Love in Lizard Land

Love in Lizard Land

It’s springtime in the nature world. We came across two mating lizard couples yesterday while many others are running around like cuckoos trying to get into the game. (… looked up cuckoos and they’re a family of birds that include roadrunners.) The season of love has also struck other animal species. Two of our birdhouses are being prepped by busy Bewick’s wrens. And out in the chaparral and desert, male rattlesnakes are getting territorial, lifting their fronts up to challenge one another.

I thought I would get some answers to things I ponder when observing our yard’s lizards, so I asked Robert Fisher, a biologist with the USGS in San Diego and co-author of A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians in Coastal Southern California.

Here is what I learned: [Read more…]

A Feel Good Bird Walk

A Feel Good Bird Walk

The daylight’s savings time change made it harder but I’m so glad I attended the Redlands Conservancy birdwatching event this morning at San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary (click here for previous article on  this special preserve in Redlands CA). Allyson Beckman, who helps monitor endangered species as a field biologist with the Santa Ana Watershed Association, shared her significant knowledge.  She’s also helped usher in a success story at the preserve with the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo, a small bird whose appearance is more gray than yellow in the West. Numbers tell it best: fifteen years ago a colleague of hers documented 5 males. Last year: 151.

Here are my takeaways from Beckman’s walking talk about the local and migrant birds found in San Timoteo Canyon. [Read more…]

Preventing Birds from Hitting Windows

Preventing Birds from Hitting Windows

We’ve had two birds die from hitting windows over the last two weeks. It used to happen in our last house, which  featured big picture windows facing a canyon. But now I think the native plant and wildlife friendly habitat we’ve nurtured is bringing more birds to our Redlands CA house.

Here are some suggestions from several bird organizations: the Audubon Society, the American Bird Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, along with a local bird expert. [Read more…]

The Consequences of Pesticides in Citrus Pest Treatment – and references

The Consequences of Pesticides in Citrus Pest Treatment – and references

An op-ed article I wrote for the Redlands Daily Facts, entitled “Understanding the Consequences of Asian Psyllid Treatment,” is being published tomorrow. It was prompted when I noted that articles were not mentioning the negative effects of the recommended pesticide treatments for an alarming pest that is attacking citrus trees. Some important background first: our area is resuming treatments for the Asian Citrus Psyllid, the bug responsible for devastating Florida citrus, which has made its way to Southern California. Most commercial groves have been treated. Now residents have the option to have their backyard citrus trees treated. Many of these points apply these common pesticides being used of other uses also.

Here are my main points after doing research on this subject, plus references are listed below: [Read more…]

Abundant winter bird life in So. California… and what happens to dead birds

Abundant winter bird life in So. California… and what happens to dead birds

After our cold spell here in Southern California — it actually got into the high 20s in our neighborhood, reminding me of my many years in the Midwest – the resident and visiting birds are out in full force.The dozens of wintering Robins, and the colorful Cedar Waxwings, who come all the way down from Canada and Alaska, especially rely on our winter berries. [Read more…]

Native Plants Do Help Habitat for Wildlife

Native Plants Do Help Habitat for Wildlife

A friend forwarded an article “Are We Really Helping” by plant ecologist Susan Tweit that questions how much the planting of native plants aids wildlife.  The answer is yes, it does. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, while keeping some mature (50 + years) California natives such as Sugar Bush (Rhus ovata) and California Sycamores (Platanus racemosa) on our property, we’ve converted a former lawn in our front yard to mostly native plants. We’ve also taken out dead or half-dead oleanders in our backyard and plugged in local California native plants such as sages (salvias), toyons and elderberries.  The result has been more wildlife, evidenced by butterflies, small native insects, bees and wasps that visit our plants (and our pool where I fish them out), and larger critters photographed in our wildlife camera. Photos below. [Read more…]

Nature Abounds on Grand Canyon River Trip

Nature Abounds on Grand Canyon River Trip

My family and I just got done with a whopping 22 days on the Colorado River – floating, running rapids, hiking, unloading and loading boats, and eating great meals in the Grand Canyon. The private permit I applied for in the mid-90s finally came up. Along with endless stunning views along the way, bats, birds, other animals and insects, and plant life were doing great, especially after plentiful monsoon rains. Here is a gallery of photos – click on the photo for the full view. [Read more…]