Gardening in the Zone

usda-zone-mapAfter all the bustle of the holidays, I finally have a chance to brew a cup of tea, snuggle into my favorite chair, and open that stack of garden catalogs I’ve been accumulating. As I skip past the annual seeds and browse through pages filled with gorgeous photos of lush, evergreen shrubs and flowering trees, the frustration begins to build.

See, they have this little box, usually inside the front or back page, or perhaps on the order form. It has a map of the U.S., with colored bands forming a predictable rainbow in the east, but looking a bit more chaotic in the west. This map tells me that most of the plants in the catalog will not survive my Colorado winters.

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Resolved: Join eBird

ebird-welcomeDo you watch birds? And if so, are you a “lister”? That is, when you go out to look at birds, do you keep a list of which species you’ve seen?

While most of us start listing for our own sense of accomplishment (or compulsion!), those notebooks can actually help ornithologists determine where the birds live, whether their populations are thriving, stable, or in decline, and the human and environmental factors affecting them.

At the same time, we birders can benefit from one another’s sightings. Are you looking for a particular species to add to your life list? Did you know that you can find out where others have seen that bird?

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