Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who Are You?

UPDATE: I posted this to the Tampa Audubon Society Facebook page and received this helpful response from David Bowman:
"Female or young Pine Warbler. Not all Pine Warblers are as bright yellow as the adult male you have in the comparison picture. Palm Warblers would have a noticable eye stripe, rufous crown , and yellow rump."

This is our first documented Pine Warbler in My Florida Backyard!

Original Post:
Calling all birders! I need help with an ID, please.

I was looking back at a post from earlier this year, and one of the bird photos I posted caught my eye. I had initially labelled it a Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata), but at a second look, the yellow head is making me question myself. I'm wondering if instead this could be a Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus). Muted winter coloration always makes identification more difficult, and this isn't the best picture, but if you have an opinion to offer, I'd love to hear it. This photo was taken in Tampa, FL in late October, 2012.

My Photo:

A Photo of a Pine Warbler:
(Photo credit: Dominic Sherony via Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Right Where I Belong

Last Tuesday, I teased you with some mystery flowers in my Home Depot shopping cart. I certainly didn't intend for it to take a week for me to get back to you with the answer, but isn't it funny how life just gets away from you? Work, errands, holiday planning, more work... well, anyway, I finally found time to plant my precious flowers and now I proudly present to you my very favorite Florida native wildflower: Tampa Mock Vervain (Glandularia tampensis)!

Not every town has a flower named after it, but Tampa does, and it's a lovely one at that. Endemic to just a handful of counties along the western coast of Florida, Tampa Mock Vervain is endangered mostly due to habitat loss. Fortunately, it's generally available at Bay area Home Depot stores this time of year, as well as at just about any local native plant nursery. It will bloom happily until the hot summer hits around June, so now is the time to plant it. (Learn more about Tampa Mock Vervain in this post from last year.)

It's been extraordinarily dry here for the last six weeks or so, with virtually no rain and none in the forecast either.  Although Tampa Vervain is drought-tolerant, it will flower best with regular water, so I decided to plant mine in containers this year. That way, I have more control over the watering and can effectively use what's left in our rain barrel before resorting to the hose. I found these little rock planters on clearance at the end of the summer and have been looking for a good chance to use them, so this is perfect timing!

So why do I love Tampa Vervain so much? Aside from the glorious purple flower clusters (I can never capture the color just right with my camera) and the fact that planting it helps support an endangered species named for the city where I live? Well, the answer to that is easy...

Butterflies love it! Really, there's no downside to this plant. It deserves a place in every cool-season butterfly garden in Central Florida... and My Florida Backyard is happy to have it once again!