Early Spring

The warm weather has triggered an early spring display here in Maryland. Early daffodils and the star magnolia are in bloom. Recently sighted fauna include:

  • 2/25: Cabbage White butterfly
  • 2/26: House Finch ; also a carpenter bee seemingly stunned by the afternoon temperature drop;
  • 2/27: Robin

Spring in Maryland

We’ve had the usual up and down Spring temperatures. The first wave of daffodils–yellow trumpets–is starting to fade as the second wave gets underway. The forsythia is in full bloom. The cherry blossoms are out. And yesterday’s warmth brought out the first bumblebees I’ve seen this year, as well as a cabbage white butterfly. The cardinal couple were observed engaged in mate feeding more than a week ago–a tender moment with each bird holding one end of a sunflower seed–so I’m looking forward to more cardinals.

Other recent sightings

We’ve had a cardinal family dropping by every morning. The male is very bold, coming close to the house and waiting for me to toss out some sunflower seeds. Then the female and the young male join him. I’m glad to see them raising an actual cardinal for their second round; they started the summer by raising a cowbird.

The other day I was home in the middle of the day and was surprised to see an adult rabbit in the yard. This was the first rabbit we’ve seen all year.

From time to time the female hummingbird has come back to visit the butterfly bush. I’m realizing we don’t have very many suitable flowers for her right now. I’ll try to do better next year.

Earlier this week I spotted two Northern Flickers facing each other in the middle of the lawn. From time to time they moved their heads from side to side and pointed their beaks upward. I gather this is called a “fencing duel” (Cornell’s All About Birds site has a good description) but this seems to be the wrong time of year.


Bumblebees are nesting next to the front walk. I’ve spotted them at the entrance in the gap between the sidewalk and the old edger. They are welcome, even though one stung my ankle once when I got too curious. Presumably the ones visiting the morning glories and sedum come from this nest and perhaps others. The sedum also attracts carpenter and honey bees.
 A less obvious visitor who keeps to the back flower beds is a female hummingbird. Two weekends ago, when it was cool enough to sit outside, I was enjoying the shade when she flew by. Moments later I was startled by the loud buzz of her wings very close to my ear. I jumped up, unsure if she was warning me off or mistaking my ear for a flower. I have seen her in that area before. Perhaps she is nesting in the clump of viburnum.


The Swallowtails are Back

Yesterday we had two Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the yard. In the afternoon we visited Wheaton Regional Park, which includes a lot of tulip trees, their larval food plant.  We spotted our first butterfly on a patch of bare ground as we entered the park. Continuing on to the gardens, we arrived at the massive bottlebrush buckeye at the edge of the woods, to find a dozen or more swallowtails and several hummingbird moths visiting the blooms. They were all in motion, but I did manage to capture two in this photo.