Our Welcome (and not welcome) Nature Guests

Our Welcome (and not welcome) Nature Guests

Our housesitter called when we were away to say that we hadn’t told her about our unexpected friend. At dusk she had walked out onto the back patio and discovered a 5-foot gopher snake slithering along the house. Knowing our respect for critters, she successfully whisked it away with a broom. We hope it stays around. After all, gopher snakes eat lots of rats and other rodents, which also seem to like our yard. [Read more…]

Saving Wildlife: Keep Cats Indoors (and Other Suggestions)

Saving Wildlife: Keep Cats Indoors (and Other Suggestions)

First a full disclosure: I have had both indoor cat and outdoor cats.

Yesterday I came across a half-eaten bird kill caused by a cat I’ve seen stalking our bird-friendly property. It made me think of some research The Secret Life of Roaming Cats I heard on NPR in August. Working with the National Geographic Society, University of Georgia researchers strapped small video cameras on 55 cats as they roamed [Read more…]

Finding Nature in Cabo San Lucas

Finding Nature in Cabo San Lucas

We recently stayed at a timeshare (Hacienda del Mar) in Cabo with friends — and discovered a bountiful nature scene following the heavy rains that hit the area the last few weeks. The answer: in addition to the rich marine life among the rocks, go find the native plants, which we found next door to the resort, nestled around the golf course. The photos below tell the story about what I’ll remember most:

Get Out of Your Car on Road Trips and… What Arizona’s Monsoons Bring

Get Out of Your Car on Road Trips and… What Arizona’s Monsoons Bring

Vultures taking advantage of the hundreds of sphinx moth caterpillars crossing the road, Colorado River toads, noisy grasshoppers and gorgeous sunsets….

I took a trip to Arizona last week, and happened to time it with the last days of Arizona’s monsoons.  When I lived in Flagstaff I relished the annual monsoons, those afternoon showers that hit every July though September. [Read more…]

If Nature Could Really Speak: Challenges to Sky Island

If Nature Could Really Speak: Challenges to Sky Island

This is from a friend of mine, Denise Morse, a fellow defender of the environment. We served together on a land trust board in Alpine CA. She writes about Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountain Sky Island – a wildlife haven outside Tucson that is facing a new copper mine

by Denise Morse

I parked facing west looking at a heavily vegetated tall mountain region that was crowned by ominous storm clouds. I pushed back my seat and rolled down the windows and began to listen for nature.  It wasn’t long before I heard a woodpecker tapping diligently on what looked like an Arizona White Oak.  [Read more…]

Rattlesnakes! Relocating Them Works Just Fine….

Rattlesnakes! Relocating Them Works Just Fine….

I have a follow-up post on this subject here with a further discussion and bibliography with Dr. Hayes and another here on more recent research by Dr. Erika Nowak.

We were up at a Big Bear concert a couple weekends ago, which was sponsored by the San Bernardino National Forest Association (great time – one more concert Sep 1st), and director Sarah Miggins told us they removed a rattlesnake during the concert that was coiled up under the sound stage. Oblivious to the hundreds of attendees, a U.S. Forest Service biologist successfully captured the snake, placed in a garbage can, and released it some distance away.

It was likely glad to get away from all the noise. And thank goodness, as one security person was about to use a fire extinguisher on the snake. [Read more…]

Ants! More Beneficial than You Think

Ants! More Beneficial than You Think

About a month ago, I got a letter in the mail from a termite company, Terminix, which began with the following: “Ants can be more harmful to your family than you think. That’s because these monsters (and others, like cockroaches may carry more than a dozen kinds of bacteria, like strep and staph. And where there’s one of these pests, there could be hundreds….”

I asked Anna Dornhaus, University of Arizona professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,