In the case of the missing Monarch caterpillars, I admit I may have unfairly pinned the blame on the White-Breasted Nuthatch, which is probably far more interested in small insects on trees rather than large caterpillars on flowering plants.
It is time to accept that the caterpillar caper may never be solved. But when it comes to gardens and all the life therein, there are numerous other mysteries requiring the use of little grey cells.
Two days ago, I saw that a single yellow flower had bloomed right in front of our wrought-iron fence. It looked like a small sunflower with a speckled center.
I did not plant it and it was not there last year. None of our neighbors have flowers that look anything like it. So, how did it end up in the garden?
And then it hit me: this flower came from the bird feeder. It was a sunflower after all–the product of a black oil sunflower seed, dispersed by bird, chipmunk, or wind from the area by the bird feeder to a new home in the garden.
Unfortunately, it may not be a permanent home, since all signs point to this being an annual sunflower, not a perennial one. Perennial sunflowers don’t bloom from seed the first year, and they appear in clumps rather than single stems. But this guest is welcome for as long as it is able to stay, a small spot of sunshine in a garden gearing up for autumn. And maybe next year, I will disperse some seeds myself.