Update on Visiting Birds

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We have had below freezing temperatures for 2 days now and the backyard has become a refuge for hungry birds. The flock of Goldfinches has enlarged and has been joined by Redwing Black Birds, Blue Jays, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and a Dark-eyed Junco, along with all the year-round regulars.  I refilled the feeders and covered the ground under them with seed several times.

Because freezes happen so seldom here and rarely keep things frozen for more than a few hours, I completely forgot about providing water until I saw my Yellow-rumped Warbler pecking at frozen water. I quickly put out several containers of water.

I was very concerned about the Hummingbird, not knowing if it would make it through the freezing night.  During the day I had been replacing the frozen sugar water and at first light today,  I hung out fresh feeders.  And happily, the Hummer came!

As I was sitting at my kitchen table writing this post and glancing out of the window at the birds, two suddenly hit the window followed by a hawk.  I guess all the birds are hungry today.  Now the feeders are empty and the garden is silent.  They will come back.

 

 

 


Visiting Birds

The advantage of living in the South, is that we have plenty of winter visitors.  Goldfinches have returned after not stopping by in about two years.  I quickly went out to buy fresh Niger seeds as soon as they arrived.

The resident Cardinals don’t seem to mind sharing sunflower seed with the visitors.

A small flock of Sparrows have also been frequenting the garden.

Every year there seems to be a hummingbird in the yard and one finally showed up after Christmas.  I believe this is a Rufous Hummingbird, but it really does not have much color.  I have been trying to get a photo for days and I finally pulled a chair into the backyard and waited.  It didn’t take too long to snap this one from a distance.

The day was sunny and the sky was Texas blue.  When this photo is enlarged, leaf buds can be seen.  Here in Texas spring is not far away and plants will be leafing out next month.

Unfortunately, the sunny day inspired this yellow Cloudless Sulphur butterfly to hatch out.  I’m not sure it can take the cold nights to come.

This was written 3 days ago.  See the update on the next post.

 

 


Monarch Munching

Before the snow and the freeze, I took this shot of a Monarch Caterpillar munching away on this Butterfly Weed.

I was wondering if the caterpillar made it through the cold snap. I spotted a Monarch Butterfly flying around the plants yesterday and a smaller caterpillar feeding on the leaves.  I guess they can take a bit of cold.

 

 


Winter Wonderland

We had snow!  And why not in this crazy year of weather.  As we found out, records are meant to be broken.

The snow fell in the early morning hours.  As soon as the sun comes up, it will be gone.  Parents pulled children from their beds to play outside in the predawn darkness.

I was in my PJ’s snapping these photos in the dark when I heard the Banded Owl hooting from various locations in the yard.  The owl was probably baffled by the snow. It’s beginning to feel like Christmas, let it snow…until it hits 48 degrees this afternoon.  A true Texas day.


Monarch Lunch

I collected these Monarch caterpillars, but not for my lunch.  I found them on some sick looking Butterfly Weed with few leaves and moved them to healthier plants so the babies could have their lunch.

This big and beautiful Monarch is probably from a previous batch of caterpillars I found a few weeks ago.


Rosy Wolf Snail Entertainment

During my daily plant watering, this Rosy Wolf Snail, Euglanding rosea, crawled out onto the sidewalk.

The Snail was on a mission and ignored me.  Ants were crawling right by it, but that was not what the Rosy Wolf was hunting. This rather large snail eats smaller ones and was looking for slime trails.

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I love to watch these creatures crawl around, as I usually only find them curled up in their shells.  I put a Coleus leaf beside the snail and the leaf caught its attention.  The snail crawled over to check it out and left a silvery slime trail behind on the leaf.  After being thoroughly entertained by the Rosy Wolf, I moved it to a garden bed to keep it safe and hopefully it will eat some of those pesky plant eating snails.


Second Spring in the Garden

I came across this baby Copperhead that seems to be going through a difficult molt. This photo was taken in the morning.

I checked on the snake late in afternoon and it was still on the same rock.  Its tail is in a new position, so I knew it was alive.  No, I did not poke it to check.  Molting or the preferred description, shedding or the scientific word ecdysis, seems to be hard work.  I did some research and it said a snake in captivity can be helped by its owner.  With a Copperhead, I decided to let nature take its course.  It seems late in the year for babies, but…

there are lots of baby lizards, anoles and geckos, around.  This green anole greets me every morning from its home on a potted plant by my door.

The garden has been full of these yellow Cloudless Sulphur butterflies.  There were at least 7 flying around. They were not very interested in posing for photos, so this is the best shot I was able to get.

Quite a few Gulf Fritillary butterflies have been visiting. They had been gone from the garden for a few years and just started coming back last Fall. The Bottle Brush decided to put out a few flowers attracting the butterflies and bees.

My Japanese Anemone has been struggling all year, but has finally bloomed.

My Confederate Rose is still blooming and giving me joy every day.  With the cooler weather, it is skipping the light pink color and going directly to dark rose.  Here in the Gulf Coast area, this time of year is often called our second Spring and it certainly seems that way with baby animals and newly blooming flowers.