Encelia californica is native to southern California and Baja California, where it’s a member of the coastal sage plant community. It’s a bushy, sprawling shrub reaching between one half and 1.5 meters in height. The solitary flower heads are daisy-like, and it blooms from February to June, attracting butterflies, bees, and other insects.
It’s often planted to start a native garden, and then replaced with longer-lived shrubs over time. It can help jumpstart an area to change the soil ecology to help mazanitas and ceanothus plants.
Our block is covered with bush sunflowers, and they’ve just begun to bloom. Yay! 🌻
The American kestrel (Falco sparverius), also called the sparrow hawk, is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. They usually hunt by perching and scanning the ground for prey to ambush – that’s what I saw this one doing –though they also hunt from the air. Diet typically consists of grasshoppers and other insects, lizards, mice, and small birds (e.g. sparrows). American kestrels occupy habitats ranging from deserts and grasslands to alpine meadows.
The other night K heard owls in the yard and aimed his camera in their direction in the dark. He got a cool capture of a great horned owl looking back over its shoulder, which I used as reference for this sketch.
The plants in front of the kitchen window have effectively stopped the bird strikes, and are providing a source of enjoyment for both humans and avians. It was fun to watch this California towhee hop on to the fuchsia frame to eat the ripe berries.
Two of the most successful weeds here at our place are mustard and mallow, which are quick to germinate after the first winter rains. There’s already a thick crop emerging on the sward, though unfortunately that area is used by the dog for relieving herself, so we won’t be harvesting any of those leaves for the soup pot.
I was walking the dog in Legacy Park when I spotted the distinctive shape of an ibis! It’s the first time I’ve seen one in America (they are very common in Australia). The white-faced ibis Plegadis chihi is sighted so infrequently in these parts that my birding apps didn’t even offer it as a possibility. But I checked with my naturalist friend Suzanne, and she confirmed the ID. It was a pretty metallic bronze-green colour. Made my day!