Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Wild Tree: May

Parkinsonia florida seedpod
Out to the wild Palo Verde tree (Parkinsonia florida) today to see what I would see.  Actually, it was more a question of hearing at first.  A tremendous amount of bird chatter was going on in the vicinity.  Although it took me a while to figure out what was happening, it appears that fledging Cactus Wrens were leaving the nest.  I got a few shots; forgive the quality please!

Here is one nestling flying up into the Palo Verde tree...
Baby Cactus Wren
The adults as well as the young are spotted, so at first I didn't realize I was actually seeing the babies, but the fluff visible in the next picture seems decide the question.
Baby Cactus Wren
Cactus wrens are much quieter, more retiring birds than House Wrens or Carolina Wrens (the latter raised many, many nestfuls of babies at our home in the Midwest).  Despite being a bit more secretive, these are very attractive birds, and they do seem to be comfortable living around us as one couple has been nesting off and on in the cavity left by a dangling patio light which we really should get fixed...  Frankly, it's more fun watching the birds!

On to the tree.  It was a source of some excitement itself, being loaded with seedpods after flowering heavily last month.  As you can see, it is a member of the Legume family, and as I understand, the seedpods are edible.  I haven't tested them so far!
Parkinsonia florida seedpods
It is leafier than it was then as well.
Parkinsonia florida leaves
But it is still markedly leafier in the interior of the tree.  The outer branches carry seedpods but few leaves...
Parkinsonia florida seedpods
 ...while the inside displays leaves but few pods.
Interior of Parkinsonia florida
The bark is its usual lovely, soft green hue.
Parkinsonia florida bark
The leaves are very small.
And it shelters some wonderful birds.  What more could one ask of a tree?

Linking this May update with Lucy's Tree Watching meme at Loose and Leafy, where a good many other wonderful trees can be discovered...

Parkinsonia florida in May...
Parkinsonia florida seedpod
Weather Diary: Partly Cloudy, High: 83 F (28.3 C)/Low: 59 F (15 C)

17 comments:

  1. Oh great shots of the wrens!

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    1. Thanks so much, Jessica! As you can imagine, I am yearning for a good lens for bird pictures, but I don't want to tack it onto the budget anywhere just yet...! In the meantime, there they were - I don't know how many babies finally ;-)

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  2. υεροχες ολες οι φωτο!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ενα οορφο υπολοιπο παρασκευης!!!!
    αγγελικη

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    1. Thank you so much, Aggeliki! This was a fun discovery - I'm happy you enjoyed it!! Have a lovely Friday :)

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  3. The fledglings are fun to watch - figuring out the world on their own, well, with mom a few yards away. I've seen several mockingbird fledglings in my gardens in the past week. I don't have cactus wrens, but I do have some Carolina wrens with some babies in a bird house that I put up this year. For now, they are still in the little bird house (chirping ridiculously loudly whenever mom and dad come home with some snacks), but I look forward to watching them as mom and dad kick them out of the house.

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    1. Carolina wrens are so much fun :) We had them nest variously under the eaves, in a scrap wood bin in the barn, and - of all places! - inside a plastic bag half full of perlite! I still don't know how they avoided suffocation in the hot, humid weather we were having. But we didn't even know they were there until the day the babies left the nest... Enjoy! We have some mockingbirds here, but none seem to live close to our yard.

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  4. How wonderful to have birds in your tree!

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    1. It really is, Lea. I got some shots of a little sparrow in it too, and a lot of pictures of a thrasher last month. So the birds do seem to love this tree!

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  5. Great shots, Amy! No apologies necessary. I didn't know that Palo Verde trees had seedpods. It's very attractive.

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    1. I've read the seedpods can produce a fair amount of yard litter, but I can't help feeling that they might at least add some organic matter to our undernourished soil... They are handsome pods with an unmistakeable "bean" look to them!

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    1. Aren't they? It's thanks to the meme that I'm noticing them. I walked around that tree at various times last year and never saw pods... ;-)

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  7. What a dainty tree. Do they seed around all over the place with those lovely seed pods? I love your wrens which are much bigger than our European ones. Ours rejoice in the wonderful Latin name of : Troglodytes troglodytes. We don' t get these lovely tautologies in Botany.

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    1. Oh, that's wonderful - I'm not well versed in names from biology; it sounds like they might be worth learning ;-) This (I just checked!) is Campylorhynchus brunneicappilus, and I believe they are the largest of our native desert wrens - certainly a good bit bigger than dear Troglodytes troglodytes!.
      Apparently the trees are expected to drop quite a few of these seedpods, but so far I've only found one seedling growing in a back corner of our yard. Nothing like trying to keep down oak seedlings in my former garden! While there are good stands of Parkinsonia along roadsides and such, the most common woody plants about here are mesquite (Prosopis velutina) and especially creosote bush (Larrea tridentata). The latter is said to exude a chemical that inhibits growth of other plants nearby, so its presence tends to define the local ecosystem. However, I think perhaps I should collect a few Parkinsonia pods and see if I can start some of these beauties :)

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  8. Great to see the young cactus wrens. Do birds or other wildlife eat the seeds? Seems like they would be a great food source, being legumes, and abundant!

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    1. I watched a female house sparrow pecking at the pods, which were bigger than she was :) Like mesquite pods, they are said to be useful to both birds and rodents. The birds seem to love it for shelter also, presumeably because it forms a protective tangle of thorny branches. I've seen our Curve-Billed Thrasher enjoying it despite the fact that dinner was clearly a large cricket!

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  9. Love the seedpods and the gorgeous green trunk.

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