Our Wonderful Daylily Mystery

My husband says I planted these and forgot that I did it. Nope. I forget some things, but I’d remember planting flowers. I think. Really, these I would remember.

Aren't they beautiful?

Aren’t they beautiful?

I’d also remember the location, right by the mailbox near the street, because when we went to Kelowna, BC, last year, I was so impressed with all the beautiful yards that it made me want to do more to mine. So far, I’ve basically pulled weeds and cut things back which is a constant thing around here. Haven’t got to the planting part yet. During one of those weed pulling sessions, I noticed some long grassy blades that looked different. When I see something coming up that I can’t identify right off, I usually leave it so that when it grows up I can see what it is and whether or not I want it to stay. I’ve regretted that a time or two, but it’s also how I got my mock orange and Turk’s cap. (Turk’s cap is a great flower for attracting hummingbirds, by the way!)

We really don’t know how these got here unless we have a neighbor or friend who is planting things surreptitiously in folks’ yards. I have some pretty cool family and friends, so that is a possibility. Actually, I think it’s probable because after reading a bit, it looks like daylilies won’t just pop up in a clump like this.  They will spread, but that’s only after being planted by a human. Another thing I learned is that hummingbirds and orioles are both attracted to daylilies. Wow! That just adds some excitement to this whole mystery!

Another good thing is that they can be expected to hang around here for a long time. I still have some yellow ones growing by the water faucet that my Aunt Myrtle planted when she lived here back in the 1960’s. My mom has always said that Aunt Myrtle could plant a dead stick and it’d come back to life and grow. I’m not like her. These babies are tough, and that’s just the kind of plant I need. The fussy ones can’t survive my sporadic care. Daylilies can handle drought and are pest resistant and they crowd out the weeds. Yea, for fewer weeds!

Well, we don’t know how these flowers ended up in our yard, but we sure are glad to have them. May God bless our mystery gardener!

I sure do wonder who…?

 

So pretty!

So pretty!

Watching the (Almost) Winter Birds

Whoo-hoo! Today there were cedar waxwings in the treetops on the other side of my next door neighbor’s house. I’ve been wanting to see some of those birds for a while now. I usually catch them once a year when they come through. A couple of years or so ago, I saw them twice and I think I missed them last year, so it was really good to catch sight of them today. I think they are the most elegant birds. They were so far away that I couldn’t see their little red spots on their wings, the yellow at the tip of their tail feathers, and I couldn’t see their ‘eye makeup’ either. I could see the crest on their little heads though. It leans back like a fancy hat. I think they are the fashionistas of the bird world. Soft colors, the hat and the eye makeup…understated elegance.

As far as other birds, I’ve seen some interesting ones. One day last week I saw a hermit thrush in the shrubby tree outside the kitchen window. That’s where I have the hummingbird feeder. Well, I had one feeder out until…

On Saturday, I saw two hummingbirds! They were both females and they were fighting over the feeder. They wouldn’t be still so I couldn’t tell if they were both rufous hummingbirds, or if one of them was a ruby-throated who didn’t make the trip south this year. I got all excited and put out another feeder in the backyard, where it was out of sight of the one they both wanted to claim. And since that day I haven’t seen more than one at a time. I was out of town yesterday and just haven’t stopped and stood still long enough to watch the backyard feeder when I’ve been home, so I don’t know if only one bird is still here, or if they are just avoiding each other. I think it would be weird for two rufous hummers to avoid conflict on purpose. I’ve watched the first one who showed up chase sparrows away from her feeder. (They were just sitting in the tree!) I read that they are the most aggressive hummingbirds and I’m inclined to agree.

A couple of days ago, I saw either a house finch or a purple finch. He took off before I could be sure who he was. Usually, I have house finches, but the book doesn’t show them here in the winter. It doesn’t show either of them here in summer, but they’ve been here. I think I’ve had both over the past few years, but I’m sure I’ve had house finches. It does show purple finches here in winter. I don’t know if they have changed their territory or not though. Some birds have moved into different areas the past few years and I’m close to the edges of both birds’ winter territories. Something I’ve started doing is writing down what I see in a blank book that is now my bird book. There shouldn’t be so much confusion in the future; I’m keeping it with my binoculars and my main field guide (I should get the updated version!)  instead of scribbling down names of birds here and there, usually on a calendar that I don’t feel like digging out of storage.

I’ve been watching for goldfinches and so far have only seen one at a time. I put out a bag of thistle this year. I usually let them eat the black oil sunflower seed, but this year I read an article in Birds and Blooms magazine that motivated me to put out thistle so maybe I’ll get a pine siskin. I think maybe the junco that I saw last week may have come for the white millet. I hope so. I put that out there for him.

I’ve also been roasting squash seeds this fall and breaking them up just a bit and adding them to the feeder. I put them on the platform feeder on top of the feeder pole, along with whole raw peanuts for the blue jays.

