Jan's Blog Flower



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"Other Colors"
by Orhan Pamuk

by Nathaniel Philbrick

March 1, 2009

Bees, Birds, and Butterflies

We have the most wonderful back yard. No, I don’t mean that it is the most beautiful or the most manicured or that it belongs in an issue of House and Garden or Sunset or that would win prizes in a contest. It is the most wonderful in that it attracts bees, birds and butterflies. It is, as a matter of fact, a neglected garden so there are blossoms and careless boughs and plants all over. The bees, birds and butterflies love it. We have an overgrown rosemary that is certainly a bee magnet. At the moment it is covered with blue blossoms – and bees. Last year there weren’t as many bees and we were afraid that the virus, or whatever it is that is killing the bees had visited our back yard but this year we have an abundance of bees. . . and birds and butterflies. The bees have never stung anyone that I am aware of and we welcome them and want them to come and pollinate our fruit trees and the rest of the yard.

The birds are here in abundance too. Orange is a bird sanctuary and there is a river nearby so there are lots of birds. We used to have lots of Blue Jays but not so much for a couple of years. We have lots of mocking birds, doves, ravens and finches not to mention the humming birds. Orange County is smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Flyway. Migrants stop any place--including backyards that have food, water, and shelter. We love seeing the different birds stop and take a drink or grab a bite to eat. Along the river which is only a two or three miles from our house, we see egrets, pelicans, and all sorts of water fowl. We often see two dozen red tailed hawks soaring lazily overhead. According to the Audubon Society, 466 different kinds of birds have been seen in Orange County! Can you imagine? My eyes aren’t that good at spotting birds. We used to feed the birds but we stopped for while because we don’t like the grain sprouting in the back yard but I think the pleasure of having birds around outweighs the pain of the grain sprouting. The following birds were seen or heard on February 13: (it was a bird spotting day – the monthly census and nine people took part)

Canada Goose – 17
Gadwall – 5
Mallard – 34
Blue-winged Teal – 4
Cinnamon Teal – 46
Northern Shoveler – 76
Green-winged Teal – 51
Bufflehead – 4
Ruddy Duck – 39

Pied-billed Grebe – 15
Western Grebe – 1

American White Pelican – 7
Double-crested Cormorant – 84

Great Blue Heron – 4
Great Egret – 2
Snowy Egret – 4
Black-crowned Night-Heron – 12
White-faced Ibis – 4

Turkey Vulture – 7
Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1

Common Moorhen – 1
American Coot – 82

Black-necked Stilt – 80
American Avocet – 3
Greater Yellowlegs – 1
Spotted Sandpiper – 3
Western Sandpiper – 28
Long-billed Dowitchers – 6

Ring-billed Gull – 32

Mourning Dove – 36
Anna's Hummingbird – 58
Allen's Hummingbird – 9

Nuttall's Woodpecker - 4
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Northern Flicker – 2

Black Phoebe – 8
Hutton's Vireo – 2
American Crow – 16
Common Raven – 1
Tree Swallow – 222
N. Rough-winged Swallow – 6
Cliff Swallow – 11
Bushtit – 54
Marsh Wren – 63
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 9
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 10
Hermit Thrush – 3
California Thrasher – 2
Cedar Waxwing – 167

Orange-crowned Warbler – 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 164
Common Yellowthroat – 82
Spotted Towhee – 31
Song Sparrow – 137
White-crowned Sparrow – 9
Red-winged Blackbird – 13
Great-tailed Grackle – 8
House Finch – 101
Lesser Goldfinch – 46
American Goldfinch – 65
Nutmeg Mannikin – 2

Don’t you love the names? Northern Shoveler, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers, Bushtit, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Great-tailed Grackle, and Nutmeg Mannikin. Who wouldn’t feel special if he had the name “Ruby-crowned Kinglet”?

The butterflies come and go and are a wonderful addition to the yard. There are the Painted Lady Butterflies and at least fifty other butterflies. We love it. I don’t identify the butterflies or the birds. I can tell the difference between a honey bee and a bumble bee. There was a comic strip in the paper Saturday morning describing how someone (I think an alligator) was helping his son do a school project, with thanks to Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis. As far as identifying birds, I may be in that category – but no one enjoys them more than I - except maybe my late brother-in-law David – or my sister – or a real birder – or a butterflier – or a bee person.

Pearls Before Swine

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