Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

On Instagram: @unionbaywatch

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A Barred Owl Dilemma

Friends often ask, "What do you think about the Barred Owls?" My heart replies, They are beautiful, silent, and intelligent raptors. We are lucky to have them in our cities. 

However, the real question my friends seem to want answered is, What do you think of the US Fish and Wildlife's plan to eliminate some of the Barred Owls? Barred Owls out compete Spotted Owls in the old growth forests of Oregon, Washington and California. The research shows Spotted Owls decline when competing with Barred Owls. 

This link has more details on the issue from the US Fish and Wildlife. Please be patient, it may take multiple tries to actually get through. 

Historically, Barred Owls did not exist in the west coast forests. In the last century, they have found forested "bridges" that allowed them to cross the plains and reach the west. Apparently, these forest pathways were created by the trees planted on farms built across the North American plains. 

Spotted Owls, on the other hand, are specialists. They can only live and survive in our western old growth forests. The competition is even more serious because the old growth forests have been vastly reduced by logging in the last century. Spotted Owls are smaller than the Barred Owls, less aggressive, reproduce much slower, and are less abundant when sharing the same habitat. Barred Owls eat a much wider variety of foods, so they have smaller territories and multiple pairs of Barred Owls can survive in the same area that would support only one pair of Spotted Owls. In addition Barred Owls do quite well in our city parks, in second growth forests and other places that Spotted Owls avoid.

Here are a few examples of the wide variety of creatures that Barred Owl eat:

The least surprising food for a Barred Owl is a rat. Their consumption of Norway Rats maybe the most low cost, easy, ecologically sustainable, and effective way to manage these non-native creatures. 

By the way, rodenticides bioaccumulate and not only kill Barred Owls, but also the native Cooper's Hawks and any other creatures that regularly consumes rats. Learn more about alternative solutions to rat problems at the Urban Raptor Conservancy.

It also makes sense that the Barred Owls, who originated in the forests of Eastern North America, might catch and consume creatures that also originated in the east. For example, a young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit makes a perfect meal for a Barred Owl. In Seattle, the Barred Owls also feed on our non-native Eastern Gray Squirrels. 

Moles are a local native food source for Barred Owls that are abundant in the Arboretum. Most often, the Owls probably catch them when young moles leave their original nest and begin looking for their own territory. Curiously, WDFW suggests that young moles usually only disperse 30 yards or less from their original nest, but they do so rather slowly.

Barred Owls also eat native birds. Here the adult is feeding an American Crow to its owlet.

 In this case, the adult caught a Spotted Towhee for its young.

In the Arboretum, Barred Owls also hunt for food in the Woodland Garden ponds. This 2021 photo was the first time I actually saw one catch and consume one of the Northwestern Salamanders that live in the ponds.

Two weeks ago, I watched an adult, not far from the Woodland Garden ponds, bring a Northwestern Salamander to one of its young. The owlet held onto the rather large amphibian for quite awhile as if unsure what to do next. Its sibling watched anxiously - but did not intervene. A couple of times, the adult reached out as if it might retrieve the Salamander. Although, it may have also been preparing to catch it if it fell. Ultimately, the owlet kept a firm grip and finally consumed the Salamander.

A special Thank You to Tom and Harriet who both found the young owlets before I located them!

Last week, just after the rain stopped, I went out hoping to find the Barred Owl owlets again. First, I noticed the sounds of the American Crows, which led me to one of the adult owls. I followed the owl at a distance as it evaded the Crows and hunted Dark-eyed Juncos. While flying directly towards the Juncos it passed so close I could smell the scent of its dank moist feathers. After failing to catch any food, it settled on this branch and began cleaning and preening its matted and wet feathers.   

I waited and watched, hoping, it might lead me to the owlets.

After pulling a number of feathers through its beak, which removes water and realigns the barbs, it began spreading and shaking its tail.

Then it fluffed up virtually all of its feathers at once.

Is finished by shaking its head while holding its body perfectly still. 
(I would not try this at home.)

