Hawks Are Difficult

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I often find hawks difficult to identify. Color morphs, sex differences and age variations can confuse me, particularly when a hawk will not cooperate by remaining stationary. Usually when I see an interesting hawk I begin to snap photographs and … Continue reading

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California Dutchman’s Pipevine

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There are over 500 species worldwide in the “pipevine” family. These plants contain aristolochic acid and are highly toxic, particularly to kidneys. In addition pipevines are carcinogenic. Nevertheless, pipevines have been utilized as medicinal plants since the time of the … Continue reading

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Pipevine Swallowtail

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Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars (larvae) feed on Aristolochia, or pipevine, plants. There are about seven subspecies of pipevine swallowtails widely distributed throughout the United States. The Northern California subspecies (Battus philenor sp. hirsuta) is smaller and hairier than other pipevine swallowtails. … Continue reading

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Pregnant Pronghorn


Large numbers of pronghorn (Antilocapra americanna) are loitering around Pilot Butte on the Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA). These inhabitants of plains, prairies, sagebrush flats and deserts in the West most likely are enjoying the spring smorgasbord of sagebrush, various grasses and desert plants growing on and around Pilot Butte. Two pronghorn, which appear to be heavily pregnant, were begging to have their portrait taken.

Pronghorn mate in October and two fawns (rarely spotted) arrive in May or June after a 230 to 240 day gestation period. Here in Big Valley the fawns usually begin to drop in early June. The babies are virtually scentless and able to walk immediately after birth. Mothers alone care for and defend the young. Usually the female goes off alone for the birth. By July the does and fawns begin to gather in small herds. The males remain alone or in small groups over the summer until early fall and the breeding season at which time they join the females.

Pronghorn are often mistakenly called antelope. They are not true antelope. This strictly North American native is the only member of the Antilocapra genus. Pronghorn antelope, if one must use the term antelope, is another colloquial name for the pronghorn.

Soon Leonard and I will be watching for the first pronghorn fawns of the year.

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Large Quaking-grass

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Although Leonard is very good at identifying grasses, to me they all look very similar and so I usually pay them little attention. Plus there is an entirely different vocabulary used to describe grasses. Occasionally though a grass has such … Continue reading

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Delphinium nudicaule

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While walking in Widow Valley west of Lookout CA (Modoc County), Leonard and I saw a bright red wildflower in the distance. Thinking it was “another” fritillary we almost walked past. Am I glad I decided to go confirm the … Continue reading

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Slender Toothwort

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There are several varieties of slender toothwort (Cardamine nuttallii). The habitat of this native perennial is the humus soils in moist sites and open forests at low to mid elevations. California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are where this member … Continue reading

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