Wildlife Wednesday, May 2016: Plenty

It’s been an odd and distracted month for me and one where events out of my control took time away from following the plentiful goings-on of wildlife in the garden.  I won’t bore you with the details, but sometimes life really does get in the way of watching wildlife, photographing wildlife, and the blogging about it all.  Sheesh!

Ah well.   My various difficulties didn’t deter the nesting activities of a Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee,  Xylocopa tabaniformis, as she packed in material to nourish her young in a decaying log.


Nor did the big problems of the world (or the relatively small problems of mine) prevent this Syrphid, or Hover fly from pollinating a Zexmenia, Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida.


On a different Zexmenia flower, a Small carpenter bee, Ceratina, sp., went about her business, too.


Other native pollinators, like this Sweat beeAugochloropsis metallica, worked a Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea,


…while a Mason beeOsmia subfasciata, favored a Blackeyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima.



After pollination, this little bee is covered in pollen grains.

April has seen plenty of butterfly action, as well.  Texas Crescents, Anthanassa texana,      are flitting all over the garden, enjoying the bounty of flowers like the Zexmenia.




It seems that Zexmenia is a good plant for pollinators.

I don’t have a single photo of the few Monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus who’ve wafted through my garden, but I do have photos of their offspring.


I love the book-ending mode of these two monarch cats.

Those few winged visitors managed to lay eggs and the 5 Monarchs  caterpillars that hatched devoured my Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica plants.   The cats completely obliterated the foliage, but I transferred 2 cats to a neighbor with milkweed-a-plenty to offer the voracious larvae.


This caterpillar lost his way and ended up on the strand of a Lindheimer’s muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri).


Peeking over the  edge, wondering where all the milkweed is, this cat landed on the underside of a culinary sage leaf.


I didn’t catch this Grey Hairstreak, Strymon melinus, nectaring on anything, but she did pose for me, opening and closing her wings coquettishly,





…while she lounged on Rock Rose, Pavonia lasiopetala foliage.

I’ve allowed rogue Passion Vine, Passiflora incarnata to pop up here-n-there in my gardens because it’s the host plant for this pretty pollinator, the Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae.  Whether in its adult form,


…or its larval form,


… it’s a beautiful winged jewel and a great pollinator partner.

And yes, there were birds this month and plenty of them!  The Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus, remains a consistent, if not daily, visitor.



I’m not sure where this guy nests, though I’ll bet he has a family holed away somewhere nearby , because he’s always on the lookout for a full bird feeder.  There are plenty of older trees in my neighborhood, which, thankfully, the owners have kept rather than removing.  In many those trees are definite woodpecker holes and if the Starlings haven’t bullied the Woodpeckers away, one of those holes is where this handsome guy and his family reside.

I never was able to capture a clear photo of this sweet little thing, but I found the coloring and markings elegant.


He’s a Lincoln’s Sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii, and one of those birds that I noticed… because I’m noticing birds.  This species winters here in Central Texas, breeding far north into Canada during summer.  I don’t recall seeing any during winter,  but he bopped along the ground hunting and pecking for seeds this past month.

A fairly common visitor is the Red-winged Blackbird,  Agelaius phoeniceus.


I’ve only see a few individuals this year.

Aside from “my” Eastern Screech Owls–which I wrote about here and here, I’m most excited about sightings of a pair of Painted Buntings,  Passerina ciris in my garden.
The mature male Painted Bunting is a showstopper bird of the New World.



This guy knows he’s totally a gorgeous dude.

I love the description on The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds page on Painted Buntings, specifically regarding the males’ coloring:  With their vivid fusion of blue, green, yellow, and red, male Painted Buntings seem to have flown straight out of a child’s coloring book.



Yeah, that’s about right.    One can’t miss this splash of feathered color as he flutters from one seed-bearing plant to another.  I’ve noticed that both the male and the female in my garden favor the seeds of the native-to-Texas Lyre-leaf Sage, Salvia lyrata.




Buddy, you’re really good-looking, but you might want to wipe your chin….

The female is not as flashy as her mate, but certainly fetching in her green and yellow swag.