Finally, as the darkness began to fall, it apparently decided it had to find something to feed the young. It was almost like a last resort.

The Owl flew to a small grassy glade, surrounded by the tall trees of the Arboretum. It landed barely six feet above the ground and studied the soil intently. Twice, it flew down and landed in the grass. The second time it was successful. I have seldom seen Barred Owls hunt like this but in each case it was just after a rain. The Barred Owls apparently understand that when enough water sinks into the soil, worms come to the surface for air.

After making the catch, it flew to a nearby maple tree and delivered the worm to its young.

These examples of the varieties of food that Barred Owls will eat are not exhaustive. But it does illustrate the flexibility of the Barred Owls and how that helps them out-compete the Spotted Owls. The Spotted Owls are known to only find food in old growth forests. 

Personally, I would love for the old growth forest and the Spotted Owls to survive, and thrive, and be available for future generations. However at best shooting Barred Owls is a temporary work around. Maybe, this approach will enable us to save the Spotted Owls from extinction while we discover a real, sustainable solution to the issue. (Click Here for a photo comparison of a Barred Owl and a Spotted Owl.)

However, if climate change continues, it seems unlikely that the old growth forests will survive. Exceptionally hot dry summers are likely to kill the ancient trees, even if we are lucky enough to protect them from forest fires. Once the old growth is gone, not only will the Spotted Owls disappear but all the other creatures that reside only in old growth forests will also be gone. 

After taking some time to think this through, my concern about shooting Barred Owls is, 

"Are we wasting time and resources that should be focused on the more critical crisis of climate change?"

I do believe we are lucky to have Barred Owls, who appear to be able to adapt and survive in spite of climate change, rodenticides, and all of our other unintended consequences.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city and Black Birders are welcome!

Larry

ps: Follow the following link for another perspective on the Barred Owls versus the Spotted Owls.

and another:

Going Native:

Each of us, who breathes the air, drinks water, and eats food should be helping to protect our environment. Local efforts are most effective and sustainable. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with our local environment and the local native creatures. Even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. 

I hope we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors, and local businesses to respect native flora and support native wildlife at every opportunity. I have learned that our most logical approach to native trees and plants (in order of priority) should be to:

1) Learn and leave established native flora undisturbed.
2) Remove invasive species and then wait to see if native plants begin to grow without assistance. (When native plants start on their own, then these plants or trees are likely the most appropriate flora for the habitat.)
3) Scatter seeds from nearby native plants in a similar habitat.
4) If you feel you must add a new plant then select a native plant while considering how the plant fits with the specific habitat and understanding the plant's logical place in the normal succession of native plants. 

*************** 

Keystone native plants are an important new idea. Douglas Tallamy, in the book "Nature's Best Hope ", explains that caterpillars supply more energy to birds, particularly young birds in their nests, than any other plant eater. He also mentions that 14% of our native plants, i.e. Keystone Plants, provide food for 90% of our caterpillars. This unique subset of native plants and trees enables critical moths, butterflies, and caterpillars that in turn provide food for the great majority of birds, especially during the breeding season. 

Note: Flowering plants and trees, i.e. those pollinated by bees, are also included as Keystone Plants.

This video explains the native keystone plants very nicely:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5cXccWx030


The Top Keystone Genera in our ecoregion i.e. Plants and trees you might want in your yard: 

Click Here


Additional content available here:

https://wos.org/wos-wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Native-Plant-Resources-10-7-22.pdf




The Email Challenge:


Over the years, I have had many readers tell me that Google is no longer sending them email announcements. As of 2021,
 Google has discontinued the service.

In response, I have set up my own email list. With each post, I will manually send out an announcement. If you would like to be added to my personal email list please send me an email requesting to be added. Something like:

                Larry, Please add me to your personal email list. 

My email address is:  

                     LDHubbell@comcast.net

Thank you!


