Archives For Animals

European Robin

August 14, 2015

The European robin most commonly known in Anglophone Europe simply as robin is a small passerine bird. It can be found throughout many parts of Europe and is the most easily recognized by the people. It has an orange-red breast and face, olive-brown wings and back, a white to light-brown belly. You can sometimes see a blue-grey fringe around the bottom part of the robin’s red breast patch. European robins have brown legs and their tail is bluntly square. They have large, black eyes and a small black bill.

The sexes are very similar, if not identical, though some texts suggest that the brown forehead is “V” shaped in females, and “U” shaped in males, though even this is not always apparent. They have a brown bill and legs.

The juvenile Robin has speckled buff-brown upper parts and underparts. They have no red feathers so that adult birds do not attack them in territorial disputes. The speckled feathers are lost in a partial moult when the bird is about two to three months old.

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:European_Robin,_London.jpg

European robins have a lovely warm, warble that consists of a melodic rippling of notes. In autumn and winter, some say their song becomes more mournful and melancholy than it is in spring and summer. Their call is a sharp, highly pitched ‘twick’ or ‘tick’ that can be repeated in a series of rapid outbursts. This call is used as a warning signal or as a proclamation of their territory. European robins are notoriously territorial and can be quite aggressive to fellow members of their species who are unwelcome within their claimed plot of earth. During the spring and summer this territoriality is for breeding, but at other times individual robins hold territories for feeding.

The Robin’s diet is principally insects and worms, which it will normally catch by swooping, that is to say, snatching its prey on the ground after watching for movement from a perch above. They will also often follow a gardener that is digging the soil over for any easy pickings.

Image Source: http://www.birdforum.net/opus/European_Robin

When the male robin has found a mate, he will strengthen their bond by bringing the female food, such as worms and caterpillars, which she begs for noisily while quivering her wings and is often mistaken by the observer to be the mother feeding the young. Once the female has laid her eggs, she stays in the nest for up to two weeks, crouching low over them, well concealed with only her brown back visible.  The male brings her food, sometimes as often as three times in an hour. Robins breed from April through August.  After hatching, the young are ready to fledge in two weeks. As many as three broods may be raised in one year. European robins are not endangered or threatened and their populations are increasing in some parts of their range.

Image Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/793/79398.ngsversion.dfbc6bdeda7428512a5708fb893a7657.adapt.768.1.jpg

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Lady Bird Johnson is a hybrid tea rose bred by Eldon Curtis in 1971 in the US. It got its name when it was personally chosen by the former First lady, Lady Bird Johnson for its unusual, vibrant orange-red color and graceful form. This elegant hybrid tea rose has large, generously petaled flowers that open slowly and fully on tall, strong stems presenting a long-lasting display of energetic color and vibrant fragrance. It blooms in flushes throughout the season and makes a fabulous cut rose. It is heat tolerant and will grow in areas USDA zone 7b and warmer.

For spring pruning, remove old, diseased or dead canes and cut back canes that cross. In warmer climates cut back the remaining canes by about one-third and in colder area you’ll probably need to prune a little more than that. This rose requires spring freeze protection.

Image Source: http://www.twofloralavenue.com/category/cause-roses/

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Daring Spirit Hybrid Tea Rose is a beautiful new 2015 introduction from hybridizer Jackson & Perkins. It is very unique as now two blooms will ever be the same flaunting some of the most blooms you’ll ever see making it an absolute stand-out in any setting. This gorgeous hybrid tea sets 5-inch spice-scented blossoms comprised of 25 to 30 petals that display deep pink and cream stripes.

Image Source: http://www.allaboutrosegardening.com/Daring-Spirit-Rose.html

They all have different stripe patterns, some with wider or narrower pink or cream and different splashes of pink or cream.   The Daring Spirit Tea Rose  would reach a mature size of 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, the plant itself is lovely even without its blooms. The healthy foliage starts out a gorgeous shade of burgundy before turning a semi-glossy dark green. This elegant rose has a moderate spicy fragrance and is hardy in zones 6-10b. This rose can be used as a garden rose, in a perennial bed mixed with other flowers or roses,  beds and borders, cut flower, garden, hedge or landscape.

