Birds & Bees

Birds and Bees

I know this has nothing to do with irises, but we have had such a good reaction from our past stories that we made a page just for the birds and animals that visit or call Cascadia Iris Gardens home.

HawkMy favorite story is our pair of Red Tailed Hawks.  However, our story has taken a sad turn. Due to either clearing too much land for irises, or placing the chicken coop directly under their nest, our hawks have moved to the next property over. They still come for visits and do keep our bunny population to a minimum, but we only get to enjoy the babies from afar. Perhaps they will come back some day.

Our resident killdeer had another good year with three clutches of babies. The parents have resigned themselves to sharing garden space with me (not so much with Margaret); they hardly raise a ruckus as I meander by Killdeertheir nest. That is until hatching day, when they go full on drama queens. Unfortunately for them, this alerts me to the fact that the babies have just hatched. All I need to do then is get Margaret out with the camera and we get excellent photos of the new babies.

Annas male compOur hummingbirds have Margaret trained to perfection. They have her maintaining six different feeders and don’t hesitate to express their frustration when any of the feeders are empty. We think we have as many as 10 of the resident Anna’s Hummingbirds that call CIG home. During the summer we get an influx of the migratory Rufous hummers. It is during this time you need to be particularly careful around the feeders. They are constantly fighting each other for dominion over the different feeders. You certainly do not want to get between them.

Our population of Mourning Doves has really grown.

Several years ago we adopted our first pair. Well, they simply moved in and expected us to feed them. Now I feed them daily, and our population swells to around 30 near the end of summer. They are not shy and will hang around the house and feedersDoves comp as long as we don’t startle them. We can scare away our neighbor’s pigeons and the doves will remain to enjoy the feed we put out for them. When they’re not around the feeders, they tend to hang out in the tall grass, presumably enjoying the grass and weed seed. While there, they seem to revel in waiting until we are right on top of them before taking flight, scaring the bejeezus out of all who wander by. It happens all too often, proving that the term “mourning” does indeed reference their lonesome call and not their sense of humor.

Thatching AntsStrangely enough, one of the main reasons Margaret and I bought the property were the two hills of thatching ants, Formica obscuripes. The gentleman we bought the property from had long been trying to poison them. Fortunately he was either inept, or the ants are as hard to kill as cockroaches. Either way, the ants have persevered. Both hills are alive, active, and growing, and we fenced them to create mini-sanctuaries. Moreover, we have discovered a third hill and will be fencing this one in as well. We consider these a beneficial insect as they harvest aphids and keep our slug population to a minimum.

Last summer, Margaret put some old apples out for the birds

as a nice fresh treat for our little friends to enjoy. Not long after, a pair of black-tailed deer came in to enjoy them. So now I get to figure out how to keep them from dining on the choicer plants in our display garden (deer will not eat irises). Our first 5 fiveDeer years on the property, the deer didn’t wander in. Now, thanks to Margaret, they have become regular visitors. Well, it probably has everything to do with all of the fencing I have removed, but that’s no reason to let Margaret off the hook.

Flicker Margaret is particularly enamored with our woodpeckers. So much so, she convinced me to purchase woodpecker flavored suet cakes. Ridiculous  as it sounded to me, I am ALWAYS the good husband and did as she wished, preparing to console her when they did not come to visit. Mere minutes after I put the first suet cake up, a Northern Flicker came to visit. It’s a good thing I didn’t say out loud how ridiculous her idea was. Since then we have seen four species of woodpecker at the suet feeder. We also get the pleasure of the males using our roof vents or chimney pipe for their very loud mating rituals each spring.

Gallery: Animals
Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker

Our field guide says they eat fruit and nectare, but we never expected her to feed from a hummingbrd feeder.

Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker

Must be a young one. She has not learned the futility of searching for bugs in treated lumber.

Red Bellied Sap Sucker
Red Bellied Sap Sucker

One of 4 species of woodpecker we have here.

Red Tailed Hawks
Red Tailed Hawks

Keeping the bunnies out of the irises!

Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk

It is exciting to watch mom amd dad teach the babies to fly!

Female Anna's Hummingbird
Female Anna's Hummingbird

She likes to sit here while guarding her feeder from all who would invade her territory.

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker

Okay... Proof Margaret was right. Saying that only hurt a little.

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Male Rufous Hummingbird

When they migrate through, it is dangerous to walk out the door!

Tree frog
Tree frog

Margaret is never satisfied until she finds a frog to photograph!

Black Tailed Deer
Black Tailed Deer

A young male.

Black tailed deer
Black tailed deer

Mother and son. We did not have the camera when dad walked through.

Black Tailed Deer
Black Tailed Deer

Mom showing her funny face.

Black Tailed Deer
Black Tailed Deer

Dining on Patrick's choicest plants.

Mourning Doves
Mourning Doves

Two Turtle Doves and a partridge in a... Sorry! Couldn't help myself.

Killdeer
Killdeer

Raucus and loud. You always know where they are!

Killdeer nest with eggs
Killdeer nest with eggs

Notice how well they blend in.

Killdeer babies
Killdeer babies

Moments after they hatched. Within hours, they will be completely mobile. Notice how they like to nest in the iris rows.

Thatching Ants
Thatching Ants

They farm our aphids...

Thatching Ants
Thatching Ants

... and eat our slugs

Please keep checking back.

We will continue to update as new events happen and Margaret takes more spectacular pictures.

‘I’ve have ordered a large number of iris over the past couple years from Cascadia. Patrick and Margaret have been stellar to work with. I’m very picky and they have been able to accommodate my requests and also keep me very well educated on iris culture. All of their iris I ordered were healthy and strong—every one came back the next year. The pictures of their iris are very accurate as well—no weird color treating. I will continue to work with CIG in the future! Thank you Patrick and Margaret!’

Jeremy M. Overland Park, KS

"I have purchased Japanese Iris from Cascadia Iris Gardens for the past 3 years. I have always received very healthy iris, whether I purchased them spring or fall. I have never been disappointed. That is why I always come back. I am looking forward to seeing their 2018 selection."

Linda M. Monroe, CT

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