Among Friends. Goldeneye

Goldeneye! No, not the James Bond movie (though the original James Bond was an ornithologist). I mean the Common Goldeneye, a gorgeous duck very near to my heart (emotionally, not anatomically).

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Among Friends. Mullein

I’ve been mullein over just how to tell the story of a plant that brings out mixed feelings in people. Mulleins are not native to the United States, but the woolly one, at least, is visually familiar to many people who may not know its back story. Why don’t we take a closer look?

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Among Friends. 7 January 2022. The Nuthatch Suite

‘Tis the season to feature the Nuthatch Suite (no nutcrackers here, though plenty of nutcases). And what is sweeter than a sturdy little nuthatch, a bird that defies gravity on a tree trunk by often hitching its way downward, thus finding insects in the bark that those upright woodpeckers and creepers miss?

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Northern Shoveler

Wild Wednesday, 17 November 2021, Shovelers

I’m in a fowl mood today, so I want to feature one of my favorite waterfowl species, the Northern Shoveler. Many a casual observer has mistaken this bird for an odd Mallard with an exaggerated beak, so I want to give the shoveler a little love here, top billing if you prefer.

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Among Friends, 5 November 2021. Vitaceae

Two members of the Vitaceae (grape family) are widespread in Arizona riparian areas, including Arivaca Creek and Brown Canyon, and offer some of our choicest fall colors: deep red in the Woodbine (a close relative of the eastern Virginia Creeper) and yellow in Canyon Grape. Both are lianas (the proper name for a “woody vine”). Technically, vines are herbaceous, not woody (Tarzan would have had a short life if he had been swinging on vines!). Some beans, cucumbers, and squashes are good examples of vines. However, common usage says “vine” for the grape plant, and since you heard that on the grapevine, I probably cannot convert you to using “liana” for that plant.

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Among Friends. 13 October 2021. White-crowned Sparrow

Many of us look forward to the cheery songs of birds to remind us that spring is moving steadily toward summer, when most birds breed. However, here in Arizona, the arrival of White-crowned Sparrows in fall brings their melodies back to us after an absence of several months. From now until they leave in April and May, we can hear their lovely choruses, sometimes even while snow is on the ground. The songs always lift my spirits.

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Wild Wednesday 21 July 2021. Auction for the Dells

Last week I shared the wonderful news that our five-year effort to save nearly 500 acres of the most beautiful and ecologically important land in the Granite Dells was finally achieved. Nothing like this citizen-led effort had ever occurred in Prescott, and it really pointed out how the voice of the people could affect a City Council decision in truly positive ways. We are thrilled, but citizens must continue to pay attention and speak up to assure that implementation of the annexation agreement goes without a hitch.

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Wild Wednesday July 14, 2021. Persistence & Vision

Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Remember the date. Prescott, Arizona City Council voted 7-0 to approve the annexation of thousands of acres of land owned by Arizona Eco Development into the city, with the prize being 474 acres of natural open space now under city protection. This culminates a five-year process in which a few caring citizens formed a political action committee, Save the Dells, to achieve this very goal. Save the Dells garnered enormous public support, and through long, sometimes very difficult, negotiations, this date turns out to be the win-win-win successful compromise for Prescott, the people, and the developer. And let’s not forget the thousands of animals that depend on that ecosystem!

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Among Friends. 7 July 2021. Thistles

We humans tend to generalize, so because of a few really bad actors, we often think of “thistles” as noxious weeds. Some are. I dislike dense invasive stands of Canada Thistle (a European import, not from Canada at all!) or Italian Thistle with disdain. Trying to walk through a dense stand of these imports is sheer prickly torture.

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