“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.“
–Henry David Thoreau
(Maybe this will be of comfort to those of you whose days are currently filled with an excess of those cold, white flakes?)
Purple Fountain Grass
(Click to Zoom)
“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive. “
Don’t you just love ornamental grasses? So many beautiful ones to choose from these days, though a lot of them don’t do well in central Florida. Still, pink muhly grass and purple fountain grass are among the ones we CAN grow, and they are such wonderful accents in the garden. The stand of purple fountain grass above is as tall as I am, or close to 6 feet. When it is blooming and the morning light shines through it, it’s just beautiful. Do you grow any grasses that don’t need to be mowed? Being a non-lawn person, myself, those are my favorite kinds!
“Just like the white winged dove…
Sings a song…
Sounds like she’s singing…
ooo baby… ooo… said ooo”
Stevie Nicks, “Edge of Seventeen”
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
While not everyone appreciates all the many critters that thrive surprisingly well in urban gardens, I enjoy most of them on a daily basis, from lizards and snakes, to possums, flying squirrels, butterflies and moths, and of course, birds. I’d venture a guess that most gardeners enjoy avian visitors, and many, like me, put out feeders and birdbaths to ensure their comfort. Here in central Florida, we have a wide variety of birds that will visit and nest in our backyards. In addition to the usual songbirds, I have red-shouldered hawks that nest in my oaks, barred owls raising young across the street, and woodpeckers of several types. I’ve had my share of white ibises foraging in the front yard, and even had vultures scrabbling over a piece of roadkill who fought their way up my drive way and onto the front stoop, once. Occasionally, a bald eagle lands in one of our trees, and we often see and hear sandhill cranes flying over. All of these visitors will be discussed in future posts, I’m sure.
For now, I’m thinking about the change in our local dove population. Our most familiar dove has always been the mourning dove, which frequents backyard feeders in great numbers. Most anyone who pays attention at all has heard their sad call, which is what they were named for: “Oh, woe, woe, woe….” But shortly after we moved into this house eight years ago, I noticed a much stouter and larger dove at my feeders, with a shorter, squared off tail, and bright white wing markings. I was surprised to find out I had a pair of white-winged doves residing in my backyard. These birds are primarily a western species, not originally native to Florida, but were introduced here a few decades ago. They are becoming more and more common throughout this area. A year after we moved in, I had 4 of them at my feeder, and the next year, 8. Now there are more white-wings visiting than there are mourning doves. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, ecologically, but I’m very fond of them, with their “oooh, baby, ooooh” calls. Somehow I find them more handsome than the mourning doves, as well. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t grow up seeing them everywhere, so they are still a novelty to me. It remains to be seen whether their increasing numbers will affect the mourning dove population, which has always seemed more than just abundant to me. For now, I will just enjoy the white-wings along with my other feeder visitors.
Here is a picture of a mourning dove for comparison.
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Check out these links to hear the typical call of these birds. (Just scroll down until you see the sound bar & click on the “Play” arrow.)
Photos found online.
“Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.”
Never does this ring more true than when you are facing the daily afternoon thunderstorms and heavy rains of Florida in late summer. And this coming week, we are expecting Hurricane Isaac to pay us at least a passing visit. Here’s hoping you are all safe from the storm, and your yards will revel in the rain, without getting smashed to smithereens.
with John W. Howell
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