Wednesday, March 16, 2016

DETOUR! Construction Zone

A couple weeks ago we noticed some random sticks poking out of a birdhouse we had installed on our patio overhang. We kept an eye on the activity and soon discovered that a pair of Bewick's Wrens was moving in.

Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) is commonly seen in our yard year round. It is a handsome little bird, about 5-1/2" long with a brown back, grayish-white below and a bold white eyebrow stripe. They are very vocal, and have a variety of scolding chatters and pretty little songs.

They are also very active and inquisitive. We often see them in our yard poking through leaf litter, probing along the block walls and actively searching through our trees for the insects and spiders that make up their diet. They also come to our suet feeders.

Three days ago the wren pair switched away from sticks, and started bringing in fluffy material to finish off their nest. The pair was working so quickly that sometimes they would run into each other while entering and exiting the nest hole. We supplemented their building material by placing dryer lint and hair from our hairbrushes in a nearby tree.

The bird house is right above our office door, and close to our front entry. We are detouring through the garage door on the other side of the house for the time being, to give the pair an undisturbed area to work in.

"The road to success is always under construction."
~ Lily Tomlin

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?

Friday afternoon we were sitting on our covered back patio, watching as a rain storm arrived. Clouds were rolling in, sky was becoming darker and we started to notice a few drops of rain in our pool. The  wind became stronger as the rain became heavier.

A Black Phoebe was fidgeting between perches as the weather turned - flying from the edge of our pool, up to the telephone wires, down to the block wall, into a tree. She started making some low passes right in front of us in our chairs, calling as she flew by. After about the third pass, we finally figured out we were probably keeping her from a sheltered perch on our covered patio.

Just a few minutes after we went inside, the phoebe came in to perch on top of the tall sunflower stalks we have drying on our patio. The rain only lasted for about ten minutes, but the gusty winds lasted into the night.

This evening we checked our patio around 6pm, and saw the phoebe had come in to perch on top of the sunflower stalks again. The stalks are not particularly stable, so we will see what we can do about making a more permanent roosting spot for her.

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."
~Stephen R. Covey, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change"

Monday, March 7, 2016

Wildflower Festival 2016

We had beautiful weather this past Saturday 5 March, for the annual Coachella Valley Wildflower Festival. The event was held in its usual location at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center in Palm Desert, CA.

Once again we attended as a vendor, and brought our handmade Bird Feeders, Bee Houses, Bird Houses and other items to sell, along with handouts and other info about building a backyard habitat. We also contributed a "Birds and Bees" gift basket for the raffle.

We brought two new items this time, which were best sellers at the event. The first is our new Insect Hotels, which are small wall-mounted wooden boxes with partitions filled with various natural materials. The materials inside the partitions (which include palm fiber, large seed pods, shredded agave fiber, trimmed sunflower stalks, mesquite bark and twigs) provide protected areas for insects to hide, nest and roost. They are rag-painted in various earthy shades using a non-toxic water based paint.

The second new best seller is screen printed tees in both youth and adult sizes. The new designs are "Let It Bee" with a large bee image, and a larger-than-life Palo Verde Root Borer Beetle. The design for that one was adapted from a photo I posted previously here on our blog. Shirt colors included yellow, sky blue, bright pink and kiwi green for the kids, and heather navy and sage green for the adults.

The CV Wildflower Festival is one of our favorite events to attend. Not only is it free to the public, it's family friendly, educational and a great reason to get outdoor and enjoy our beautiful desert.

"It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature's gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever."
~ President Jimmy Carter