*******************


The Comment Challenge:

Another common issue is losing your input while attempting to leave a comment on this blog. Often everything functions fine, however, sometimes people are unable to make it past the robot-detection challenge or maybe it is the lack of a Google account. I am uncertain about the precise issue. Sadly, a person can lose their comment with no recovery recourse. 
Bottom Line: 
If you write a long comment, please, copy it before hitting enter. Then, if the comment function fails to record your information, you can send the comment directly to me using email.
My email address is:  

                     LDHubbell@comcast.net

Sincerely,
Larry

















Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sounds of Comfort

Last Sunday morning one of the adult Ravens in the Arboretum was calling loudly and circling the nest tree in Rhododendron Glen. I had been away for a few days, so I was curious whether their young had left the nest.
 
Earlier in the week, while at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, I encountered a different Raven family. On Wednesday morning, as soon as I stepped outside, I heard the adultsThis adult had a covert missing from its left wing. The blue sky peaking through, reinforced the idea that this was a hardworking adult and inspired me to believe I might be able to identify this particular bird if I saw it again.

I followed the Raven and the sounds that it made into the nearby forest. Soon, I started hearing softer sounds mixed in between the adult's calls. 

In this video, the young bird is making a grunting sound. My best guess is, that this might be an example of some of the "Vocal Play" of young Ravens as described by Birds of the World (BOTW). At the end of the video clip, you can also hear the standard "grawk" of the adult.

BOTW mentions that there are 15 to 33 categories of vocalizations among Common Ravens. It goes on to say, "The variance in number of categories is indicative of the complexity of vocalizations." I suspect their variety of vocalizations correlates strongly with the breadth and depth of their intelligence.

After a while, I found a second young Raven. In addition to their sounds, another indication of their youth was the pink color of their gapes i.e. the inner hinge of their bills. I suspect the downy feathers that appear to be falling off the left Raven's chest are also a sign of youth.

These young were out of the nest and occasionally flying about. Although, they never seemed to fly very far and they were consistently in a rather small area. I began to think of this acre of forest as a nursery for the young birds. Notice the brown feathering on the body of the young bird.

On Friday morning, while still at Fort Worden, I saw one of the adults with an apparent food delivery. It headed directly toward the nursery. A very irate Crow was chasing, diving, calling and harassing the Raven. I was not quick enough to document the process with a photo, but the intensity of the Crow's ire convinced me that the Raven had raided the Crow's nest.

Afterwards, I found the two young Ravens sitting side by side while preening and grooming themselves.

Occasionally, they would jump to a nearby branch.

Then turn and nip at each other. Notice how the inner mouth of this first-year bird is reddish pink on the inside. I believe this helps make a great target for the parents during food delivery.

These sounds reminded me of the babbling of human babies when they are fed, rested, and happy. The murmuring seemed to fit with the "Comfort Sounds" mentioned in Birds of the World. Which are described as, "A variety of soft quiet calls given by nestlings after they have been fed, and in pairs when they are next to each other, especially during allopreening." Allopreening is when a bird straightens or cleans the feathers of another. 

As close, attentive, and communicative as these young Ravens were with each other, it would not have surprised me to see them allopreening.

In this photo, the sunlight happened to catch the closer bird at a good angle. It makes it easy to see the dark brown nestling feathers which are softer and older, compared to the newer black flight feathers, which are folded on the back. Soft downy feathers are good for warmth especially when a bird is young and sitting in a nest all day. However, once they are large enough to fly they need more durable and aerodynamic feathering.

Not only are black feathers optimal for hiding among the shadows in the forest, they also contain more melanin than lighter colors. The melanin is what strengthens the feathers and makes them durable. Nonetheless feathers wear and must be replaced. Did you notice the worn tail feathers on the Raven from the Arboretum in the first photo of this post? 

It was hard to stop watching the young Ravens when it came time to leave Fort Worden.

Back in Seattle on Sunday, one of the adult Ravens circled and landed on a lower branch of the nest tree. It hopped carefully around the trunk, while always moving up through the branches. (Later, when I enlarged the photo I could see little bits of white food showing between its bills.) As it approached the upper portion of the tree it disappeared into the foliage, right where the nest seems to be located. At the same time, I could faintly hear the softer sounds of young Ravens excitedly begging for food. 

