This week I was reminded that it’s possible to create a friendly and hospitable habitat for all sorts of visitors–the invited and the party crashers.
Last year, at just this time, Karina and I sat in our back yard and witnessed a Black-Crowned Night-Heron swooping into our backyard pond.
This week he showed up again, presumably on a fishing expedition. I had nothing to feed him, so off he went!
I have thought about restocking the pond many times, but I’m ambivalent. The poor fish!
I probably should have considered the possibility that he might return.
I recently read that wild Black-Crowned Night-Herons have been invading the Smithsonian National Zoo each summer for over 100 years. It’s the only known rookery for black-crowned night-herons in the region, and each spring the birds stop by to gobble up the zoo’s fish.
But where do the migratory herons go in the autumn?
Peter Marra, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center tells how they started putting transmitters on the herons in an effort to monitor the birds’ habits. Over the past three years they’ve tracked birds as far south as the Florida Everglades, and it’s suspected they return to the Zoo because it sits on a high point, offering the birds a good view from which to forage.
My oak tree offers a high point above the pond. If I offer him the incentive of a meal will he be back?
I recently learned the black-crowned night-heron was almost extinct at the turn of the 20th century. The long feather on its head, known as a filoplume, adorned women’s hats during the Edwardian Era and Jazz Age–makes me cringe to think of it!
They may now be plentiful in number overall, but they’re not typical inhabitants in suburban Southern California, and perhaps I have a responsibility to add to its survivability. Maybe just a few fish?
I do think that every little bit of effort to support urban wildlife potential increases my own well-being.
This weekend my focus is increasing my bee and butterfly garden potential. The bees are all over the lavender and rosemary. And I’ve had a Monarch butterfly spending a lot of time close by! This afternoon I found her on one of the new milkweed plants, but by the time I grabbed the camera she was gone.
Despite the presence of pests and watering issues (you can see the pests in the slideshow photos) I’m hopeful that seeing the Monarch land on the milkweed today promises eggs. I am hoping to witness the complete lifecycle.
Butterfly chasing! The perfect level of activity after a busy week. What are your plans for a weekend “exhale?”
Whatever you do, I hope you breathe a little lighter–maybe just sit and watch for butterflies!