do, I will have a front row seat from the comfort of my kitchen.