Image Source: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/photo/daring-spirit-id-00000149-7b1a-d373-a169-ff3e92200000

This rose is available from the ff. online nurseries:

Jackson & Perkins – http://www.jacksonandperkins.com/daring-spirit-hybrid-tea/p/37295/

Houzz – http://www.houzz.com/photos/26154383/Daring-Spirit%E2%84%A2-Hybrid-Tea-traditional-outdoor-products-other-metro

 

 

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The Great Blue Heron

July 17, 2015

The Great Blue Heron is a large wading bird common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North America and Central America as well as the Caribbean and the Galápagos Islands. It is the largest heron in North America possessing a large body with a slate-gray body, chestnut and black accents, and very long legs and neck. Great blue herons’ size (3.2 to 4.5 feet/1 to 1.4 meters) and wide wingspan (5.5 to 6.6 feet/1.7 to 2 meters) makes them a joy to see in flight.  It is often seen standing silently along inland rivers or lakeshores, or flying high overhead, with slow wing beats, its head hunched back onto its shoulders. It may move slowly, but Great Blue Herons can strike like lightning to grab a fish or snap up a gopher.  The Great Heron has blue-gray feathers on most of its body and a plume of feathers on its chest and back. It has a long, pointed yellow bill and long legs. Adults have white on the top of their heads and long black plumes above their eyes. There is also an all white version of the great blue heron, the great white heron that can be found in southern Florida.

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_blue_heron_-_natures_pics.jpg

The Great Blue Heron forages mostly by standing still or walking very slowly in shallow water, waiting for fish to swim near then striking with rapid thrust of bill; they also forages on shore, from floating objects as well as in grasslands and will hunt by day or night. Their diet consists mostly of fish but they also frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, birds. It has been seen stalking voles and gophers in fields, capturing rails at edge of marsh, eating many species of small water birds.

Image Source: http://curiousanimals.net/birds/who-is-who-great-blue-herons/

Image Source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=88520&picture=great-blue-heron

This bird breeds in colonies often with its own species. The male chooses the nest site and displays there to attract mate. It would stretch its neck up with bill pointing skyward, flying in circles above colony with neck extended, stretching neck forward with head and neck feathers erected and then snapping bill shut. The nest is built by the female with the male gathering the materials. Incubation of eggs produced about 3-5 sometimes 2-7 is done by both sexes. The young will be fed by both parents by regurgitation.

Herons are not your typical backyard visitors but they can sometimes be seen visiting backyards with fish ponds. To protect your fishes from feeding herons, place a long drain pipe for your fishes to hide in.

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Alcea also known as Hollyhock is a genus of flowering plants native to Europe and Asia. Hollyhocks are annual, biennial, or perennial plants usually taking an erect, unbranched form. The flower stalks  on hollyhocks can reach heights of 9 feet tall and can tower above a garden, adding a  lovely vertical element to your garden. The flowers of hollyhocks may be solitary or arranged in fascicles or racemes. The notched petals are usually over three centimeters wide and may be pink, white, purple, or yellow.  Gardeners enjoy growing hollyhocks in borders against walls and fences where their spectacular flowers stand tall above all else.

Hollyhocks need full sun and moist, rich, well drained soil something that novice gardeners made a mistake of when they planted hollyhocks in a soil that is a bit dry. Prior to the start of planting prepare the area by working in plenty of organic matter such as compost or aged animal manure into the garden. This step is essential to improve the condition of the soil by improving the drainage and increasing its ability to hold water and nutrients.

Hollyhock

Next step is to sow the seeds just beneath the soil 1-2 weeks before last frost. In 10-14 days the seeds will germinate, after that thin to 18-36 inches apart after seedlings have sprouted. During dry conditions water as needed to ensure flowers keep blooming. To obtain bigger bolder blooms add organic flower fertilizer every couple of weeks. Cut stalks to the ground when the flowers fade.

Bear in mind that hollyhocks are susceptible to fungal diseases, such as anthracnose, rust and powdery mildew, which can disfigure the leaves under severe infestations. Avoid overhead watering whenever possible, properly space plants to improve air circulation and apply copper or sulfur spray to prevent further infection.

 

Image Source: http://saratogawoodswaters.blogspot.com/2010/06/hollyhock-memories.html

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Teddy Rides a Moose: Roosevelt once said, “the conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our national life.” (Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS)

Image Source: http://www.history.com/photos/teddy-roosevelt/photo11

 

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was born on October 27, 1858, in a four-story brownstone at 28 East 20th Street, in Manhattan, New York. He was the second of four children born to socialite Martha Stewart “Mittie” Bulloch and glass businessman and philanthropist Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. He had an older sister, Anna (nicknamed “Bamie”), a younger brother, Elliott, and a younger sister, Corinne.

