Tag Archives: birds in the garden

Late February Garden Report

This Eastern Bluebird is perched on the folded tip of the juniper next door.

Eastern Bluebird Atop Juniper

Eastern Bluebird Atop Juniper

A heavy wet snow overnight transformed the winter garden.

Snow Dressed Garden

Snow Dressed Garden

Once again the birds are scurrying back and forth between feeders and favorite perches.

Female Cardinal Perched Above Feeder

Female Cardinal Perched Above Feeder

Surrounded by draping branches of ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress, a Northern Cardinal waits patiently on a redbud branch while the Eastern Bluebirds take a turn at the feeder.

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Bluebirds

Northern Cardinal and Eastern Bluebirds

Looking below and to the right of the cardinal, the green clumps on the ground are Hellebores. Here are the same ones seen looking more colorful yesterday. This collection of Hellebores in the garden’s southwest corner were among the last to bloom.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Speaking of hellebores, I highly recommend this new video from a well-known, North Carolina-based nursery: Hellebore (Lenten Rose) Production at Plant Delights Nursery. Owner Tony Avent explains how he grows and selects Hellebores to sell at his nursery.

Fortunately with a high forecast of 37 °F today the snow is already beginning to melt, but winter refuses to leave. Low temperatures for the next 3 nights: 26 °F; 18 °F; and 12 °F.  There are broken branches in the neighbors’ yards and lots of bent branches and shrubs in the back garden. Out front the Crape Myrtle pair have once again been damaged. The crushed one on the left had make such a nice recovery too, after having been flattened by a freakish summer wind shear several years ago. The tree on the right lost a lower branch this time.

Crape Myrtles At Front Walkway

Crape Myrtles At Front Walkway

This bird flew up into the bottom of the feeder two or three times before finally landing on the feeding perch. I wonder if it was trying to shake down the seeds toward the front or was just beating itself up over this weather. Spring is coming, spring is coming, spring is coming…

Avian Antics

Avian Antics

February Snow and Birds

Northern Cardinal (Male), maybe Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

Northern Cardinal (Male), maybe Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)

This is my 500th post!

Snow today was a big surprise this morning when my husband brought me a cup of coffee and opened the window blind. Some parts of the US are measuring snow in feet this year, but we had about 3 inches—maybe 3-5 inches more tomorrow night.

Most schools in the area cancelled classes due to unsafe road conditions. The local garden club follows the school schedule for inclement weather, so our monthly meeting was also cancelled today. That left my morning free to enjoy the snow falling and watching the birds vying for position at and around the feeders.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

I had to run out first thing to fill both feeders, which have been quite the popular hangouts lately.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

It is frustrating to try to get good images of the birds with my camera but there was such a gathering of species I could not resist trying. This video gets off to a slow start, but eventually shows a few of today’s visitors, starting with an Eastern Bluebird.

Birds In The Snowy Garden

Eastern Towhee, male Northern Cardinal, female Northern Cardinal (above the feeder)

Eastern Towhee, male Northern Cardinal, female Northern Cardinal (above the feeder)

When yesterday’s snow let up yesterday we were left with a lovely 6 inches of powder, but freezing rain and sleet overnight brought an icy coating. Several more inches of snow are forecast for today.

Today the birds—amazing creatures—are back out in force at the feeders. Yesterday I took a lot of (mostly) blurry photographs of them as I enjoyed watching the garden’s snowy transformation. While I viewed it all from a safe and warm vantage point indoors, the garden’s feathered friends meanwhile were seriously hard at work finding food through all the daylight hours.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-3

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15 - Version 2

Looking closely at this colorful scene below there are at least eleven birds gathered around. Sitting at the feeder I believe is male American Goldfinch. I had just remarked to a fellow blogger at the wonderful site Petals and Wings that I had not noticed the males getting their yellow coloring back, but here it is.

Can you spot eleven birds?

Can you spot eleven birds?