I don’t know why, but this year we actually have pretty fall colors on our trees in the city. Usually, we have to go to the River to see such pretty colors. I think it’s fun when the leaves fall and we can see the bird and squirrel nests. Leaves are pretty on the ground, too, with the grass peeking through them. Then my next thought is that they make great mulch and I need to go curb crawling and grab a few more bags for the garden. I hope you all are seeing lots of cool birds in your yards.

Yard, Gardening and Bird Adventures

Well, here’s a bit of an update on the yard, gardening activities and birds. You know a while back we had a pretty deep freeze for this part of the country and a bit of snow, too. Right now the only green on the lawn is clover (love it!) and weeds (got work to do there). The grass is still brown. My freesias are blooming but they are surrounded by brown fern, so they could be looking better. I managed to get some of the damage out of the flower bed but I didn’t quite make it over that far.

My husband’s used to be really tall cactus that we cut damage off of after the freeze flopped over a couple days ago. Well, part of it flopped over. The part that is still standing is just as dead as the part that fell though. I told him the Portulaca seedlings I have going will look really nice in place of that cactus.

We’re not sure about the satsuma tree. It has no buds on it at all. Neither does my father in law’s.

The other day I transplanted – up to bigger containers – 32 tomato plants. I put them deeper in the soil than what they were growing so they can develop more roots. I want to plant them the week after Easter and I want some good roots going first. Our average last frost date here is March 15th but I don’t trust it this year, so I’m giving it a couple more weeks just to be safe.

Gotta’ tell you the other day when I went out to the garden shed to transplant the tomatoes I put my hand up inside of some brown paper that my dill is wrapped in. It’s hanging to dry and when I did that, I thought it’s probably getting a bit late in the winter to be doing that – putting my hand where I can’t see what might be there – so I better not do that again. Might be a wasp in there before too long. Then I looked over at the window and saw a snake skin looped over a fishing rod that is stored horizontally above the window. I don’t reckon I will put my hand where I can’t see – probably ever again. Oh, it looks like it might be a baby rat snake’s skin. It looked pretty cool just like it was so I didn’t want to take it down and count scales and all that to try to identify it.

I have bell pepper seedlings and eggplant seedlings to put in bigger containers in a day or two. And, the coolest thing! A friend gave me some peanuts to plant. It was a little kit thing with a pot and the planting medium and the peanuts. I have a sprout! I can hardly wait to see how this little adventure goes. I’ve never grown my own peanuts. (I can see my grandpa smiling. He grew up on a peanut farm in Mississippi.)

I ran across an old email the other day where I was telling a friend about some baby hummingbirds on our Lantana. That was in June of 2006. Sure would be cool to see that again. Right now the goldfinches are on their way to their summer home. I haven’t see one in a couple days. Yesterday five of them were spotted at a feeder down the street but only two of them were there today. I haven’t seen the little buff-bellied hummingbird today, but I was gone most of the morning. I only saw him once or twice yesterday. I’ve learned that blue jays have a really pretty sound they make. It sounds downright melodious. I thought they only squawked, so this is a neat discovery. I wonder if it’s their spring song, to attract a mate? Oh, I’ve started putting crushed shells from boiled eggs out on the feeder so the birds can get some calcium. They need it so their eggs will have good strong shells.

Well, that’s my report for this time. And it’s time that I get outside in this sunshine and get the rest of the weeds out of the flower bed so the freesias can shine. I hope things are going well in your garden and yard.

Last Day of September

What a beautiful day! We have a clear blue sky, the humidity is low and it’s so nice out that I’ve raised my windows. As I sit here drinking iced tea and eating dark chocolate, I’m listening to squirrels, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Northern Cardinals, and various other birds whose songs I haven’t yet learned to identify. While ago I heard a Pileated Woodpecker. Those birds are so fine. They look sort of like Woody Woodpecker from the cartoon.

A friend told me yesterday afternoon she’s had Indigo Buntings and a female finch in her yard. She thinks it was probably a Purple Finch. She also had a Baltimore Oriole. She was having up to 50 humming birds at a time but it’s down to about 25 now. Since this friend is a bit north of me she told me to watch my feeders. I sure am! My numbers on the hummers have been pretty variable the past week but have increased from only seeing one at a time last week to two or three fighting over things this week.

My husband’s Mexican Petunia is still covered in blooms. A couple of hummers were each claiming it day before yesterday. A few weeks ago I saw some Mexican Petunia growing along the gully nearby. I wonder what spread the seed way off to there? Maybe some place upstream that flooded and brought seeds down, or maybe a hurricane blew them to that spot. It’s nice to see the pretty purple flowers by the water.

The cones on the Southern Magnolia are bearing their bright red seeds. Sure is pretty. And the satsumas are beginning to ripen. This will be our first harvest from this tree. Less than a dozen fruit but it’s less than a year old so I guess that’s a good kind of tree to have.

Friends way up north tell me their leaves are changing. Our leaves don’t go through color changes on most of the trees here. At least the ones on the streets don’t. If we go to a river, creek or bayou where it’s cooler we see pretty leaves. It’s like another world on the river.

I hope you are enjoying the changing of seasons where you live. And if you are cooped up inside and are unable to go out, I hope you can ‘see’ a bit of it here and enjoy God’s creation through this little blog.

