Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa

Golden Alexander

Zizia aurea

--> Correction: I had misidentified the above as golden Alexander...it is actually the invasive, skin-irritating wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). For more information about the grotesque blisters it can cause, read here: http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/habitat/8703-wild-parsnip-plague-landscape.html


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fingers Crossed

I left the bluebird box alone for a long while not wanting to even take a peek inside for fear the bluebird pair would not build a nest. Finally, I took a peek. Nothing. However the very next day, I looked again and found this:


Here's hoping they have more success this time. I'm glad they are back.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Camera in Hand and Nothing to Show for It!

I just came in from strolling in the yard. I even took the camera with me just in case. As I rounded the bend in the path, something very large and only a few feet away from me startled me. It didn't take my dazed brain too long to realize that it was a wild turkey taking flight right in front of me...however, it did take my brain a bit too long to realize that I had a camera just hanging there at the end of my arm. By the time I brought it up to my eye, the bird was flying across the street...I took one blurred shot before it was out of sight. Great experience though...and nice to know that something must've attracted him to our yard.

Swallow Nest, Wasp Nest

Now that I realize that the tree swallows were still building their nest and not raising their young already, I decided to take a look in the box. They didn't dive bomb me as they have in past years--never actually making contact as I'd read prior to experiencing the scare tactic. Perhaps because there are only eggs at the moment and no hatchlings.

I spotted a wasp nest (I believe it is a species from Europe similar to our yellow jackets--but, luckily, minus the temper). Perhaps they could have lived in harmony with the tree swallow family, but I wasn't taking any chances, so, after taking a picture, I grabbed a stick and knocked the nest onto the ground.

Shortly after I walked away, one of the parents (I can't tell them apart) went over to check that everything was okay. :)

Perhaps this pair of tree swallows will learn to trust me, but I'm guessing after the young have hatched, they won't take as kindly to my monitoring the box.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bluebirds are Back!

I was out in the yard taking pictures when I spotted a pair of birds on the wires. It was getting near dusk and they were backlit against the sky, but even with my naked eye, I felt pretty sure they were bluebirds. Thanks to the pictures, I was able to verify that they really are back. Looks like a pair to me.

I don't normally post blurry pictures, but the two of them sitting so close together just looked so special--too bad the auto focus "chose" to focus on the background.

Tree Swallow With Feather

I finally set up the camcorder on a tripod to catch the tree swallows feeding their young. Much to my surprise, it seems they are still building their nest--feathering there nest literally.


Recognizing What One Has

Today, I was weeding and moving rocks for a planned stone patio when I spotted a familiar leaf. A tiny dogwood seedling caught my eye. On closer examination, I recognized it as a pagoda dogwood/alternate-leaved dogwood (Cornus alternifolia). We have a few in the yard, and I find seedlings periodically--great for me, because I want to add them to the hedgerow and woodland.

I dug "the little guy" up and planted him in a pot for now until I find the right place for it.

Since at least last year if not two years now, I've been meaning to do a series of post entitled "Ever Vigilant" in which I post about spotting seedling multiflora rose and other invasives and nipping them in the bud...as well as spotting the natives that I want to save and possibly move. This is the closest I've come to that. :)

Chipping Sparrow

Great thing about zoom lenses: once I get an image uploaded, I can see clearly what was just "a bird" in the field to the naked eye.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I've Waited Long Enough

After the disappointment and sadness of discovering at least one of the bluebird fledglings had died, I'd left the nestbox open. Yesterday, I finally cleaned it out with a bleach and water solution. After rinsing it and letting it dry out, I finally closed it up again...just a little hopeful that we'll have another bluebird pair...and a successful brood.

I think the male bluebird was in mourning (as was I, I think)...He had been sitting atop the nestbox for a couple of days after losing his young--and possibly the female...I hadn't seen her the whole time he was hanging out. I'm hoping she took the surviving young somewhere else and will return. At least there is a clean home ready and waiting for them if they decide to try again.

Cleaned out and sterilized.

Closed up. The entrance hole looks enticing.

Checking Out Those Shelves

I happened to be walking by as a bird was checking out the shelves I'd put up last year in hopes of attracting barn swallows. I didn't get a very good look, but it could've been a phoebe.

I was planning on adding at least one more shelf a lot closer to the eave, but it started to rain. After typing the above, I realized the rain stopped a while ago, so there was no reason not to put up at least one shelf--so I did. I had a second one all ready to go, until the wood split, so I only put one up for now.

Here's hoping that the shelves get some use. I'm still hoping to have barn swallows some day, but another phoebe would be nice.

The newest shelf installed closer to the eave.

It seems the shelves I put of last year may have too much space above it to be attractive to nesting birds.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Maybe I Should Look Out the Window More Often

This evening, I went to the sun porch to get something and happened to spot (I think) two deer right in the back yard. I went right back in to get the camera and ran to the window. By that time there was only one in sight. I took the pictures through the window so as not to scare him off.

I wonder what else I've missed over the past few years. :)