It makes sense to me that the young Ravens in the Arboretum have not yet left the nest. Earlier this year, I watched the adults work on this new nest site, then leave it and work on a another site further to the north, later still, they left that site returned to this one in Rhododendron Glen. 

I suspect their indecision pushed back their egg-laying which may explain why their young are not as advanced as the ones at Fort Worden. The good news is we should still have the opportunity to watch their young when they branch out and begin practicing their wingbeats before they fledge.

On Monday, I had another encounter with the Ravens in Rhododendron Glen. Just as I arrived, an adult with food in its mouth came flying through the Glen. It was moving at high speed, only 20 or 30 feet off the ground. Immediately behind it was a smaller Raven. The small one was "grawking" loudly, but it sounded strained and higher pitched than normal. The two birds circled in the area around the nest tree and they occasionally landed, but only briefly at each spot. It seemed the larger bird was trying to escape from the smaller one. All the while, I was running up and down the trail trying to find a clear view of their latest momentary perch.

Finally, they stopped long enough for me to catch a couple of shots. The smaller Raven was still crying for food and the larger one, half hidden behind the branch, seemed to be eating or manipulating whatever it had caught.

Before I could catch any better photos they were off again. I momentarily spotted them at their next perch before the larger Raven finally gave up a portion of the food. The smaller one, with food in its mouth, continued "grawking" as it disappeared to the north. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if the adult Ravens had fooled me. Were their 2024 young already out of the nest after all? Had I really heard them calling from the nest the day before? Had their secondary nest building just been a distraction to fool the local Bald Eagles while their eggs were already laid? I wondered if they were playing with my mind? 

Luckily, I continued to watch the larger one of the two Ravens. It turned and flew to the nest tree. Once again, it landed on a lower branch and worked its way up through the branches. As it neared the nest site, I once again heard the sound of excited young Ravens in the nest. 

Finally, it dawned on me, the smaller Raven, that escaped with the food, was probably one of their young from 2023. It is apparently hanging around and still taking advantage of parental handouts. I suspect the adult was trying to bring food to this year's nestlings, but finally gave up some of its catch to satisfy its prior offspring. This link, from Alaska, says it takes young Ravens three to four years to mature. I don't know how long they will hang around their parents, but it appears to me it can be for at least a year.

If you decide to visit the Arboretum Ravens, follow Arboretum Drive until you come to the sign that says, "Rhododendron Glen." Stand with your back perpendicular to the sign and look west. The tree in the middle of this photo is their current nest tree. 

It appears shorter than the tree on its right (last year's nest tree) and more distant than the trees in the foreground. I cannot actually see the nest as it is hidden near the top of the tree. I expect in not too long the young will exit the nest on the uppermost, horizontal branch that points to the north. I am hoping they will spend a week or two on that branch flexing their wings and developing strength before they learn to fly. If you want to watch, I would recommend binoculars and, as with most bird nests, I suspect they will be most active in the early morning. Good Luck!

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city and Black Birders are welcome!

Sincerely,
Larry

PS: For your comparison, here is a photo of a Common Raven and an American Crow. Often it is difficult to notice the size difference. Crows weigh around one pound (plus or minus about 5 ounces) while Ravens can vary from just slightly larger than a Crow to over three pounds. A Raven's wingspan is nearly four feet across while Crow's wings are around three feet across. 

However, I find the shape and use of the wings to be the most distinctive differences. Crow's wings are noticeably rounded and shorter relative to their body length, plus they are more likely to be flapping their wings. I have heard it said, "That if they are rowing, they're crowing." Ravens do flap their wings, however, they are much more likely to be seen circling on long, widespread wings while taking advantage of thermals.

