Friday, June 24, 2011

The Irony of Life

I appreciate the irony of life. It is what makes the world turn. Without it, everything would be completely and totally boring.

But, in this case, irony has me beating my head against the wall and kicking myself. To fully understand the irony, let's backtrack to last year and my wonderful adoration of all the hummingbirds visiting my feeders. I had three different types of hummingbirds visiting my feeders on a regular basis. I identified two of the varieties but the third I couldn't identify. I took pictures and compared them to website photos and databases. I spent all winter researching hummingbirds and looking for this incredibly small species. This hummingbird was about half the size of the black-chinned and ruby-throated varieties that I had already identified. And there were no hummingbirds of that size in our region. The only one even remotely matching the description resides in Montana and never leaves the mountains. I found it impossible to believe that a mountainous species would survive the 100 degree plus temperatures of Texas.

With the advent of spring, I no longer had time to research the hummingbird, so waited for it to make its appearance this year for a better look. For the record, I have not yet seen this tiny species this year.

Fast forward to today, I had not been to my garden in several days. Due to all that has been going on, my garden was in great need of attention. After dinner, Snugglebug and I ventured out to the garden so I could see what all needed to be done after he went to bed. I immediately noticed my tall, lush tomato plants were mere stems. This disturbed me, but being a life-long farm-girl, I knew the work of a hornworm when I saw it. It didn't take me but a moment to find the fat culprit lounging on a naked stem. Then, I found a second and a third hornworm.

After putting Snugglebug to bed, I went straight out to my garden (baby monitor in hand) to search for any more tomato eating fiends. What began with three worms became ten then twenty. At twenty-five hornworms, I called my friend, Liz, and said, "You're not going to believe this!" She did and hung up so she could go check her tomato plants. The final count was 28 hornworms on three tomato plants! I would have taken a picture but the sight of them turned my stomach, and I would hate to run off my readers with such a sight.

After plucking the worms and depositing them in a large (very large) pickle jar, I turned on the sprinklers and came inside to do some research.

I first wanted to know what type of moth the hornworm became so I could make sure to spray it with Raid the next time I saw one. I also wanted to know what the pupae looked like and what ate it so I could prevent the hornworm ever reaching my tomato plants.

I learned that the hornworm becomes a moth that when in flight looks like a hummingbird. It eats nectar just like a hummingbird, feeds on flowers just like a hummingbird, has the same long tongue, and from a distance looks like an extremely small hummingbird. The photos and the description on all the websites matched the unknown hummingbird from last year. I sat in complete astonishment. Last year, I had been feeding and marveling at a moth, not a bird. Last year, I had been feeding the moth that would lay the eggs and become a hideous larvae known as the hornworm that was now eating my tomato plants.

The irony is too much to bear. And while I typically admire irony and say, "My hat's off to you for pulling that one off," today, I say, "cussword, cussword, cussword."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Take a close look...No, closer

So, this lovely lady has taken up residence in our backyard, beyond my garden.

She is a Killdeer. She is ground nesting bird who has a very sad sounding chirp. She makes an even more distressing broke wing limp when you get too close to her nest. The idea is that the ground dweller will be led away by the enticing thought that the injured bird will be easily caught. She will lead the prey quite a ways away before taking flight. She then makes sure the prey is far from her nest before she returns.

Here's a picture of the nest.
Oh, you don't see it. Well, that's the way it's meant to be. I searched at least an hour this afternoon and could not find her nest. This evening while working in my garden, I kept a close eye on the little bird and followed her visually back to her nest. Even with a reference point, I had a tough time finding the nest. It blends in with the ground so well that one could literally step right over it and never see it.

Here's another photo of the nest. Take a close look at this photo then go back and take a closer look at the photo above.

Now, do you see it.

Here's one last, even closer, look at the nest and eggs. Can you see how they would be lost even though they sit right out in the open? Amazing! Simply Amazing!

PS For those who would like to see a better view of the little bird (I don't have a long camera lens.) click this link to a Wikipedia photo.

Friday, June 10, 2011

We Have Sentences, People!

We had our first sentences, today! They were only two word sentences but subject verb just the same. Prior to this we have had a lot of two word combos but more like adjective noun or a please attached to a noun or a name attached to a request.

What were the sentences you ask? I'm so glad you did!

Wot dis! (interpreted: Watch This!) While climbing over the sofa (that's another post)

i bo. (interpreted: It Broke) Referring to a nickel yo-yo he received from a recent birthday party as a party favor.

Only 6 months ago, we had our first verbal words. He still signs and most of the time will sign one word and say the other word. Other times he signs and says the word both. Most of the time the word is only the first consonant which renders the spoken word useless without the sign. His verbal speech has surpassed his signs though, so at times there is frustration when he can't get across what he is talking about. We are working on that! My husband and I are taking a class in sign language with the goal of being able to communicate with him via sign and teach him the same way verbal communication is taught. We are well on our way with an excellent teacher!