The spirea shrub is always a popular place for the birds to wait close to the feeder. Yesterday it was like a bird condo.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-4

The blue hue of the gazing ball that sits in the center of the meditation circle disappeared under the snow.  When walking along the meditation path last weekend I thought I really must cut back the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue), but now I am glad they are still here to add some interest.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

People who are used to measuring snowfall in feet, not inches, will wonder why there is such a fuss about a little snow, but it is unusual to have this much snow in my area. More often is the scenario where there might be a dusting of snow, then the following day is sunny and 70°F.

Neighbors on our community email list were remembering the last such storm in 2002, when we lost power for more than 3 days. Indeed many in the state are without electricity this morning and the roads remain dangerous, with cars abandoned along the sides. Fortunately there is nothing pressing to do today but to enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-2

Rainy Sunday Musings

Warm and Sunny Friday

Two days ago the weather could  not have more different from today, as Friday was sunny and mild and today is not. The temperature Friday reached the high 70s, not high enough to set a record, but warm enough to beckon everyone to get outside. On that day we took in a lunch-time stroll around the nearby Botanical Garden (NCBG).

All fall at the Botanical Garden I have admired a large planting of Ilex verticillata (Common Winterberry). The display of red berries has been very bright and long-lived.

Ilex verticillata (Common Winterberry) at NCBG

Ilex verticillata (Common Winterberry) at NCBG

The other thing that caught my attention that day at NCBG was an eastern North American native that reminded me of my childhood when Clark’s Teaberry chewing gum was popular. The plant is Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern Teaberry). It is a low-growing evergreen with a wintergreen scent.

Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern Teaberry)  Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern Teaberry)-2

Earlier Friday, I had ventured out in my own garden with the camera looking for flowers. I found very little blooming but I did notice the last vestiges of the pass-along Chrysanthemums. How can it be that this flower could begin in November sporting yellow centers with pale white petals, yet as always, end up pink.

Nov 1, 2013

Nov 1, 2013

Dec 6, 2013

Dec 6, 2013

I have obviously sited the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea) in the wrong place. Trying to give it shade, it is tucked in so close to the fence between gardenias and behind a large spirea that it is mostly invisible until I happen right up on it.  Maybe that is not so bad to have a nice surprise. This little Ruby Slippers seems to be growing well and lives up to its promise of colorful foliage.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)-2 Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Last winter I ordered several kinds of Anemone coronaria and they were very late shipping. It was already very hot by their arrival time. Soon after I planted the bulbs I resigned myself they had all died, but I came across a few survivors Friday. Planted here are ‘The Bride’ and ‘Mr. Fokker’ and it will be exciting to see them bloom next spring (if in fact that’s what these are).

Anemone coronaria de Caen 'The Bride' and 'Mr. Fokker' -2 Anemone coronaria de Caen 'The Bride' and 'Mr. Fokker'


There was a chance of frozen rain today but we seemed to have missed it, with the temperature hovering at 34-35°F. The rain portion of the prediction was accurate.

Most of the day I have been sipping coffee and watching birds take turns at the feeders through the cold drizzle. There was so much activity at early morning that I took advantage of a momentary break in the rainfall to top off the seeds in the feeders.

Colorful red cardinals are equally beautiful against the green of junipers or against the brown stems of spirea or gray branches of dogwood. At mid-morning a pair of Eastern Bluebirds join in. A couple of Blue Jays showed up for a while, but did not dominate the feeders as I had expected.

Finding an opening, White-breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, and Dark-eyed Juncos flit in to quickly grab a seed. Northern Flickers and Towhees peck through the underbrush of browned stalks and stems—remnants of perennials left around for winter.

Their pace has not slowed all day.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

A Frozen Meditation Moment

Frozen Meditation Circle

Frozen Meditation Circle

A smidgeon of snow and then an afternoon of sleet and freezing rain left the meditation circle and surrounding gardens locked in a quiet stillness. This view was taken through the window glass just before dark.