Finally, Raven's tails are more likely to be diamond shaped than a Crows. However, if you look back at the very first photo in this post you will notice that the Raven is holding its tail in a fan shape - similar to how Crows often hold their tails. Tail shape can be helpful but is not always reliable.

Raven:

Crow:


Recommended Citation:
Boarman, W. I. and B. Heinrich (2020). Common Raven (Corvus corax), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.comrav.01


Going Native:

Each of us, who breathes the air, drinks water, and eats food should be helping to protect our environment. Local efforts are most effective and sustainable. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with our local environment and the local native creatures. Even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. 

I hope we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors, and local businesses to respect native flora and support native wildlife at every opportunity. I have learned that our most logical approach to native trees and plants (in order of priority) should be to:

1) Learn and leave established native flora undisturbed.
2) Remove invasive species and then wait to see if native plants begin to grow without assistance. (When native plants start on their own, then these plants or trees are likely the most appropriate flora for the habitat.)
3) Scatter seeds from nearby native plants in a similar habitat.
4) If you feel you must add a new plant then select a native plant while considering how the plant fits with the specific habitat and understanding the plant's logical place in the normal succession of native plants. 

*************** 

Keystone native plants are an important new idea. Douglas Tallamy, in the book "Nature's Best Hope ", explains that caterpillars supply more energy to birds, particularly young birds in their nests, than any other plant eater. He also mentions that 14% of our native plants, i.e. Keystone Plants, provide food for 90% of our caterpillars. This unique subset of native plants and trees enables critical moths, butterflies, and caterpillars that in turn provide food for the great majority of birds, especially during the breeding season. 

Note: Flowering plants and trees, i.e. those pollinated by bees, are also included as Keystone Plants.

This video explains the native keystone plants very nicely:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5cXccWx030


The Top Keystone Genera in our ecoregion i.e. Plants and trees you might want in your yard: 

Click Here


Additional content available here:

https://wos.org/wos-wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Native-Plant-Resources-10-7-22.pdf



******************

In the area below, I am displaying at least one photo with each post to help challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms. 



Is this a native flower? If so, which one is it?











Scroll down for the answer.







******************







Fringe Cup: Yes, it is a native plant. I finally noticed how it may have gotten its name.
If you turn one of the blossoms upside down and look very closely, it looks like a tiny cup with a fringe around the edge. 

These are currently blossoming in wooded areas like the Arboretum and parts of Fort Worden.









*****************





The Email Challenge:


Over the years, I have had many readers tell me that Google is no longer sending them email announcements. As of 2021,
 Google has discontinued the service.

In response, I have set up my own email list. With each post, I will manually send out an announcement. If you would like to be added to my personal email list please send me an email requesting to be added. Something like:

                Larry, Please add me to your personal email list. 

My email address is:  

                     LDHubbell@comcast.net

Thank you!


*******************


The Comment Challenge:

Another common issue is losing your input while attempting to leave a comment on this blog. Often everything functions fine, however, sometimes people are unable to make it past the robot-detection challenge or maybe it is the lack of a Google account. I am uncertain about the precise issue. Sadly, a person can lose their comment with no recovery recourse. 
Bottom Line: 
If you write a long comment, please, copy it before hitting enter. Then, if the comment function fails to record your information, you can send the comment directly to me using email.
My email address is:  

                     LDHubbell@comcast.net

Sincerely,
Larry





 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Kingfisher Quest

Early in March, this pair of Belted Kingfishers circled over Union Bay near the west end of Marsh Island. They were circling while making their distinctive rattling calls. 

The male, having only one blue belt across the chest, was slightly behind the female. Even though they were almost in a parallel formation, it was obvious that he was pursuing her. His quest appeared to be passing on his DNA asap.

The female stayed just out of reach. I suspect she was looking for a safe and functional nest site before she would allow the initiation of eggs. 

They were moving so fast that it was difficult to see their detailed markings. Later, when reviewing this photo I was amazed to notice the pale brown coloring on the underside of the tips of the male's flight feathers. 

