Every week, I enjoy seeing who happens to visit me in the garden.  To be precise, feathered visitors.

Some of you may know that I also write a blog for Birds & Blooms magazine and as a result, I am always on the lookout for interesting and sometimes unusual birds.


But, often it is my regular visitors that bring a smile to my face.

Here are some of the visitors that I had last week….

Unusual Birds

Unusual Birds

House finches are some of my most common visitors.  They just cannot seem to get enough of my sunflower seeds.  I love the bright colors of the male birds during mating season.

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds have to be one of my absolute favorite birds.  I am fortunate enough to have them visit my garden all year round.

This little Anna’s hummingbird is enjoying the flowers of my Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii).

Unusual Birds

Some of the larger birds who come to visit are Doves.  I have four different types of doves that visit, but Mourning Doves are by far, my most frequent visitors.

My bird feeder, like many others, make it difficult for doves to eat directly from them.

Unusual Birds

Sometimes however, they do manage to get a quick snack, but it is difficult for them to perch on such a small area, so they usually content themselves from eating birdseed that falls to the ground underneath my bird feeder.

Unusual Birds

Okay, I must admit that I did not take this photo in my garden.  I saw this little female hummingbird when I was taking a walk,  She was sitting in a Palo Verde tree only a block from my house.  I usually take my camera when I go for a walk, because I never know what I will see.

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I would like to thank you all for your kind comments about my post “An Embarrassing Admission”.  I am so blessed to have such great people take the time to read my blog and I am always so thankful for you who take the time to leave me a comment 🙂

This week is full of activity for me.  We are busy painting the interior of our house.  On Monday, we painted the family room, kitchen and all the hallways, which took about 14 hours of work.  The next day, I certainly felt it in my muscles.  There is no way that I am going to the gym this week…..I am getting my workout painting 🙂

There is still some painting left to do, but I think I will give my muscles a bit more of a rest and work on making some plum jam tomorrow. – my mother’s tree is just full of ripe plums – yum, yum.

Earlier this week, my husband and I decided to get outdoors and enjoy our beautiful spring weather.  So, we visited our local Riparian Preserve.  We had a great time walking and talking, but we also brought our camera so that we could take pictures of some of the feathered creatures that congregate around the preserve.

As we were walking, I would look upwards at the trees to see if I could see any birds.  Sometimes they weren’t always easy to spot.

Local Riparian Preserve

Local Riparian Preserve

Can you see it?

There is a hummingbird at the very tip of the flowering Palo Verde tree.

As we walked, we noticed quite a few hummingbirds perched high above.  

An Anna's Hummingbird perched in a Mesquite tree

An Anna’s Hummingbird perched in a Mesquite tree.

An Ash tree is the perfect perch for this little hummer

An Ash tree is the perfect perch for this little hummer.

We were able to get some really great photos, but because of our location, could not always identify which species of hummingbird we were looking at.

But, we did get a great photo of this Costa’s Hummingbird.  His sharp eyes never left us.

Costa's Hummingbird in an Acacia tree

Costa’s Hummingbird in an Acacia tree.

As we were walking along the trail, I heard the distinctive sounds of a hummer nearby.  But, it took me a little while to locate it.

Can you see it?

Local Riparian Preserve

Anna’s hummingbirds do blend well with their surroundings, except when the sun reflects off of their bright pink throat…

Local Riparian Preserve

As we were leaving, we saw a few more of our feathered friends…

Local Riparian Preserve
Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

We were fortunate enough to have seen 3 different hummingbird species.  Anna’s and Costa’s are year round residents, but the Black Chinned hummingbirds are summer residents, so it was especially nice to see them as well.

You know what?  I think the fact that hummingbirds are so tiny might account for their preference for perching up on the tallest branches of trees?

What do you think?

You know what?  I do not think that I know anyone who doesn’t enjoy hummingbirds.  I guess that there are probably a handful, but what’s not to love? 

enjoy hummingbirds

This little hummer was busy bathing and drinking from this fountain at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, CA.

I had never seen a hummingbird bathe before and it was so fun to sit and watch him.

I have a pair of Anna’s hummingbirds who live in one of my trees. They take turns visiting my hummingbird feeder.

Here is Mr. A…..

enjoy hummingbirds

and his wife, Mrs. A….

hummingbirds

How about you?  

Are hummingbirds one of your favorite things?

I would love to hear about your little visitors…..

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Thank you all for visiting my Birds & Blooms blog.

Here is my latest post…

A Gathering of Cattle Egrets

One of the things that I love about gardening in the desert is how many beautiful plants that can not just survive our arid climate, but thrive in it.  

Besides our native desert plants, many tropical plants also do very well here due to our relatively mild winter in our semi-tropical climate.  Quite a few of these plants are native to Mexico.

So far in our lesser-known plant spotlight, we have highlighted two flowering shrubs that will add interest to your garden…..Valentine and Chaparral Sage.

So now for our next featured plant.  

If you love the shape of water as it cascades from a fountain and the bright colors of coral, then you definitely want to include coral fountain (Russelia equisetiformis) in your garden.

tropical plants

Aren’t the flowers just so beautiful?

Although this beautiful plant is native to Mexico, it does exceptionally well in our arid climate – in fact, the coral fountain in the photos is planted in sandy soil.  The leaves are hard to see and are small and scale-like in appearance.

tropical plants

Here are some reasons that you should definitely try coral fountain out in your garden:

– Striking coral colored flowers continually grace this shrub during the warm months of the year.