Elliott was the father of First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His paternal grandfather was of Dutch descent; his other ancestry included English, Scots-Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and French.

Data Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

Roosevelt’s youth was largely shaped by his poor health and his need to overcome severe asthma, which has a debilitating impact on the body and personality. He repeatedly experienced sudden nighttime asthma attacks that caused near deathlike experiences of being smothered to death, terrifying Theodore and his parents. Nevertheless, he was energetic and mischievously inquisitive.

His lifelong interest in zoology began at age seven when he saw a dead seal at a local market; after obtaining the seal’s head, Roosevelt and two cousins formed what they called the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History”. Having learned the rudiments of taxidermy, he filled his makeshift museum with animals that he killed or caught; he then studied the animals and prepared them for display. At age nine, he recorded his observation of insects in a paper entitled “The Natural History of Insects”.

teddy

 



Jacaranda Trees

The Jacaranda tree puts on a breathtaking floral display. Its vivid lilac-blue clusters of trumpet shaped blossoms appear in the summer, later falling to the earth carpeting the ground with a mass of color.

It is said that if you are walking underneath the Jacaranda tree and one of the trumpet blossoms falls on your head you will be favored by fortune.

Source: http://www.thetutuguru.com.au/garden-info/plant-factsheets/jacaranda-mimosifolia/

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/jacaranda-trees/

Image Source: http://www.nbnweathershots.com.au/content/jacarandas-under-grafton-bridge

 

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In a world of decreasing garden space, living garden walls are becoming popular world wide as way of increasing our green space. They can be indoors or out, in small courtyards, replace art work or make a grand statement, they are versatile and irresistible.

Data Source: http://www.earthandwater.com.au/content/page/living-garden-walls.html

Image Source: http://www.thegreenhead.com/2009/03/living-wall-planter-large-vertical-garden.php

Image Source: http://www.earthandwater.com.au/content/page/living-garden-walls.html

 

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The Common Starling

May 20, 2015

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name “Sturnidae” comes from the Latin word for starling, sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage. Starlings are native to the Old World, from Europe, Asia and Africa, to northern Australia and the islands of the tropical Pacific. Several European and Asian species have been introduced to these areas as well as North America, Hawaii and New Zealand, where they generally compete for habitat with native birds and are considered to be invasive species. The starling species familiar to most people in Europe and North America is the common starling, and throughout much of Asia and the Pacific the common myna is indeed common.

Data Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starling

Image Source: http://10000birds.com/american-trash-bird.htm

 

Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Several species live around human habitation, and are effectively omnivores. Many species search for prey such as grubs by “open-bill probing”, that is, forcefully opening the bill after inserting it into a crevice, thus expanding the hole and exposing the prey.

Plumage of many species is typically dark with a metallic sheen. Most species nest in holes, laying blue or white eggs.

Starlings have diverse and complex vocalizations, and have been known to embed sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, including car alarms and human speech patterns. The birds can recognize particular individuals by their calls, and are currently the subject of research into the evolution of human language.

 

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marc-vogel/5195155568/

 

Image Source: http://www.wired.com/2011/11/starling-flock/

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Cats sleep an average of fifteen hours a day, and some can sleep up to twenty hours in a twenty-four hour period. Which raises the question: Why do cats sleep so much?

The first thing you should realize is that cats are most active between dusk and dawn, which means that they sleep mostly during the day and become active around twilight. This can come as quite a shock if you’re bringing a new kitty home for the first time. Your cat will waste no time investigating and getting into trouble — usually while you’re fast asleep!  But as soon your cat is done with breakfast, as the rest of the world winds up for action, you’ll find him winding down for a long day of slumber.

Data Source: http://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/evr_ct_why_do_cats_sleep_so_much

Cats have the physiology of a predator, meaning that they’re hardwired to give chase and hunt — mainly at night. Large cats such as lions have a similar pattern of sleeping during the day and hunting at night. Although they have been domesticated for the most part, housecats still retain that wild streak. Even cats at play will display the feline primal instincts of creeping about in the shadows and, without a whisper of warning, pouncing on their target prey.

And hunting prey takes an amazing amount of energy. Whether your kitty is hunting for outdoor prey or tackling a catnip toy, all that sleep he gets is reserve energy for running, pouncing, climbing and stalking.

Image Source: http://www.buzzhunt.co.uk/2013/12/26/cat-finds-perfect-napping-spot/

Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/sicsa/pet-funnies/

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