My garden and its inhabitants are in full swing, reveling in abundant sunshine, pleasant temperatures, and rain at the right times. I hope your garden is thriving with similar conditions, fully awake and alive not only with flowers and foliage, but the things that the flowers and foliage are intended for: birds, pollinators, amphibians and all other wildlife that requires what nature provides.
Because I think they’re mostly gone now, I’m starting the wildlife musings with some of the birds who visited my gardens and are now probably on their way northwards for the summer breeding season. I still hear Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum, from time-to-time and a flock swooped over me one evening last week, but I haven’t seen any in my trees for a couple of weeks. Cedar Waxwings usually perch high atop my trees, but the last time any dropped by the garden, each bird was within easy eye and camera shot.
This guy looks like he wants to make sure I get a really good look at him before he heads north.
…pose agreeably, keeping one another company as I ooh and aah at their handsomeness one last time this season. I admit that I’m a little jealous of northern wildlife gardeners who enjoy these birds year-round in some places and for the whole of summer, further north.
American Goldfinches, Spinus tristus, were late arrivals to my garden this year. They were daily callers throughout February and March and their presence was a cheery gift. Their song is sweet and like Cedar Waxwings, they’re humorously chatty, congenial birds. They love to hang out at the pool, either alone,
…or with friends,
American Goldfinches are pleased to share their bath with others, not of their ilk–like the rather confused looking House Finch, Haemorhous mexicanus.
The show with this group begins with the one on the left, with landing gear at the ready,
The Goldfinch on the far right, beside the rock, is attempting to take a sip, though not quite sure if he can maintain his balance. Whoopsie! Good thing those wings provide some leverage. Like the Cedar Waxwings, American Goldfinch breed much further north than Texas (into Canada). I haven’t seen the Goldfinch gang in about a week–I assume “my” group is on their way. I’ll miss them.
A Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos, serenaded me one morning.
He let me sidle up close before he flew to the neighbor’s house. Mockingbirds are the official state bird of Texas and frequently provide melodic company when I’m working in the garden.
I hadn’t seen a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Setophaga coronata, in a week or so, when I spotted this one bathing in the bog of my pond.
A bathing bird always makes me smile. Butter-butts, as Yellow-rumps are affectionately known by birders, breed in the the Pacific Northwest and in Canada during summer. Since spotting this one I’m observing 3 or 4 early most mornings, but I’m sure they’ll be heading out for migration soon enough.
Quite a few butterflies have flitted through the garden, but I never have my camera ready when they land–which they don’t do all that often. This American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis enjoyed the bounty of several individual Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. Plants in the aster family are listed as both larval and nectar sources for this species.
Other butterflies I’ve enjoyed seeing include several Queens, Danaus gilippus, and a couple of Monarchs, Danaus plexippus. The adult butterflies were too fast for me to photograph, but thankfully, caterpillars are slow. I witnessed a Monarch laying an egg and must assume this guy is the result.
I haven’t found the chrysalis, but hope it’s attached to a safe spot for its metamorphosis. I assume the parent left Mexico before the snow and ice storm hit. It’s still unclear how many Monarchs died in the storm, but suffice to say it was too many.
Poor Monarchs, they can’t seem to catch a damn break. Monarch lovers throughout the Americas cheered a few weeks ago with the news that Monarch numbers were up in the winter roosting areas and then the ice storm blasted them as they left the roosts and began migration. I sincerely hope the survivors and their descendants find plenty of milkweed and nectar plants here in Texas and northward, and that the journey to Canada and back again next autumn will be free from harm.
The Queen larva is in ‘J’ ,
…and next month, I’ll have a photo of its gorgeous chrysalis. With good timing and luck, I’ll witness the emergence of the adult.
I wrote about some of the native bees in my garden recently, but more photos of those lovely pollinators are always in order. I’m fairly certain that the identification of his little bee is Perdita ignota—a type of Minor bee.
And this one,
…is a maybe(?) a Halictus tripartitus, a type of Sweat bee.
I’ve snagged some reasonable photos of the tiny and stunning metallic blue/green bees, which are probably some sort of Sweat bee. As there are apparently a couple of species of metallic Sweat bees residing in Central Texas, I won’t guess which these might be. I’ll just enjoy their beauty and appreciate their work.
The site that I utilize when researching native bees in my garden is the The Jha Lab, which is the research website for The University of Texas Austin’s Section of Integrative Biology. The photos on the site are taken from various area wildlife preserves. What trips me up in wild bee identification is that professional photos are phenomenal–incredible close-ups of teeny, tiny bees in gorgeous detail. My photos are okay, but not of scientific quality. My photos don’t have the detail required for definitive identification, so my id’s are approximate.
These bees I can definitely identify! They’re MY honeybees. Aren’t they cute?
These belong to our remaining honeybee hive, Scar. They are the gentlest bees we’ve had the privilege of “keeping.” Scar, by the way, is doing just fine–full of busy, working bees and a queen who is laying eggs out the wazoo. I don’t think wazoo is the technical term.
My all-time favorite native bee species is the Horsefly-like Carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis. With lovely blue peepers and snazzy abdominal racing stripes, these gals are all over my gardens, buzzing from bloom to bloom.
This Paper wasp, Polistes exclamans, is the first of its kind that I’ve seen this year and was resting for a moment on daylily foliage–just long enough for a photo.
I like these insects, though many people do not. Wasps of most sorts are good pollinators and I’ve never experienced any aggression from this species or others. Wasps are aggressive if nests are disturbed–and who among us isn’t aggressive (or at least annoyed) when someone is disturbing our homes?
And Wildlife Wednesday wouldn’t be the same without a Green Anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis, saying a cheery Hi!.
His look suggests that perhaps it’s more of a wary Go away! .
Did wildlife visit your garden this past month? Please post for April Wildlife Wednesday–share the rare or mundane, funny or fascinating, beneficial or harmful critters you encounter. When you comment on my post, please remember to leave a link to your Wildlife Wednesday post so readers can enjoy a variety of garden wildlife observations.
Happy wildlife gardening!