In Search of the Perfect Home

When I saw a duck in a tree for a first time I thought I was hallucinating. Of course back then I had no idea that Wood Ducks didn’t get their name without reason. OK, I didn’t even know the name of that duck in the tree.

Now I know but it doesn’t make the duck in the tree a common sight. It is still easier to spot these gorgeous birds on the water.

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Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) nest in tree cavities. Female can sometimes spend days looking for suitable nest site. Male would accompany her and wait outside while she is checking the cavity. He wouldn’t play any role in choosing the nest site, neither would he help incubating eggs. In about 24 hours after hatching ducklings leave the nest. Their mom flies out of the cavity, lands, and starts calling them. Ducklings would follow her jumping down out of the nest to the ground. They are known to jump almost 300 feet (89 m)!

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In Search of the Perfect Home

Furry Creature #8 (Cheeks!)

Two weeks ago I added new species to my backyard mammal list. Yay!

The list is far from long so every newcomer is welcome. Surely, we have more of them around but what I don’t see I don’t count. Like moles. I surely see the signs of their work on our lawn but have never seen one in person.

I must say, I was taken by a surprise when she visited our deck for a first time. At first when I saw in the corner of my eye something small and brown moving quickly to a cover. I thought Douglas Squirrel came. But wait a minute… smaller and striped!
I had never seen chipmunks in our city before, even in woodier part of it.

And here she is, on my own deck!

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Furry Creature #8 (Cheeks!)

Horned Toad

Last Saturday I went on a hiking and birdwatching trip to Central Washington. We had a great hike! The weather was perfect, as well as my company.

The only thing that went wrong… I’m embarrassed to confess… I forgot my binoculars. Yes, to the bird WATCHING trip. I needed something to get me closer to the birds and I had to use my camera. I won’t go into details but believe me – that is a poor substitute to a pair of binoculars. I ended up with a headache and more bad pictures than I usually bring home. It’s difficult not to press the shutter button, you know :)

Anyways, we saw many great birds. But at the end of the day, when we met another group that was birding in approximately the same area, and they asked us what was our best sighting, our leader Dave answered right away: “Horned Lizard.”

The disbelieving look on some faces told us they didn’t quite thought a lizard can be that exciting. But that is just because they didn’t see this cutest ever creature in person!

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We spotted him when he was crossing the road. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to notice him, so well he blends into background!

Pygmy Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii) can be any color from white, gray to almost black, depending on the color of the surrounding soil. I think we were lucky to meet this one – orange is one of my favorite colors :)

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Horned Toad

Merlins bonanza, p.2

Part 2 – It is fun to have fun but you have to know how

Not just young Merlins play with each other but they interact with other species too. Here, look how they share their favorite tree with young Steller’s Jays.

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OK, maybe they don’t share it voluntarily:) But they don’t seem to mind much either.

I love corvids, so watching Merlins/Jays play was a special treat for me!

The Jays are as young as Merlins are. They tease, they chase, they do what kids do – show off in front of their buddies.

“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun but you have to know how!” (The Cat in The Hat by Dr. Seuss)

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Merlins bonanza, p.2