The Gottlieb Native Garden

a california love story

The Gottlieb Native Garden is a flourishing ecosystem belonging to Susan and Dan Gottlieb, friends of flora and fauna and devoted environmental philanthropists. With more than 100 hand-selected plant species and hundreds of animal species, the backyard is a National Wildlife Federation-certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat and a Xerces Society-designated Pollinator Habitat.

Striped Skunk Fur Coloration

We captured an interesting image of a skunk a few weeks back.  Although Striped Skunk’s coloration can vary, the amount of white in the inferred image looked greatly exaggerated. Compare the photos of skunks below:

Exaggerated white markings

Typical individual

This week, another trail camera got a color shot of said skunk. Lo and behold, it really does have that much white in its coat! 

Exaggerated white markings

Typical individual

In all the years looking at Striped Skunks, never had we seen coloration like this. We did some research and found that Striped Skunk back, side and leg markings can range from pure white to solid black, and every variation in-between. Right when you think you know something about an animal, Nature throws a curveball at you!

November Moths

We were out in the garden last night; so many beautiful things can be found after the sun sets.

Geometrid Moth - Nemoria leptalea

Southern Purple Mint Moth - Pyrausta laticlavia

Munias Have Returned

Scaly-breasted Munia or Nutmeg Mannikin or Spice Finch or Spotted Finch

With its many names, this non-native bird (endemic to Asia) might be best called by its latin name Lonchura punctulata.  It has been added to the California Bird Records Committee State List with the common name Scaly-breasted Munia, so we call it that in the garden. 

After being absent from the GNG during the summer months while they bred, Scaly-breasted Munias have now returned.  They tend to show-up around Halloween, and his year was no different.

Scaly-breasted Munia - Lonchura punctulata

Turkey Vulture

Although we have never seen one in the garden itself, Turkey Vultures are seen often soaring above the GNG.  Easily identified by their characteristic wobbly, unsteady flight (when they have empty stomachs), Turkey Vultures ride thermals to conserve energy, usually while in the pursuit of its next meal. Living on purely a carrion diet, they are one of our only birds with a well-developed sense of smell and are able to follow the scent of a fresh carcass miles away.

Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura

Brown Widow Spider

Egg sack

Below, a Brown Widow Spider waits for prey in its seemingly haphazard tangle web, the typical design of all comb footed spider webs.  A recent spider survey in the GNG found well over 100 Brown Widows, and not a single Black Widow.  It is not well understood why the alien Brown Widow out-competes its native cousin the Black Widow, or why this replacement of spider species is happening so quickly.  What is known, for good or bad, Brown Widow Spiders are now well established in the Los Angeles Basin and are here to stay.

Brown Widow - Latrodectus geometricus  

Displaying Painted Tiger Moth

This is the time of year to find tiger moths in Los Angeles – and there is no shortage of them in the GNG.  If you give them a little nudge while they are trying to find a mate, you might be surprised when they launch into this beautiful display.

Painted Tiger Moth - Arachnis picta

Teenage Great Horned Owl

A pair of Great Horned Owls raised two chicks in the GNG this past season.  We were lucky enough to watch as the youngsters learned the ways of our urban jungle.  Their parents drove them off about a month ago as they will tolerate chicks begging for food for only so long.  We have been wondering how the young owls were getting along and this week one showed-up, captured on a trail cam.  This is good news and bad news.  The good news is this little guy has figured out how to survive on its own.  The bad news is that its parents will fiercely defend their hunting territory from other Great Horned Owls – including their own fledged offspring.  

Good luck little one!

Great Horned Owl

Monarchs are Still Visiting the Garden

It’s getting late in the season, but we still have Monarch larvae and pupae in the garden. The GNG has been transitioning from Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) to California native Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) over the past two seasons. It now looks like we will have only native Monarch host plants in the GNG beginning in 2018, and our wildlife will only benefit from it.

For those who have tropical milkweed still growing in their gardens, be sure to aggressively cut it back by November 1st to prevent Monarchs from laying eggs on it. Monarch larvae emerging from eggs this late in the season have very little chance of becoming an adult butterfly. 

Monarca Larva - Danaus plexippus 

Monarch Pupa

Adult Monarch