Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Has Sprung?

It's March 12 and already this month we've had temperatures in the 70's, temperatures in the 20's, tornado warnings and as shown on the left, a winter weather event that caused major highways to be closed. I know it's not much by Buffalo, New York standards, but it was enough to delight every kid in town and ice every overpass and bridge in the northern part of the state.

Welcome to Alabama! If you don't like the weather, hang around a day or so because it's sure to change.

I went out in my yard on Monday and noticed some unusual things. I did a little investigating and discovered there's been sexual activity in my backyard. *gasp* I live in middle-class suburbia. How could this happen?

I checked on the bluebird houses and one has eggs in it. I love watching the bluebirds. We never had bluebirds at our other house because it was in a wooded area, and the Eastern bluebird prefers open fields. Since our subdivision used to be a cotton field, it's pretty open. When I spotted my first bluebird three years ago, I made the DH buy houses and put them up. This is our third year to have bluebird babies. These photos are from other sources because I can't get close enough to the birds, but the photo of the eggs looks exactly like the nest in my yard.

Yes, that's what you think it is, and we have another nest as a result of their little rendezvous. But this nest is a little different. The kildeer is a member of the plover family and the first time I saw and heard it, I thought a shore bird had wandered way, way, way inland. It has a very loud call, and when it feels threatened, or feels its nest is in danger, it makes a screeching noise and will run along the ground, dragging a wing as if injured to lure the suspected predator away from the nest.

Instead of nesting in houses or trees, kildeer nest on the ground. These are photos of last year's nest, but if you look carefully to the bottom right of the spirea bush, you can see the nest and four eggs in the mulch. Here's a closer photo of the nest.

The mother lays the eggs over a period of days. I first noticed the nest late last week. Monday afternoon I saw one egg in it. As of yesterday afternoon, it still only had one egg, but the mama and papa are probably off somewhere having bird sex so they can fill the nest up with the usual four eggs. In about a month they'll hatch. Unlike the bluebirds which are tiny and helpless when they hatch, kildeer babies are born able to walk and fly right away. So within a few days of hatching, the mother will destroy all evidence of the nest.

My daylilies are sprouting up out of the ground, my rose bushes are putting out leaves and pretty soon it'll be time to plant flowers and spruce up the herb garden I planted last year. Most of the herbs are perennial but I'll have to re-plant my sweet basil. I sure enjoy having those fresh herbs to cook with. I don't think I'll bother with parsley this year, though, because an infestation of parsley worms destroyed it last year. But how can I complain when those worms become black swallowtail butterflies? And who eats parsley anyway (except those worms)?

Is spring showing itself in your neck of the woods? Do you garden or watch birds? If so, what birds do you see and what does your garden grow?

P.S. One of my bestest friends has a book coming out on March 25. FIRST YOU RUN is the first in a three-book connected series featuring Roxanne St. Claire's oh-so-hunky Bullet Catchers. You can read a review of the book
here and her publisher, Pocket Books, has donated 10 ARCs for that review site to give away. All you have to do is comment on the thread by midnight Thursday (I think it's Eastern time). It's an awesome book (I'll be doing my own review of it on the Playground website next month) so here's your chance for an early peek.


Wendy said...

Spring has shown up around here, I think. I did see the cutest little baby bird this weekend! it was so adorable!

Anonymous said...

I love the pix of the birds - pretty.

Nice cover of your friend's book.

No signs of Spring here yet, but we have luckily had a mild winter.

Pat L.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I've had the book on preorder for over a month. *sigh* We already know how I feel about you having read it, PM. ;)

But, it's almost time and my copy will be here and I have a day of sheer bliss to look forward to while I read it!! Yay!

Not much of a gardener, alas. I always want to garden, always have good intentions, but there's a disconnect somewhere between the beauty in my head and the plant store. I never know what to buy or where to plant it, regardless of those little tags that tell me full sun or shade or whatever. :(

I've seen bluebirds in our yard, and didn't know about the houses! Hubby and I love watching the birds, so I'm going to suggest a bird house for them. We'll have hummingbird feeders too. We've missed hummingbirds. They don't have them in Europe or Hawaii, so this is the first year we'll be in our house and able to have feeders again.

In Hawaii, we had the coolest little bird we enjoyed watching. The Java sparrow is a bold guy, but oh so cute. We used to have bird rodeos. The Javas would come in doves to the feeders, and Zebra doves would eat their leavings on the ground. But on occasion, a Java would get down on the ground and hop onto a dove. Then the dove would run around in circles while the Java hung on. It was hilarious.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Of course the Javas came in DROVES. *sigh*

Angel said...

