Splitting Harlan’s Hawks?

Red-tailed Hawk_CanonCity-CO_LAH_8371.nef

If you’ve been birding for any length of time, you know that species come and species go. The birds don’t change, but our perception of which variations are actually different species is constantly undergoing review. We have lumpers, who combine disparate species into one, and splitters, who separate subspecies into two or more different species. Add in the (relatively) new ability to examine DNA, and you have a recipe for constant change.

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A Collapse of Détente: Russian Sage

Russian Sage @CSUtilXeriscapeGarden 9Aug2006 LAH200r

When Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) first appeared on the scene, I jumped right on the bandwagon, extolling its virtues and recommending it for Colorado gardens. I even planted it in my own yard. And yes, this hardy perennial lived up to my expectations. It was tough, drought-tolerant, and the deer and rabbits left it alone. On top of that, late summer brought a wealth of gorgeous lavender blossoms that covered the plant’s ferny, silvery-gray foliage. What’s not to like?

I’ll tell you. The plant is a thug.

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Is that a Northwestern Crow?

DumasBaySanctuary-WA_LAH_9606

I spent Thanksgiving week in the Pacific Northwest, visiting family (granddaughters!) and friends. Somehow, in the midst of tickles and snuggles, craft projects, and a delicious turkey dinner, I managed to squeeze in an hour of birding—and it wasn’t even raining.

Since we were in Federal Way for lunch that day, we headed for the tiny Dumas Bay Sanctuary. And I do mean tiny. If you walk north along the narrow beach, you quickly run into signs warning of private property. And if you head south instead, the park boundary markers stop you after only a few yards. At least the birds have permission to trespass, and we birders have binoculars.

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What Plant is This?

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I was looking through my camera downloads for blog-topic inspiration when I noticed that I have many lovely photos of pretty flowers, but no idea what they are. Some were taken in exotic (at least compared to Colorado) locales, others at our local gardens. It’s past time I get around to identifying these plants. And if I have a need to identify my mystery plants, maybe you do too. Here is how I go about putting names to pretty plant faces. Continue reading

December Bird Quiz

I thought I would offer two clues this month. The first one is harder. If you would like more information, click to continue the page. Now can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Arizona in April. I will post the uncropped photo on Saturday, giving you one more chance. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

Lazuli Bunting_Patagonia-AZ_LAH_3706

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Flowers in November: San Antonio Botanical Garden

602 Oak fall foliage

It was 15 years ago this week. Pete had been doing a lot of international travel that year, and was only 200 miles away from achieving Gold status on his frequent flyer program. One more flight would do it, and the perks were impressive. After a bit of research, we determined that the cheapest flight from Denver that was to Austin, Texas, so we made two reservations for the day after Thanksgiving and booked a rental car. Once in Austin, we drove to our final destination—San Antonio. Four nights in a hotel on the famous Riverwalk sounded like just what we needed!

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