Newborns and other wildlife in the garden


While I was turning off a hose Monday, water dribbled into a thick stand of inland sea oats, and something moved among the grasses. I saw a small head and thought, cat. Having endured a year of a neighbor’s cat using my gravel path as a toilet, I’m not kindly disposed to cats in my garden, so I squirted it again, trying to shoo it out.

A fawn, surely no more than a day old, emerged on wobbly legs, its spotted coat dripping. Dismay washed over me, and I froze and anxiously watched to see what it would do. It walked a few steps across a path and wedged itself between the lattice fence and a bamboo muhly grass, lying on a bed of live oak leaves that camouflaged it well.


I backed away quietly and left the area to give it time to settle down again. A little while later I walked cautiously back around to see if it was still there. It was doing what fawns do: lying completely still in the hope that I couldn’t see it.


I shot a few pics with my telephoto lens, giving him plenty of space. What a sweet face. He stayed put, waiting for mama to return, until late that afternoon.


Other newborns are making their presence known too. Wren chicks are peeping for regular meals in this birdhouse that hangs outside my office window.


Over the past week, Mama and Papa Wren have been darting in with a steady supply of insects and larvae for their hungry chicks.


Yummy!


Who’s first?


Time for another grocery run.


Finally, I got a kick out of this sight a few days ago: a dragonfly resting on my metal dragonfly.


Life imitating art! (Except a dragonfly doesn’t actually have long antennae like a butterfly.)

Are you watching any wildlife activity in your garden this spring?

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

The Austin Daylily Society will host a free garden tour on Sunday, May 28, from 10 am to 2 pm. Four private gardens featuring lots of daylilies will be open to the public, including Tom Ellison’s lovely Tarrytown garden.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts — performances in private homes, which support musicians and give a small audience an up-close and personal musical experience — I’m hosting a series of garden talks by design speakers out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

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35 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Poor baby deer! I bet they gave mom an earful about you. There are always birds and insects coming and going in my garden, but never any occupants for the two very nice birdhouses I have set up. My only other critters are concrete ones.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I had the wren birdhouse in my front garden for several years, and no bird ever built a nest in it. Early this spring I moved it to a new spot in the back yard, and it was immediately claimed. Even for birds, it seems, it’s all about location, location, location. —Pam

  2. Kris P says:

    So cute! I wonder if the same mama deer has decided your garden is a good place to stow her fawns? The dragonfly was a great catch. I had my own exciting wildlife sighting on Monday – a swarm of bees! No one got stung and, fortunately, the swarm moved on within hours.

  3. Like you, I am watching mama and papa finch watch over their nest. It delights me because they love to use the tallest branch of my climbing rose for a watch post. It makes a lovely photo!

  4. Sweet photos. The house wrens are busy in my garden too. Amazing that the dragonfly is colored somewhat like your hanging. We have baby rabbits here. The parents are busy eating the broccoli I planted earlier. UGH…

  5. Jenny Young says:

    I probably don’t appreciate the wild life as much as you do. I live in a rural area on a lake & have pretty much every kind ever created for my area!

    Seriously though, I don’t really enjoy the deer. They’re very destructive. I also hate the squirrels & armidillos. They probably cause the most damage. I’ve completely stopped growing vegetables because it was a lot of hard work just to feed the squirrel population! The last three years I grew tomatoes I did not get to eat one single bite, not even a green one. The snakes aren’t my favorite either. I had one in my garage recently.

    I do love watching the birds & I grow swamp milkweed for the monarchs so I love watching them through all their stages of life. This morning I spotted our resident fox. He & his family are loads of fun to have around. Lots of baby rabbits & groundhogs right now too.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’m so jealous about your fox family, Jenny. I’ve yet to spot one in my garden, although I know they’re around. I’ll pass on the rabbits and groundhogs though! And I completely agree with you about the destructiveness of deer. Somehow, though, I can’t resist the sweet little fawns, even though I know they’ll soon grow up to be plant-noshing, antler-smashing fiends. Like you, I love some of the wildlife better than others, but I do enjoy photographing all of them. They sure do enliven a garden — if they aren’t eating all of it! —Pam

  6. Kim McCarthy says:

    Did your heart just sink when you saw the fawn? I would have felt so horrible! That’s great that she trusts your garden to leave her baby! So cute!!

  7. Mark and Gaz says:

    That was lovely to follow, and great timing too to be able to follow it all and capture the moments!

  8. It makes an exquisite photo!…Sweet photographs. The house wrens are occupied in my garden as well. Astonishing that the dragonfly is hued to some degree like your hanging…

  9. catmint says:

    how wonderful to watch the birds from your office. Very cute baby fawn, and the dragonfly on the dragonfly is hilarious.

  10. Jenny says:

    Whatever we think about the deer when we see one of those fawns our hearts melt. Not seen any around here yet. That is a seriously cute bird house.

  11. A sweet baby deer and a great story, Pam. I’ve learned to live with the deer here – the gardens outside of the fence are filled with deer-resistant plants, while all of the gourmet deer food is protected behind the fence. This allows me to think of them more kindly :-)

    Love the dragonfly on dragonfly – serendipity!

  12. Nell says:

    Baby groundhogs. Which are cute as all get out, as long as they’re only eating the clover in the lawn. In a month or so they’ll be guided a good ways away by their mother… who seems to celebrate the annual event by chowing down on a couple of her favorite daylilies, then usually returns to mainly clover. Fingers crossed the damage doesn’t escalate.

  13. Caroline says:

    I found kittens in my greenhouse this week. Don’t remember planting those…

  14. peter schaar says:

    Pam, you are the godzilla of wildlife photographers! I have all kinds of bees, butterflies and birds in my garden, but they seem to take special pleasure in holding still until I’m ready to shoot and then flying away. Patience doesn’t seem to be rewarded in my garden.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’m picturing a godzilla avatar, Peter — ha! I’m not very patient for photographing birds either, but these are literally right outside my office window. Just looked out, though, and I see a snake coiled up in the birdhouse. So sad!! —Pam

  15. Beth says:

    Right now I have over a dozen swallowtail caterpillars on my fennel right now. I live in town so I don’t have much wildlife. I have birds, but they tend to nest in my neighbors trees. They do come to my birdbath and eeders though.

  16. Peter/Outlaw says:

    You squirted Bambi! How sweet to find this baby hiding in your garden. Your birdhouse is way cool and the wrens obviously approve. So much to get done during spring for plants and wildlife alike.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      The wren chicks were being well fed. But sadly, they’ve now become food. I just looked out my window and can see a snake coiled up in that little birdhouse. :( —Pam

  17. What a lovely temporary addition to your garden! It’s hard not to love that face. We don’t have a lot of deer pressure where I live so it is easy for me to say; most people complain about the deer around here. I love your wren house. What is it made from? We have bluebirds, wrens, cardinals and chickadees nesting right now. Gotta love spring nesting season!

  18. […] as I sat down at my desk, I looked out to check on the little family — I’ve been watching the parents feeding the chicks — and something looked strange. I got up for a closer look and gasped as I realized a snake […]

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