What’s This Plant?

unknown plantWhat’s this plant? Gardeners aren’t the only ones who find themselves wanting to identify a particular flower or shrub. Hikers like to learn the names of wildflowers, new homeowners want their landscape labeled, and most of us just get curious at times. With my new job (answering plant-related questions, either identifying them or diagnosing a problem), I’ve been identifying a lot of plants lately (if you missed it, I’m now working for a gardening app), and I’ve learned some tips.

There are two approaches to plant ID. The easiest for a non-botanist involves noticing some eye-catching feature and then either flipping pages in a colorful field guide or searching the internet for that attribute. Most wildflower guides are arranged by color, simplifying this process.


Birding Books for Kids

Any birder with a child in their life is eager to pass along their love of birds and nature in general. Pete and I have been blessed with a granddaughter, and even though she’s only seven months old, I’m already on the lookout for ways to share my interests.

At this tender age, she isn’t quite ready for her own binos—she’d probably try to eat them. Plus, she lives halfway across the country, so I can’t take her outside with me nearly as much as I’d like. Still, you can bet that most of the gifts from grandma this Christmas will have something to do with nature.


Mid-Summer Abundance


July is not the best time to go birding. The sweat drips from under your floppy hat and smears the view through your binos, and there’s a puddle soaking your shirt under your sling/backpack/fanny pack. It’s a challenge just carrying enough water to stay hydrated.

The birds aren’t cooperating, either. Most of the males have stopped singing now that they have their mates and their territories. Soon they’ll be molting out of their breeding plumage into something much duller and harder to identify. Some are already thinking about heading south, although they won’t actually leave town for a few more weeks.


Bird Gear: A Newbie’s Guide

leslie-birding-cuchara-pass-co-12jul05-plh-006“Birding is really inexpensive! All you need is a pair of binoculars and a field guide!” I was trying to explain to my ever-patient husband why this new fascination of mine was such a great idea.

In a sense I was right. Birding can be very low-budget, especially compared to other ways we entertain ourselves. It doesn’t take up much room—you collect the birds in a list that doesn’t require dusting or storage space. Looking at a wild bird is free. And all you really need to get started is a decent pair of binoculars, a good identification book, and a notebook in which to list your sightings.