May Bird Quiz

Can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in June. 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.

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Fabulous Container Gardens

Flowers on balcony @SantaFeNM 2008jun28LAH 116When you think of container gardens, what comes to mind? Red geraniums in a window box? A hanging pot filled with colorful petunias? How about pots of herbs on the window sill? How about a huge pot overflowing with varied textures, colors, and shapes? When it comes to container gardens, that geranium is only the beginning.

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Birding Down Under: Yamba to Brisbane

brahminy-kite_yamba-nsw-australia_lah_0779It was our final day on the coast of New South Wales, and I wanted to see shorebirds.  We had stayed in Yamba, so after breakfast we headed for the beach. It  was empty. No people. No birds. Just wind, and plenty of that.

Discouraged, I started to head back to the car when a large, blunt-headed black bird flew overhead, then landed in a near-by tree. I rushed over, camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. Yes, there it was—a  Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo! It gave me an indifferent look, then went back to munching on the flowers while I clicked away.

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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.

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Scrub-Jay Split

Scrub Jay_ColoSpgs-CO_LAH_2272In case you haven’t heard, we have a new bird on the block. Last summer the familiar Western-Scrub Jay was split into two species—the California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) and the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii).

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Lungwort—Prettier than it Sounds

Pulmonaria_Lungwort_DBG-CO_LAH_4436

It’s easy to understand why we want to include Sweet William, Lamb’s Ears, or Love-in-a-Mist in our gardens. Their whimsical names make us smile. On the other hand, it’s surprising anyone grows plants with names such as fumewort, blood lily, or wormwood. They sound awful! In fact, these plants are quite beautiful, as you can see below (clockwise from upper right).

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Hummingbirds have Superpowers

Broad-tailed Hummingbird_BlkForest-CO_LAH_6054On a trip to Washington this past February, it seemed strange to see (Anna’s) hummingbirds coming to the feeders. Here in Colorado, we aren’t so lucky. The species we enjoy here depart in the fall and don’t return until the end of April—or even later. Still, I’ll be brewing up some sugar water soon. I typically hang my feeders around April 25, just in case some early arrivals show up in the backyard. (When temperatures dip below freezing, I take the feeders in for the night, then warm them a bit for the birds’ breakfast.)

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