Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring Happenings in the New-and-Improved Yard

Readers of this blog may know that I installed a landscape using (almost) entirely native plants, in what used to be the very bland yard of our duplex (mostly lawn).  Now I have large planted areas with layered vegetation - groundcovers, shrubs, small and medium-sized trees.  The full sun yard now even has a couple of areas approaching part shade.  I couldn't be happier with the results.

Before and After (2008-2012)


One of the benefits has been a very noticeable increase in the wildlife that frequents the yard.  The birds especially love the new trees, and enjoy digging around in the groundcover.  I notice more and more wildlife each year.

Just the other day, I was pruning my Red-flowering currants (after the bloom), and there were lots of young ladybugs crawling around.

And a few weeks ago, I noticed a pair of Bushtits hopping around one of my Cascara trees - just as they were starting to leaf out.


They're cute little birds - known for their acrobatic ways.



I think they were looking for insects on the new leaves.  And they seemed to appreciate the suet feeder, too.


I see the pair all the time now, flitting between this tree and a larger tree in a neighbors yard.  I think they must be nesting nearby, if not in that neighbor's tree.  I've been meaning to go look for the nest.  I recently saw a Bushtit's sock-like nest when I joined one of the Backyard Bird Shop's nature walks, out at Smith and Bybee Lakes.  Here's a picture I took of the nest...


The nest is made from grasses, spider webs, and other soft materials, and I'm told if you happen to come across a nest with chicks in it, you can tell by all the wiggling.

Another recent happening in the yard...

Bark mulch thievery!


I watched this crow stealing my bark over the course of several days.  Sometimes his (or her) mate would come to supervise - walking along beside, and seemingly giving each piece the thumbs - I mean wingtips - up or down.  (I have my theories about who was who in this pair, but I won't go into that here.)   :-O  

After settling on a piece, the thief would take it up to the power line and go through a shredding process with beak and foot, before flying off to a large conifer where I assume they're nesting.

It can be fun getting to know your non-human neighbors!


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