I had hyacinths blooming over the weekend and they froze in the snow. My forsythia's (?) too. Hopefully there won't be too much damage.

This week is going to be weird indeed, going from snow to 70 degree temps. Maybe the kids can play outside a lot, so I can get a lot of writing done. :)

Last year, I got to see my first ever hummingbird. My mil planted some kind of vine (that literally took over), but the hummingbirds love it. It's right outside my office window and I got to see the little speed racers coming and going last year. Fascinating!


Smarty Pants said...

I have bird issues, although small, pretty ones are okay. Last year I had cardinals build a nest in my jasmine vines. I had a birdfeeder, but I don't have a tree to hang it from at the new house. The blue jays would just bully all the other birds at the feeder, so its just as well.

Gardening is beyond me. I try. Things die. It's bad. I think since the new house has nothing but grass, I might look into having a landscaper come out and do some work. Anybody know a guy?

Playground Monitor said...

I forgot about the hummingbirds. I have a feeder just outside my kitchen window. What's really neat is when they perch and start chirping. I'd never seen them do that before. It was always that blur of wings.

SP, I'd recommend my landscaper but either they're out of business or have changed their name. It was three guys in business together and one moved away. So they may have a new name. Just look through the yellow pages and find one that does design and has a background in horticulture. Our guy came out 3-4 times to help us design what we wanted. He asked what kinds of plants we liked and didn't like, then worked around that. Because we let them do a substantial part of the work, he didn't charge for the design part. And after planting over a hundred shrubs himself, the DH wished he'd let them do it all. It's back-breaking work.

Now all we have to do is maintain and that's not too difficult. He left areas open for annual flowers and I've found some varieties that do really well in those areas and plant them every year.

Of course this year he wants to dig up the twenty-something azalea bushes he planted and move them somewhere else (that'll involve making a new bed in front of the fence beside the house) and he'll have to plant something to replace those azaleas. *sigh* It's always something. But at least we have an in-ground sprinkler system so I don't have to lug hoses and sprinklers all over the yard like I did the first summer we were here.

tetewa said...

I'm really looking forward to Spring here. The temps are supposed to start going up in my neck of the woods, yeah looking forward to all the snow being gone. I also love being at my mom's house she also has feeders by her kitchen widow that always attracts hummingbirds. Love to be able to eat breakfast and drink my coffee while watching them.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I'm looking for a landscaper too. We need a patio built, retaining walls, trees cleared out, a fence, etc. I hate to think of the cost, but I know hubby and I won't do it. I had a moment where I thought we could. I was looking at the stuff at Home Depot, the instructions, the classes, and mentioned this to him.

After he gave me a withering glare, he said no way in hell. We put a patio in ourselves once, years ago, and it was a nightmare. Making the bed level so the pavers sit right is a whole lot harder than it looks. :(

Playground Monitor said...

Tis a shame I didn't do this blog earlier because the Home and Garden show was at the VBC the first of this month. That's where we found our landscape guy. He put the patio in the plan, but then we had to find a concrete guy. And because a number of families in the subdivision were going to put in fences, a fence company gave us a discounted rate. I just have to get him back out to fix the gate that the wind tore up. Not sure I'd recommend them, though, because I have one whole section that's warped plus he put cheap hardware on the gates. I'm gonna have a little chat with him about that.

Kathy said...

I've got some Daffodils ready to bloom. Some tiny Dward Grape Hyacinths are blooming. My Lenten Flowers are blooming for the first time. We had to cover our Hydrangeas so they wouldn't freeze. If they do, no blooms this year. My Iris's are coming up. The azaleas should be blooming next month. And my Bleeding Hearts are peeking up from the ground.

Ah! I hope I can get down and dirty this spring. I missed doing a lot in the fall because of my knee. And because of that... I now have poison ivy growing in my beds. ARGH!

Birds! Yeah, we get them. Cardinals, Blue-Jays, Bluebirds, Wrens of all kinds, Hummingbirds too. We love watching them eat at our feeders.

Oh, spring!! Ode to joy!

Rhonda Nelson said...

PM, I love birds! I get all kinds in my backyard and keep the feeders full. (Chickadees are my favorites.) For whatever reason, I don't seem to have any bluebirds. I wonder if I put houses out there if they would come...

rebekah said...

We are finally getting signs of spring in Colorado. I can't wait for the warmer weather. Right now we don't have alot of birds around. I live in a newly develop neighborhood so It will take some time to get the birds to come back. The Geese are finally coming back, my small town is the migration path for geese. It drove me nuts when I first moved her with all of their honking, but know I look forward to it.