– It can reach a mature size of 4 ft. high and 4 – 6 ft. wide.

– Hummingbirds will be in heaven if you plant this pretty flowering shrub.

– Coral fountain is tolerant of a variety of conditions.  Well-drained soils or wet soils, arid climates or tropical climates and handles full sun or filtered shade.

– It grows quickly, so you do not have to wait a long time for its showy display of flowers.

– Because of its tropical origins, it is not cold hardy.  It does suffer frost damage when temperatures dip below 32 degrees F.  You can help to protect coral fountain from frost by covering it when temperatures fall.

Because our soils have so little organic matter, coral fountain does best when given some fertilizer.  I would recommend using a slow-release fertilizer and apply in the spring and fall months.

Try planting it alongside yellow or purple flowering plants for great color contrast.

The cascading form of coral fountain looks beautiful when used next to a water feature or in a container.  You could also use it a raised bed where the flower plumes will gracefully fall over the wall.

Have I tempted you enough to try this plant?

Here is another look…..

tropical plants

I took all of the photos at The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park in Palm Desert, CA.  I visited there with my sister last March.

Why didn’t I take a picture of my own coral fountain?  Well, I must admit that I do not have one in my garden.

Okay, so you may well be asking why do I not have a plant that I highly recommend in my garden?  Well, that is an excellent question, and I must confess that I do not have a really great answer for you.

I could say that my garden is over 11 years old and already full of plants.

I could then add that if I planted every kind of plant that I loved, that all sense of design in my garden would go out the door because I would have a mish-mash of too many different plants, which is not pleasing to the eye from a design standpoint.

But, those excuses sound kind of pitiful to my own ears.  Every time that I drive to Double S Farms (my mother and sister’s home), I pass by a beautifully designed garden which features a coral fountain shrub on the corner.  I always look for this plant, and I am still admiring it.

And so, I must admit the truth to myself…… I would love to have this plant in my own garden and will be on the lookout for one the next time I visit the nursery. UPDATE: I now have three of the beautiful plants, growing underneath the filtered shade of my palo verde tree.  

From the title of this post, you might surmise that I am somewhat distracted because I have a lot on my mind.  Well, I am quite busy at the moment getting ready for our upcoming trip along the east coast, which is why I am a bit behind on posting….

I do love this month and it’s cooler temperatures, pumpkins and the beginnings of holiday decorations.  In fact, the other day I was on my way home for a consultation for a friend of mine when I drove by the ‘cactus house’ in our neighborhood.  I call it the ‘cactus house’ because they have a lot of cactus in their front garden.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do like cactus, but not as the main plant type in a garden.

Okay back to what I saw in the front garden of the ‘cactus house’.  In the center of the garden there is a beautiful Organ Pipe cactus.  Well, the cactus is not what caught my attention….it’s what was crawling on it…..

holiday decorations

Holiday Decorations

Can you see it?

holiday decorations

Yes….that is a scary spider crawling up the cactus.  Believe it or not, cacti are often used for holiday decorating.  Wait until you see what people do for Christmas here in the desert.

My second topic has to do with the weather….

Last week, we had a huge storm blow through.  We are used to strong storms during the summer monsoon months, but generally not in the beginning of October.  There were tornadoes in the northern part of our state while people in our area received a lot of rain and hail.

holiday decorations

I always have trouble capturing rain with my camera.  But the rain and wind was impressive.  We had about 2″ total that day, with four different thunderstorms hitting us.

Okay, now for my last topic…..

Like many of you, I have a hummingbird feeder that hangs outside of my window.  My kids gave it to me for Mother’s Day.  I love seeing these tiny birds fly up and take a sip and then leave again.

Whenever I am in the kitchen, I am usually on the lookout for any activity outside of my kitchen window.  Well, the other day I saw movement and my hummingbird feeder was moving and turning.  I was sure I had a little visitor and so I grabbed my camera….

holiday decorations

I couldn’t see my visitor clearly, and so I waited for the feeder to turn my way….

hummingbird feeder

At this point, I began to see more of my visitor…..

hummingbird feeder

 Well, she is definitely not a hummingbird.  This little sparrow was absolutely determined to get some nectar out of my feeder.

hummingbird feeder

Despite her efforts, she was not able to figure out how to get any food out of those tiny holes.

hummingbird feeder

I should probably fill my regular bird feeder with birdseed 😉

A Few of my Favorite Things……Hummingbirds

We returned late last night from our visit to “The Refuge”.  The California desert was beautiful.  We enjoyed warm weather and the wildflowers blooming in the desert.

We visited “The Living Desert”, which has collections of both plants and animals that thrive in dry climates all over the world.  I had a wonderful time and took over 500 photos.  But don’t worry, I won’t make you sit through all of them 😉

I do want to show you some of my favorite pictures of our trip…..we spotted a hummingbird taking a bath.  Now, I have seen countless hummingbirds and always pause to observe their beauty and antics.  

But I have never seen one taking a bath…

Hummingbird Bath

Hummingbird taking a bath.

Can you see her?

Hummingbird Bath

Hummingbird Bath

She was oblivious to the crowd who had gathered to watch her and I couldn’t believe how close we were able to get.

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do.

Now, I’m off to the kennel to pick up the dog, grocery shop and all the other normal things that make up my life.  But in my mind, I will still be walking among the beautiful gardens of “The Living Desert”.