Last week we saw this Canada Geese family grazing along the banks of the Willamette River. According to The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, male and female geese often stay together for life, and some one year old geese actually return to their parents after nesting season for a while. They have strong family bonds.
Newly hatched geese don’t need their parents to feed them. They are already able to feed themselves, as you can see above.
Also, like other water ducks and geese, they are covered with a down coat. Other than the black beak, they don’t resemble their parents much at all.
The male goose was being especially protective while we were watching them. He was keeping a sharp eye on us and…
…he was constantly contracting and extending his neck in our direction. I took this as a threat! But what were the geese so afraid of?
The entire 3rd grade in my son’s school! What a treat we had on the class hike through Maddax Woods.
This Salal plant (just past the Lady Fern) sits next to our front path. Today my wife noticed something sitting in it (those are her legs!).
A snake! Most likely a Northwestern Garter Snake. Garter snake colors are extremely variable and this one looked beautiful to me.
These snakes like to eat slugs and worms which are plentiful in my yard. I prefer to design shelter for predators than to spread poison to control the slugs- you can see that a lot of the Salal leaves have holes in them, so I need some help.
As I got closer with my camera the snake stuck its tongue out!
At first I thought it was trying to threaten me. But after taking a peek in Passionate Slugs & Hollywood Frogs by Patricia K. Lichen I learned that the snake is actually just gathering information about me! Its tongue traps chemicals in the air and it then sticks the tongue back in its mouth and into a sensory organ that helps it understand what it is smelling and tasting.
I dared to get a bit closer but it quickly disappeared into the brush- hopefully finding some more slugs to eat.
I found a Blue-green Leafhopper on my Oceanspray shrub.
Leafhoppers eat leaves and excrete honeydew just like aphids- though I haven’t seen any ants farming these colorful insects.
Yes, that big white thing with the black dot in the middle IS an eye. Strange, huh?
This is the whole Oceanspray shrub . . . → Read More and See Photos: Leafhopper on Oceanspray
One of my Peony plants is getting ready to bloom which brings out the ants! Ants like the taste of peony buds just before they bloom. Once the flower opens the ants tend to disappear. Apparently an old wives’ tale (debunked by the Heartland Peony Society) says that peonies NEED ants to flower. Not . . . → Read More and See Photos: Ant Farmers Return
This fly was standing on a leaf in my garden today. It was smaller than a House Fly and I wasn’t sure what it was.
Any thoughts? My best guess is a Root Maggot Fly (family Anthomyiidae) based on this photo on BugGuide. If so, this fly probably feeds on nectar. When it . . . → Read More and See Photos: Root Maggot Fly?
This Violet plant is growing all over my yard. I usually rip it out since it reseeds and spreads VERY quickly. This one was actually growing on the edge of my front yard path. As I bent down to rip it out I noticed something in it.
Two snails! And large ones at . . . → Read More and See Photos: Snail Gathering
These two strange bugs were crawling on a Salal branch yesterday in my yard. I’ve never seen anything like these before.
A closer look didn’t help me much. It sort of looked like an ant to me (maybe a queen or a male?), but the antennae didn’t seem right. Ant antennae are usually . . . → Read More and See Photos: March Flies in March
The Red-twig Dogwoods in my rain garden are beginning to grow leaves again. A small insect was sitting atop one of them yesterday.
Two things catch my eye here. First, I always forget how hairy bees actually are. This one has a full coat of fur! Second, the dogwood leaf also has . . . → Read More and See Photos: Plants and Bees with Fur