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Author: Mike

Canada Geese Chicks

Canada Geese Chicks

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.  …

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Hunter in Salal

Hunter in Salal

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…

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Leafhopper on Oceanspray

Leafhopper on Oceanspray

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 (with Salal and Meadowfoam in the foreground).  I pruned it hard during the winter and it is exploding this spring- more Leafhopper habitat… Related posts:Leafhopper closeupRhododendron LeafhopperRain Garden Wildlife

Ant Farmers Return

Ant Farmers Return

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 true.  Nor do the ants hurt them- they are just there for a drink.  Let them be. Here’s a bud on one of my rose bushes….

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Root Maggot Fly?

Root Maggot Fly?

  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 was a larva it would have fed on plant roots as its name suggests. Related posts:A bee, or not a bee?Rain Garden Shines in SunWhy Do…

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Snail Gathering

Snail Gathering

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 that.  I’m not sure if they mated, were about to mate, if one was trying to eat the other, or even whether they are the same species….

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March Flies in March

March Flies in March

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 bent. The view from above didn’t help much either.  The antennae here look a lot like fly antennae though.  Could it be a fly? I followed one…

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Plants and Bees with Fur

Plants and Bees with Fur

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 a carpet of hair.  Is this meant to keep it warm, or maybe discourage animals from eating it?  Or possibly to keep it cool in hot weather?…

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