Persecuting Cormorants

Double-crested Cormorant_PuebloCityPark-CO_LAH_6764

Early one morning a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I were birding around Kettle Lakes, a number of large ponds on U.S. Air Force Academy property. We exclaimed over the accuracy of a Belted Kingfisher’s dive to nab a fish for breakfast, in spite of the distortion caused by the air-water interface. A Great Blue Heron followed suit, coming up with a flapping fish in its beak.

Continue reading

You (probably) Don’t Need an Exterminator

Monarch Butterfly_DBG-CO_LAH_9197The neighborhood where I live seems to be a magnet for door-to-door salespeople selling services. One company in particular has been particularly persistent in their marketing attempts—an exterminator.

The first time they rang the doorbell, I politely but firmly told the guy I did not want my yard sprayed. I consider a diverse arthropod population to be a sign of a healthy landscape. I particularly want insects around to feed the birds I feed. Moreover, I had just planted a pollinator garden, designed to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other fascinating creatures;. The last thing I wanted was to kill my invited guests.

Continue reading

In Memory of Motswari

Eurasian Griffon Vulture_CheyenneMtnZoo-CO_LAH_5320Colorado Springs gets a lot of hail. Anyone who has lived here very long knows that hail is part of life. But in the 25 years we’ve called Colorado home, we’ve never seen a summer like this one. Three times in the past three months, the south end of town has been pummeled by huge hailstones— softball-sized cannonballs from the clouds that demolished anything in their path. Gardens, cars, roofs, windows—the damage is devastating.

Sadly, the most recent storm also injured dozens of people, some seriously enough to be hospitalized, and killed five animals at the renowned  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Today’s memorial post is dedicated to Cape Vulture (aka Cape Griffon) Motswari, an ambassador for her species and for vultures worldwide. Continue reading

Saving Mother Earth

Polar Bear @Denver Zoo 2009-02-14 LAH 351r (2)Save the monarchs. Save the rhinos. Save the polar bears. When I was growing up, it was save the whales. If you are on any conservation mailing lists, you know that there are plenty of beloved creatures in danger of extinction. Of course, these organizations all remind us that the way to save these poor, benighted creatures is to send money, lots of money.

This isn’t to say that these species aren’t in danger. And it isn’t that I don’t care about monarch butterflies, polar bears, or rhinos. I’ve been an environmentalist since my childhood, and I’m passionate about conservation.

Continue reading

Saving Rainwater

Storm moving in_XG_20090826_LAH_9762.nef

The storm pounded our garden, flattening flowers and washing away gravel. Even with the damage, I was grateful for the water—we spent over $100 last month just irrigating our xeric landscaping. Water is expensive, but rain is free. If only there was some way to save the downpour flooding our garden. But wait—there is! We could install a rain barrel!

Continue reading

It’s Against the Law…

Northern Flicker

Contrary to what we often hear (or see), it’s against the law to shoot a robin. You’re not allowed to take your frustration out on those early-morning hammering flickers, even if they destroy your house. And it’s illegal to bulldoze a prairie dog colony if there are burrowing owls in residence. In fact, because of the 1918 Migratory Bird Act, you’re not allowed to:

… pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention… for the protection of migratory birds… or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird.

(Did they leave anything out?)

Continue reading

Pesticide-free? Forget It!

059 fruit @PikeMarSea LAHI was at the market picking out some grapes when a large woman ran up to me and grabbed my arm. “Don’t buy those!” She looked alarmed. “They’re not organic!”

Thankfully, I’m rarely accosted in the produce department , but I frequently hear the same lecture from many of my friends. Don’t take man-made drugs. Don’t use artificial sweeteners. Don’t eat food that isn’t organic. You’re poisoning yourself. Natural is safe. Everything else isn’t.

Continue reading