Early August and the neighborhood is filled with the calls, chirps and squeaks of the newest brood of baby birds. As I write, a baby cardinal sits in our hedge and begs for food. Its father plucks cherry tomatoes from a patio plant to feed it and chases away house sparrows that try to land anywhere nearby.
Robin parents feed their fuzzy chick under the shelter of an arbor vitae stand.
An American goldfinch male now dines alone in the monarda patch; his mate probably incubates their eggs nearby.
American goldfinch in native monarda.
Monarch butterflies are rare this summer. I’ve seen just one in our St. Paul, MN, garden, even as monarda, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, black-eyed Susan’s, Joe-Pye weed, phlox and a blend of other native plants and garden perennials bloom. However, we have no shortage of milkweed to nurture monarch caterpillars if they were present. A lush patch of common milkweed (Asclepia syriaca) grows in our yard, possibly the best-ever since I spotted the first plant shooting up in the middle of a juniper hedge 15 years ago. The first milkweed blossom opened on July 7 and most of the plants were flowering by July 17.
Milkweed buds and blossom.
Though monarchs are absent, red milkweed beetles, bumble bees and ruby-throated hummingbirds frequent our patch.
Red milkweed beetle on swamp milkweed.
Ruby-throated hummingbird sips milkweed nectar.
On July 22, I noticed the first seed pods. New pods continue to form and the earliest pods have plumped-up in the past week.
Newly formed milkweed seed pods.