Right now, the backyard mini-meadow is full of activity — it’s in peak bloom during August and September so there are lots of bees and other insects, and flowers that have gone to seed are attracting Goldfinches and Chickadees. The stream and hedgerow are drawing migratory birds to the yard.
Bee hotel activity (August 10 and 14, 2022)
A wooden bee hotel was installed on our shed as part of a cavity-nesting bee study. Gradually, something is pushing out the paper tubes that line the drilled holes (1st photo). According to Ottawa U researcher Lydia Wong, it is likely Solitary Potter Wasps or a woodpecker is pulling out the paper tubes.
A few times now, we seen Chickadees pecking at the bee hotels. Perhaps they are trying to eat bee/wasp larvae. In the 2nd photo, it looks like the Chickadee is pecking at the center of the hotel instead of at a nest tube. It was eating something. I wonder if it stuck sunflower seed chips inside the holes.
Spider neighbour (August 15, 2022)
This spider has taken up residence in front of the back porch light. According to my new field guide *Spiders of North America*, by Sarah Rose, this species was introduced from Europe.
Eastern Hornet Fly (August 10 and 11, 2022)
iNaturalist identified this as an Eastern Hornet Fly. According to my *Field Guide to the Flower Flies of Northeastern North America*, by Jeff Skevington et al, this wasp mimic is uncommon. It particularly likes goldenrods and asters; in my photos it is appropriately visiting Silverrod and Ohio goldenrods (both from Beaux Arbres Native Plants).
Rose Minor Leaf-eating Sawfly (August 10, 2022)
iNaturalist identified this as *Allantus viennensis*, which is apparently a Rose Minor Lear-eating Sawfly, another species introduced from Europe. I don’t have many roses, but I’m sure this insect can’t be any worse for them than Japanese Beetles.
Summer brush cut (August 15, 2022)
The Blue Jays don’t look quite so majestic right now. In fact, they look like little blue turkeys.
Chickadee eating Purple Coneflower seeds (August 17, 2022)
Chickadees have been eating Purple Coneflower seeds around the backyard. It seems that they’ll eat ripe seeds, as well as unripe ones on flowers that are still blooming (last 2 photos).
Goldfinches eating Lavender seeds (August 17, 2022)
Goldfinches sure like Lavender seeds on the plants that line the mini-meadow path. I have also seen sparrows hopping up to grab seeds.
Chipping Sparrow parent with caterpillar (August 17, 2022)
Well, so much for the American Lady butterfly caterpillars near the pond. This Chipping Sparrow parent fed its fledgelings a few of them that it picked out of the Field Pussytoes. The caterpillars are pretty big, so hopefully a few made their way safely to pupate. I guess this is why butterflies and moths lay hundreds of eggs.
Robin bros (August 17, 2022)
A big family of American Robins frequented the stream today. These 2 siblings hung out together for a while bathing, sunning, and preening.
Black and White Warbler stops by for a drink (August 17, 2022)
I finally got photos of the Black and White Warbler that has been coming to the stream. Today, it just stopped by for a drink.
Facebook memory: Chippy, world class gymnast (July 4, 2020)
2022: I took almost the same series of photos this week of Chippy eating yellowish ‘Rosthern’ crabapples.
2020: Not even Olympic gymnasts can eat while hanging from or balancing using their toes. Chippy is a talented and entertaining resident of our backyard. I guess unripe Serviceberries are worth it.
He (or she) demonstrated these remarkable skills again while eating Red Osier Dogwood berries a few days ago. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera.
I wish Chippy would leave my strawberries and raspberries alone though.
Giant Swallowtail laying eggs (August 19, 2022)
This Giant Swallowtail laid many eggs on one of the Hop Trees in the back hedgerow. It is such a frustrating butterfly to photograph because it constantly flutters its wings, even while drinking nectar and laying eggs.
American Redstart female (August 18, 2022)
For a few days, we’ve been seeing a female American Redstart. It’s yellow tail flash (3rd photo) was our first clue that the bird was a Redstart. Moreso than other warblers, Redstarts catch insects in mid-air like flycatchers, or hover while picking insects off of leaves (audubon.org). They spread out and flick their tail feathers as they flit.
Multi-tasking Jewelweed (August 2022)
Recently, my eagle-eyed son spotted a small black and white moth. It turned out to be an accurately-named White-striped Black Moth that uses Jewelweed as its host plant. I have a patch of Jewelweed in the back garden.
I often say that native plants have their own mini ecosystems of insects and birds that are associated with them. Jewelweed is a good example. Bumblebees and hummingbirds both drink nectar from the flowers. Two years ago, we watched a Rose-breasted Grosbeak eating Jewelweed seeds. Now, we’ve seen a moth that uses it as a hostplant.
For lots more interesting info about Jewelweed, listen to the Field Guides Podcast episode 54 “Can’t Touch This: A Deep Dive Into Touch Me Not”. This reminds me that Jewelweed must be the most entertaining native plant; As a kid, I spent many hours amusing myself popping Jewelweed seedpods in the ditch across from our house.
New favourite aster (late July and early August 2022)
Flat-topped Aster is my new favourite aster. It has been blooming for 3 weeks now and is still going strong. It is tall with sturdy stems, seems unfazed by the heat and dry weather, and is always covered in pollinators.
Nashville Warbler (August 20, 2022)
We think this is a ratty-looking Nashville Warbler based on its eye ring, lack of wing bars, white feathers between its legs, pale grey under its tale, bright yellow coloured belly, and grey head. This was a tricky one. Those dark feathers on its neck threw me off, making me think it might be an immature Canada Warbler.
Elderberry buffet (August 18, 2022)
There’s been a lot of bird activity in the Black Elderberry shrubs. Although the berries are tiny, they must be delicious.
Here are photos of a Red-eyed Vireo, a juvenile American Robin, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak eating berries. Being a seed-eater, the Grobeak mashes the berries before it swallows them, making it look like it’s been eating a bloody carcass. The Grosbeak is also very shy, so I couldn’t get very close.
Facebook memory: Canada Warbler! (August 21, 2021)
I was pretty excited to spot this female Canada Warbler in the lilacs behind the stream. She’s wearing the distinctive stripey necklace and eye rings that helped me identify her. I have only seen one Canada Warbler before (a male) during spring migration at Point Pelee Provincial Park.
These warblers are unusual to see because their population has declined by over 60% since 1970. The main cause is reduced habitat and habitat quality due to “changes in forest structure, forest management practices that reduce understory vegetation, and loss of forested wetlands. Extensive browsing of understory vegetation by white-tailed deer has altered the forest understory, eliminating the shrubby component Canada Warblers need for nesting. ” (The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds)
I almost missed her altogether because I was taking photos of a female American Redstart. Apparently, during migration Canada Warblers will hang out in mixed flocks with Redstarts and some others.
Chestnut-sided Warbler female (August 18, 2022)
This month, we’ve seen both a male and a female Chestnut-sided Warbler near the stream. This bird seemed to be hunting for insects. I’ve been adding native shrubs into gaps in the lilac hedge to provide insects and berries for birds.