Baby Birds Have Flown the Coop

I’m way behind with posting my summer backyard pictures. There’s a lot going on here on the banks of Cottonmouth Creek. The cutest thing that’s gone on is a baby bird baby boom.

It all started when I hung a collection of bird houses on my porch last fall. I sold a few at the flea market and when I brought these home I hung them outside to “store” them until spring.

Birdhouse on Cottonmouth CreekTurns out Mother Nature had other plans. Other plans than me selling them. Selling the bird houses, that is.

IMG_8163.JPGSeveral months ago there was a flurry of nest-building going on around my domicile, which included little brown birds building nests in all three of the license plate bird houses. These are Bewick’s Wrens and mom and dad both tend to the nest. Two pairs of birds set up a nursery in two of the three bird houses.

IMG_8170.JPGI was unable to get a picture of mom and dad. They weren’t ones to dilly-dally on their front porch perches when there were worms to catch.

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And when  the eggs hatched, the babies wanted lots of worms.

IMG_8159.JPGI only heard little bitty cheeps and squeaks for the first week, but the second week, the babies were quite vocal about their appetites. My front porch is long and narrow and the bird houses are at eye level. When the babies heard me approach they wasted no time in poking their hungry little beaks out of the opening ready to be filled.

IMG_8172.JPGWhen they realized I didn’t have anything to offer, they’d wait for mom, or dad.

IMG_8165.JPGTwo days after I took these pictures the babies, still downy, took flight. My cat Sundance was not happy about staying inside the next two days after I found four tiny birds bouncing all over the driveway.

Their flight paths were erratic and short. Lots of fluttering, and bouncing, and crashing, and a little bit of flying. After a few inches of flight they clutched the brick wall before screeching and crying and managing a few more inches.

I could hear the moms and dads singing encouragement. They must have been giving directions because all four babies began to make their way to the other end of the porch where grape vines provide cover and low branches for new flyers.

After all the babies were away from the car and the driveway I reluctantly left to run some errands. When I returned there was no sign of them. The bird houses were empty, no longer needed.

A few days later I saw one baby venture back to the bird house to peer inside before flying off again. They’re much smaller than  mom and dad—about the size of a mouse—but they’ll be full-grown in no time.

So far Sundance hasn’t brought me any feathery treasures, thank goodness. Guess if I’m going to sell any of my birdhouses, now would be the time to take them down.

I thought these bird houses were just for decorative purposes, but they were certainly a lot cuter with birds in them.

Have you had nesting birds in your yard before?  Would you like to have some? I know where you can get a bird house.

 

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Lady Bug, Lady Bug, You Run So Fast

Lady Bug, Lady Bug,
Where are your spots?

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This lady bug was fast!  I focused on her at the fork in the branch and look where she was by the next instant when I snapped the shutter.

But where are her spots?

I thought maybe lady bugs are like dalmatians and Siamese cats that are born white and then color develops as they get older, but I was wrong.

The spotless lady bug is a specific species. And in fact, there are three species of spotless lady bugs.

  • Family: Coccinellidae (Lady Beetles)
  • Subfamily: Coccinellinae
  • Genus: Cycloneda (Spotless Lady Beetles)

I determined this is a C. munda because it has light yellow-brown legs, and according to  this spotless lady bug map, that’s the species that lives in Oklahoma.

I called this a “her” because its a “lady” bug after all but I can’t tell if it’s a male or a female from this picture. Next time I see her—or him—I’ll be able to tell for sure. The male has more white on the front of his face than the female.

I saw a few pictures and videos that referred to the rare spotless ladybug.

Counting lady bugs could be a fun summer project for the kids. When they whine “I’m bored!” send them into the yard to count lady bugs. If they don’t find many, buy some lady bugs at the garden store and release them into your yard. They love to eat the tiny pests that damage the plants in your yard.

Do you see very many spotless lady bugs in your area?

 

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Tomorrow Is Another Day

This is a day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalms 118:24

Fall Colors on Cottonmouth Creek

I stepped outside this morning and this is what met me on this bright beautiful election day.

Reminders of the beautiful world we live in gives me hope. Knowing that even with the bickering and whining and disagreements over the election, and the unspeakable tragedies in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in the words of Scarlett O’Hara,  tomorrow is another day.

