Wednesday Vignette: Aloes Are For The Birds

 Aloe 'Hercules' has become a popular perch.  Northern Mockingbird:
 Aloe ferox flowers are a nectar source for Orange-crowned Warbler.  "They have a thin white or yellow stripe over the eye, a blackish line through the eye, and a pale partial eyering. The namesake orange crown patch is rarely seen. "  Unlike the Hooded Oriole, which also drinks Aloe nectar, this warbler seems unable to pull off the individual flowers and fly away with them.  Hooded Orioles have been absent this winter in the garden.  In past years, they quickly stripped every flower from Aloe ferox and Aloe thraskii as each flower opened.  


 One last bird vignette, this one not from home, but from the Huntington Desert Conservatory, which is staffed by docents and employees when it is open to visitors.  Staff entertain themselves by hand-feeding peanut-loving Western Scrub Jays.  When asked how long it took to train a Jay into taking peanuts from the hand, the man said,  "Ten minutes."  He added that Huntington gardeners dislike the activity, because the Desert Garden is becoming full of Jay-stashed peanuts.  
More vignettes can be found via Flutter And Hum.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jane! Dare we hope for rain on Sunday?

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  2. Great photos! Your Aloe ferox is much further along than mine. No surprise there.

    Did you take the photo of the well-trained jay when we met up at the Huntington on January 2? I remember that little fella.

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    1. Yes, that's Bob. The gentleman's name was Chester, as I recall, perhaps incorrectly.

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    2. Or maybe it was Clifford. The bird was Bob. Or was it Bill?

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  3. Oh, hey, wait just a minute here .... where's your hummingbird on the aloe?

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    1. I think nesting has begun. They all seem to be hiding in the Metrosideros 'Springfire's, which are full of flowers.

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  4. Jays are people-friendly birds. Should we complain?

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    Replies
    1. I'm not. They eat bad bugs, not just peanuts.

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  5. Very vivid colors for the aloe flowers, so beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. They are dramatic plants in flower as well as in foliage.

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  6. The Huntington Jay is Bob. It's always funny when it flies in. Your aloes look great!

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  7. If I started hand-feeding the jays, do you think they'd do me the favor of chasing off the squirrels?

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    1. It's worth a try. The jays eat bugs, too. Found a piece of squirrel in the back garden the other day. I love coyotes.

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  8. I'd love to be able to train our blue jays to eat from my hand. They don't seem as people-friendly...

    I was going to ask about the hummers too, since that what I thought the focus of this post was going to be. Interesting that other birds profit from the Aloes too!

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    1. Western Scrub Jay is perhaps greedier. The guy at the Huntington said just hold a peanut in your fingers and sit very still and they will come.

      I was surprised to learn warblers drink nectar. You can see their little throats pulsing and their little tongues flicking as they drink. I'm happy that Aloes benefit local birds, not just my aesthetic plant tastes.

      Hummers very secretive at present. Nesting activity I think. A single male started chasing all comers away from the feeder so I took it down. I'll put it up again when fledglings start to appear.

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  9. :: asked how long it took to train a Jay into taking peanuts from the hand, the man said, "Ten minutes." ::

    LOL! Reminds me of the pamphlet that came with a pet door we were installing. On one side were the instructions for teaching a cat to use it; there were multiple steps, and it took up most of the page. On the other side were the instructions for dogs: "Show the dog the door."

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  10. Beautiful shots! I didn't realize how many birds benefited from agaves.

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    1. Me, neither. I never thought about the flowers, either. I thought they were strictly foliage plants.

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  11. Had no idea the mockingbird's range covered the whole country, but it's not hard to believe. Ours protects his sector pretty relentlessly, and feels strongly that he should be the only one perching on the pergola over the garden path. Ever.

    He probably wishes there were some blooming aloes out there right about now. Or anything, really -- still a good four or five inches of snow remaining from the foot and a half of the weekend, but with big open patches on the south-facing spaces. I guess here the mockingbird and the mixed flock that comes by several times a day survive winter on what bugs can be found, and some berries (one reason multiflora rose with its numerous and showy little hips will never completely disappear).

    Warblers won't be back for months and months. I hope ours are in places as enjoyable as your garden...

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    1. In my old neighborhood we had mockers that would sing constantly, often all night long--drove my Dad nuts, but it was like a lullaby to me. Here they don't sing much at all--sometimes one will sing briefly. I wonder if it is the more plentiful predators--hawks, owls, thuggish crows.

      Snow?!? Do you put out anything for the birds? Mockers, they eat berries? Plenty of those here, Pyracantha, Ligustrum, and Toyon.

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    2. We never have, but in recent years have been stepping up plantings that help. Mockingbirds I think are generalists who are pretty good at making use of whatever presents itself -- another reason their range is so big.

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  12. You take such great bird photos! Ten minutes sounds crazy fast... Smart birds!

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    1. Thanks, Anna. They are clever birds, indeed.

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  13. Chester (or Oscar?) let me hold the peanut near his hand to see if Bob could be fooled into taking the peanut from me, and Bob wouldn't go for it. I need to work on my bird skills! There was also a squirrel running in and out the open door too. Fun memories!

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    1. I remember you trying your Jay-luring skills--that was 1 fun day!

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  14. One of my friends (also here in SoCal) has trained her local scrub jays to take peanuts. Not only that, but if you hold two peanuts in your hand, or one in each hand, he will always select the larger one. I occasionally see a scrub jay planting a peanut in my garden and wonder which of my neighbors has trained him!

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    1. That's funny! I'm surprised there are not peanut plants growing everywhere in Southern California.

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