Daddy Downy

Here’s a handsome Downy WoodpeckerDryobates pubescens, enjoying a peanut meal at a feeder in my back garden.  Downy Woodpecker dads are wings-on dads, teaching their offspring the woodpecker skills required for living in trees and finding food.

His offspring, this fledgling Downy practices her tree climbing maneuvers.   Hang on, little Downy!  I think this fledging is a female as she has no suggestion of red at the top of her darling head.

Her tree climbing landed the young one at the top of the limb, ready to survey the landscape and take in some lessons from Dad.

Dad is nearby, ready to teach,

…and deliver a snack.

 

Fledgling Downy has learned well.  I now see her almost daily, high up in the foliage or at the feeder, nibbling peanuts–just like her dad.  Baby had a good teacher and an excellent dad.

Daddy Downy–the best dad any woodpecker could chirp for.  Happy Father’s Day to all great dads who love and take care of their babies!

Bed of Curls

Here at My Gardener Says…  it’s anole week.  In addition to squabbling anoles, another green reptilian gnome sits pretty in a fluff of Blue curls,  Phacelia congesta.

Comfy and sweet in its chosen bed of blooms, this roving reptile isn’t just chilling.  Lying in wait for pollinators, it snatched a couple of tiny native bees and another winged-thing as I watched, though was deferential as a honeybee buzzed by its head.   I snickered too much to catch a photo of that.

Perched just above the green hunter’s snout is the aforementioned winged thing–maybe a mosquito?  The anole turned its head deliberately and in lightening-fast movement, converted the insect to a snack.

Anoles are garden predators and will eat anything smaller than themselves–except for honeybees, I guess.  Maybe the green goblin can learn something about honeybee consumption from this female Summer TanagerPiranga rubra.  

Typically, Summer Tanagers catch bees on the wing.  This time of year,  every year, they visit my garden and a few bees become meals for the birds.  In a light rain, she hung out next to the hives, gobbling the bees crawling on the ground.

Yummy honeybee.

Watch out for that stinger!

Lizard Brain: Wildlife Wednesday, May 2019

I think we can all agree that recycling is a good thing, yes?  Reusing  materials, keeping waste out of landfills, and limiting extraction of and manufacture with raw materials are all laudable goals.   My Social Justice Warrior self experiences a nice infusion of warm fuzzies when I place my bin out for the bi-weekly pick-up of formerly used, then discarded paper, glass, and metal stuffs.  Additionally, one never knows what events will unfold while rolling the bin up the driveway, past gardens which are full of life.  Two weeks ago, I was glad that I was engaged in the recycling rumba as a kerfuffle in the garden caught my eye in the movements of these two guys:

The two are Green anoleAnolis carolinensis, lizards:  charmers in the garden, sometimes green, sometimes brown, sometimes fierce competitors for territory and lady anoles.   These two locked eyes for a brief minute, then a second bit of brawl ensued and this resulted:

Oh dear.

I don’t think they’re buddies.

Anoles are quirky critters and fun to watch as they sun themselves or lie in wait for passing insects.  They glare at me when I disturb their hunting or sunbathing, but are welcome partners in my gardening adventures. I enjoy their company and appreciate their place in the local environment.  But true to their nature and like most other wildlife, they scrabble for mates, territory, and food, and spring mating season brings out aggressive lizard brain behaviors.

What I typically observe are assertion displays, like dewlap extensions, which may or may not involve another lizard.

However, this acrobatic pose is bit beyond assertiveness and happens when there are two dudes involved and the assertion displays haven’t done the trick.

According to this article on anole aggression, this is a full-on challenge display,  complete with black spots which form near their eyes (eyespots), enlargement of the crests along their necks (under lizard), and the crests along their backs (upper lizard)

These fellas held the position for several minutes, even as I maneuvered around them, egging them on.

I didn’t really egg them on, but I was tickled to capture the lizard tussle.  Poor hapless, helpless Lower Lizard, he dangles, little claws akimbo.

Eventually, Lower Lizard fell–or was dropped–into a bed of Damianita, Chrysactinia mexicana.  According to those who study anoles, he’s the declared loser, as he was in the lower position from the get-go.  He looks a little sad and maybe embarrassed as he goggles at the victor. I don’t think he had a date that night!

Meanwhile, the winner is smug,

…as he leers at the loser.

Ah, spring:  flowers, butterflies, birds, fighting lizards.  So much drama in the garden.

Remember to recycle–you never know what you’ll see!

What critter capers do you enjoy watching in your garden?  Please share your wildlife stories and leave a link when you comment here. Happy wildlife gardening!