Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Late Hummingbird

Yesterday I worked on my pond...again. Still? Anyway, I was watering some plants I was going to put up on the hill where the waterfall starts. I turned around to see a female Black-chinned Hummingbird feeding from one of the new plants! She's late; only a couple days short of the (late) record, here.

I got some really interesting plants: some spectacular 'Cranberry Cotoneaster' which looks very similar to pyracrantha but has no thorns! I remember, as a kid, watching waxwings get drunk eating the berries.

It seems the older I get, and the more arthritis swells my knuckles, the less interested I am in plants with nasty thorns and stickers. They hurt like hell! This plant, oddly pronounced: Co Tone E Aster and not Cotton Easter, is perfect...and the birds love it. I've got several varieties already; each with its own particular leave structure and berry. Sweet.

The guy at Rocky Mtn. Landscape in Pueblo West, also suggested a Mountain Fuchsia; a pretty 'hummingbird shrub' that is fine at higher altitudes, and is xeric to boot! This is what the little hummer was sipping from, when I saw her on October 9th. I hadn't had the plant in my yard more than a day; it was still in the growing pot.

I also picked up a stunning new plant for the yard: a Red Texas Yucca...which is not a yucca at all. It has long, thin dagger-like leaves, sort of leathery like yucca but instead of sharp hooks along the leaves, it merely has a fibrous look.

I think a single one, planted as a 'feature' plant will look spectacular. It is so architectural looking and yet, each blossom is stunning in its own right.

I like plants that don't bite! I think it will look spectacular even when not flowering, and again; no thorny spikes along the leaves. I like leaves...heck, I a couple years ago I planted some artichokes just for the leaves and found the thistle beautiful, too.

Photos are from Wikipedia, including the hummingbird collage, which I constructed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eagles as Yard Birds...

Would that I could...

Don't they sound sweet? Hard to realize they're some three-feet tall!

I am building a pond that serves as a bird-feeder, ya know! [grinz]

Somehow I imagine the biggest bird I'll entice is a Belted Kingfisher...known around these parts! Wouldn't it be neat if I got another, bigger bird; some heron, or perhaps an egret for example? Please ducks or geese; I got those in Denver...not so nice is such a small pond.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Domestic Cat Gone Wild

What can we do to help? I believe we should talk about it. This is not unlike people who continue to keep ‘outdoor cats’; yeah, I used to be one too. I know (now) that ignorance is bliss. Cats are imports; like some snakes, starlings, rats and rabbits…they were brought to a new world (our country) from far away…some few hundred years ago. They are an invasive species. Who knew?

The local environment, both flora and fauna, have not been able to adapt quickly enough to these exquisite predators. And they are exquisite hunters. A pet cat can, and on average does, kill a bird a day…including well fed cats. Cats kill birds, mice and lizards for sport. Cats make a huge dent on the environment; taking a good deal of food from the native creatures. It is no wonder our hawks and owls are disappearing. It sounds illogical, till one thinks about it. There are hundreds of millions of cats and our song-birds are disappearing to cats, in the hundreds of millions per year! Do the math…

Loose cats spread disease, poop in our gardens and sand boxes; make children sick who play in said gardens and sand boxes, fight and get hurt, are attacked by dogs and wild creatures and suffer, get hit by cars, die horrible deaths and leave us sad when they die.

Are cats more important than birds? You may believe the 'natural' life (outdoors) of your cat is far more important than any ol' bird. Consider that all birds are our canaries-in-the-coal-mine. They are supreme indicators of the health of our home, workplace and of our entire environment.

In some places, bird-watching (the fastest growing sport these days), is imperative to the local economy. Birds, like some bats, bees and insects are important to pollination; to the growth of our food. And they belong here; they're native. They feed on and live to feed other native creatures.

I believe sooner than later, we will have to keep cats under control; on a leash or in a cat-run when outside. I’m all for it. Quite frankly, I’ve lost too many of my own cats to dogs and automobiles…would I have a cat today, it would be a 100% indoor cat. And it would live so much longer. The National Audubon Society has declared that “Worldwide, cats may have been involved in the extinction of more bird species than any other cause, except habitat destruction.” Jim Stevenson, former science teacher and director of the Galveston Ornithological Society and publisher of the quarterly newspaper Gulls n Herons is one of my heroes.

Loose dogs make me sad, too...but that's another story.

If you are interested in reading more, click the word 'Cats' in the list of labels just below this post.