Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My garden helpers



I've been noticing a lot of Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea) in the garden lately. I'm a bird nut, but I'll admit to a little fist-shaking at first... hey, those tomatoes didn't get pecked all by themselves, you know.

But it finally dawned on me that the birds were eating bugs. Especially (I think) those stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs who'd been ruining the peas. Hubby yanked up the peas last weekend (they were about done anyway), but the bugs had been hanging around still - looking to try their luck with the okra, probably.

Earlier a Phoebe was hanging out too. I believe he's the Tomato Hornworm guard. We found the ends of a few stems eaten off, and hornworm frass underneath, but no severe damage.

Thanks guys! Feel free to peck a few tomatoes. We've got plenty!

13 comments:

Wayne said...

Karen - our indigo buntings have been here all summer. I haven't noticed them outside of going after our small-seed feeder, but they're wonderful! Glenn noted that he'd seen a bluebird and I said, no honey, you've seen an indigo bunting.

I've been trying to get a photograph for the last month. Aren't they great?

And the phoebes (our "house bird") are too.

I Gallop On said...

Oh my gosh you have fresh okra growing in your garden??? That is one of my very favorite summer things, having grown up in Oklahoma. Deep-fried, of course. I wish I could grow it here..

meresy_g said...

I'm with you. I would gladly sacrifice a few tomatoes to the pounds of bugs those birds put away.

KFarmer said...

As we really dont live too far apart you would think that I would have a few of those birds- but no, I've never seen either one here. Blue Birds, yes, lots and lots, Indigo Buntings, no. :(

edifice rex said...

I've seen alot of buntings over here too. I just love them. Unfortunately, they don't help much against raccoons which have been blatantly mocking me in their destruction of my corn.

Rachel said...

I'm not very good at knowing one bird from the other. There are a couple of birds that follow me around the lawn when I mow to catch all the bugs that it disturbs!

Jenn said...

The indigo buntings seem to be on a population surge. I've never seen them in my area until this year, and we've had several sightings.

They are so beautiful! I'm glad to have them around.

Pamela said...

I guess if you've found frass (great word--thanks) and no devastation something must have eaten your hornworms. I'm surprised though, I thought their diet of tomato leaves made them at least unpalatable, if not poisonous.

Great photo of the bunting!

LauraP said...

Nice photo! I love our indigo buntings. I'd love them more if they'd eat the blister beetles.

chiefbiscuit said...

Whew!!! The bugs NOT the 'matoes! :)

Rurality said...

KF, you probably do have them, if the habitat is right. At our old house in the suburbs, we'd only see them during migration (spring and fall). Here we get them all summer too because it's the right sort of place for their nests. You'd think a bird like this would really stand out... but they don't. I'd never seen one before either, until I started birdwatching. And now that I know their song, I realize that I hear them a LOT more frequently than I see them. (Part of their song sounds like they're saying, "sweet sweet chew chew".)

IGO, yup, okra grows great here. Nothing can stop it... even the years when the rest of the garden failed because of standing water (before we raised the beds), the okra did fine!

Annie, sorry to hear about the corn. I think our local coyote and bobcat populations keep the racoons in check.

Rachel, it's a fun hobby! I took a class years ago and got really hooked.

Pamela, something evidently likes them. I haven't actually seen the Phoebe eat one, but he was definitely lurking about in that area.

Anonymous said...

Here, it's the mockingbirds eating my tomatoes before I even get to enjoy them. I love having them (the birds) around, but I'm about to hang some tin pie plates on the stakes to keep them away. Infuriating to see three crimson Romas on the vine, and discover they've ALL been pecked to a fare-thee-well.

-ChrisTheRed

KFarmer said...

Thanks-I will look and listen for them harder. I watch for birds a lot (one of my fav pastimes) but the vision is not as good as it once was and the binoculars are old and only one "eye" works. Maybe Santa will bring me a new pair :)