While I’ve been busy getting the garden tidied up, I haven’t forgotten to spend some time just watching the Birds, Bees and Butterflies. One of my favorite times of the day is early morning on my back porch with a mug of coffee. A great way to relax seeing what’s flying around and listening to bird song.
Saturday morning I caught a glimpse of my first hummingbird of the season. Was soon in the kitchen making sugar syrup for my hummingbird feeders. For now I have just put out two feeders – one on the back porch and one outside my kitchen window. In high season I have 4-5 feeders out for these amazing little birds.
Hummingbird Food is really easy to make: I cup granulated sugar in 4 cups of water. Dissolve the sugar in a couple of cups of just boiled water and then add cold water to the mark. Make sure you cool the syrup before putting it out for the Hummingbirds
I see a lot of Cardinals in my garden – probably 4-5 pairs that regularly visit. Although I can’t actually see them bathing from my deck, it is fun to see them swoop down into my little pond. They then use the neighboring Huisache tree to preen and dry off.
If you put out a bird feeder, make sure there are trees or shrubs near by. Birds like the feeling of shelter and protection from potential predators. It’s delightful watching them taking turns at the feeder. Cardinals, Sparrows, Titmouses (or is it Titmice?), Finches & Wrens are just some of the regulars I see around my feeders.
Of course, the ideal natural habitat would give all these birds the food they need from trees, shrubs, grasses etc. But who doesn’t enjoy sitting back and enjoying these lovely garden visitors?
Both of my Bee Hives made it through our ‘winter’. Stuart and I opened the hives two weeks ago to do an inspection and we were quite happy. The Italians hadn’t really started producing a lot of brood yet, but we have been watching them take food into their hive. My Texans are being really busy – we put several extra frames into their hive to make sure that they don’t run out of space.
Rosemary, Mountain Laurel and Red Bud have been ‘swarming’ with bees collecting pollen and nectar. I love going down in the evening and watch the bees going home with full pollen baskets on their back legs.
My one Red Bud tree is surrounded by large Live Oaks so that the blooms are really high up. I couldn’t get any photos, so you’ll have to take my word that it was covered with bees. A Red Bud at the local Library was also covered with bees and I was especially delighted to see a couple of Bumble Bees feeding there too.
Who doesn’t love butterflies in their garden – they’re magical the way they dance in the air. Prairie Verbena and Rosemary seem to be favorite host plants right now. The photos below are just some of the butterflies I’ve seen over the last few days.There’s been many more but they are oh so difficult to photograph!
Encourage Birds, Bees & Butterflies
- Plant Natives & Herbs
- Don’t use harmful insecticides or other chemicals
- Use compost to promote good, healthy soil
- Biodiversity instead of Monoculture in your garden
On the subject of Biodiversity, take a look at the photo above of the Painted Lady on “lawn weeds’. There’s probably 4-5 different plant species in that one shot. I never have been very good at growing the “perfect lawn”; daisies and dandelions are lovely!
Manicured, perfect lawns are Ecological Deserts; possibly Toxic Deserts at that! Not actually very healthy for the general environment. Many of you have HOAs to contend with – used to live with one that would regularly send me letters regarding the state of my front lawn! But think about giving over lawns to native plantings & using native limestone for hardscaping – they go together in this region!
If you haven’t already got it, download iNaturalist onto your phone to get quick easy names for plants, bugs, birds etc. For bird identification I really like Merlin Bird ID – really quick and easy to use.
You know I love books and have several reference books that I regularly consult. Don’t have a good Butterfly/Caterpiller book so would really appreciate any recommendations.
- FLOWERS – Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country by Marshall Enquist
- BUGS – Texas Bug Book by C Malcolm Beck & John Howard Garrett
- BIRDS – Field Guide to the Birds of North America from National Geographic
- TREES – Trees of Texas Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
It seems we all have a little more time to be spending at home so I encourage you to go out and enjoy nature at its beautiful best.