Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Critters Galore III

A Squirrel family nested in the owls box and the two young squirrels are a right nuisance! They are always climbing all over the patio screen trying to get to our birds food. I got up this morning only to discover a youngster had actually gotten onto the patio by tearing a hole through the screening and was desperately trying to escape, by scrambling all over the screen (and putting more holes in it). I scooted him out the door and then sat down to read my emails. I had this creepy feeling I was being watched.....I looked up and there was one of the parents hiding under the bamboo shades on the inside of the screen. Here's a picture of him trying to make himself as inconspicuous as possible.

"Don't eat me!

Two young Blue Jays
Blue Jays. The young Blue Jays are always on high alert with their head crest at "full mast." Unlike their parents, they have yet to get their lil' fluffy heads around how to use the bird bath, despite frequent demonstrations from parents. They make a sweet, mewling sound, like a kitten, and "tremble" their wings for attention. Then they get a "what's that!" moment and become startled by their own wings. I believe we have had ongoing generations of the same family for at least 7 years now.

We currently have two Cardinal youngsters moseying around and I gently rescued a cute, little female a few times from our screened in patio, where she has flown in attracted by our Maroon-bellied Conures feed dish. Both Conures can talk, so she has fluttered around, trapped and frantic, to a scathing male-duet-chorus of "bad birdie," from them.

Busy Busy Woodpecker Parent
The Woodpeckers' youngsters (hatched in my neighbor's dead Palm tree), made their appearance May through present time. The babies have an unmistakable wheezing peep. They closely watch what mom/dad does and then copy verbatim. The fledglings are a pretty, soft gray color with wing banding of a darker gray. The bright red head coloring comes in very gradually, starting off by just being plain gray. They are very cheeky and, if they don't think they are getting enough attention, they will "tug" on their parent's tail feathers for attention! This infuriates the parent who will give a warning peck feint to the youngster, who backs off for a minute or two, and then creeps closer for another "tug, tug," - gotta love kids......

Above a parent woodpecker alites right next to me to gather up sunflower seeds for the wheezy, pesky youngsters.

Here's another view of his/her gloriously striped, back feathers.

I believe this is, unfortunately, a Japanese Beetle, a serious pest. Follow "Beetle" link below for more information.

Japanese Beetle?
Red Rat Snake
Here's a big predator in the yard, just in time for all those little baby birds (Red Rat Snakes are very good climbers).

Lubber Grasshopper
A brightly colored, but annoying Lubber grasshopper shown here in a very agitated mood. They do love to chew on the lilies.

First Instar
This year I planted plenty of parsley and dill to attract the Swallowtail Butterfly to my garden. I was rewarded by plenty of little caterpillars greedily devouring the parsley down to a stump. The caterpillars start out by being deviously disguised as a bird dropping, see above right picture. They get big fast!

Full grown Caterpillar


Life Cycle of a Black Swallowtail Butterfly

What Butterflies Can You Attract To Your Garden?

Then it's time for a snooze.  They develop from Pre-Pupa to Pupa overnight, and even though I kept checking for the butterfly to emerge I never caught the moment, but the empty case remained as testimony as to its safe transition to butterfly.

Laying eggs on Parsley


  1. You've got a nice variety of wildlife in your garden...they're one of the best parts of gardening in my opinion.

  2. Susan I completely agree, there is always something new going on...I could do without the Coral snake currently lurking under a brush pile though!

  3. Wow! So much going on in your garden! Great photography too. Facinating and enjoyable reading. :)


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