Long ago there were a couple of consecutive years during spring migrations when small flocks of these gorgeous passerine birds visited my garden, each time for a few days. They nibbled on the seeds of a cool season non-native grass that sometimes appeared when I grew mostly grass, rather than a real garden.  I’m glad that I can now offer them  something nutritious, native, and not-grass on their migratory pathway.

One of a nesting pair of Carolina Wrens,Thryothorus ludovicianus,  posed for me the other evening as I was watching for owlets.


These charmers are a favorite bird of mine.  They seem playful and cheeky as they hop around the ground and pop through the shrubs, snatching up insects for themselves and their babies.  Carolina wrens have the loudest songs and calls–and for such a wee bird!  They are my usual wake-up call, singing just outside my bedroom window.  Loudly.  The couple in my garden have a nest somewhere nearby and are always singing and chittering.  After I took the above shot, this wren gleefully (or so it seemed to me) shook out his feathers.



And maybe next month, I’ll know what these are….


Did wildlife visit your garden this past month? Please post for May 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.

47 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday, May 2016: Plenty

  1. Tina, your sunny garden has so much going on unlike here with our recent wintery weather, I love your photos of the wee bees and hoverflies and it’s nice to see butterflies even if only virtually, the woodpecker is very colourful as is the painted bunting, a child’s colouring book is a very good description, I enjoyed reading about the owlets in previous posts too, the wee brown birds are always sweet I think and often cheeky, I sometimes think some of them people watch,

    thanks for hosting this lovely meme, my contribution is posted, Frances


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    • Aren’t the just gorgeous? It’s been a real treat to see them this spring. There are quite a few along the Texas coast and their summer breeding area is just north and east of Central Texas.


  3. Hi Tina, I echo everything Frances has just said, the description of the Painted Buntings looking like something straight out of a child’s colouring book is so apt. They do not look real. The females would be an exciting visitor on their own, she looks quite colourful. Love the shots of your Monarch caterpillars, I did a double scroll looking for cats, then realised you had abbreviated. We are seeing some Bees and Butterflies here, its really been too cold for many to make an appearance, but finally a bit better wether here this week. I hope whatever your life distractions are they sort them selves out, life has that habit of getting the way. Lovely post as always and really enjoyed your Wren shots, she looks so quizzical, I can see why you like them so much. I’m getting more used the early dawn chorus but with the better weather do not mind such an early start to the day. Here’s my contribution, thanks for hosting Tina.


    • Thanks, Julie! So sorry for the “cats” reference–lazy writing on my part. 🙂 The Buntings have been a treat, but I’m glad you appreciate the wren–they’re just the cutest birds. I can’t capture in photo form, but when they sing, they sort of hop from side-to-side. Funny.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I also hate when life gets in the way of gardening. I have been experiencing a lot of that this year. My Gulf Fritillary butterflies have been gone the last few years. It is good to see they are thriving elsewhere. The Painted Bunting to fabulous! I hope I will see one someday.


    • Interesting that your Gulf Fritillaries are missing–wonder why that is? They’re fairly common here, though I have to admit, I have a hard time getting photos of them–flitter, flitter, flutter, flutter.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It was fun seeing the wildlife visitors in your garden. I know I would enjoy watching Texas Crescents flitting about the flowers. And what a thrill to be visited by a pair of Painted Buntings! My heart would have been racing as I tried to snap a picture.

    You are a master at writing these posts that include so many varied sightings. When I sat down to write my post for today (I finally remembered), I realized how difficult it can be to make everything flow as smoothly as you do, mainly because I had way too much to say about each sighting. So, I limited it to just one.

    My contribution to Wildlife Wednesday is here:


    • Thanks, Tracy–I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts and participating–that’s what it’s all about! I’ve enjoyed observing the critters in my garden and learning about the great variety of insects, birds–oh the lot of it!!


  6. The painted bunting is fabulous, and I love the markings of the Texas Crescent the inner part of its wings look like an ornate woven carpet!


  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! How exciting to have so much wildlife visiting your garden! We’re gearing up here in the north: It’s been cold, but it looks like we’re turning the corner now. Love the Painted Bunting photos–that must be a thrill to have them in your garden!


  8. I remember the first time I saw a painted bunting I’d worried someone’s parrot had escaped!
    I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to how many bee varieties there are…


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    • Thanks for the kind words! What a funny and apt description–it does look like a bird that’s been to Holi! It’s been amazing to me that by planting the appropriate plants, wild things have come. What a revelation!