Throughout the day numerous birds visited the feeders—Northern Cardinals, Eastern Bluebirds, Song Sparrows, Carolina Chickadees, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and Tufted Titmice. There was also a Dark-eyed Junco feeding on the frozen ground, the first one I have noticed in a few months. Yesterday there were many American Robins and a pair of Mourning Doves.


The temperature is 26°F on its way to a low of 22°F.  Light freezing rain will continue tonight making the roads treacherous, but tomorrow we will see some sun and 47°F. And by Tuesday? 70°F.

Basking In The May Flower Garden

The weekend weather has been ideal—sunny with low humidity and slight breezes. With a high of 81°F. today it would have been an enjoyable day to garden.  Instead the garden provided perfect surroundings for lunching on the back porch and later, for sitting on the patio in the warm sun, being very still and watching the birds.

Among the species at the two feeders today were Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Mourning Dove, House Finch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Common Grackle, American Goldfinch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Brown Thrasher and some other little ones I could not identify. Spotted a rabbit in the middle of the western border. No hummingbirds yet. That should change when the Monarda, now three feet tall in some places, opens its red flowers.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Gladioli and zinnias are coming up in several places around the garden (although that rabbit may explain why there are not more zinnias).  They were planted just a couple of weeks ago to fill in some of the bare spots: around the foundation of the house where shrubs were removed last year that had become too overgrown and in the northwest corner where a Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress died. Yesterday I transplanted some self-sown cleome into these same bare areas to add more height and texture later in the summer.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

The garden has never seemed so full of bees as it is this year. The Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) in the meditation circle is attracting them, and along the southern path so is Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). Bees also enjoy Tradescantia (Spiderwort) but I am currently battling its pushy encroachment.  The delight at seeing its first blooms has worn off and I am cutting down large cart loads of it to make room for other emerging perennials. My skin has become very sensitive to its sap and breaks out into a rash if in contact for very long.

Bee enjoying Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

This year I remembered to prune back the Buddleia in early February. That, plus the good rains we have had, encouraged it to a height of five feet and it soon will be providing some color in the western border.  Buddleia is now on a watch list for invasive plants in my area.  If it does not put on a much better show than last year, it will be easier for me to choose to remove it.

Buddleia (butterfly bush). [Maybe Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’]

I intend someday to locate the tag for this Coreopsis. It is a dwarf variety with lovely, strong color.


In front of a long row of Shasta Daisies, which grow along a sidewalk, is a tall spire of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura). In its first year the gaura has not filled out very much and it is hard to tell if it is just in its sleep year or really does not like its location.

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura), Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Several Shasta Daisy buds are slowly, slowly unfolding.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) is very floppy, especially in one area where the soil is heavy from clay and though amended, may not drain well enough. The flowers are cheerful anyway and are long-lasting when used in indoor arrangements.

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

Another plant with a lost tag, this Clematis is still forming a few flowers but has not been very showy this year.


Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is starting to bloom around the garden and should provide color and flowers for cutting all summer.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

A Perennial Sweet Pea is entwined among salvia, chrysanthemums, yarrow and daylilies in the southern border. Unlike annual sweet peas, this is not fragrant but I enjoy its old-fashioned appeal.

Perennial Sweet Pea

Eastern Redbud

In-between rain showers, with a deep blue threat approaching from the west, there were a few minutes this afternoon to check out the Eastern Redbud, which began just hinting its color midweek.

Nearby the redbud many birds, including a brown thrasher and an eastern towhee, cardinals, house finches, a bluebird, and a mockingbird, have gathered around the feeder today, but they all tucked themselves away as I approached to inspect the dark pink flowers.

Clusters of magenta flowers sit along the long, gray branches.  Some flowers emerge from the redbud’s trunk itself.

Temporarily “dug in” and never moved, this redbud sits much too close to the Carolina Sapphire (Arizona cypress), but the cypress is a nice background for the redbud’s showy blossoms.

Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Cercis
Species: C. canadensis
Binomial name
Cercis canadensis