Shrikes? Yikes!

Loggerhead Shrike_JacksonLakeSP-CO_LAH_2024How would you like to be stalked, captured, then shaken so hard that your neck breaks—and then impaled onto a spike and left to age like a side of beef before finally being torn apart and eaten? That sounds like material suitable for a Halloween thriller. Yet, that’s your likely fate if you’re a mouse or lizard unlucky enough to catch the eye of a shrike. Shrikes are ferocious predators. It’s a good thing for us that they’re only about as big as an American Robin.

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Aspen Gold

LAH_4902

One of the joys of living in Colorado is the gorgeous gold of the aspen in fall. Other regions may boast more colorful foliage—the reds and purples of the hardwood forests to the east, for example—but nowhere else do we get the combination of cobalt blue skies, spectacular mountain scenery, and shimmering golden leaves. Such a treat is not to be missed, so we recently joined some friends and went leaf “peeping.”

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Designed by Nature

White-throated Kingfisher_BotanicGardens-Singapore_LAH_7461fWe humans like to think we’re pretty smart, and for good reason. Look at the amazing ideas people have had, leading to the most incredible inventions. I was reading some articles about the latest technologies, and I admit to being duly impressed.

Science and engineering have found ways to keep barnacles from attaching to the hulls of ships. A new adhesive is strong but safe enough for a newborn baby’s delicate skin. Cars and other forms of transportation are getting better gas mileage than ever before.

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October Bird Quiz: Uncropped Photo

If you were stymied on Monday, now can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in April. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

Common Raven_BlackCanyonoftheGunnisonNP-CO_LAH_0959

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Sensational Silver

Artemisia 'Seafoam' - Seafoam Sage @CSUtilXeriscapeGarden 9Aug2006 LAH136Ask any 4-year-old what color leaves are, and they’ll confidently proclaim, “Green!” And green leaves are just fine, for the most part. We expect gardens to be basically green, from the verdant lawn to the tops of the trees (at least during the growing season). When it comes to plants, that glowing, chlorophyll-derived green implies life and health.

But one can have too much of a good thing. That’s why our landscaping includes plants with leaves that are a soft silver (that sounds much better than “gray”). No, I don’t want an entire yard full of them, but as accent plants, silvery leaves can make quite the impression.

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October Bird Quiz

Can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in April. I will post the uncropped photo on Saturday, giving you one more chance to identify this bird. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

Common Raven_BlackCanyonoftheGunnisonNP-CO_LAH_0959-001

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A Passion for Purple

Gomphrena_DBG-CO_LAH_8573Do you like flowers? Are you passionate about purple? If so, you can’t miss out seeing the newest themed garden at Denver Botanic Gardens. Carved out of previously inaccessible space, this small but packed area is dominated by purple in all its glory. From mauve to plum, through violet to amethyst, every shade of purple is represented by the variety of flowers chosen.

When I asked at the information desk, I was astonished to learn that the plants have only been in the ground since August. You’d never guess. While the shrubs are still small, and obviously new, the annuals and perennials spill over rocks, fences, and one another in a profusion of blossoms.

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