LIcenter
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

skiingjeff wrote:So happy the humming birds finally showed up yesterday - at least it was the first time I caught them at the feeder. I love watching the tiny little guys! :)
I saw my first of three yesterday also. All were transients stopping in for a quick bite, and then moving on. Guessing my regulars should be here shortly.

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skiingjeff
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Yeah, its hard to say if mine are staying for the long haul but eventually they will. :)

I also enjoy the gold finches. I always put some water in the ant trap in the center of the hummer feeder and they love to come and hang upside down and take a drink. Such beautiful birds there are....

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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Yesterday, I heard an elusive chittering at the honeysuckle gate arbor in full bloom. A sound that I should recognize but couldn't. ...then I saw it -- a HUMMINGBIRD! :-()

This is Memorial Day weekend -- typical weekend for them to start flying through. I think it WAS just passing through because it was very nervous and also because it rested often instead of hovering to drink.

It was a female though, so the males should have been passing through already -- maybe just that this was the first one I noticed. I'm really hoping they will nest in my garden but so far every year, I see them sporadically around this time as they pass through, then not until beginning of July when they start making regular daily visits.

I wonder what the Robin nesting near the top of the honeysuckle thought about the hummingbird.... :D
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(No you can't see the hummingbird in this picture... But here is my lopsided gate arbor honeysuckle in full bloom along with the rhododendron which is probably attractive as well)
(No you can't see the hummingbird in this picture... But here is my lopsided gate arbor honeysuckle in full bloom along with the rhododendron which is probably attractive as well)
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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I'm having a late morning and am still up here in the bedroom looking out the window (I was out there in the Spiral Garden planting tomatoes by this time yesterday...) -- I'm seeing lots of activity :

-- two sets of songsparrow fledglings are clamoring to be fed by four adults flying hither and thither with what would have to be some kind of bugs in their beaks.

-- I saw a hummingbird sipping from the honey suckle again -- a female so it could be the same one... More stable flight with strong hovering pattern this time.

-- I saw a bluejay swoop in and start scooping a bunch of tan-looking things from the surface of the spiral rows... Gobbling and storing in the throat pouch... -- What ARE they? They can't be pumpkin seeds.... Pick up the binoculars for better look -- Then I saw it duck into the Seascape strawberries in the center of the spiral and came out with a very fat SLUG in its beaks and take off! (Well thank you! Grab all you like for your babies and yourself!) ...this might explain why I'm not seeing many slugs when I'm out and think to look after first light. 8)

-- In the mean time, a mourning dove was picking up hopefully weed seeds from the paths.
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LIcenter
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Sounds like a great start to your morning applestar! I'm sitting in my Florida room surrounded by windows, but not one bird frequents this side of the yard unless the feeders are up. Need to grab another cuppa joe, and head out to the backyard. Saw my first female ruby-throat on Saturday.

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And here's hubby.
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GardeningCook
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Have had female Ruby hummers at my feeder for the past couple of weeks, but no males yet. The females tend to arrive just as the rhododendrons are blooming; don't tend to see males for a couple of weeks after that. Rhodos are just finishing up, so males should be around soon.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

The males always arrive here first, that's why we call them scouts. They check out the area, and if they like what they see they stick around. A couple of weeks later, if you listen real closely you will hear very tiny wedding bells. ;-)

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Wow - how odd that you see the males first since you're so further north of us. In the almost 20 years we've lived here in VA, the females always show up first.
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skiingjeff
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

We found these guys in the Taylor Holly in front of our house. First time I've seen baby birds so young. Mama Robin was yelling at us but we were only trying to weed the bed.
image.jpg
It will be fun to watch them grow! :-()

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Cute, don't blink they grow up fast! ;-)

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skiingjeff
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Yeah just a couple days and there's sprocky fur started :) It will be fun to watch the daily progress.

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

We're having an extra hot week and this usually signals when the groundHOG arrive, so I'm constantly looking out the window and occasionally using my birdwatching binoculars. This PM, a grackle family had descended and were noisily making a mess of the birdbath. One bird was somehow bathing or trying to bath in a full 2 gallon bucket of water I left by the seedling table.

