Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: Spring Nesting

This spring our wildlife garden has seen a lot of activity. Last year, during my 365 Nature Project, we watched a Bewick’s Wren pair make a nest in our backyard nest box, while a pair of American Robins built a nest in our front yard. This year the wrens returned, but opted for a different nest box. In our backyard I have put up a red box, which the wrens chose last year. I also have a blue box hanging from the garage which has never been used. Then there’s the wood box built by my…

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Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: Spotted Towhee Nest

A week or so ago I realized we may have a Spotted Towhee nest in our backyard, in addition to the Black-capped Chickadee and Bewick’s Wren nests. I was pulling weeds in the area which used to be a large deck and will one day be a wildlife pond, when a towhee flew up from almost under my feet. Realizing what it meant I quickly retreated and left the area to its own devices for the time being. Instead I started to watch, and indeed, a pair of towhees were constantly on the fence and in the neighbor’s tree….

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Field Journal: First Dragonfly of the Year

It was one of the first truly warm days of the year so far and I wanted to find dragonflies. After dropping my daughter off at her forest preschool I walked down to the pond which I’d spent so much time at during my 365 Nature Project. Although it was fairly early in the day I had hopes of finding some odes. When I first arrived there wasn’t much flying over the pond so I had my lunch and waited for the sun to warm the air. I then surveyed the pond and discovered a few Pacific Forktail…

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Field Journal: Arboretum Bird Visitors

Over the last two weeks I’ve encountered a couple of unusual birds visiting Washington Park Arboretum. Last week as the kids from my daughter’s outdoor forest preschool played in the meadow after school, we noticed some colorful birds flying around in the ash trees. They were Western Tanagers, bright red and yellow birds which are hard to miss. I rarely see them in Seattle and it was lucky they were flying around on a sunny day and I had my camera to take some photos. They never sat perched long, constantly flying away from the tree they were in…

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Field Journal: Say’s Phoebe at Magnuson Park

A day without rain, or so the weather forecast promised, so I decided to make a morning of it and head to Magnuson Park after dropping my daughter off at her forest preschool. On my way it started to rain. I’m rarely caught off-guard with the wrong jacket, but tired of month after month of wearing my raincoat, I had opted for a lighter jacket. Fortunately the rain had nearly stopped by the time I arrived at Magnuson Park and I was treated to blue skies punctuated with rolling black clouds. None of the clouds dropped more rain on…

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Field Journal: Sinking Grebes

There’s something interesting about Pied-billed Grebes. They are very small compared to ducks and with their brown coloring they are easily overlooked in ponds. I tend to pay attention to them however and during my 365 Nature Project I witnessed them doing unusual things. One of those thing I watched again today during a visit to Magnuson Park in Seattle. At the far eastern end of the wetlands I saw a couple pairs of ducks in the pond. The first, a Mallard pair suddenly leaped out of the water in a frenzy of wings and in the swirling…

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