Saturday, July 18, 2009

July Banquet

This is the time of year that the sunny-area gardens begin to come into full bloom and the yard is filled with birdsong and buzzing of bees from before dawn till after dusk. Even I am surprised by the number of successful nestings this year, though I don't know if we really have had more than usual. Confirmed nesting species include: house wrens, cardinals, robins, grey catbirds, chipping sparrows, house finches, mourning doves and common grackles with several nestings each. The number of species in the yard has been far higher however and I am both delighted and puzzled. Apparently mothers have been bringing their young to the yard from other nesting sites, probably in the nearby woodlands, and they are coming because of the abundant food supply found here. While I have a homemade suet mixture hanging from one tree, that isn't the primary source of nourishment. All young birds eat a diet primarily of insects and I am puzzled that the yard is actually supplying so much of what they need.

Though I have long planted with insects in mind, planting plants indigenous to this area, I am still surprised both by the numbers that must be here and by the fact that I don't see many of them in my daily work in the yard. The myriad pollinators feeding at the flowers are obvious, of course, but those aren't usually what the mothers are feeding their babies. Be that as it may, I daily see a steady stream of bird after bird carrying tasty morsels to their nestlings and recently fledged young. At this point the list of babies, aside from those previously mentioned includes: at least two broods of downy woodpeckers , a family of white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens, tufted titmice, and ruby-throated hummingbirds.

As I report each year at this time, the yard will now host hummingbirds every day until late September as they take wing on their southward migration. They come because they have found food here in previous years and they know that this is a place to stop and eat on their toilsome journey. The males have already begun their travels and the females and young will follow in early August. I have had both for the last couple of weeks. The females and young I see now at the flowers and feeders have recently nested somewhere close by and are coming in for daily nourishment.

The garden will be glorious panorama of changing colors and textures in the weeks to come. I wish I had some way of knowing just how many pollinator and other insect species are fed here each year.

Perhaps you will enjoy pictures of the gardens as they are today.

What I can't capture in pictures is the amazing sight of lightening bugs by the hundreds rising up out of the vegetation each evening. They began appearing weeks ago, long before they appeared in my neighbors yards, and the backyard seems to be filled with dancing stars as dusk settles in. It is such a beautiful and peaceful scene, one to take the breath away.

Lines from the old hymn come to mind:

This is my Father's world and to my listening ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world, I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise, the morning light the lily white declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world. He shines in all that's fair. In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.

Exactly. May He do the same for you.

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