A wobbly-footed youngster was actually trying to stand on the rim of a 4" square pot containing a tomato seedling that I'd uppotted for some TLC, lost its balance and tried to HOLD ON to a taller tomato seedling in front of it with its beaks!!! :x THATS IT! I banged on the window frame until they all flew off. I'm not going out there until tomorrow morning, but DD1 went out to check and said she thought "all your little babies look OK"....
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

...so... I discovered HOW that grackle was managing to bathe in the 2 gal bucket without drowning.... :|

I had a dawning realization when I went out this morning and saw that two potted seedlings that had been on the end of the bench above the bucket was missing. One was flipped completely upside down, and the tiny dwarf seedling was buried among the grass. OK, here's "Demidov", so where is "Dwarf Arctic Rose"?

...It was submerged at the bottom of the 2 gal bucket full of water, container, potting mix, and all...

That dratted grackle was using the seedling's container as STEPPING STONE :evil: :roll:
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Today, I was crouched down in the Spiral Garden trimming off lower tomato leaves with any septoria spots. I stood up to stretch my back, facing the central clump of hot pink Coral Reef Momarda, and realized there was a hummingbird :D busy sipping from each trumpet shaped flower, into which she had to carefully insert her beaks while airborne. Monarda flowers are long and narrow.

Even though I was maybe only 4-5 feet away, she paid no attention to me and I was able to watch as she occasionally ended up with the close-fitting, loosely attached older flower come away and get stuck on her beaks. It was just so funny to watch her methodically -fliiing!- the tubular flower away with a quick motion.

Then it started to sprinkle... A little rain, not enough to send me inside, so I continued to watch as she settled on top of one of the tomato stakes. I noticed she was darting her tongue out and in. At first I thought she was just "licking her chops" and cleaning herself, but then I realized she was turning her head this way and that while darting her tongue Into the air in a deliberate manner... And I really think she was catching raindrops. :o :lol:
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Coral Reef Monarda -- this is from another day (no camera/phone today)
Coral Reef Monarda -- this is from another day (no camera/phone today)
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

They consume an enormous amount of gnats and skeeters too. I always see them hovering in the shade of the maples attacking the gnat swarms. Not enough light to get a decent pic tho.

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I've had a male hummingbird guarding my trumpet honeysuckle for the past few weeks but yesterday I saw a female visiting my flower pots on the front porch. She even hovered around the sliding glass door for a bit looking like she wanted to come in for a visit. I just love them!

Not exactly along the lines of birds and pollinating insects, but I've loved watching the bats on my back patio. We have about 5 of them darting around every evening, probably enjoying the insane numbers of mosquitoes we have.

I've also had lots of lovely praying mantises this year as well as dragonflies!

On a not so happy note, my dog got into a fight with our resident groundhog. The stupid guy keeps digging holes under my fence to get into my yard (he lives in my neighbors yard). Fortunately my dog backed off a bit so no physical damage was done but it was loud and scary because my dog is significantly faster and was able to corner him far from his escape holes.
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GardeningCook
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

pinksand wrote: Not exactly along the lines of birds and pollinating insects, but I've loved watching the bats on my back patio. We have about 5 of them darting around every evening, probably enjoying the insane numbers of mosquitoes we have.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I envy you your bats. They're one of my all-time favorite wildlife (have been a member of Bat Conservation International since the '70's). Unfortunately, while I absolutely adored watching dozens & dozens & dozens of bats in multiple sizes every evening from late winter/early spring through late fall, that spectacle bit the dust around here around five years ago. I've been keeping a running spreadsheet of flora & fauna "Seasonal Firsts" since 2008, & just as examples, in 2013 I saw NO bats at all, in 2014 one, & this year just one so far as well. It's puzzling since I live in a rural area with lots of open fields, farm ponds, old barns etc., & the infamous White Nose Syndrome really shouldn't be an issue since the bats in our area aren't cave dwellers. Very sad.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

That's really interesting and sad GardeningCook. I don't live too far from you in Columbia, MD. Going for a walk in the evening they're constantly in sight if you look up.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I wish. Am out at dusk & beyond every single day doing evening horse chores. Skies here are empty.
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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Today was full of "encounters"

I didn't have the iPad with me for the first one -- I was clearing some weeds to "paper and mulch" and noticed a green approx. 3" praying mantis on the grass just outside the bed. Thinking I disturbed it while randomly weeding, I did a quick check to make sure it had all of its legs and was unharmed -- it was. Then I thanked it for the service, and promptly forgot about it while I finished weeding and papering, then dumped a bag of mulch. At least it was out of the way.

