Garden Pic Wednesday: Trees & Birds

Among the common trees of Florida is the Sweet Bay Magnolia. It's a cousin of the well-known Southern Magnolia, but has smaller leaves & smaller flowers. It's semi-evergreen, meaning it does lose many leaves in autumn, but not all it's leaves.
It has smooth gray bark and gets to be about 35 feet tall. Besides size differences, Magnolia leaves have a red underside; Sweet Bay is silvery light green underneath.
It's in bloom now and produces 2-inch red berry cluster that birds and other wild-life enjoy.

I happen have one on the edge of my yard. We planted it there 25 years ago. It was a volunteer we found growing in my garden, so we moved it.
It has some a low-hanging branch that's low enough for me to stand by it and get a shot of it's pretty white flower.
They bloom at dusk, something I didn't realize till this year. And, like all the Magnolia family, they smell divine: a rich fragrance with a lemony touch.

So today's first Garden Pic is my Sweet Bay Magnolia Blossom:

Next is a shot of a Rufus-Sided Towhee:
This is a very common bird in Canada & the U.S., though this is the first time I've seen one in my yard. This is the male. I love their calico coloring: black, orange & white.
Apparently they are a low-shrub nesting bird and their call has an accent, depending on where they live. Eastern Towhee's sound different then the Western.
He hops all over my flower beds, hunting for edibles. He has a  seed he found on the ground from the feeder in his mouth in this picture. He's too big to fit inside, but smaller birds that do fit are litter-bugs.
He wasn't at all shy of me being in the back yard watering yesterday. He just went about his business, looking for food throughout my flower beds.

Towhees are territorial, too. One pair of Towhees per 1 1/2 to 2 acre areas.  Now I understand why I don't see tons of them. They like a lot of space!
I have many Cardinals around and Cardinals have a specific courtship ritual: the male offers the female food and if she accepts, they're mates for the rest of the  season.
 I happened to see a pair go through this ritual a couple weeks ago and it was the sweetest thing: t
he lady Cardinal was inside the squirrel-roof feeder cage in front of a seed-eating hole and bright red male was perched on the outside of the cage.
She pulled a seed out and dropped it on the ground. 
He flew down to get it, then flew back up to land on the outside of the feeder cage again.
 She hopped up to the higher inside perch to be closer and he fed her the seed through the bars.
Proposal accepted, the pair then flew off together.
Come back tomorrow to see what interesting topic I'll do for Mama Kat!


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