Springtime in the Rockies can challenge a gardener’s patience. One day, the snow is flying fast and furious, and the next the sun comes out and you can’t wait to get outside. Anyone who has lived here a year or more knows better than to plant this early; winter is slow to let go, sometimes lingering until mid-May. Yet, those gorgeous sunny days just beg for time spent in the garden. Go ahead—there are plenty of other chores that need our attention.
I finally had to unsubscribe from our local gardening Facebook group. It was just too painful. While there was much group wisdom (especially when it comes to identifying mystery plants), a significant portion of the advice being handed out by various self-proclaimed experts was just plain wrong. I got tired of cringing, and I didn’t want to be THAT person who acted as if they knew it all. I don’t, but I’m learning.
I was walking along a lake, part of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary in New Delhi, India, when I spied a familiar duck. Could that be a Green-winged Teal? But after looking through my field guide, I discovered that Green-winged Teal wasn’t one of the options. There was, however, an illustration of a Common Teal that looked similar, so I jotted down the name and, for insurance, snapped a photo:
The view out my window on a recent morning was solid white. I was looking at four inches of what the weather folks called “it may or may not snow, and surely there won’t be much accumulation.” Schools were on a delay, temperatures hovered in the mid-teens, and visibility was nil. Yup, I wouldn’t be birding that day. (I don’t mind getting snowed on—it’s navigating the snowy roads that poses the difficulty.)
There we were, a gaggle of pre-adolescent girls approaching puberty, giggling as we shared the details of the recent talks we’d each had with our mothers. Apparently, the parents had gotten together and decided to synchronize their lectures about the birds and the bees. That was smart on behalf of the parents—armed with the facts, we wouldn’t be sharing misinformation.
Crows are one of the most common birds in the Pacific Northwest. There are crows in every tall fir, flying overhead, perching on lamp posts. You can’t miss them. And then, if you happen down to the beach—particularly in Puget Sound—there are hundreds more, picking through the seaweed on intertidal rocks, foraging through the debris left by the receding waters, feasting on dead sea life that has washed up on the sand. But, are those American Crows or Northwestern Crows?