Morning Glory

The Carolina Wrens are at it again.

The flower that the wren is singing to is a Purple Bindweed.

Singing loudly, this little one serenaded its companion, the lavender flower of a Morning glory vine.   While I could only manage one clear shot of this particular adult on the morning of the glorious concert, it was a family of four–both parents and two fledgling wrens–who were chirping and feeding in the area along a fence covered in vines.

Carolina wrens are delightful native songbirds living and breeding throughout a wide swath of the eastern and southeastern parts of the U.S.  I suspect that the wren couple currently visiting my garden are on their second brood for this year, as there were some fledglings in late spring (May) and now, two new little wrens accompany their cheery parents on their neighborhood rounds.  Wrens have never nested in my garden, but they nest nearby and visit daily.  Wrens are well-known for building nests in odd spots:  little eggs laid in hats left abandoned, then transformed into bird nurseries;  hungry chicks with mouths wide open in empty pockets of blue jeans or work shirts left hung on clotheslines; tiny birds peeping hungrily from typically quiet mailboxes, and wren babies settled in nesting material atop patio ceiling fans are examples of the quirky nesting choices made by wrens.

Busy birds who don’t stay still for long, wrens eat insects and spiders, as well as the occasional lizard and small snake.  In winter, my wrens love the commercial suet that I hang in the garden.  They hunt for food in brushy, shrubby habitats of both urban and rural habitats where they’re well-hidden by foliage. As wrens forage low to the ground, I spot them only because the limbs of shrubs and perennials wave mysteriously and when I investigate, a Carolina wren–or two–dash up and away from the foliage cover and insect buffet.

This is an ideal environment for wrens; full of native plants, safe in cover, with available water.

This is an ideal environment for wrens because it’s full of native plants (paired with non-natives, too) which provide cover and food,  along with available water.

 

Wrens climb trees, snipping insects and bark lice as they go; when they forage on the ground, they sweep leaf  detritus in their search for munchable meals.  Their pointed, slightly curved beaks are ideal for grabbing insects, whether hunting on shrubs, in trees, or on the ground.

Like other wildlife, wrens benefit from brush piles because the piles are rich with diverse insect populations and provide cover for the wrens as they feed.  The vines on my back fence act similarly by providing habitat for abundant insect life and leafy protection from predators as the wrens hop from one area to another in the never ending search for their meals.

Carolina wrens are monogamous for each season and defend their territory year-round, which means that they sing all the time and I’m privileged to enjoy their beautiful songs and calls.  Carolina wrens are comfortable in my garden; we–birds and gardener–are partners sharing a healthy habitat.

 

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!