Monday, June 8, 2015

IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE PLANTS

I'd seen a cardinal flying through the narrow space between the potting shed and greenhouse but just thought she was passing through. Then one day I was working in the potting shed with the doors open and I kept hearing this one note call. As I peered through the door I saw a female cardinal was busy building a nest on the little espaliered yaupon holly growing up the side of the greenhouse. A chance seedling which I was trying to train up the side wall. Who would have thought that a bird would choose to build its nest here. I felt quite pleased with myself. In time 3 brown speckled eggs were laid and the female began to sit. With all the comings and goings, near this area, over the next two weeks she must have been regretting her choice. She never flew off when I passed by but we saw her leave so many times in a day that I began to wonder if she wasn't shirking her duty or maybe she was sitting on two nests! Today, when she was not on the nest I took a look. The eggs have hatched.


This is exciting news for us because we have had poor success with cardinals in the past. One time they built the nest under the umbrella which did a Mary Poppins one night then one time I watched as a jay stole the chicks from the nest. We are keeping out fingers crossed this time for a safe fledging. Maybe the tight spot will offer some protection from predators although it would be very easy for a snake to slither up the tree....and believe me we have snakes.
There was another hatching a week ago. This time from the mud adobe on the wall by the kitchen door.



I had watched the wasp build this house last year, finally laying her egg, stuffing in a few insects and sealing the door. When I saw the hole drilled in the wall I knew the larva had hatched eaten and flown away. Time to take the house off the wall. I should have done the job right away because before I got round to it the hole was sealed over again. You can see the smooth spot in the center where the hole was closed.
This wasp deserves the OBE. You may know of this award as being called the Order of the British Empire and awarded every year by the queen. A rather irreverent uncle of mine said the letters stood for Other Bugg..s efforts. I just call it Other Bugs Efforts.

This caterpillar didn't fool my eye. Can you see him?



He has positioned himself along the stem of this blackfoot daisy. You can see his feet clinging wrapped around the stem.



Maybe the cardinal with its keen eye will find this one for her chicks.

12 comments:

  1. Great pics! I hope the cardinal chicks thrive in their tenuous nest!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The chicks look like cartoon characters the kids watch! Cute!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The hatchlings are quite exciting. Looking forward to more photos! I think it's one of the best rewards of being a gardener, getting to watch all the life that goes on out there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hope the chicks make it! I have a mother house finch nesting outside my office window behind a light that must help keep her eggs warm overnight. (It's on a timer.) I have to keep my office window closed as my indoor cat otherwise hangs from the screen making predator noises but mother finch still gets upset when I walk anywhere near the nest, swooping away until I move a safe distance. I've yet to get any photos other than a poor shot of the nest itself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What fun observations in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We gardeners do enjoy a lot more than the plants in our time outdoors (and a lot of years for me that is a very good thing!). I can't help feeling supportive of the nesting birds around our spaces even as they (wrens especially) keep wanting to build near doors or in the garage and then fussing incessantly at us as we pass too close to the spaces they chose. Here's hoping Momma and Poppa cardinal have chosen a spot this year that will see their chicks fledge unmolested out into your beautiful surroundings (and that one of them will nab that caterpillar!).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovely. A great example of the myriad benefits of gardening in a wildlife-friendly way. Just bugs-on-flowers keep me happy in our sweltering summers. That and goldfinches & hummingbirds. =) Looks like you've been doing a great job for your local ecosystem.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Aww, so great to have little chicks growing up right there! I hope they all do well and you get to see them fledge. Birds do nest in the strangest of spots sometimes. Love the caterpillar picture clinging on to the stem with his little feet!

    ReplyDelete
  9. How fun to watch those little guys. Hope they make it.
    We have lots of youngsters around here, but no nests low enough to watch.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This year the wasps are all building nests on the concrete apron around the house - seems like such a weird place for them to be - way too low. Weird little beasties.

    ReplyDelete
  11. How exciting to have a cardinal nest! I hope they make it! I'm glad you showed us where the caterpillar was, I couldn't spot him!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great photos -- both the cardinal chicks and the caterpillar!!

    ReplyDelete