Sunday, April 29, 2012


     Only one more day left in April and that beautiful male american goldfinch is still here!  I do wonder why he hasn't headed home, yet.  He seems healthy and he flits around the yard like he's really happy to be here.  Every morning, I wonder if I'll see him "today".
     Well, earlier, I posted a photo of the fritillary butterfly laying eggs on my passion vine.

     LOOK AT IT NOW!!!

     But, I grow this passion vine just for the fritillary butterflies and caterpillars.  I've been feeding and watering the vine, so it will fill out again and the butterflies will start laying eggs again.  Later on, they will slow down and the vine will have a chance to have lush foliage and beautiful purple flowers.  And, the flowers smell sooo good!
     In the first photo, I can count five caterpillars.  Since the foliage is almost totally gone, they will stop eating and travel to find a place to weave their cocoons. 
     There are several bright orange fritillary butterflies in my yard, right now.  Some are larger and some are smaller.  My observation, through the years, has been that the eggs that were layed and hatched first and had lots to eat are the larger caterpillars/butterflies.  The smaller caterpillars/butterflies had less to eat because the foliage was already consumed by the first hatched.  But, when the foliage/food is all gone, they must stop eating and start their amazing transformation, becoming a butterfly.
     Also, I have observed that the butterflies that are flying really, really fast seemed to have just come out of their cocoons and are stretching and exercising their wings and, just don't know what to do, yet.  The older butterflies are flying slower and more deliberately to the flowers and around the yard.  
     No matter, large or small, they are just so beautiful fluttering around my yard amidst all the green, purples, pinks and other bright colors.  I really love watching them!  I don't know why He made them, but I'm very thankful for the butterflies!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


     Today, I still have one or two american goldfinches that haven't headed home, yet. The male is beautifully colored out and the other one looks like a female. It happens every year. Some of them hang around longer than the others and it makes me wonder if they are only going a short distance from here, for their nesting territory. The ones that leave early, have further to go? I do enjoy seeing these bright yellow and black birds, as long as they want to stay here. And, the finches have such beautiful songs. I will miss the sounds that I've been hearing since last fall. A lot of the lesser goldfinches are at my feeders all year. They do leave for three or four weeks in May and June and then they're back. I'm not sure if it's for nesting, because two clutches have already come to my feeders this week, flapping their little wings and chirping to be fed.
     And, now that most of the baby birds are out of the nest, I have lots and lots of butterflies. Often, I see the mom and pop birds flying to their nests with butterflies in their beaks. My mind says "no, no!! don't take the butterflies!!". But, there are so many baby birds in the spring, I guess the mom and pop have to feed them whatever they can find.
     The weather is so nice, right now! We just need another good rain. Because of the drought we've been in the past few years, I start to stess out, thinking, "it'll never rain again!". Maybe tomorrow we'll get some rain. At least, that's what they're predicting!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


The monarch butterflies have been passing through, coming up from Mexico. On their journey, they are laying eggs for the next generation. Yesterday, I found a monarch caterpillar. It's big enough that it's almost ready to start weaving it's cocoon. Then, it will move on, heading north, from here. I really don't see monarchs during the summer. But, I see lots of them on their way to and from Mexico, during fall and spring migrations. And, that is such a fascinating story, if you ever get the chance to research the "plight of the monarchs". The generation that makes it to Mexico for the winter, survives several months so they can make it back to the United States and Canada to reproduce. I would never, never capture and put one of them in a jar or cage. They are on a mission that is instinctive. They NEED to get to Mexico! Below, I posted photos of the butterflies and caterpillars. The top photo is a monarch and it's on my eupatorium plant. They LOVE eupatorium! The flowers are just now opening for spring and will bloom until they freeze this winter.
     Every year I grow Maypop passion vine so the fritillary butterflies will lay their eggs on the leaves. It's still early spring, but my passion vine has lots of leaves. Yesterday, there were three fritillary butterflies in my yard and they were laying eggs on the leaves. Below, is a photo of the butterfly and the caterpillar. There are lots of holes in the leaves from the caterpillars nibbling on them. But, I grow the vine just for them.I have sooo much growth in my yard, that it never bothers me, when I see holes in leaves. I just know that, soon, there will be more butterflies. Some very tiny and some much larger like the giant swallowtail. And, the plant will produce more leaves to replace what has been eaten, anyway.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


     By the way the parents are acting, I'm positive the baby cardinals have hatched today.  Maybe, they just started hatching or just finished.  Just now, the parents came to one of my birdbaths and bathed and bathed and the mama stayed for about five minutes, bathing.  Before, she was always in a hurry go get back to her nest.  And now, the papa is out in my big flower bed and I think he's looking for bugs and caterpillars to feed his newborns.  Until today, I would only see the cardinals together in the evening and early morning, when I fed them.  I would see him flitting here and there, but I think she was sitting on her nest. They will be very busy for the next couple of weeks, feeding those new babies.
     Today, while I was mowing the yard, I kept noticing all of the new growth and the weeds and the grass in my very large flower beds. I realized that there is a lot of work ahead for me and it was almost overwhelming!  We've been in such a horrible drout and, finally, lots of rain this spring.  So, I will not complain!  My garden is full of perennials and I really love how they return, year after year.  One of my very favorite flowers is blue plumbago and I have it in lots of places in my beds.  It comes back every year and throws seeds everywhere.  Later, I'll show photos of it, but it's just now beginning to bloom.  And, my Queen Elizabeth climbing rose is beautifully full of large pink blooms and rosebuds.  I love spring!!

