Oct 032011
Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens Post:: A Visit to Kew Gardens

This is an excerpt from my latest post at the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog. Click the link below to visit the full post. For anyone with an interest in botany and horticulture, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London is like the holy grail. Started in 1759, this garden is now over 250 years old and is full of history, research, conservation, wildlife and a massive collection of plants. The entire garden is now 132 hectares (300 acres) in size, a rather dramatic change from the original 9 acres. It has World Heritage status and contains the worlds most diverse botanical collections. This …continue reading

Sep 292011
Urban Species Profile:: Pacific Treefrog

Common Name: Pacific Treefrog Scientific Name: Pseudacris regilla Family: Hylidae or Pseudacris (under debate) The most widespread and abundant frog in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Treefrog is also known as the Chorus Frog because they are one of the few frogs in the region which are often heard. Occurring from British Columbia south to Baja California, they also range to the east to Montana. They breed in a large variety of freshwater habitats including ponds, wetlands, lakes, slow streams as well as man-made structures such as retention ponds, ditches and reservoirs, most commonly in fishless bodies of water. Their ability to lay eggs nearly …continue reading

Sep 232011
Friday Film:: City Bats

A new feature on The Metropolitan Field Guide will be a video post every other week. There are a lot of great videos out there about urban wildlife, urban biodiversity and many other topics related to the design of urban wildlife habitat. Some are art films while others are documentaries, lectures and discussions. To kick off this feature, the first video features the Congress Avenue Bridge Mexican free-tailed bats in Austin, the largest urban bat colony in North America. The bats leave the crevices at dusk every night from March through November while hundreds of people line up along the bridge, shores …continue reading

Sep 212011
Integrated Habitats Design Competition 2010:: Matripolis

As the 2011 Integrated Habitats Design Competition is getting launched, I’m looking at the winning entries from the 2010 competition in a series of posts. Matripolis, which won the runner up prize, is a designed community for 500 people created by Paul Jones and David Dobereiner. The design is based on terracing of an old industrial shipyard sitting along a bend in a river with the goal that every resident can step outside their home into a “rich realm of biodiversity”. The terracing curve around in a ‘U’ shape with a community area in the center while the slopes merge with the parkland and …continue reading

Sep 162011
Wildlife Plants:: Pacific Bleeding Heart

The pink, heart-shaped flowers of this plant define the pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa). While the flowers are not as showy as some of the popular ornamental varieties, the plant as a whole is still beautiful and offers great benefits to a variety of wildlife. Growing 8-18″ high, the plant is a perennial which dies back to the ground in the winter and is usually found in wetter settings such as forests, ravines and along creeks. The leaves are deeply cut which gives the foliage a delicate, lacy, fern-like appearance. The flowers, which stand only slightly higher than the foliage, …continue reading

Sep 142011
Swift Night Out

Read Urban Species Profile:: Swifts for detailed information about the Vaux’s Swifts.  Twice a year Vaux’s Swifts roost in the chimney at Frank Wagner Elementary School in Monroe, Washington. Once a year the school hosts ‘Swift Night Out’ where people come visit from all over the state, and even country to watch the swifts descend at dusk into the school’s chimney. There are educational booths from groups like local Audubon chapters and there is a swift expert who gives a talk. The 4’x4′ chimney is no longer used to heat the school and is now left to the swifts. It was recently …continue reading