I had just finished casually spreading the mulch around to hide the paper when I noticed a long bright/frosty green leg sticking out of the dark brown mulch and frantically waving :shock: .

I realiy had no idea what it was, but I scooped and loosened the mulch... And out tumbled that little praying mantis! Quick check to verify the number of legs again (I do this because most of the time, I seem to manage to mangle a leg or two) -- legs were intact but the abdomen seemed bit flattened and slightly kinked. But it was moving OK so I think it got bent a little by the mulch being piled on top of it. Hopefully it will straighten out....
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Next I saw THIS among the blackberry canes and an arch trellis with runner beans -- a huge bug? What IS it? Then realized it was a cicada pupa...
image.jpg
...And on closer examination saw that the back was split and it was empty.


i was beginning to wonder how I missed seeing it before, when a I noticed the cicada about 6 inches above the shell. Hah! It had just emerged and was drying its wings. :D
image.jpg
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

While unloading hay bales yesterday afternoon (SO much fun in the heat & humidity - lol!), I did get to enjoy spotting a beautiful Yellow Warbler insect-hunting around a Choke Cherry. One of the few easily-identifiable warblers around here. :)
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MichaelC
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

We've got lots of bees and birds here. I put up a new feeder in the backyard this year, and we're getting lots of visitors. Unfortunately, a trio of scrub jays seem to be hogging it. Many hummingbirds come by at various times of day, visiting both the huge agapanthas in the front yard and their feeder.

I planted a large patch in my front yard with a "pollinator" mix this spring. It's produced a lot of beautiful flowers, many alyssum and poppy flowers among many others. This patch is very close to the agapanthas. To my chagrin, I don't think I've seen a single pollinator at this patch. The bees prefer the clover that co-mingles with the grass, and the hummers prefer the agapantha. Go figure.

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

The cicada's are starting to harmonize around here. I really hope this does not mean the true hot weather is on it's way. Haven't heard one Katydid this year, and have not seen one Mud Dauber as yet this year either. Butterfly's are non-existent as well. hmmm

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GardeningCook
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

No Cicadas here yet, but I am hearing Katydids.
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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Cicadas are definitely the herald of hot summer -- I always feel....

I forgot to Post these pictures yesterday -- first Tiger Swallowtail I have seen this season (Black Swallowtails have been around already)
image.jpg
...should be seeing Monarch butterfly visitors soon :D
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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

MichaelC wrote:We've got lots of bees and birds here. I put up a new feeder in the backyard this year, and we're getting lots of visitors. Unfortunately, a trio of scrub jays seem to be hogging it. Many hummingbirds come by at various times of day, visiting both the huge agapanthas in the front yard and their feeder.

I planted a large patch in my front yard with a "pollinator" mix this spring. It's produced a lot of beautiful flowers, many alyssum and poppy flowers among many others. This patch is very close to the agapanthas. To my chagrin, I don't think I've seen a single pollinator at this patch. The bees prefer the clover that co-mingles with the grass, and the hummers prefer the agapantha. Go figure.
That's really funny :lol: But you probably get different kinds of hummers too -- we mostly only get the Ruby-throated with rare lost Roufous making the pages of newspapers even. Do they have preference?

The hummers that come to my garden will check out everything -- runner and pole beans of course, but including tomatoes and asparagus blossoms. I'm starting to see multiple visitors in aerial battles now. And occasional air traffic near-collisions with the languidly gliding Tiger Swallowtails and Monarch butterflies will ensue if past scenarios are to be repeated.

Often the hummers will hover right in front of my face -- I used to think it was my colorful gardening hat (a Bahamas souvenir) or brightly colored shirts, but yesterday, I was wearing white shirt and jeans and no hat and there it was, hovering on the other side of a tomato "hedge" in the Spiral Garden while I was tying up more string support.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I have baby Carolina Wrens again! My puppy ate last year's clutch (still eggs at that point) when he found them in a flower pot which was devastating after having babies there a few years in a row. This year they've smartened up and have the nest in a railing planter on our deck. I kept seeing her visit the babies with worms and beetles and finally took a peek to see naked jelly beans with wide open mouths and eyes still closed. I love them!
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Carolina Wrens are outrageously funny, friendly, opportunistic birds. And they'll nest ANYWHERE. I love them!

