Planting a Tree

Improper staking_LAH_5226How do you plant a new tree? Most people know to dig a hole “twice as wide and deep as the root ball” (according to the label I found hanging from the branches), then stick in the tree, making sure the roots are well buried. Amend the backfill with plenty of compost, pile it over the roots and tamp it down firmly. Finally, securely stake the thin trunk so it won’t wiggle in the wind. Right?


This advice was being questioned as far back as 1980, but it is still widely practiced, much to the detriment of the poor plants.


Flow-through Ventilation

Snow Geese_BosquedelApacheNWR-NM_LAH_6899.nef

I was watching a skein of geese flying south for the winter, individuals arranged in a typical V-shape, each bird pumping its wings up, down, up, down, hour after hour after hour. Just watching them, knowing how many hundreds, thousands, of miles they had to go before they reached their destination, made me exhausted.

Then there are the songbirds, who migrate so high that we don’t even notice them. How do they travel such long distances, exerting themselves where the air is so thin? Even more, they can fly and vocalize at the same time. (When I’m hiking at high elevations, it’s all I can do to gasp for air; I can’t even talk, much less sing!)


How to Help a Newbie

birders_clearspringsswa-co_20100306_lah_9330“I’m interested in learning how to watch birds. How can I get started?”

The question was music to my ears. Who doesn’t love to share their passion with someone else? It wasn’t so long ago that I was a new birder, trying to juggle a crummy pair of old binoculars with a mysterious field guide, all while trying (unsuccessfully) to keep an eye on the bird I was trying to identify. I’ve come a ways since those early days and even though I still have much to learn, I’m eager to pass on my limited birding skills.