Posts Tagged With: desert plants

Target Practice for Birds

Lovely shade tree with potential messes abounding.

Lovely shade tree with potential messes abounding.

Bird droppings! One of the hazards of a lovely shade tree that covers half of your driveway.  Installing a bird bath with daily fresh water probably adds to the number of birds that visit my yard and tree and consequently, my red vehicle. I know, I know, six months ago I had cleared my garage enough to park my little truck inside it. But we got a different car and MSH (and, yes, I) have once again helped fill up most of the garage, this time with an ancient couch we recently replaced with a newish one.

Looks like a fierce specimen, yes?

Looks like a fierce specimen, yes?

As I was hosing off some bird deposits from my car today, the spray ricocheted off the windshield and gave the cactus a pretty heavy pelting. A small bird head popped up among the spines and gave me the evil yellow eye. Clearly he or she meant to indicate ‘I’m an idiot getting the nest and resulting eggs inside wet and could I move on to doing some other chore.’

Apologizing to the bird, I aimed my hose a different direction. I did my best to avoid disturbing the cactus and said nesting critter while finishing my little chore. After polishing up the windows of the car,  I explored a bit to see if I could get a good view of the nest. On closer approach the bird flew off to a tree two houses down and looked on. Old nests and new nests look the same to my untrained eye and that cactus apparently serves as a roost for many a bird, or it has at some time.

Not sure if this is the current nest or not.

Not sure if this is the current nest or not.

I want to know how they, the birds, manage to fly in and out of that prickly, spiky, spiny spot without getting impaled. Seems downright impossible if you ask me. Do they have special radar or something? Or does getting poked and pierced multiple times a day come with the job description?

Look how sharp those needles are! Ouch!

Look how sharp those needles are! Ouch!

I’m going to avoid sermonizing here. I’m not even going to mention the parenting parallels. No symbolism, nothing at all. I’m simply wondering how birds do it. I guess I could Google it, but that would take away some of the mystery and the magic of nature that I so adore.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Desert Weirdness

I just don’t get it sometimes. Nature, I mean.

Some things make no sense to me.

Pseudacris triseriata The trail was dense with...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For instance, there are these cricket-sized frogs that hatch out en masse at a certain time every year here. The air overflows with the raucous miniature croaking. An occasional bike path or sidewalk crawls with the tiny hoppers migrating from some unknown place to another nondescript and unknown place. This event last three or four days max. Then, from what I’ve been told, the little critters burrow back under ground for another year.

What’s up with that insanity?

The spines of Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo) ...

The spines of Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo) develop from the leaf petioles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then there’s the Ocotillo. This strange plant looks like a cluster of dead sticks for eleven months of the year. Then, if there is any decent amount of rain, it turns green all over and pops out these flame orange tiny blooms at the very tips, ten feet in the air. Four weeks later it’s a bunch of dead looking sticks.

The point is?

I have a cactus in my front yard. It’s green, pokey, mean looking. A couple of times a year it pops out flowers. Big gorgeous blooms, stunning creamy whitish yellow-orange hand-sized beauties. At night. That’s when they bloom. By time the sun is up they’ve closed up. Somehow they manage to get pollinated, a very few of them, because there’s kiwi like fruit on the thing later on. But why only at night. I have to set an alarm and remind myself to go take a look to enjoy them. Yes, I’ve heard of night blooming gardens. Yes, it sounds delightful, if you’re a night person, which I’m not.


Palm Trees with Sun Behind Them

Palm Trees with Sun Behind Them (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And someone thought the desert would be a good place for palm trees. Why? They provide about as much shade as an airplane flying overhead.

There are also, inexplicably, long needled pine trees, big hulking masses of messy brownish, grayish fluff. In the desert? I don’t understand. Really, pine trees? In the desert?

Of course people thought we needed lakes in the desert with houses around them. So, naturally, there are manmade lakes in the middle of the desert. We’re not talking a reservoir for irrigating and providing water to the farmers and such. No, this is nonsensical, let’s-pretend-we-don’t-live-in-a-desert-but-lakeside-in-the-mountains kind of thinking.


The desert in Southern California. Somewhere i...

The desert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I’m the most mystified by is that people thought settling in the middle of the desert was a great idea. Who thought of this idea? Who followed the dude who thought of the idea and went along with it? In the foothills, okay, maybe, I can see that. But no, we’re in the middle of the middle of the desert here.

Can you tell I’m getting pre-meltdown-summer crankiness?  My own special brand of PMS.

The thermometer breached the nineties already and it’s not even the merry merry month of May yet. Gaaaaaaa!!

The desert is all about adaptation and survival. I get that. I’m not feeling very adaptive or survivalist today.

Call it fascinating. And mystifying.

It’s weird.

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