Bountiful Bugs

Mountain Bluebird_ChicoBasinRanch-CO_LAH_1248-001The bulldozers are at it again. Another swath of short-grass prairie is being turned into houses. I can’t complain—I live in such a house. A mere three years ago, birds and bunnies made their home in what is now my yard. The voles and cottontails are still here and thriving, largely at the expense of my landscaping. The birds—assorted sparrows, hawks, Say’s Phoebes, Horned Larks, Scaled Quail, and Killdeer—decided to go elsewhere.

Now I’m trying to lure them back by replacing what nature has lost. Instead of the typical neighborhood rocks-and-grass “zero-scape,” we’ve included shrubs and trees that offer wildlife food and shelter. Native shrubs such as three-leaf sumac, manzanita, Boulder raspberry, buffaloberry, and chokecherry all offer berry-like fruit. Our roadside oak will one day provide acorns, the limber pines have seed-filled cones. Seeds come from native grasses and flowers, too, while dwarf conifers and dense shrubs offer a place to hide from predators and the weather. My nectar garden feeds hummingbirds and other pollinators. Feeders offer additional seeds and suet, and my heated birdbath is a year-round source of water.

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Another Reason Birders Wear Hats

tent-caterpillar_sanpedro-sierravistaaz_20100510_lah_1212Plop, plop, plip plop… it sounded as if it was raining, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining. I was happily prowling a row of tall cottonwoods growing thickly along a creek, searching for flycatchers, migrating warblers, and anything else of interest. Now, something was falling out of the tree tops, but it couldn’t possibly be rain.

Blop. Something landed on my hat brim. Something else hit my shoulder, and another falling object landed on my arm. What in the world? I put down the binoculars and focused more closely.

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