Collecting Mud

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Cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) historically built their nests on cliff faces or escarpments throughout large portions of North America. Now these social birds also use overpasses, buildings, bridges or other man-made structures for their nests, anywhere there is a juncture … Continue reading

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Stunned Red-tailed Hawk

Stunned Red-tailed Hawk

Recently along Cassel Road (Shasta County CA) Leonard and I noticed a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) lying along the shoulder. The hawk was alive, but appeared to have been hit by a vehicle. We drove down the road, turned around and returned to check on the hawk. As we approached on the opposite side of the road, the hawk flew across the road and into a nearby tree – rather wobbly but it did not appear to have a broken wing. There was a perfect place to pull off the road and watch the injured hawk.

The hawk sat immobile in the tree with its wings partially spread for over 15 minutes. Finally the hawk slowly began to close its wings. Eventually Leonard and I continued on our way assuming that the hawk was only stunned and would eventually recover.

Several hours later we returned to find the red-tailed hawk no longer in the tree. Leonard and I search all the nearby trees and the area around the tree where the hawk was recovering. The hawk was not to be found. Our assumption is that the red-tail eventually regained his equilibrium and recovered without intervention.

A happy ending, unlike so many others, to a story of an injured hawk.




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Red Barberry

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Another shrub of the Southwestern United States (CA, CO, NV, TX, AZ, NM)  and Northern Mexico (Sonora) is red barberry (Berberis haematocarpa).  A native perennial, red barberry can be found associated with rocky slopes, grasslands, chaparral, canyons and pinyon-juniper woodlands … Continue reading

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Blue Palo Verde

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In spring, blue palo verde (Cercidium floridum) is a spectacular tree when in blossom. Walking along an arroyo near Casa Paloma 2 in Green Valley AZ, where these pictures were taken, I felt the palo verde trees put on a … Continue reading

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California White Poppy

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California poppies, the State Flower of California, are found, either native or introduced, throughout much of North America. Generally a golden-orange in color, they can range from yellow to red. There is also a white or creme subspecies (Eschscholzia californica … Continue reading

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Sublet Osprey Nest

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Each spring since 2011 I have observed an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nest near Crystal Lake (Shasta County CA). This large nest sits about 50 feet off the ground atop a ponderosa pine snag. In 2015 I was surprised to discover … Continue reading

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Winter Color

Red Osier Dogwood

Along Highway 299 near Hat Creek Park (Shasta County CA) bright red shrubs provide color to an otherwise dull, grey and brown winter landscape. Often driving by and speculating as to the plant’s identity, Leonard and I finally stopped and climbed down into the swampy field where these plants grew.

As suspected, red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) was adding cheerful color to the scenery. This multi-stemmed, freely-spreading shrub or small tree grows to a height of 5 to 15 feet and forms dense thickets. In addition to the red twigs, dry leaves with their distinctive oval shape, pointed tips and prominent parallel veins  as well as the remnants of the flower/fruit clusters helped in identification.

Red osier dogwood is moisture-loving and typically grows in swampy areas or stream side forests but can also be found in open thickets or disturbed areas. It is an important winter browse for deer, elk and moose.

Another scientific name for C. stolonifera is Cornus sericea.

More information on this bit of winter color can be found in my previous posts: “Red Osier Dogwood” on 07-01-2012 and “Red Osier Fruit” on 10-19-12.



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