     Every year, I tell myself I won't be purchasing any new flowers, but I did it again!!  I can't help but get a few annuals to put in the ground and some in pots.  During the summer, when it's sooo hot, it's really hard to keep them happy.  But for now, they will help to make my yard beautiful. 
     How is your spring going?

Monday, April 9, 2012


     The very first time I ever saw an american goldfinch was on a very nice spring morning, many years ago. I had left my front door open, to feel the breeze and as I was passing by the door, I saw the most beautiful bright yellow and black bird sitting in my hedge. It just took my breath away to see it sitting there, right in front of my door. I felt it was an omen or blessing and  knew it was going to be a very good day!
     A little later that morning, as I was leaving my house to run some errands, I noticed one of my young neighbors, (who I didn't know), was having a garage sale, so I stopped to look. As I was walking from my car and as I was still a distance away, I spotted a figurine, a beautiful lady in a maroon dress. I walked straight to it, checked the price and it was 2.00, I turned it over and the stamp was Royal Doulton. "Victoria", Doulton & Co. Limited 1972. I didn't see any chips on it, but would have bought it anyway, because it was so beautiful to me. When I got home, I checked it over and it did not have a single imperfection. It was a collector's item. I kept feeling guilty about my young neighbor, thinking she didn't know what she was selling for 2.00. So, a few weeks later, I went by to introduce myself and told her about "Victoria". She said that she and two other friends were having that garage sale and it belonged to one of them and her elderly aunt had given her some things and she was getting rid of them, (OMg!). She told me to just keep it. If she had told me she didn't mean to sell it, I would have given it back to her. But that day, I was in a big hurry to get out of there with my find!!
     The american goldfinches are almost gone, now. They've been  here, since just before Thanksgiving.  For the last three weeks, they've been coloring out to a very bright yellow and black. They are as bright yellow as my jerusalem sage in this photo. All summer, when I see bright yellow, I'll think about how beautiful the finches were just before they left their winter home for their nesting grounds. Their numbers have been slowly dwindling and now I see only three or four at my feeders. I do wonder if these are late coming up from south Texas or if they're just lingering for a while longer. They're certainly in their bright spring colors.

     Do you feed goldfinches during the winter? And, have you ever experienced a garage sale, special find, like mine?

Friday, April 6, 2012


     Today, I was still working out in the country.  My client has such a nice garden and he offered me some fresh, straight from the garden, carrots, spinach and lettuce. I even got to dig up some of the carrots, myself!  As soon as I got home, I washed them and started eating the carrots and spinach.  My Charlie dog loves carrots, so I gave him a little one, too.
     A few years ago, I had a nice little garden in my backyard,  Then, my trees grew really tall and I no longer had enough direct sunlight for my garden.  I miss it, but do love and appreciate my trees and shade when it gets so very, very hot in the summer.
     Do you have a garden and something fresh to eat all the time?  I would love to do that again!  Maybe, I'll reconsider some of my flower beds. From time to time, a tomato plant, green pepper plant and once a lettuce started growing in my compost pile. I just nurtured them and got cherry tomatoes and one bell pepper.  The lettuce got eaten by visitors to my compost pile.
     If you're fortunate enough to have one, good luck with your summer garden!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


     Today, I was working out in the country. I was painting and faux painting a big patio wall and door. My clients have done a lot of work on their yard, since I worked there last. They now have rock walks, a nice garden shed, a dog run for their dogs and a very nice vegetable garden. So, I LOVED working outside and hearing all the happy country bird sounds that I don't get to hear in the city.
     While working, way off in the distance I could hear our guys in training at Camp Bullis. The beautiful, happy bird sounds made me feel good.  But, the sound of our guys in training for war, made me a little sad. I think men love war and they were probably loving working with all that loud equipment.  But, I guess they, mostly, are wanting to be prepared to protect our country and I am so thankful for that.
      (This is a photo of my American flag and spring flowers.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


      All day, I have been watching the mom and pop titmice going back and forth, feeding their brand new babies in the nest. A few minutes ago, I walked past the birdhouse and the mama titmouse suddenly showed up, with dinner for her babies in her beak. As I walked away, I kept glancing back and she peeped around the side of the birdhouse, just to make sure I was leaving. I knew not to interfere with her feeding those babies! They are very hungry!! I'm pretty sure they were hatched yesterday, because their little peeps are so tiny. I have lots of birdhouses in my yard, so they can pick the spot they feel their babies will be safe.
     Have you figured out where your baby birds are? Listen carefully for tiny peeps and chirps. Usually, you'll hear more than one baby chirping at the same time, especially when food is delivered. "Feed me, Feed me!".
     Cardinals nest in thick bushes or low in a bushy tree. Look very carefully, because when they build their nest, it blends so well with the branches that you almost can't see it. Look at it and then move away and please don't touch it. I'm sure the birds are watching you and their nest. If they feel you're a threat, they'll move on and build someplace else. I look for the nests, but I play like I'm looking at something else and then I move on. Believe me, they are watching!
     Would love to hear about your discoveries!