Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mexican hats el 5 de mayo, no mas el 7 de mayo

To bee'd

Or not to bee'd

During a short walk on Sunday, May 5, I took a few pix of some small clutches of Mexican hat flowers. (I hadn't actually thought of the date coincidence as a Mexican theme.) Two days later, I had hoped to show them to someone else. ¡Ay caramba! They were nowhere in sight! Where'd they go? Did someone pluck them? To take inside? To take them somewhere else? To throw them away? Eh, I wasn't going to be brave enough to knock on the homeowner's door to ask.

Separate places in the past (May last year, May 2014) bloomed wildly with Mexican hats, but nada on the 5th or 7th this year. Fortunately for me, more recently, I did manage to spot additional crops of Mexican hats and took pix and video. My compilation videos (bee'd and beeless include Mexican hats from four different areas (shot May 5, 16, 17, and 23). Hope you yourself spot such striking cute blooms where you live, work, play, or wander!

A few online resources to visit—
  • "Upright prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera" is a good starting point, with very basic description and some images.
  • "Ratibida columnifera" lists "Mexican Hat, Red-spike Mexican Hat, Upright Prairie Coneflower, Prairie Coneflower, Long-headed Coneflower, Thimbleflower" as common names. The website has more extensive information and a link to almost 200 images.
  • "Wildflowers of Texas", besides providing its image of Mexican hats and short description, also includes similar thumbnail info on other Texas wildflowers. (Note: Because of inconsistency in vertical placements of images near flowers' descriptions, it helps if you already know some of these specimens.)
    Mexican hat (Ratibida columnaris)—Blooms May to July, later with favorable weather. Common throughout most of state. Named for its resemblance to the traditional high-crowned, broad-brimmed Mexican sombrero.

    Seeing both "Ratibida columnifera" and "Ratibida columnaris" terms confused me. I've not been able to find much to clarify the difference. "Ratibida columnifera" shows up a lot more in hits, even when searching for "columnaris". "Mexican Hat / Ratibida columnaris / 500+ Seeds Perennial" indicates both terms are acceptable. (Prices look a lot more economical than some other sites that sell seeds and plants!)
  • "Ratibida Species, Mexican Hats, Thimbleflower, Upright Prairie Coneflower Ratibida columnifera" caught my eye for a pic that shows a striking batch of yellow-only petaled blooms.
  • A friend blogger Steve Schwartzman's blog collection of Mexican hat flowers reflects different times of years that he's caught 'em.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Blue Heron Sighting, Swans, and 12 Days of Christmas Connection

During this morning's walk, we spotted a pair of birds flying overhead. Companion speculated swans. A nearby homeowner who also spotted them declared they were blue herons. I had figured "swans" was not feasible. "They don't fly," I thought. Or do they?

A few years ago, when some relatives visited, we walked into a hotel that had swans in a pond area. View "Embassy Suites Austin TX - Arboretum", starting about 2:10 to see some swans in the lobby. A nearby sign mentions something about feeding (or not). My recollection was seeing a sign that said they swam only and did not fly. (I'm not making a special trip to the hotel to confirm no-fly swan zone.)

Swan Flights

From "Swan Facts for Kids", "swans can actually fly. They are among the largest flying birds out there and need about 30 yards to become airborne". "Flight Profiles and Take Off" describes flight and communication methodologies among trumpeter and tundra swan flocks.

"Swan Migration" provides details about migration of trumpeter and tundra swans.
Two swan species are native to North America. In summer, both migrate to the Arctic for breeding and nesting. Male trumpeter swans, one of the world's largest water birds, can weigh up to 28 pounds, with females a few pounds lighter; tundra swans are less than two-thirds that size. … trumpeters have all-black bills, while most tundra swans have a yellow patch on theirs.
12 Days of Christmas, Swans, and Additional Birds

During my mind meandering about swans, I thought about "12 Days of Christmas" and the line about seven swans a-swimming. Then I recalled several gift references to different bird types. Yet, how many younger people know what these birds are? Partridge? Turtle doves? French hens? Calling birds?

For a starting point about lyrics, visit "The Twelve Days of Christmas Traditional" to view all lyrics in one place. Want to know how many total birds? Visit "How Many Birds Are In The 12 Days Of Christmas Carol?".

View two entertainingly illustrated videos are "12 Days Of Christmas | Kids Songs | Super Simple Songs" and "Christmas Songs for Children * 12 Days of Christmas * Kids Songs * Christmas Carols for Kids". BTW, those images might be unhelpful with identifying actual birds in the lyrics. View real bird pix accompanied by descriptions at "The bird songs behind 'The 12 Days of Christmas'".