When we are no longer able to change a situation—we are challenged to change ourselves. ~ Viktor E. Frankl

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The Rainbow Scarab

Just had to share this bright shiny bug my dog, Blue, pointed out a few days ago.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekBlue touched her nose to this critter and then walked away snorting.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekAfter one sniff, this is as close as she would get. Must have one of those odoriferous defense systems.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekDidn’t take much searching to find out it’s a variety of Dung Beetle.

Phanaeus vindex.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekMost of the pictures I found showed black beetles so I kept looking until I found the Rainbow Scarab, which suits this gal.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekThis beetle was about an inch long and when I bothered her she rolled up and looked exactly—or almost exactly—at least she was shaped exactly—like a VW bug. The original shape from the 60s.

The Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekThis would make an amazing mask for Halloween. Check out those little orange pom-pon antennae. Cute, huh?

The Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekShe looks kind of like a dinosaur. Maybe a triceratops? At least a triceratops head without the horns.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekWanna know how I know it’s a girl? That handy-dandy website I found shows a picture of two Rainbow Scarabs and the male has a horn. (See. A Triceratops.) So this is a single lady.

According to the same website, these are beneficial bugs. For obvious reasons, considering their name.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekDung Beetle? Get it?

She eats dung. Which is a good thing because if they reduce the  poop in an agricultural field, that will reduce the number of flies in same field. And flies spread disease.

So, beetles good, flies bad. Dung, yummm! At least if you’re a dung beetle.

Don’t believe me? Check out that website.

A Rainbow Scarab at Cottonmouth CreekI could see little barbs on all six of her legs, and when she got to this soft dirt she used them to churn up the dirt which made it easier to burrow.

My Dog Blue, at Cottonmouth CreekSo NOW, can we play?

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Surprise! The Red Spider Lilies Are In Bloom

I enjoyed the foliage behind my fence for several years before I realized the fleeting bright spot of color just at the edge of the creek bank was a flower and not just a brightly colored falling leaf.

It was a cluster of Red Spider Lilies. Also known as the Hurricane Lily, Surprise Lily, and scientifically as Lycoris radiata.

Red Spider Lily at Cottonmouth Creek

Then it was another year or two before I timed it right to see them bloom and dig them up after the blooms faded. I wanted to put them where I could enjoy them every year and not just catch a glimpse out the back window.

Red Spider Lily at Cottonmouth Creek

They grow on tall naked stalks, but these stalks are clothes with a tangle of Sweet Autumn Clematis and volunteer grape vines.

I found nine stems crowded together. I’ll separate them when the blooms fade and maybe get a few more flowers next year. I’ve built a bird bath out of a wooden stool at the other end of the garden. I’ll put a few bulbs beneath it, they’re the perfect height to give a pop of color under the bird bath.

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The Sweet Smell of Autumn is Here

If I were to create a fragrance of my own, it would absolutely evoke the intoxicating scent of Sweet Autumn Clematis. I’m compelled to take pictures of them. Here’s what I shot last year, and here’s my first post about them.

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

These tiny little flowers burst into clouds of white that cover the fence and climb into the trees.

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

“Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

They remind me of Daffodils, the poem by William Wordsworth.

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

Even though they aren’t daffodils, they aren’t yellow and it’s not spring.

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

“Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line”

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

“Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

They are so tiny the smallest breeze with send them shivering out of focus so I only shoot them on calm days, which isn’t often in Oklahoma.

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Cottonmouth Creek

I just love them.

And as before, if you want a start for your yard, let me know. I have plenty to share. No charge for the vine, but a little something for postage and packing.

It’s a fast growing vine and if you plant it this fall, you’ll have mountains of fragrance a year from now. Put it up wind from the door so you’ll get a whiff every time you go outside.

Check out this post with a more information.

Jan

 

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Have a Glorious Fourth of July Oklahoma!

When I was a kid, long distance calls were a big deal. My Grandma Hamilton lived in Key West, Florida and when we spoke on the phone it was a family affair. After my dad and mom talked to her, each of us kids got a turn before dad got the phone again to say goodbye. Her standard sign-off was “meet you at the pump,” unless it was Christmas when she also added, “Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a Glorious Fourth of July!” 

I couldn’t help but think of her when I snapped this last week.

Old Glory and the Spirit of Oklahoma

Old Glory and the Spirit of Oklahoma

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