  10. I was going to say, you really know your bees. Then I had to add butterflies but when it got to the birds I was going gaga over the painted buntings. I have rarely caught a glimpse of them here. It seems it has to be a chance sighting if I am looking through a window when they are in the garden. Beautiful wildlife in your garden.


    • Thanks, Jenny. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my native bee id’s are approximate–I get some, spot on, and some, not so much. Aren’t the buntings a treat?? I feel so fortunate to have had them visit a couple of times.


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    • I like that shot too–they are such hams, those caterpillars! I think the consensus agrees with your assessment of the Buntings’ beauty.


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  13. Hi Tina, I came across your very interesting blog and I love your idea of Wildlife Wednesday. I loved seeing all the photos of all sorts of wildlife in different parts of the world. I especially enjoyed your photos of the colourful Painted Bunting, I reckon it could give our Rainbow Lorikeets here in Australia a run for their money! Here’s my post wrapping up my wildlife visitors in April. 🙂 https://mywildaustralia.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/wildlife-visitors-in-april/


    • So glad you popped in, Sue! It’s so much fun to connect with gardeners who’re in such different places and especially when their regional critters are so different. I’m thrilled you joined in and welcome to Wildlife Wednesday.


  14. Tina I hope things calm a bit and you can find some peace from all the hectic life things….certainly your wildlife does that for me. The Painted Bunting is the star and one I would love to see here. And what a treat for my soul to see the monarch caterpillars….knowing some may head my way in a couple of months. And those pollinators you so wonderfully follow give me hope for each day as I see more and more here.

    It’s been a relatively quiet month here with our cold April, but I will update the spring highlights in June once I capture them all….for now I am highlighting the very start to spring which I had to put on hold last month after our unexpected snow story…..hope you enjoy the March spring stars.



    • Thanks, Donna. For now (fingers crossed) things are a bit chiller. Yeah, I agree that the Painted Buntings really stole the show–of course they would! You’ll be getting some monarchs soon–I know you’ll take good care of them.


  15. You’re so right, Tina! when we’re bogged down with challenges, nature goes on, thank goodness. Getting out to observe and enjoy can be so therapeutic. Really nice to see all the photos this morning.


    • You are so right, Hollis and when I’m stressed–the first thing I do is head outside!! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, I certainly enjoyed taking them!


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  17. Hope everything is ok again. Thanks for sharing all these great photos. Wow. So beautiful. Yesterday when I went to buy the mealworms for our wren family the clerk wondered if we had chickens and i told her they were for ‘our’ baby wrens. And she said she didn’t know about wrens. I assured her she did know them — they are the loud birds that wake you up in the morning I said. hahahaha And oh yeah, she knew exactly what I was talking about. Of course I love the blushing woodpecker, the amazing bunting, the butterflies et al but in this very moment I am ALL about the Carolina Wren. Completely head over heals.


    • Things are chilling out. My husband had a bad bicycle accident 3 weeks ago–8 fractured ribs, fractured sternum, lots of road rash, some stitches. There was some bleeding in the brain–VERY MINOR–but it’s been a trip–for both of us. I’m very grateful that he always wears a helmet and it could have been much worse. So that’s MY life. It’s all good–you learn to be appreciative and look on the good side of things–and we have many blessings. ANYHOO–aren’t those C. wrens the most darling birds ever!! I adore them, so you and I are kindred spirits in that way.


  18. I am VERY sorry to read about the bicycle accident. That sort of interruption is certainly an unwelcome reminder of how fragile even the larger creatures in the gardens can be!

    Those wrens….! I always count it a good day when I see or hear them, which is most days I’m happy to report. The painted bunting is surreal almost – I think if I saw one here I’d drop whatever I was holding in surprise and delight. So much color on one small creature!

    Your garden and visitors continue to inspire. Heart felt thanks for your resolute reporting on them.


    • Yes, the accident has definitely placed a crimp in things. We’re grateful for quick action by witnesses and helmets. I adore wrens, they’re just the most fun little birds in the garden, so much personality. And the buntings, well it’s a show to see them, that’s for sure. I’m so grateful that wildlife seem attracted to the garden–I hope it’s a refuge.


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