Looking Out My Windows on September 17

This morning before 7 am the hummingbirds were already fighting over the feeder outside the kitchen window.  I guess they don’t need coffee or tea to get going for the day.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a long flight to prepare for since they go to southern Mexico or northern Panama, so they are storing a bit of body fat to use as energy. Somehow it’s hard to imagine that they gain almost as much as they weigh to begin with, so that they are almost double in weight by the time they leave. I think I’ll leave my feeders out after they are gone and just watch and see if I get a Rufous or two. I’ve never had one but from what I’ve read they are showing up where they don’t usually hang out. I have a friend just a bit northeast of me who has them so it’s not too much of a stretch to hope I’ll get one here.

All the other birds, the doves, sparrows, Blue Jays and Cardinals are gobbling up seed like crazy today. Usually, the Blue Jays will only grab a peanut and take off quickly, but today they are lingering and eating sunflower seed. I guess since the temperature is dropping and the days are getting shorter, everyone is taking in extra calories so they can gain a bit of extra fat and stay warm.

The mushrooms are popping up all over the past few days. I can’t imagine why anyone wants to ‘clean the yard’ by getting rid of something so interesting. Just think, they are below the surface of the ground all the time and when conditions are right for them, overnight they just show up to announce that fall is coming. There is a circle of them that I can see from one of my windows. It’s an elliptical circle, but it’s a circle and do you know what that means? My grandma told me that’s where the fairies danced the night before. You know what else she said? She told me that the Little People live under the mushrooms. When I was a bit too old to believe that, I would still lie in the grass and pretend it was true and look for them.

Well, most of us who live where it is hot during the summer are enjoying the cooler days. Some of us are anxious for the first really nice cold front so we can make a big ol’ pot chili or homemade soup. Last week I cooked pinto beans and put the leftovers in the freezer. They will make a great pot of vegetarian chili. I’m just watching the signs of change from my windows and waiting.

Bird in a Thunderstorm

Have you ever wondered where birds go when it’s raining? I mean, they have nests but I don’t think everyone can fit in them at once.

I watched a bird this afternoon during and after a thunderstorm. The storm was going strong when I looked out my kitchen window and, with the rain pouring down, there was a dove hunkered down on the fence. There is some sort of shrubby plant that he was under. Wish I could remember the name of the plant, but it has berries that the mockingbirds like to eat in the summertime. Since the plant is not thick, the dove was really only semi-protected from the rain. He was scrunched down and had his head tilted up. He also blinked a lot because he was getting water in his eyes. His feathers did a good job for him. It looked like he was wearing a raincoat, as the rain wasn’t soaking him but, was just on the surface of his feathers. As he sat there blinking in the storm, the water was dripping off the tip of his tail. Once there was a huge clap of thunder and a flash of lightening. I wondered if he panicked and flew so, I went to the window and checked on him. He was still there, only he was sitting at attention now, with his head a little higher than before. As I watched, he relaxed and tucked his head back down closer to his shoulders.

When the storm ended he was still sitting there but with his feathers fluffed out to dry. Before long the sparrows were singing and a hummingbird had shown up and was ‘on guard’ to keep other hummers away from the feeder. All together, he was there at least an hour and a half. I didn’t know a bird would stay in one place for so long unless he was sleeping.

Sunday Morning at the Bird Feeders

Last week I was wondering where some of the birds have gone. We’ve had plenty of sparrows, grackles, doves (mourning and white-winged), cardinals and hummingbirds, but no wrens, titmice, chickadees or finches. It’s possible that Hurricane Ike is the reason for this. I’ve been hoping to see some of our missing species soon.

Yesterday morning I heard a blue jay (oh, yeah, I have those guys!) hollering to announce his arrival to pick up a peanut. I opened the blinds to see him and found out there were lots of birds out for breakfast. And guess who was among them? A finch! I had to get the book to try and identify whether he was a purple finch or a house finch. I reckon he’s a young fella’ whose red feathers must not have all come in yet, because he was only red on his breast. Whichever kind he is, he will be getting red feathers on his head and near his tail as well.  Since he was kind of small and had no sign of a pouf (topknot) on his head, my identification as a house finch is my best guess.

Confusion comes with youth (well, with older age too, but never mind that) and this little guy was confused. He flew over to the hummingbird feeder and tried to drink nectar from the ports. How on earth did this bird know there was anything in there that any bird would want? Why did he think he ought to have nectar? His beak wouldn’t fit in the hole, of course, which seemed to frustrate him a bit. He turned around on the perch with his back to the ports and bent over and looked through the clear bottom of the feeder. This poor bird went through this several times. He could see the nectar but he couldn’t get it. I guess he hasn’t noticed he has a seed-eater’s beak and not a nectar-sipper’s beak?

While I was watching this bird with book and binoculars in hand trying to identify him, it seems he was having an identity crisis of his own. And I’m not sure if maybe when I record what I’ve spent our money on, if I should put bird feeding in it’s own category, or move it into entertainment?