Snakes!

Snakes!

An article I wrote about rats, snakes and bees appeared today in our local paper. Since I gave an update about rat poison and wildlife last month, let’s talk snakes. I like snakes. I know I’m unusual in this, perhaps because I didn’t have brothers that terrorized me with them (real or not), and maybe living in the Chicago suburbs, where we didn’t have a lot of snakes, had something to do with it.

My husband also likes them so when we encounter them it’s a positive thing. My previous articles on snakes have mostly focused on relocating rattlesnakes, something we did quite often at our San Diego County property.  [Read more…]

Great Hikes (and Camping): Wind Wolves Preserve

Great Hikes (and Camping): Wind Wolves Preserve

If you’re looking for a place in the southern half of California to hike or camp that features few people, running streams and waterfalls, and a wild land full of wildlife, head to Wind Wolves Preserve. As word gets out this place it won’t feel so remote very long.

Set aside by Wildlands Conservancy in 1996, photos from our recent June trip best illustrate its specialness. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

What’s blooming (and feeding wildlife) in our native plant yard

What’s blooming (and feeding wildlife) in our native plant yard

We have an early spring this February with our warm Southern California weather. I’ve been keeping track of what our resident hummingbird – the Anna’s Hummingbird – is taking nectar from in our reconverted lawn, now mostly California natives. The insect life is also rich – which in turn attracts the hummingbirds and other winged life. Seems photos will speak best, so here are a few from the last couple months. [Read more…]