Well….after yesterday’s little downer I’m going to share some happy news. Our courtyard garden is becoming a real little ecosystem. Over the last six months the number of insect visitors has really increased. While we don’t see many honeybees, we get plenty of native pollinators and quite an assortment of butterflies. The birds soon realised that our garden had become a good place for an easy feast.
House Sparrows come in every day in a flock and pick over all the vegetable plants. I love nothing more that to see them pull off juicy green caterpillars because it means one more I don’t have to remove. Just recently a fledgling joined the flock on a tour of the garden. It’s so cute and fat and I could watch for hours as it’s parents feed it tasty morsels.
Photo by: Sheedypj
Another regular is the little Black Phoebe. It likes to perch on the cherry tomato plant and catch the fruit flies hovering near the compost bins. I love that he wags his tail while waiting for his next catch.
Photo by: herpindiego
The biggest surprise came the other day when a Peregrine Falcon arrived. The smaller birds scattered in time, but I was very excited to find a higher order predator in the yard. You know your little eco-system has come of age when that happens. The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest animal on the planet, capable of diving to speeds in excess of 200mph (320kph)! Their prey ranges from sparrows to ducks, which may be why it’s sometimes referred to as the “Duck Hawk”.
Because of the use of pesticides, especially DDT, the California Peregrine Falcon population was reduced to just two known productive pairs by 1970. After the banning of DDT, the species recovered enough to be removed from the Endangered Species List in 1999 and numbers are now on the increase.
Photo by: Bird Friends of San Diego County
Having grown up in Australia, I loved kookaburras, cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and magpies. I hadn’t really got attached to any American birds, but now having regular visitors to the garden has really made me want to learn more about the creatures I’m sharing my space with.