White Rot Fungus

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Also commonly called conifer parchment, white rot fungus (Phlebiopsis gigantea) is found on the bark and dead wood of conifers throughout North America. A cosmopolitan species, white rot fungus also grows in Europe and Asia. It plays an integral role … Continue reading

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This gallery contains 8 photos.

A native of Europe, foxglove (Digitalis pururea) was introduced into North America for ornamental and medicinal purposes. Since being introduced, foxglove has naturalized throughout the western and eastern portions of the continent, but not the central areas. It can be … Continue reading

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This gallery contains 2 photos.

Four-winged saltbush (Atriplex canescens) is normally dioecious, male and female flowers are found on separate plants. However, about 10% of four-winged saltbush plants are monoecious – both male and female flowers are found on the same plant. To further complicate … Continue reading

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Juvenile Bobcat

Juvenile Bobcat

Juvenile Bobcat

Throughout the summer Leonard and I watched a mother bobcat and her two kittens as they prowled around our property. The kittens now are venturing out on their own, but do not appear to have totally left the mother. I got this photograph of one kitten, determined by its size, in one of our pastures near Lookout CA (Modoc County).

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) prefer rocky, brushy areas for raising their young. Dens are located in a protected cavity or cave among rocks, in hollow trees or logs or occasionally in deep thickets. This young bobcat was, we believe, raised in the rocky area near our house where we found a bobcat den.

Approximately 62 days after breeding 1 to 4 kittens (average of 3) are born. The young can be born any time during the spring or summer, but usually in April. The babies are blind for about 10 days. After 3 months the kittens are weaned. Hunting with the  mother begins about 5 months of age. Some research indicates that the juveniles leave the mother in the fall and other research reports the young bobcats leave the mother in the spring. Whichever, the juvenile bobcats leave the mother before she gives birth again the next year.

With luck there will be another litter for us to observe next year.


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Gloger’s Rule

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

An ecogeographical rule concerns itself with the variation of traits (mainly morphological) of an organism over geographical gradients. In 1833 Constantin Wilhelm Lambert Gloger (1803 – 1863), a German ornithologist and zoologist, proposed that within a species of warm-blooded animals, darker or more heavily pigmented forms occur in humid environments and more lightly pigmented forms are found in arid areas with the darkest individuals within a species  generally found closer to the equator. This ecogeographical observation is Gloger’s Rule.

Melanin is a “catch-all” term for the natural pigments found in most organisms. Melanin is composed of many different smaller molecules. Two of these smaller components of melanin are eumelanins and pheomelanins. Eumelanins are brown and black and are tougher and harder to degrade than the red to pink pheomelanins. In birds with color variations between geographic areas, the melanin in feathers of lighter specimens contain more pheomelanins while eumelanins predominate in feathers of darker individuals.

In a 2004 paper in “The Condor” Edward H Burtt, Jr. and Jann M Ichida studied song sparrows – lighter song sparrows from the arid Southwest and darker song sparrows from the humid Pacific Northwest. Bacterial degradation of feathers is a severe problem in humid areas and a lesser problem in more arid areas. Burtt and Ichida showed that the presence of melanin, particularly eumelanins, increased song sparrow feather resistance to abrasion and decreased bacterial degradation of their feathers. Other researchers suggest that melanins may also be involved in thermoregulation (darker feathers absorb more heat), camouflage, and drying of feathers.

There is also research to suggest that some flowers may follow Gloger’s Rule.

This song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) was photographed at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA).




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Found in Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, the verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) is a tiny songbird that lives in desert scrub wherever there is thorny, dense vegetation.

Verdins have grey bodies, darker grey on the upper parts and lighter grey beneath. Their faces are  yellow, their shoulders are chestnut and their beaks are small and sharply pointed. Males and females look similar.

Verdins eat insects and spiders. An acrobatic bird, verdins easily move through heavy foliage in search of prey. They can hang upside down while foraging and hold their larger prey under a foot while tearing it apart.

Non-migratory, verdins construct two types of nests throughout the year – breeding nests and roosting nests. The male verdin builds a ball of tightly woven twigs with an entrance near the bottom. The female lines the nest. Summer nests are open to the prevailing wind, presumably for cooling. The roosting nests help verdins keep warm in the winter. Winter nests have thicker lining than the summer nests. It has been estimated that a heavily insulated nest can reduce the energy a verdin needs for thermoregulation by 50%. When not around the nest, a verdin is solitary.

These verdin were photographed in different locations near Green Valley AZ.




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Grand Lotus

This gallery contains 6 photos.

A native perennial endemic to California, grand lotus (Acmispon grandiflorus) is found in dry, open, disturbed sites in association with chaparral and ponderosa pine forests below 5,400 feet. The former scientific name for grand lotus, Acmispon grandiflorus, was Lotus grandiflorus, … Continue reading

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