I don’t think I’ve written about the birds in the garden yet. I’m pretty lucky to live on the edge of the Barton Creek Greenbelt which is a nice mix of trees (a gigantic live oak; cedars; Houston Yaupon hollies; a Texas persimmon; etc.) and meadow land. The ecology provides abundant nesting opportunities as well as great feeding. To encourage them to visit the garden I have seven various types of feeders (two tube feeders; a thistle feeder; a suet feeder, a humming bird feeder; a corn-cob feeder; and an English titmouse feeder) and four water features. (I get all my seed (Supreme and No-Mess) from Wild Birds Unlimited – they’re great. And if you use their ‘seed bank,’ you can buy in bulk and just stroll into the store and pick up a bag without having to worry about storing it. ) I used to have a Purple Martin house, but I never had any luck with it. I’ll publish an inventory of birds I’ve seen, but this is a general overview of the standard visitors.
I actually have a murder of crows living behind the house. I heard them at dawn a couple days ago and got a picture of one today. I like them much better than grackles.
Like every back yard in Texas, I’ve got cardinals. I like this time of year – midsummer – because you can see different generations. The newly fledged ones waiting for their crests to come on look like British punks with the spiked hair. The juvenile males are really interesting because they often look like they have blue heads!
Perhaps my favorite birds are the blue jays. From their colours to their screeching to their thrust-and-parry feeding methods, there’s nothing subtle about blue jays at all. One of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of them is from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow:
“…and the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay light blue coat and white underclothes, screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove.”
A blurry wet blue jay and my still-blooming clematis
This morning I saw a woodpecker. These are pretty infrequent visitors, but I love them. It’s amazing to watch them feed upside down from the suet feeder.
The black and yellow finches are fun to watch. They’ll swarm around the feeders and the shallow ‘bird-bath’ fountain. They’re definitely not intimidated by any of the larger birds.
While I really enjoy their calls, I’m not overly fond of the white-wing doves. They’re a bit like flying pigs that gang up on the other birds and drain the feeders pretty dang quick. They also have a tendency to fly into the side of the house; not an attractive sight.
This summer, I have whippoorwills living in the grove behind the house. I love their calls but don’t ever expect to see any.
Who doesn’t like humming birds? But I never realized how territorial they can be. The most I’ve ever seen is four, but there always seems to be a bully that’s keeping the others from the feeder. That one sure seems to spend a lot of time and energy guarding that feeder.
Other birds I’ve seen in the past: a red-tailed hawk sitting on the fence; a painted bunting; mocking birds; grackles (filth, filthy birds); screech owls (again, no success with an owl house); tit mouse; chickadees; and Carolina wrens (such a loud call for such a little bird). My neighbor said he once saw a wild turkey in the back yard. I’m really sorry I missed that. Probably the most unusual though, was a road runner. It was during the extreme heat wave in 2011. This road runner hopped over the fence from the desiccated green belt; drank from one of the small bird baths; hopped/flew to the neighbors giant live oak; and then climbed the thing to the telephone wires behind. It was amazing!
And here’s the promised lizard…