My typical Kingfisher sighting usually starts with hearing their noisy, rattle. Often, I look up just in time to see an empty branch bouncing above the water. If I am lucky, I notice a blue streak disappearing in the distance. This is almost always accompanied by the fading sound of the bird's obviously-irritated chattering. 

It is almost like the Kingfishers are laughing at me. I imagine them saying, "You should be embarrassed, standing there with your camera in hand, looking for birds, and yet I, who was focused on fishing, saw you first." 

(My friend Dave Galvin tipped me off to this ancient story about the Kingfisher and its laughing at foolish humans.)

This photo is of a female seen in Montlake at the end of March. The rufous coloring on her body indicates she is a female. (By the way, you might want to compare the Kingfisher's headdress in this photo with the previous photo when they were in flight.)

The unusual angle of this photo shows her incredibly short legs. With Belted Kingfishers it almost seems like their feet are attached directly to their bodies. Their tiny little legs become even more amazing when you consider how they use them. 

Kingfishers dig a horizontal burrow, potentially as deep as six feet, into a bank. At the far end of the burrow, they create a nesting chamber, which is slightly elevated relative to the entry. The chamber is roughly the size of a football. I have read that the burrow will have two furrows along each side which indicate how they use their feet to tunnel to their potential nest site. AllAboutBirds says the males usually do the majority of the digging, I suspect they are motivated by their DNA quest and their related desire to be in the good graces of the female.

Personally, someday, I hope to find a Belted Kingfisher nest site, around Union Bay. I understand they prefer vertical banks, unencumbered by concrete, tree roots, or rocks, with soft soil or gravel that they can easily excavate, and typically their nests are near water. So far, the best candidate locations I have seen are the temporary piles of excavated dirt along the 520 freeway project.

Last week, I was surprised to find Kingfishers at this empty construction site in the middle of Montlake. During the last month, an older home was torn down while the site was being prepared for a new foundation and the building of a new home. The site is at least a quarter mile from water in every direction. My first thought was what is a Kingfisher doing so far from water. But after a moment or two, the obvious conclusion occurred to me. They were looking for a nest site. If you turn up the volume, while listening to this video, you can hear the Kingfishers chattering as they circle and chase around the property.

Initially, I saw mostly the male but fairly quickly I noticed he was often chasing and "speaking" to a female.

She sometimes answered his calls.

Whenever it seemed like the male might be getting too close, she would promptly turn and bounce to the next nearby perch.

It looked like she was inspecting the site too. 

She also seemed to be listening and responding to the male.

No matter, whether she was on a nearby rooftop or...

...the next-door chimney, she always seemed to stay just out of his reach, while also maintaining an excellent view of the excavation.

I suspect she was waiting to see if he would or could dig an adequate nest.

I was struck with conflicting emotions. I was curious to see if they would try nesting, which I had never seen before. I was also saddened by the thought that, even if they did start digging, the heavy equipment and the construction effort would likely destroy their attempt well before they could lay any eggs.

In another sense, the fact that they found this potential site, so far from water, was also encouraging. It told me, that Kingfishers are more flexible and adaptable than one might expect. 

This is particularly reassuring for myself and other Friends of Arboretum Creek. We have been working to supply additional clean water and more native plants to the riparian area along the stream. We also hope to help reconnect the creek with Union Bay. This will require removing the creek from a pipe that runs under Lake Washington Blvd and restoring it to the surface. This will allow fish to swim into the creek for the first time in nearly one hundred years.

My friend Elaine Chuang and I have been monitoring the birds along Arboretum Creek for a couple of years. So far, we have never seen any of the typical fish-eating birds utilizing the stream. 

Currently, Belted Kingfishers, Pied-billed Grebes, Great Blue Herons and others are quite plentiful just beyond the mouth of the creek in Duck Bay, which is full of fish. This month's experience with the Kingfishers in Montlake reinforces that when the fish re-enter Arboretum Creek the Kingfishers will be watching. Since they have noticed a potential nesting site a quarter mile from where they normally fish, I have no doubt, that when they pass over Arboretum Creek they are also watching for fish. I expect they will be the first avian indicator that fish are once again living in the stream. Someday, after the fish return, maybe Arboretum Creek will be more appropriately called, Kingfisher Creek.

