Birds & Blooms

Carolina Chickadee

I finally got my garden planted for the season. It was a lot of work this year, I must say, but I very much enjoyed it. I enjoyed less how sore I was after hauling over a dozen bags of dirt and mulch. That said, I am very happy with the way it’s turned out. The birds seem to be enjoying it, too, and it’s my hope that other pollinators will also start to frequent my garden soon.

Black-eyed Susan

I registered my garden this year with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Butterfly Highway program. In their words, “The Butterfly Highway is a statewide conservation restoration initiative that aims to restore native pollinator habitats to areas impacted by urbanization, land use change and agriculture across North Carolina. From backyard Pollinator Pitstops to large-scale roadside habitat restoration, the project is creating a network of native flowering plants to support butterflies, bees, birds and other pollen and nectar dependent wildlife.”

My garden is one of many Pollinator Pitstops across the state. Some of the native plants I’m growing aren’t included here because they haven’t flowered yet. Of those, I most look forward to enjoying the purple coneflowers. They are vibrant, beautiful, and were a favorite among the goldfinches in my garden last summer.

I hope you enjoy these photographs.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female)
Eastern Bluebird (female)
Lemon Balm. I love the aroma and flavor of lemon balm leaves. I typically dry them and use them for tea.
Rat Snake. I discovered this snake in the driveway the other day. I was pulling in on my bicycle, and this fellow was in the middle of the driveway with his head up (as in this photograph) looking at me. That was a surprise! I immediately ran inside and grabbed my camera. Fortunately, he didn’t seem bothered by my presence as I photographed him making his way through the backyard and into the woods. Rat snakes are nonvenomous and rather shy. They typically eat rodents. This one was quite large and appeared to be about 5-6 feet long.
Red Asiatic Lily
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown-headed Cowbird (male)
Golden Yarrow
Common Yarrow. This plant is actually wild and is growing next to my bird bath, adjacent to the garden. There is also some poison ivy growing in the same flower bed. I failed to think of that before I stepped in (wearing flip-flops) to photograph the yarrow. I think I avoided the poison ivy…but I suppose I’ll know for certain soon enough.
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse with a piece of almond
Northern Cardinal (female)
Common Milkweed
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female)
Eastern Bluebird (male)
Eastern Bluebird (juvenile and adult male)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)
Red Riding Hood Penstemon
Mourning Dove
Rat Snake
Eastern Phoebe
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female)
Brown-headed Cowbird (male). I don’t love the composition of this photograph, but I included it here because it tells a story. Every time there are two male cowbirds at my feeder, I observe them engage in exactly the same behavior: they crouch down and thrust their heads into the air. Often facing each other and often at the same time, as in this photograph. A bit of research confirmed what I suspected: this is a display. They are likely asserting themselves with one another. Perhaps each is proclaiming he is “top dog” or they’re having a territory dispute. Those are my best guesses.
Rat Snake. I don’t love this photograph, either, but I thought you might like a full view of the rat snake.

16 responses to “Birds & Blooms”

  1. How wonderful all the hard work you put in for the pollinators. And important. I’ve done what I can with my yard in the city. It’s not big, but the birds and butterflies seem to appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Bob! It is important, and gardens of all sizes make an impact. What struck me this year was how difficult it can be to find native plants. I went to large retailers, as well as locally-owned nurseries, and it seemed to me native plants weren’t quite so easy to come by. I ended up buying a mixed packet of native plant seeds from the NCWF for next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Almost everything beautiful flies… What is it about birds that can inspire talented poets like you? After all, what is a bird but a fleeting verse in the air? In his book “Arte de Pájaros” (Art of Birds) by Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet reveals a deep love for birds and nature:

    “Its body was made of feathers,
    its wings were made of petals,
    it was a rose that flew
    Heading for sweetness.”

    Feliz semana, L.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning, J! What you ask me is interesting. For many people, birds are largely overlooked during the course of daily life, yet bird imagery in art and poetry remains a powerful symbol of the fleeting nature of life and reality, even of alchemy or magic. Although, I think poets and artists who retain a deep connection to nature are probably less interested in birds as symbols and are more likely to be fascinated by birds (and nature) as children are. Perhaps the greatest gift of the human imagination is the ability to look on another creature, like a bird, and see a “friend”. Indeed, birds are not only beautiful, but they are also intelligent and have very distinct personalities. To observe and interact with them is a joy and sometimes feels nothing short of miraculous…but as you say, much of the mystery and magic of birds lies in the fact that they’re often invisible. We see a bird, we blink, and it is gone. Thank you for sharing the Neruda passage. I knew he was a nature lover, but I did not know he was a bird lover, as well! I may have to get that book (in Spanish, of course 🙂). Thank you for commenting, friend! I’m happy to see you back on WordPress.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for your welcome, L. I really enjoyed reading your touching response, and also your fantastic new collages. Although my appearances on WordPress will be occasional (mainly to follow you and/or leave you a comment) I want you to know that I value you very much as a person and as an artist.
        I’ll say goodbye for now with this brief Nerudian fragment… 🌷


        I, poet
        popular, provincial, birdman,
        I went around the world in search of life:
        bird by bird I knew the earth;
        I recognized where the fire flew:
        the precipitation of energy
        and my disinterestedness was rewarded
        because although no one paid me for it
        I received those wings in my soul
        and immobility did not stop me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your kind words. I value you, as well, J, and I appreciate that you’re taking the time to read and comment on my work. That’s the perfect poem for this discussion, too! Be well, my friend, and I hope a little bird comes along and makes you smile today. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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