Aasuínviam—dwellers among the plants. These are the animals that have come on their own to Aasuíngna, because it’s the sort of place they can call home.
California and Baja California are home to Calypte anna, our most common resident hummingbird. They buzz from flower to flower, looking for small insects and nectar. Red flowers are especially attractive to hummingbirds in this area, but they will visit any flower with nectar that they can reach with their long tongues.
Both male and female hummingbirds will defend patches of flowers against other hummingbirds, and females are also very defensive of their nests. The nests are small, carefully made, and often hidden, and usually hold two eggs.
The Tongva call this bird pínar, a word that also means “messenger.”
Western Fence Lizard
Our photograph is of a young Sceloporus occidentalis; these common lizards were breeding in the Ethnobotany Learning Center within a month of the first plantings. When they are not hiding from predators, they like to hang out on rocks, fence posts, and other sunny places. Adult males have bright blue bellies.
These grasshopper relatives are named for the way they hold their forelegs, as if in prayer, but they might also be called “preying” mantises, because they capture and eat other insects. Praying mantises are also known for their unusual mating habits: the female often kills the male during or after mating.
When bees are mentioned, many of us think first of the European honeybee and its Africanized relatives, but California is home to a diversity of native bees. Our carpenter bees come to collect pollen and nectar from our native plants.
Carpenter bees nest in holes they chew in wood (they occasionally cause minor damage to houses). They are not social bees; a mother carpenter bee only cares for her own young.
Grasshoppers, relatives of the praying mantis, are major herbivores, feasting on the plants of the Ethnobotany Learning Center. In turn, they provide food for birds.
Where there are insects, there are spiders. Both the yellow crab spider and the green garden spider blend with their surroundings, to avoid being eaten by birds, and to remain hidden from their prey.