Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spotted - Red Breasted Nuthatch

This Red Breasted Nuthatch has been visiting my feeder for the past couple of weeks. This is an unusual bird for South Texas. From my understanding, some years they migrate here for the winter, and some  they don't. Apparently, there has been an irruption in the population this year.

Even the Titmouse looks a little confused by his presence. The Red Breasted Nuthatch feeds along with the other birds at the feeder. He is very docile and will allow me to get very close to him.

Hope he sticks around for the winter. To learn more about the Red Breasted Nuthatch, please click here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Queen butterfly on Bottlebrush Bush

Coming in for a landing!

Queen butterfly on Vinca

Sunbathing in the Morning light

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monarch butterfly takes a trip

Today I attended the Monarch butterfly release at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. This particular butterfly's migration journey was much different than the usual route. Maraleen Manos-Jones, who advocated on the butterflies behalf, was able to obtain a free ticket on Southwest Airlines for her and the beautiful insect from Albany, NY to San Antonio, TX. Camera crews from local news stations covered the event. Thank goodness the butterfly survived the flight in good condition. This was definitely a win-win for all parties who participated in the event. I'm sure Southwest Airlines got a ton of free PR and Maraleen was able to bring awareness to the struggles the Monarchs are facing.  Luckily, this little butterfly is closer to its winter migration home.

While driving home, I reflected on my encounters with Monarchs. I remember in the mid 70's being in Harlingen, TX during peak migration time. There were hundreds and hundreds of butterflies everywhere. Now I see so few of them that they are a special treat when spotted in my garden. On my way home, I noticed a parcel of land being turned over by bulldozers. To some, the plants might look like weeds, however I've noticed thistles, sunflowers and white mistflowers growing in this spot. All are important butterfly nectar and host plants. As more and more butterfly habitat is being destroyed by impeding climate change, drought and increased pesticide usage, it remains harder and harder for butterflies to survive. Even with my little butterfly garden, I see how hard it is for the life cycle to be completed. Thanks to wasps, I haven't had any Monarch caterpillars survive past the first instar stage. 

Even though I just have four Milkweed plants and some Gregg's Blue Mistflower, I'm amazed at how many butterflies these plants attract. I'm so glad to help these struggling creatures and ensure the species for future generations to enjoy them.

What can you do to help the Monarch butterflies?

1.) Plant host and nectar plants, including Milkweed and Gregg's Blue Mistflower

2.) Join Monarch Watch and create a Monarch waystation in your garden.

3.) Do not use any pesticides in your garden.

4.) Check out Monika Maeckle's blog Texas Butterfly Ranch

5.) Start a butterfly forum in your area. Did you know that Austin has a butterfly forum, but San Antonio does not. Hmmmm:)