Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Many Critters of Horkavy Place

I spent a LOT of time researching plants that pollinators love in the hopes that our yard would be full of butterflies, birds, hummingbirds and bees. I'm happy to say that research paid off! :) We've seen all kinds of bees, including green, metallic bees (those are my favorite to watch!), birds, dragonflies, damselflies, teeny, tiny blue flies, butterflies, moths and birds.

Here are just some of the creatures we have seen come through the yard:

Yellow Eastern Swallowtail butterfly coming to lay her eggs in October.

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly, October.

One of our 5 hummingbirds, October

Male Painted Bunting (so exciting when they come visit us in the Spring and Fall!)

A family of Painted Buntings (you can see the other two in the background).
This one is either the female or a juvenile (they look the same). 

An oriole. It's so hard to capture these guys. They don't stay in view for very long.
We have seen them in October and April.

A Monarch on the Coral Plant.

We had a couple of Gulf Fritillaries drop by in July

Here's another shot of the Gulf Fritillary

This Black Witch Moth came to visit us in August.

I was told this is a female Great Southern White.

Our resident cardinal

Female cardinal. She always accompanies the male. They're so sweet together!

Of course, we had screech owls :) They were here in May.

I believe this is a Gray Catbird. He visited in April.

Who would've thought this rusty pan would be such a hit with the smaller birds?
Not us, but we did buy a shallow bird bath recently. We'll see if they like that as much.

Pluto Sphinx Moth we found in our parsley one day.
He sat there all day and once it got dark, he started vibrating and then flew off.

I believe this is an Orange-Barred Sulphur on our Candlestick Plant.
We later found lots and lots of its caterpillars! :)

We have lots and lots of different kinds of dragonflies, so I won't post them all here,
but the colors on each one are so unique and beautiful. I even had one land on my finger one day! :)

Look at the colors on this little guy! Nature is amazing.

Then there's this little guy.

This Red-waisted Florella Moths is SO tiny and hard to catch a shot of!

Julia Butterfly

Zebra Butterfly

This is a newborn Black Swallowtail. We had it in the butterfly box in the house (we put caterpillars in there
so they can change without the dangers of the garden) and then brought it outside once he was ready.

This guy is so tiny. He's about the size of a penny, if not smaller. I think he's a Nickerbean Blue.

Ruddy Daggerwing taking a nap in the shade.

Is That...

On first look, it may seem like a giant bird took a poo on our Meyer Lemon tree, but upon closer inspection, you'll see it's an Eastern Swallowtail caterpillar taking a nap! This is one of the biggest Swallowtail caterpillars I've seen here. I wonder how long he's been nibbling on our tree without us noticing...

I believe it will be the yellow Swallowtail, based on the fact that I saw one laying her eggs on the lemon tree a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Word Got Out...

Last night, we had one hummingbird...this morning, when we woke up, we had at least 4!

They were flying all over the yard, buzzing around, checking everything out!

Surprisingly, they spent a lot of time just sitting on sticks surveying the area.

They even spent some time relaxing in the Royal Poinciana tree.

As they flew around, they were chattering and squawking and chasing each other around.

I sure hope that means they're looking for a place to nest! We would be happy to have their tiny nests and babies in our yard :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hummingbird sighting!

I've spent most of my life in South Florida and have NEVER seen a hummingbird here. I just recently found out (last year, in fact) that hummingbirds do, indeed come to the Sunshine state. :)

Even more exciting, they actually DO come as far south as Palm Beach county (and beyond).

We planted a section of the yard to attract butterflies, bees and (we were hoping) hummingbirds.

Looks like all of my research paid off.

Two nights ago, we had our first hummingbird visit the yard!

Hummingbird on a cigar plant

Hummingbird playing in the sprinklers

Today, I captured this:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Attention All Bats

We have a new bat condo, coming soon to Lake Worth.

We invite all bats to come and check it out:

Lots of room, bring your whole family! Plenty of space available, so mark your spot today!

Located in a friendly yard, full of various pollinators and mosquitoes. Free rent and food...lots and lots of food. :)

Warning: You may be subjected to having your picture taken by a crazy lady with a camera and her equally crazy husband.

Hummingbird Moths

Our hummingbird moths are back again! They love the male papaya tree we have out back. We get about 5 or 6 each night. When they zoom by your head, you can really hear their hum!

 The pictures aren't all that great, because they come by JUST as it's getting too dark to shoot. Looks like I need to learn my camera a little better! :)

I do love this shot, though. You really can see the features of the moth. I'm not sure why the one on the top, right looks almost transparent, but I kinda like it. :)

Friday, September 4, 2015


By far, the most exciting thing to happen in our yard is what happened inside this box that Ken built:

A screech owl moved in!

One April night, my sister in law and her family came by and noticed 3 screech owls checking out the owl condo. While outside a few days later, I saw some movement around the opening of the box. Then, finally, when it got dark enough, I saw this:

We have a tenant!

Every day, around 7:30 at night, this cute creature would poke her head out of the box, rock back and forth a bit (as she tried to squeeze her plump self out of the little hole) and fly away. Then, one day, she started sitting in the hole of the box all day. We figured something was going on in there, so we waited for her to leave one night and Ken climbed up the ladder to look in the box and found this:

Squishy overload!!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the yard (but with a good view of the tree containing the babies), we found who we believe to be the dad:

View from the bathroom window

We noticed him mainly because I went it to take a shower and heard and saw a mocking bird acting weird, flying back and forth and screeching. When I called Ken in, we saw the screech owl, sitting in the tree, minding his own business, trying to ignore the mocking bird. I guess he was too close to her nest!:)

One day, in May, we noticed one of the little ones poking his head out:

He fits a little bit better than his mommy did ;)

We also started noticing a second owl coming to the box at night with food. I believe each adult owl was coming back to feed a baby.

One day, early in the morning, momma owl came out of the box and flew into a nearby tree. Thinking this was really odd behavior, we watched out the kitchen window to see what was going to happen. We saw a little one stick his head out and then start to rock. We recognized that as an owl getting ready to fly, so Ken grabbed his camera, ran outside and caught the whole thing on tape:

I was afraid if I went out there, he'd get nervous and go back into the box, so I watched out the kitchen window and, as a result, wasn't able to capture a good video. Ken has no such fears...thank goodness! :)

As expected, he didn't fly right away, in fact, he sort of stumbled (or fell) out before he was ready I think, but he was out of the box. He walked around the area for a little while until he found a comfortable hiding spot to rest. Momma was never far away. She switched between watching the "toddler" and her condo all day. We're not sure if the other baby was still safe up in the box because we had been away for a few days, so we don't know if this was the first or second baby to leave the nest.

Momma watching us and her baby

She let us get pretty close to her and the baby (once we finally found him). Both owls spent the day in their respective places until night fell and the baby came out for a walk:

Sleepy owl's first night out
That night, we watched as two owls tried to teach this little guy to fly. We were too close and I felt like we were obstructing the lessons, so we went back inside.

We hope to be lucky enough to have the owls come back again next year. Guess Ken will have to build a couple more boxes before April! :)