Nature reminds us that it is wild after all

Warning, there’s a bloody, gross, but freakishly fascinating photo at the end.

Generally, my interactions with nature involve words like “cute,” “lovely,” “look, they’re friends,” along with squeals of excitement while I anthropomorphize the shit of whatever creature is in front of me. I root for nature. Yes, nature you need to do your thing and survive! As long as that thing is adorable and could be in a scene with Disney princesses.

Typically, both MomBert and I cheer on praying mantises. Finding one of their nests is a celebratory event. Praying mantises eat the garden pests. They are strange looking, strong, cold hearted (there’s that anthropomorphizing) predators who usually earn their keep.

However like raccoons that don’t want hugs, and groundhogs who haven’t suffered from a lack of petting, praying mantises are mate-eating, wild beasties.

Among the soft and squishy beasties are caterpillars. MomBert has had great success with attracting monarch caterpillars this year in her yard and in the BF’s meadow that he agreed not to mow. Meanwhile my milkweed is not bringing all the boys to the yard. I’m guessing that geography and environment are factors, but I’m jealous nonetheless.IMG_7092

They even consider her house a hip place to build a chrysalis and transform!

She checks on her army daily and worries about their well-being which led to a series of upsetting text messages this week. She’d sent an update of the current five nom-nomming away happily-see above– but then discovered that sixth caterpillar had become a juicy snack for the beast at the watering hole.


At least it got to keep its snack.

While this was disappointing, it was expected and understandable. She transported the clearly pregnant praying mantis to the backyard where she’s been trying to relocate them so they are away from the caterpillar population.

We expect bug on bug violence, but her next discovery was out of left field and horrifying to all of us. She found a praying mantis eating a decapitated hummingbird! WTF, Nature!


*******Side Note: 1. Texting just needs to let us swear. Auto-correct should know by now that when I or anyone else types “fuck,” that that is exactly what we mean. I suppose the “ducker” is just protecting me from myself.  2. She insists on referring to hummingbirds as “hummers” and I’m not going to be the one to explain it. That’s my sister’s job.

This was the horrible bloody reminder that nature has got to do its groove thang. It was upsetting. I mean, there was that time that I found a chipmunk guiltily standing over a brainless, dead mouse. Yes, the top of the skull had been removed and the brain was gone. Zombie chipmunk? But that just registered as weird.


A bloody, decapitated, actively being devoured hummingbird though plucked at heartstrings and seemed unfair. Maybe because they are tiny, but so packed with energy and purpose. They’re drawn to the bright and beautiful flowers, so by association are part of that beauty.

Additionally, the logistics seemed impossible. How could a bug catch a bird? Of course, I googled it and immediately found videos of praying mantises catching hummingbirds. I can’t even post the link here, it was that upsetting. The praying mantis flings those long serrated arms out, grabs the bird by the throat as it hovers, appearing to strangle it or trying to cut the head off. The worst was watching the little, shiny jewel of bird twist and struggle. I only watched one video, that was enough to understand.

So “circle of life,” nature is beautiful but purposefully predatory and provides me with so many interesting experiences.

If you continue scrolling, you will see a praying mantis eating a hummingbird.


Sort of Like Shark Week….

Sort of.

I haven’t spent 12 years seeking this elusive little bird, but it has eluded my camera until now this summer. I have no plans to tag it and track it to it’s breeding or birthing grounds, but I’ve noticed that it shows up around the same time in the evening. 

Despite its pointy beak, it has never tried to skewer me or rend me limb from limb. It has- probably unintentionally- dive bombed me a couple times. We have been momentarily eye to eye, but never through cage bars. 

There’s not much screaming, but I do feel the thrill of the hunt when its appearance sends me running for a camera. 

Totally like Shark Week. 

Not quite Jaws, but….

Stuff in My Yard (June 2014)

June is almost over and between the frequent rain and fairly moderate temperatures, my yard is a tiny green jungle. The dill has taken over several vegetable spots and is so dense that I think I may have to pull it so that other garden plants can get direct sunlight. I really want to encourage the butterflies to lay their eggs, but they probably don’t need all that is growing out there.

There are tomatoes and peppers in there somewhere.

There are tomatoes and peppers in there somewhere.

Mr. Squirrel was quite prolific in his sunflower planting. They are everywhere this year! He planted a multi-headed one that looks like a summer time Christmas tree at the end of my patio. It practically provides shade, but blocks my view to the rest of the yard. I hope he lets it bloom. There was a single headed one of equal size right beside it, but Mr. Squirrel decapitated it last week so I cleared out the space.




Christmas in June

Christmas in June

As far as I know, I have not had any night time visitors. I have not found any scat in the mornings or signs of digging for grubs. Thanks, Mr. Skunk for your lawn care. However the birds have been quite active. I had a wren actually spend his morning talking loudly in the yard and carrying materials to the birdhouse. He did not finish his work so I assume his lady friend did not approve that location. Male wrens build multiple nests at one time to try to convince a females that they are worthy companions.

SM wren seeks SF wren for companionship and studio nest

SM wren seeks SF wren for companionship and studio nest

I have seen what I think is a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird twice. Bright green, but no ruby coloring. Of all my brightly colored pansies, petunias, roses, cone flowers etc…, it seems to zero in on a sad clump of white flowers. They must be delicious.

Look closely

Look closely

This morning as I blearily walked through the house opening windows, a loud screeching from the kitchen window drew me back to that room. I thought based on the high pitch and volume that I would found hawks and ravens having a rally in the driveway.



Thanks, goldfinch.

I had to shoot this through the window screen and frame with sunflower leaves.

I had to shoot this through the window screen and frame with sunflower leaves.