Milkweeds: Not Just for Monarchs

Monarch on milkweed

When we think of milkweeds, we typically think in terms of those plants that Monarch butterflies eat. And yes, Monarch larvae are dependent on milkweeds. The leaves contain toxic chemicals (cardenolide) that the insects feeding on them can incorporate into their own bodies, making them unpalatable to predators.

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Eleven Mile Canyon Again

While I love birding someplace new, there’s also something special about having a tradition of revisiting the same spot at the same time, year after year. My friend Debbie’s birthday is December 29, and we do our best to reserve the date for our traditional trip to Eleven Mile Canyon.

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A Pantone “Color of the Year” Garden

Right on schedule, Pantone has revealed the color of the year for 2021. In a break with tradition, there are actually two colors—a bright, buttery yellow called Illuminating, and Ultimate Gray. The minute I saw the yellow, I thought, perfect choice! It’s cheerful, and after 2020, we need all the cheering up we can get. But gray? Most of 2020 was a dismal, gray year, and the thought of facing yet another year like that is downright depressing. I don’t need to reinforce those bleak feelings.

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An Answer, and Another Quiz

I left you hanging last month. I injured my back, and wasn’t able to sit in a chair long enough to write much of anything. My blog took a back seat to simply getting essential tasks done. No fun. Now I’m scheduled for back surgery, so my posts will have to be sporadic until I fully recover. Still, if one has to be sidelined, I’m glad it’s happening now, while the pandemic keeps us mostly home in any case.

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December Bird Quiz

12 Katoomba-NSW-Australia_LAH_5599

Now that you’ve made it to the end of the year, it’s time for a challenge. By now you should realize that all the quiz birds this year were females. Most females lack bright colors, but I couldn’t resist the Christmas colors on this gorgeous lady.

She was was photographed in Australia in October. What species is she? (It’s a bit of a sexist name, actually.)

The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

 

Clearing Up Plant Names

Six years ago, I posted an article about scientific names for plants. As I pointed out, scientific names are essential because there are often a multitude of common names for a single species, or the same common name for a multitude of species. Using the genus species clarifies exactly which plant you’re discussing.

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A Vagabond Varied Thrush

After last week’s post about “Lost Birds,” I shouldn’t be surprised this week when a bird typically found in the old growth forests along the coast from northern California to Alaska was spotted in a playground at a county park out on the eastern plains of Colorado. Talk about lost!

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Lost Birds

Eurasian Wigeon, Cañon City, Colorado

The chatter on Facebook caught my attention—a Magnificent Frigatebird had been seen and photographed at Cherry Creek State Park, and a Bohemian Waxwing was hanging out across town at Hudson Gardens. While I ponder the wisdom of driving over an hour each way to chase these out-of-place birds, especially with snow in the forecast, I have to wonder—how did they end up here in the first place? The frigatebird is a tropical species—I’ve seen them in Central America and the Caribbean—while Bohemian Waxwings typically hang out in the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere, and are considered to be rare for the Denver area.

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Horticultural Horrors

In honor of Halloween being this week, I thought I’d scare you with some photos of horticultural horrors—gardening mistakes that make the staunchest plant person cringe. Please, spare a plant, and don’t make these ghastly blunders.

These poor crabapples are attempting to survive in the parking lot of our local YMCA. Every time I walk past, I shudder. They’re doomed to a short life, as their roots have no place to go. Did the landscapers think that air and water permeate concrete and asphalt?

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