Critters in Trees

Birders_BrettGrayRanch-CO_LAH_1888Birders spend a lot of time looking in trees. Of course, we’re hoping to see birds, and often we do. But birds aren’t the only animals that live in trees. And, while I get a thrill spotting a less-than-common bird among the branches, I also get rather excited when it’s a less-than-common mammal—or other creature.

fox-squirrel_dbg_10200118_lah_7185Besides the birds, what do I see in trees? Squirrels! It’s a rare birding trip when we don’t spot at least a couple of squirrels, and typically there are plenty more. Here in the Colorado Springs area, by far the most common species is the Eastern fox squirrel, which some idiot nostalgic person from the East introduced to Colorado during the 1940s. Fox squirrels spend their time sneaking around urban yards, emptying bird feeders and chewing up grill covers and the fabric cushions of our patio furniture.

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I’m Thankful For This…

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Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sure you’re busy today, so today’s post will be short.

In honor of all the turkeys that will give their lives so we can celebrate God’s generosity, I’d like to share a cartoon I recently discovered. Not that it’s new. This website has been around a while now. But I didn’t know about it, and if it’s new to me, then it might also be new to you.

Please click on over to Bird and Moon and prepare to be delighted. I’m linking you to one of my favorite cartoons, but be sure to check out the rest of them, plus the store and everything else. Just don’t let dinner burn while you’re distracted!

Bird and Moon: Science and Nature Cartoons

(No, I wasn’t paid to promote this. I just think it’s awesome!)

Vampire Plants

Humpback_anglerfishWhen I think of parasites, I typically think of creatures such as tapeworms, fleas, ticks, and leeches—nasty invertebrates that drain the life out of us humans. Then, I might recall that some higher animals can also be parasites, such as the deep sea anglerfish. You’ve likely seen pictures of anglerfish, with their huge, pointy teeth in a large head, followed by a tapering body. When these fish mate, the male permanently attaches itself to the female and lives off her bloodstream for the rest of his life, his sperm his only contribution.  (See National Geographic’s video of a particularly beautiful anglerfish species.)

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Aspen Gold

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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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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.

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Separating the Sheep from the Goats

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A friend and I (along with several hundred others) were enjoying the ambience at Summit Lake, most of the way up 14,265 foot high Mount Evans. We were taking a break from the hairpin turns and sheer drop-offs on our way to the top of the highest paved road in the U.S.A.

Situated at 12,836 feet, Summit Lake is a beautiful place. The water shimmered in the bright sunlight. Alpine wildflowers carpeted the rocky ground, backed by craggy cliffs that barely hid the actual summit. As usual, the parking lot was overflowing, people were queued up to use the restrooms, and there was a total disregard for the signs begging everyone to keep to the trails and stay off the fragile tundra.

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