This week, the construction forms are being built to create the foundation for the new home that will be built in Montlake. It has been about a week since I last heard or saw the Kingfishers circling the property. I suspect they have decided that even though the excavated soil is appealing, all the ongoing human activity makes the site a poor choice for nesting. 

Here is my last video of the Kingfishers near the Montlake property. I believe the female left first and the male, chattering loudly, followed her. The good news is they headed towards Union Bay and Marsh Island when they left. I wish them well and hope they find the perfect nest site and raise a whole new generation of Belted Kingfishers on Union Bay!

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city and Black Birders are welcome!

Sincerely,
Larry


Going Native:

Each of us, who breathes the air, drinks water, and eats food should be helping to protect our environment. Local efforts are most effective and sustainable. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with our local environment and the local native creatures. Even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. 

I hope we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors, and local businesses to respect native flora and support native wildlife at every opportunity. I have learned that our most logical approach to native trees and plants (in order of priority) should be to:

1) Learn and leave established native flora undisturbed.
2) Remove invasive species and then wait to see if native plants begin to grow without assistance. (When native plants start on their own, then these plants or trees are likely the most appropriate flora for the habitat.)
3) Scatter seeds from nearby native plants in a similar habitat.
4) If you feel you must add a new plant then select a native plant while considering how the plant fits with the specific habitat and understanding the plant's logical place in the normal succession of native plants. 

*************** 

Keystone native plants are an important new idea. Douglas Tallamy, in the book "Nature's Best Hope ", explains that caterpillars supply more energy to birds, particularly young birds in their nests, than any other plant eater. He also mentions that 14% of our native plants, i.e. Keystone Plants, provide food for 90% of our caterpillars. This unique subset of native plants and trees enables critical moths, butterflies, and caterpillars that in turn provide food for the great majority of birds, especially during the breeding season. 

Note: Flowering plants and trees, i.e. those pollinated by bees, are also included as Keystone Plants.

This video explains the native keystone plants very nicely:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5cXccWx030


The Top Keystone Genera in our ecoregion i.e. Plants and trees you might want in your yard: 

Click Here


Additional content available here:

https://wos.org/wos-wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Native-Plant-Resources-10-7-22.pdf



******************

In the area below, I am displaying at least one photo with each post to help challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms. 



Is this a native flower? If so, which one is it?











Scroll down for the answer.







******************







Big Leaf Maple: Yes. This is the flower of the native Big Leaf Maple tree, which is a keystone species in terms of benefit to butterflies, moths, caterpillars and birds. Plus, it provides oxygen, holds carbon, provides nest sites, its wide moss-covered branches provide places for Cooper's Hawks to feed, it provides a substrate for licorice ferns, its hard wood can be used to make spoons, paddles, bowls, and other useful items. Finally, it can also be a food source. Click Here to learn more.









*****************





The Email Challenge:


Over the years, I have had many readers tell me that Google is no longer sending them email announcements. As of 2021,
 Google has discontinued the service.

In response, I have set up my own email list. With each post, I will manually send out an announcement. If you would like to be added to my personal email list please send me an email requesting to be added. Something like:

                Larry, Please add me to your personal email list. 

My email address is:  

                     LDHubbell@comcast.net

Thank you!


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The Comment Challenge:

Another common issue is losing your input while attempting to leave a comment on this blog. Often everything functions fine, however, sometimes people are unable to make it past the robot-detection challenge or maybe it is the lack of a Google account. I am uncertain about the precise issue. Sadly, a person can lose their comment with no recovery recourse. 
Bottom Line: 
If you write a long comment, please, copy it before hitting enter. Then, if the comment function fails to record your information, you can send the comment directly to me using email.
My email address is:  

                     LDHubbell@comcast.net

Sincerely,
Larry