Well, alright now. Here we go. Now we are starting to see some interesting blog topics. Birds and bees, huh? Whatever could I be up to with this post? So this morning, there I was, communing with my garden balcony oasis, watching my friendly bee visitors from three types (species? genus?) of bees, when lo and behold! A spider.
I hate spiders. Spiders just creep me out. Ugh! So here comes one really big, shiny, black spider zipping its way along the top of the balcony railing. Moving along its private Spider Highway.
I got my camera ready to catch a snapshot, but you know how sneaky those arachnids can be. Creepy 8-legged miniature beasts that they are. This spider dipped under a railing post and disappeared. That image to the left is not a photo and may appear larger than reality. Yet smaller than my arachnophobia recalls. That balcony spider is probably lying in wait. No doubt biding its time to come out and drop upon me. Causing my person to levitate high into the air on a single expletive (!) This can be dangerous for a woman living on the second floor.
I hate spiders, did I mention that?
Yet this got me to thinking about where this balcony garden started a mere six (6) weeks ago. I had nothing out on my bland 2nd story terrace but 4 chairs, a crooked table, 3 window boxes and some old pottery. I had not sat out on the balcony in years. My garden had not been planted for the past 11 years. It was a desert. Lonely. Lifeless. Once the plants came and the flowers opened, they attracted those bees. I assume bugs begot more bugs. Maybe there is some bug-hotline. Some Insect Web? Hence the spider. Yes, I know I can hear my late father's voice, "spiders are good because they eat other bugs". What bugs? I have seen only a few ants. Gee, maybe Spidey is doing a really good job at maintaining a bug-free environment?
So I thought to myself, "Hmmm, bugs. What eats bugs?" Certainly I would prefer a praying mantis or two out there instead of spiders. Yet, maybe a bird or two coming onto the balcony would be perfect. Birds eat bugs.
I love birds!
Birds sing happy songs. And they eat bugs. Bugs removed from my balcony makes me want to sing. Okay, okay. I have a dreadful, toneless singing voice and perhaps the Universe understands that a happy bird-song is better than... well, me.
As an aside, here is a link to attracting urban birds into an avian oasis that you, or your child, can easily create, courtesy of the fabulous Cornell:
Manifest Your Desires
Okay, I am not making this up. About 5 minutes after this train of thought in which I envision the imminent demise of the aforementioned arachnid, I see this flash of red swoop out and down between our trees on the common grounds. That movement could be nothing less than a showy cardinal.
Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, identifies this as the eastern cardinal, Richmondena cardinalis, of the class Aves, order Passeriformes, and family Fringillidae. I'm amazed that this large bird is a member of the finch family. Finches are typically small birds, yet, that bill on the cardinal certainly bears a strong resemblance to the finches that Darwin studied. Why is it that the nose is always a family trait?
He loops back from a tree and sits upon my crooked table for a moment. Looking regal. What a stunning bird! I attempt to do a stealth walk to grab my camera, but he disappears. Sigh. Another opportunity missed. Gone forever. I will have to write about this on my blog with no photograph. Maybe just a sketch. I assure you that my art work is FAR better than my singing ability, so relax. Just to let you know, that cardinal was nowhere near that spider (aka, Loathsome Invader). I mean, if I'm going to "manifest" my thoughts and desires into a spider-eating-avian-avenger (and a pretty one at that), well then the least this red bird could do is investigate for bugs on the balcony. I continue to hear lots of short, chirpy bird sounds outside. Let's call these sounds "Male and Female Let's Make a Nest" sounds. Sure enough, the female alights on my balcony, under the railing and behind the lily bulbs. Drat. That is not a good photo opportunity. What is she seeking? Gone!
My camera battery is flashing "low" with increasing ferocity. I only have a few more moments. Aha! Here's that elusive female dropping by the edge of my railing once again. She arrives so quietly, I nearly missed her. Sorry for the screen door, remember that I was having a "bugged by bugs" sorta day.
I thought perhaps this avian pair was looking for nesting material, so I tucked some long coco fibers into the trellis for an obvious grab.
Maybe that would attract either bird back onto my balcony again?
Happily that male stopped by one more time. Hello Gorgeous!
Note that my co-op apartment complex DOES spray for bugs. One spraying session has completed this season and will, no doubt, be recurring soon. Luckily for our songbirds, we have an empty field lot nearby that should be full of bugs, and a safe environment here that is empty of predators. There you have it, the Birds and Bees! And it all starts with a Garden. Does not even need to be a Garden Of Eden either. Just a simple place that brings out the best in Bees, Birds, and Humans.
The spiders can live elsewhere, thank you very much.
Schlumbergera seedling no. 136
2 days ago