Munchies

A bevy of beautiful birds are noshing in the garden.

Three males and a female enjoying lunch.

Lesser GoldfinchesSpinus psaltria, come and go throughout the year, but I can set my calendar by their appearance in the garden buffet during autumn when the Plateau Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, are creating seeds.

After all, that’s how the plants and the birds rock-n-roll with one another: seeds are produced at the end of flowering and for the nourishment of the birds, and the birds, in turn, spread the seeds to other places to grow, bloom, seed. It’s an ancient complementary relationship and one worthy of watching and appreciating.

 

Bienvenue et au revoir: Wildlife Wednesday, November 2019

It’s November and my garden is still in active flowering and life giving mode.  In recent weeks I’ve said a happy howdy y’all to a resurgence of Gulf Fritillary butterfly larvae and a slightly regretful, but ultimately joyful so long ’til next spring to migrating Monarch butterflies.  That’s the wildlife gardening way: seasonal change is more than an onslaught of blooms or a conversion of foliage color.  It’s also about the cyclic lives of those dependent upon plants for their survival, as well as the fostering of a healthy environment in which wildlife will thrive.

I’m pleased to report that there are scads of Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae butterfly larvae currently chowing down on my passion vine foliage.

Welcome to the passion vine buffet!

I’m fine with the dining on the leaves, but I wish the cats would leave the budding blooms alone.

Many Gulf fritillary larvae are busily munching, when earlier in the season there was a dearth of larvae activity, which you can read about in my September Wildlife Wednesday post.

I was perplexed at that time, because adult butterflies were clearly laying eggs and some caterpillars were hatching and working the vine.  But there were few caterpillars surviving to chrysalis stage and at least some were clearly parasitized during their later instars.  That the foliage wasn’t eaten as vigorously as is typical piqued my curiosity, but after some observation and reading, I concluded wasps were the culprits, preying on the caterpillars and reducing their numbers.  As with all natural cycles, the tide has apparently turned: there are significantly fewer wasps around and the Gulf Fritillaries are in ascendance.

Waiting

It’s been a week or so since I last saw a hummingbird in my garden. Perhaps I haven’t been out at the right time or maybe Ms. Hummer isn’t around at the moment.  She’s probably a nesting female, busily tending her little ones somewhere nearby.

When I last observed, there were two hummers: two females, pursuing one another from Turk’s cap blossoms to Mexican orchid tree blooms, with a quick turn about the sunflowers.  Continuing the chase, they zoomed off, heading away from my garden.  Now, I’m waiting to see either one, or both, again.

Not long ago, I bumbled out the door while Ms Hummer was slurping at the salmon blooms of the Red yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora.  She darted up and settled onto the Desert willow, Chilopsis linearis, whose foliage is lacy over the front garden.

She rested, alert but relaxed, waiting for me to exit the area.   I snapped some shots while she posed prettily.  She eventually grew tired of my presence and sped to another place, presumably where no one was taking her photo.

This begins the time of year when the hummingbirds are most active in my garden.   No doubt, I’ll see the females again, but I’ll also begin seeing the males, especially in August and September, as they prepare for their journey south.

To garden with wildlife is all about waiting:  waiting for the right moment to feed, to forage, to observe, to photograph.

I’m pleased to join again with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.   Check out her blog, Flutter and Hum, for musings of various sorts.