My favorite experience with them was not too long after we first moved here & had one of those compact lawn tractors to mow the lawn. Hubby went out to mow & did the back half of our 2-3 acre lawn, then took a break for lunch & before coming in lifted the hood of the tractor mower so the engine could cool. Imagine his shock & surprise to find a nest with four little bare newly-hatched nestlings under the hood!!! We were both shocked that they'd not only survived the hour or so ride around the yard, but that they hadn't cooked or the nest hadn't burst into flames from the engine heat.

Sweety that he is, after the engine had cooled down, hubby carefully put the hood back down & parked the tractor where it had originally been. Then I set up camp a decent distance away to watch. Sure enough - after about an hour, the parents began visiting the tractor & slipping under the hood to take care of their brood. One has to wonder what they were thinking while their youngsters were getting a hot ride around our property - lol! :D

Needless to say, the rest of the lawn was left to grow until we were sure the youngsters had fledged.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

"Naked jelly beans..."
"Rest of the lawn was left to grow..."

I LOVE these stories! Keep them coming :D
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Did you know that Praying Mantis moults/sheds skin between stages of growth? ...Of course they must, when you think about it -- I guess all insects do, but I never really thought about it before, and this is the first moulted praying mantis skin/husk I've ever seen.

It was another "What the heck is THAT?" Moment for sure when I first spotted it :roll:
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I had no idea they molted! I have numerous mantises in my garden this year so it will be good to know in case I find a set of skin laying around. I love how you showcased the skin laying on a green (plantain?) leaf so it would stand out. Very clever!
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Had signs of both the start & the end of summer here this morning.

For the start - heard the first Cicadas screeching; for the end - had both Barn Swallows & Tree Swallows fledging their broods. Lots of high-tech flying, swooping, sweeping, & landing on our deck rails. I do love my swallows! :D But once fledging begins - even though some pairs may try to raise another brood - it does signal the end of the season. In just a few weeks they'll all be congregating in large groups on the telephone/power lines in anticipation of migration. The swallows have always been the first to leave around here.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I recently saw a sort of mid-sized praying mantis, so it must have molted a couple times. But I've never seen the left over shell. Lots of ladybugs around.

Yesterday I saw this guy

Image
https://www.dpughphoto.com/images/green% ... 11%202.JPG

Green june beetle.

It was on one of my carrots that is flowering. I don't know if it likes nectar or just happened to be there. The grubs are in lawns, but apparently don't do too much damage unless you have a big infestation of them. But what I read said the adults are mainly pests of fruit trees. No fruit trees very close to me!
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

We have those large Green June Beetles here as well, but have never seen them on or near our fruit trees. They basically just fly around the yard & barn, most likely looking for likely spots to deposit their eggs/grubs. But we're not Lawn Nazis, so really don't care. Find them pretty.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

For the past 7-8 years we have had katydid hunters setting up house in our driveway basin. Given the size of them they can bee :D quite intimidating to say the least. But that is just not the case, as I've found over the years what a mild manner creature they really are. The only time they become violent is if you get too close to their mud nest, and mainly the male is the one that will zap you. This year I have not heard one katydid, and with that, have not seen a single katydid hunter. Here's a couple of pics from last year showing the female bringing back her catch for the day. Awesome creatures!

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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

That is so cool! I have not noticed any, but I do have katydids in my garden. I'll have to keep an eye out. May be it could be some of the thin waisted black wasps I see .... 8)
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I've never seen any Katydid-killer wasps around here, but we do have the ground-burrowing spider-killing wasps, which are also fascinating to watch (even if most spiders are the "good guys").
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

applestar wrote:That is so cool! I have not noticed any, but I do have katydids in my garden. I'll have to keep an eye out. May be it could be some of the thin waisted black wasps I see .... 8)
If they don't come back this year I'm gonna drop a ladder in the basin, and take some pics of their tubes. there has got to be a ton of them given the amount of time they have spent here. I also have a few different mud daubers that live in one of my sheds, and tiny ones that build their nests in the corners of anything cement.

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

GardeningCook wrote:I've never seen any Katydid-killer wasps around here, but we do have the ground-burrowing spider-killing wasps, which are also fascinating to watch (even if most spiders are the "good guys").
Now see ya learn something everyday! I did not know about the spider killers. I've seen a couple of cicada killers recently, (huge!) but nothing in their grasps.

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