Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Twenty Percent More Color!

 


This birdseed is the shizz

Well, I'll be monkey's uncle (or aunt?). It worked!  That bird seed just about did attract twenty percent more color.

See this thing?  It's... kinda small.  But I swear, it's a bird!  Not a sick leaf!  And it's very yellow.

A tiny yellow bird, attracted to our color-beguiling birdseed

Here's a perfectly awful closeup (I can see that our new bird feeders will require me to buy a new camera).  You can see... well, you can see that it's yellow, anyway.  I'm currently guessing that it's a yellow-throated vireo, but given my knowledge of ornithology, I wouldn't be shocked to learn that it was a Miniature Amber-Chested Mexican Vulture.  Or a Great Gulf Dwarf Primrose Whooping Crane.  But for now we'll call it a vireo.

A vireo.  Or a small vulture.  One of the two.

We've also been attracting Carolina chickadees (I assume that's what this is).  They aren't exactly roseate spoonbills, but they're cute enough.

A jumpy little chickadee

I didn't get a picture of the neatest birds--a pair of tiny, dusky blue things. The closest species I could find for our area are the blue-crowned vireo and the eastern kingbird, though neither of those are really very blue, and I would have sworn that our visitors were. Dark and slatey, but definitely blue.

On the other hand, this hummingbird obligingly paused for a number of blurry, indistinct photos.  I don't know what kind it is either, except that it doesn't appear to have a ruby throat.  I imagine it's here for the Chitalpa though (blooming away cheerfully, drought be damned), not for the birdseed.


A pointy-snouted little hummingbird

Speaking of nectar feeders, I was reminded the other day to put out nectar for the bees & butterflies.  It's migratory butterfly season, apparently, and we're really low on nice, nectary flowers across the state.  And the bees, of course, always seem to be having a rough time of it.  I read the other day that their wax starts to melt above ~110F.  So on top of everything else this summer, they had to cope with melty hives.

For the nectar lovers, I was told to put a piece or red or orange sponge out in a pie plate with some sugar water (3 parts water to 1 part sugar) and orange quarters.  We've had a couple of these little bird feeders kicking around for years in the garage, so they're finally getting their day in the sun.  Haven't seen many butterflies, but every bee in the neighborhood has heard about our nectar sponges.  I froze extra nectar in 1/3 cup servings, and every morning (when I remember), I drop a chunk of frozen nectar on each sponge and let it melt in.


In a similar vein of folksy strategies for a crappy climate, we're giving our trees a deep soak via kitty litter buckets.  I used an ice pick to pound 5 small holes in the bottom of 3 kitty litter buckets.  I placed the buckets around the drip line of this little Lacey oak, filled them, and let them slowly drip out for a nice, deep drink.  I think three buckets is enough for this little tree, but I'll probably move & refill them 1-4 times for the larger trees.


Because we can't stop ourselves, we've been putting in a few new plants.  This is Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' blue grama grass.  Those white-gold horizontal flower heads are pleasantly sparky, especially in front of that red shield hibiscus.



We've also planted this interesting hesperaloe, 'Brakelights' (stupid name, as per usual. Have breeders been outsourcing their branding to some sort of cheapo advertising sweatshops overseas?  How are the connotations of brake lights--stop!--traffic!--you can't go!--eek! accident!--what you want associated with a nice landscape plant???).  Yuccado has an interesting comparison of BL flower versus a standard red yucca.

Meantime, some of the 50 or so oxbloods that I planted in that same bed earlier this year--and which have receive ZERO water all summer--are poking their brave little crimson heads above a cracked and parched earth.  Oxblood lilies are STRONG and BRAVE!  And, by happy coincidence, they look quite nice with 'Brakelights.'

  
Oxblood lilies:  horticultural heroes.  And new Hesperaloe parviflora cvr 'Brakelights'










2 comments:

Yolanda said...

Yes! I see! is a yellow bird.
The bird feeders are a great idea! I really like!
Yucca is great, vibrant color!
Here, they don't sell a lot of Yucca's varieties and always it's interesting to know them.

Elgin_house said...

Hey Yolanda--I'm surprised yuccas aren't more available in Spain--it seems like they would do well there. But your blog is slowly teaching me that I don't really have a very accurate understanding of the Spanish climate--or climates, rather.

Funny thing about the birds--last time, we couldn't get the "20% more color!" bird seed, and now all the colorful birds have gone away! All we have left are chickadees and doves! Darnit!

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