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Showing posts from January, 2012

Becoming a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary

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Reconsidering the NWF

My yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.  Their banner, currently in the upper right corner here, has been proudly displayed.  Thanks to information from Kelly Brenner (@MetroFieldGuide, Google+) and Carol Sevilla Brown (@CB4wildlife, Google+) , I have learned that the NWF has apparently entered into a partnership with Scotts Miracle-Gro®.  This is the familiar garden fertilizer and pesticide company and a division of the Big-Ag chemical company ICL.  A firestorm has erupted over this news.  To those of us seeking to create natural, sustainable habitats in our yards, the very idea of this partnership is bewildering, to say the least.

While this gets sorted out, those of us in Washington State have an alternative.  The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also has a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program.  I am applying to the WDFW for certification and this post has been created to accompany the application.  It follows the …

The Mayor of West Beach

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I heard the distinctive noise the moment I got out of my truck.  It was the persistent, chattering alarm call of a Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii).  In Deception Pass State Park, there is a small grove of Shore Pines right next to the West Beach parking lot.  The noise was coming from inside the grove.  There were other, higher pitched squeaking sounds also coming from the pines.  The squirrel was obviously upset, and a hollow rotted log under the trees was the focus of his ire.


Douglas Squirrels are aggressively territorial.  I suspect another critter had invaded his domain and it was not to be tolerated.  I found an account of a Douglas Squirrel killing a much larger Norway Rat which illustrates how pugnacious they can be towards intruders.

I believe this is the fellow I met in the same location last fall.  When he spotted me watching, he interrupted the task at hand to come out and say hello.  A second hollow log next to the path served as an expressway out of the grove.…

Bad Hair Day

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Those westerly winds can play havoc with the coiffure.  This pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) dropped by this afternoon for a visit.  They engaged in some robust chatter with a second pair of eagles in a nearby tree.  I couldn't tell if it was social or hostile.  It was definitely noisy.

Vosnesensky's Isopod

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Birders consider it auspicious to spot a new species on the first day of the New Year.  I didn't spot any new birds yesterday, but I did discover this little fellow in a tide pool at Deception Pass State Park.  Vosnesensky's Isopod (Idotea wosnesenskii) is named for a Russian zoologist who collected them in the nineteenth century.  An isopod is a crustacean like shrimp and crabs and related to the sowbugs and woodlice we find under rocks in the garden.  It is also called Kelp Isopod and Rockweed Isopod.  To me, it looks ancient, like something out of a Paleozoic sea.

I first spotted the little guy swimming.  They swim using paddles under the abdomen.  Despite the 5 dollar name, it was only 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) long.  Had it been motionless, I doubt I would have noticed it.  This one is the same color as the local kelp and rockweed.  Those that are found in eel grass beds will be green.  This was an auspicious find as they normally only come out at night.  In all my decades of…