Things With Wings

Lift, gravity and thrust. It’s not the latest dance craze, but a short list of what things-with-wings need to fly.

Wouldn’t it be thrilling to have wings?  I remember an episode of Gilligan’s Island years ago that always made me chuckle. In one attempt to get off the shipwrecked island, Gilligan donned wings and jumped off a cliff.  He momentarily flew until the Skipper shouted “You can’t fly!”  Gilligan replied, “Oh’, and only then did he drop to the ground.

I love watching things-with-wings flying in and out of my garden. They move with speed, efficiency and agility like a well-trained gymnast flying over the bars. What a thrill.

Birds

bird collage july 2014

Visiting birds

I worry about the birds as our drought drags on. They’re traveling in circles, searching for food, water and seed. Reservoirs are low and plants are under a lot of stress.

I keep our bird bath topped off so that our visitors can quench their thirst. The garden takes care of the rest. It’s satisfying watching birds sip nectar from a flower or pilfer seeds from the compost bin. They sing, trill, hum and yes shriek but it’s all a reminder of our garden diversity.

According to Discovery.com

{birds} can play any number of roles in a given ecosystem, most of which fall into four main categories: provisioning, regulating, cultural enhancement and supporting services. Supporting services, for example, include tasks such as predation, pollination and seed dispersal.

All that and they’re cute, too.

Bees

bee collage july 2014

Bees pollinating sunflowers, pumpkins and Salvia

Through the camera lens, I’ve witnessed the extraordinary movement of bees gathering pollen. Shiny black bodies lift in and out of the pumpkin flowers, coating themselves a golden-yellow. The buzzing sound stops when they land, and within seconds they lift off again They are all business. If another bee is in the center of the flower, the second bee backs up and continues on. What they accomplish is extraordinary and relevant to our survival.

Butterflies

butterfly and statice

Butterfly and Statice

This beauty landed in the flower bed sending me racing indoors to grab my camera. Who doesn’t love a butterfly? When my boys were young, we visited the ‘caterpillar tree’ at our local park. One particular tree would be laden with cocoons. It was a yearly treat.  After a few years we stopped seeing them.

I’ve since learned that in the United States, Monarch butterflies have declined for the last twenty years. In the UK, certain species of butterflies are down by 50%. From an environmental perspective, butterflies are a bit like the canary in the coal mine. They’re extraordinarily sensitive to environmental changes around them and are apparently the most closely watched insect in the world.

I’m glad this special guest found something to eat in my garden.

Further Reading:

Declining Monarch Populations in the US

Habitat restoration efforts in the UK to combat butterfly decline

16 thoughts on “Things With Wings

  1. Alys, your garden is haven and heaven to so many critters!! Lovely to see all photo’s of happy animals. I wonder…if I would have wings and be able to fly…would I still have that fear of heights??? ;0)

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    • I love the idea of providing a haven for critters. Thank you for that.

      I think our fear of heights is innate or we wouldn’t survive. It’s a wonder any of us ever stepped foot on a plane. I know it is more intense for some than others. My sister has a difficult time crossing the Golden Gate bridge in a car, whereas I’ve enjoyed crossing it on foot and by car, but still get that familiar weak-kneed sensation when I look down. Conversely, birds must feel at their most vulnerable when down on the ground. They can only hop, not really walk, they have no opposable thumbs and their best defense is to fly. It’s all fun to contemplate.

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  2. Love the photos, especially the butterflies. I’m truly concerned and don’t know if we can reverse it. A beautiful butterfly landed on my sister’s leg yesterday but she moved too soon for me to see it clearly.

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    • Thank you, Marlene. I’m happy to hear a butterfly stopped by to welcome you to the neighborhood. I hope we can reverse things before it’s too late, but a twenty year decline is really frightening.

      I hope your time with your sister is going well.

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  3. I love watching the bees and butterflies too Alys, and am glad you get some pretty pollinators visiting you as well. There are so many factors that can contribute to the decline of both bees and butterflies, but we can all do our bit and provide plenty of pollen-rich flowers as well as leaving a few wild plants standing for the caterpillars. Thanks for the links. Love your photos!

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    • Thank you, Cathy. I’ve been trying to convince my husband that we can get by without the lawn, but he’s attached to it in ways I’m trying to understand. We’ve removed some of it. I would like to take an area in the back garden and turn it over to native, or wild plants. You’ve inspired some ideas. Thank you for that.

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  4. Great post Alys! I’ve been supporting and following various campaigns against chemical pesticides that are currently poisoning our bee population. Bees do so much for the environment that if these chemicals wipe them out, our ecosystem will be in real trouble! Nice to read a post raising awareness of such things. Cheers!

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful words and thank you for supporting the campaigns against pesticides. The carelessness leading to their decline makes me angry and sad. While chasing the almighty dollar, corporate farms have lost site of what’s important. Awareness has helped. I hope we can get the tides turned.

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  5. Pingback: Monarch Butterflies and the Butterfly Effect | Gardening Nirvana

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