Plant of the Moment: Red Bird of Paradise or Poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). The forecourt is a blaze of color as this West Indies native comes into bloom! The Red Bird of Paradise so impressed the 17th-century Spanish explorers when they saw it in bloom that they imported it to Europe, where it has been gracing botanical gardens ever since. Tremendously adaptable, this tropical flower is also used in landscaping in the Sonoran Desert (because it tolerates the monsoon season well), and it certainly thrives in our hot humid weather too. Landscape architect Ralph Cornell added one to the RLC forecourt in 1931; that planting has been expanded to eventually help screen the country club parking and tennis courts from view.
Bird of the Month: Bushtit. Bushtits are small grey-to-brown birds, no more than 4 inches long (tail included). They are a resident species here at RLC that you can often find by listening because they regularly keep up a steady commentary amongst the flock. Bushtits glean the insects that crawl on plants, sometimes hanging upside down to check the underside of leaves. When one senses a threat or the food supply runs low, it will fly to another shrub or tree. In a straggling parade, the rest of the flock soon follows. That is a fairly remarkable sight since a flock can include up to two dozen birds. The female photographed here has pale eyes, while the dark-eyed bird is either a male or a juvenile.