Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Artichoke

Urban Quail-boy up to no good!

I have mixed feelings about the flocks of Gambel’s quail that roam the neighborhood. On the one hand, they are handsome native birds, eat weed seeds, and I know I should be honored to have the mob strolling through the landscaping. On the other hand, they devour the fresh tender leaves from my vegetables, make dust wallows in the cilantro patch, and dig holes in the mulch. Here’s one of them in the spring, deciding which part of the landscape he’s going to attack next.

It is definitely a male - notice the rust-colored head, black belly patch and large topknot feathers.

The tomato cages are partly for future support of the eggplant, but mostly to prevent the dogs from tag-team wrestling on top of them while the plants are small. By July the eggplant were 3 feet tall and bearing a dozen or more fruits a week.

The flowering plant in the background is called Desert Mallow or Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). It’s a weed, but a pretty one. In addition to the salmon color seen here, which is the most common color, other plants bloom in white or shades of lavender, pink, orange or an almost-red.

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