Spring comes early in the Rio Grande Valley. Proof is in the blossoms of a tree that came up voluntarily in my bird garden. I think it's a peach tree, maybe a pear. I know most of the names of the native trees, shrubs, and flowers that spring up around the yard, planted by birds or wind or by catching a ride on animals or on my pants' legs, but some of them are not native and I'll need to ask a neighbor who probably has the parent plant to help with its identification. This one is a beauty, soft pink and certainly as beloved by the butterflies as if it were native.
The photo of spring was taken before I came to NYC where I am now. Here it's definitely winter. This view from a window is quite different from the view of my arroyo yard. (But lovely in its own frigid way.) I'm babysitting a granddaughter who is in a Broadway show. So far the only birding I've done is accidental and uninspiring.
(Does finding a pigeon in Times Square count as birding?)
Looking through photos that might be interesting for my February blog (notice I am no longer pretending to post weekly), I found another shot of Queen butterflies on mistflower at home, taken in the first week of February. If you look kind of upside down and a little sideways, you might see a heart, appropriate for today, Valentine's Day.
In fact, hearts are everywhere in nature. I'll post a few in honor of this day.
The ruffled feathers of an Eastern Screech-Owl show at least one heart. Can you find it?
Barn Owls are known for a heart-shaped face. This one was among several captive rehabilitated birds that cannot be released to the wild, but are used for education. I photographed it at the Rio Grande birding festival. I often see Barn Owls at night flying over the river and during the day in their excavated holes in the banks a few miles upriver. Look here for photos of some fuzzy babies. The photos were taken from long range, as we floated quietly by as we fished upriver. The owls peeked out at us but never flew or acted disturbed.
I love plants with heart-shaped leaves, even the pesky twiny vine that grabs hold of everything.
The low-growing Heart-leafed Hibiscus, in a photo from the Native Plant Society website, is one of my favorite native flowers. (I have them in my yard, but can't find a photo I have taken myself.)
A cactus, damaged by the freeze two years ago, shows some ugly spots, but if you look close a valentine emerges from the yuckiness.
A Great Blue Heron says Happy Valentines Day.
Inca Doves have a sweet-looking, loving nature. Or at least they appear to. I may be anthropomorphizing, but I love listening to their gentle cooing sound.
The same freeze that created the heart on the cactus two years ago left ice on the hummingbird feeder, but that didn't deter this Rufous Hummingbird that seemed to be sporting a heart in the feathers of the emerging ruby-colored gorget.
I would have liked to see the countryside, feed birds, and see bird tracks in the snow while I'm in a state that has winter, but snow angels on the terrace of the apartment more than make up for a birdless snow.
I'll return to the banks of the Arroyo Colorado next week to watch more signs of spring in the Valley, but for now I'm content with snow angels, pigeons, and listening to little girls sing.