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Month: December 2010

Tree Year’s Eve

Tree Year’s Eve

Slugyard is proud to be participating in The Tree Year project for 2011.  The goal of the project is to “be more aware of the little things in life – see and enjoy the diversity and beauty of the life and colors on a tree – and share it with others.” I can think of no better tree to share for a year than our walnut tree, shown above as it is right now and shown in this previous post with…

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Skunk Cabbage Emerging

Skunk Cabbage Emerging

My son and I were exploring around the creek in our backyard and found some skunk cabbage plants starting to push out of the ground.  This area within our woods and is swampy all year round which makes for some perfect skunk cabbage habitat. How can they emerge so early in the winter and not die?  According to this U.S. Forest Service website: The ability of the [hood] to quickly emerge in late winter is because the respiration of the…

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Spider Anatomy

Spider Anatomy

This spider was inside our house climbing around on our oven.  It looks a lot like a Long-legged Sac Spider.  According to Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America by Arthur V. Evans, these spiders are usually seen in homes where they live inside appliances.  They also bite- and apparently the bite is painful and slow to heal.  Good thing I didn’t know that when I took these pictures! If you look closely at the spider’s rear, you…

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Identifying Gulls

Identifying Gulls

Gulls are everywhere.  Until recently, I’ve never really noticed that there are different kinds of gulls and that they actually look different as they get older.  Unfortunately, I’ve also learned that identifying them is difficult!  According to the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson: There is extensive variation within species (particularly the immatures), resulting from several factors including dimorphism (males are larger than females), molt, variation in wear and bleaching, albinism, and other factors….

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Coltsfoot Makes an Appearance

Coltsfoot Makes an Appearance

Coltsfoot flower buds are beginning to appear in the backyard.  According to Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon, Coltsfoot is unusual in that the flower stems appear before the leaves.  These stems will continue to grow and then in a couple of months the white flower balls will burst out.  Soon after that the large leaves and stems will start coming out of the ground and will remain until next fall. If you look closely,…

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Hooded Merganser Ballet

Hooded Merganser Ballet

During my regular walk along the Willamette River this morning I saw these beautiful, strange birds- Hooded Mergansers!  The female is somewhat similar to the Common Merganser I saw here a couple of months ago. There appeared to be three males and two females- the colorful ones were males and I’d guess their elaborate pattern was a trait for breeding.  Then I noticed the dance, as I captured in this video below.  It was a completely overcast day and I…

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Unidentified Flying Object

Unidentified Flying Object

Our family took a trip downtown and saw this unusual creature flying through the air.  I can’t find it in any of my bird books- the red nose is particularly puzzling. From this view it sort of looks like a mammal.  I’ll keep searching.

My Own Varied Thrush

My Own Varied Thrush

Every time I see a bird like this one in my walnut tree I assume it’s a robin.  But something didn’t look quite right so I started snapping photos.  I’m glad I did. It was a female Varied Thrush.  The female is not as boldly colored as the male, as shown in these photos my friend Jeff took.  According to Birds of the Willamette Valley Region by Harry Nehls, Tom Aversa, and Hal Opperman, Varied Thrushes live in the mountains…

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