Come For A Walk In My Yard

Let’s step out at 8:00 on a cool March morning and stop at the native strangler fig. 50 cedar wax wings have been feeding on its fruit for the last month. The tree has conveniently dropped its leaves to make the half inch fruit more visible. A hummingbird picks insects off the fruit while blue jays, warblers, the blue-headed vireo, and pileated and downy woodpeckers stuff themselves.

Standing under a leafless strangler fig with the acid smell of decaying leaves, a cool breeze and dim morning light can transform you to a northern deciduous forest for a moment. The native mulberry is just leafing out and is worth a stop. Although there are no fruit yet, several birds pass through the branches including a cardinal, hummingbird, blue gray gnatcatcher, pine warbler, and catbird. A downy woodpecker squeaks as it hops through the branches. Maybe these birds are feeding on insects pollinating the flowers.

We planted native multiflora passion vine and hairy tournefortia next to a live oak. They have grown 30 feet up into the tree creating a blanket over the branches. Zebra longwing and Julia butterflies lay their eggs on the passion vine and nectar on the tournefortia flowers. It seems like the dozens of butterflies will carry the tree off on sunny days when they are most active. Birds love the white berries which hang from the tournefortia most of the summer.

The three feeders for painted buntings are always occupied. One outside our patio has three males and a female in it. There is a cardinal on the bird bath and a squirrel on the ground. The drip and mister over the bird bath is set for my lunchtime so that I can eat while watching the locals bathe from just ten feet away. Tall, uncut fire bush provide berries and cover while my Jack Russell terrier “Susie “keeps the cats far away. No grass, just a path with naturally provided leaves as a ground cover.

The spring migration should be starting soon so get out your binoculars and identification books. This will be a good time to learn new birds until mid May when the winter residents and migrants leave for the summer.