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A Look at the Wildflowers of Arizona and New Mexico

With three named deserts, as well as plateaus, grasslands, forests, and snow-covered mountains, Arizona and New Mexico harbor a vast diversity of wildflower communities. In his Quick Guide, Wildflowers of Arizona and New Mexico, George Miller describes 248 wildflowers and cacti you’ll find in the Southwest, from common and showy plants to rare and stunning specimens.  To aid identification, a photograph illustrates each species and a short description lists the plant’s size and unique flower and leaf characteristics. Sized to easily fit into a pocket or a pack, it will introduce you to the jewel-like flowers that fill meadows and line trails and roadsides. In the guide the wildflowers are sorted into four groups by color and organized within groups from smaller to larger blooms. Leaf attachment icons are shown next to each wildflower. Descriptions include important facts such as cluster shape, number of petals, or center color to help you...

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Trees of Michigan: A Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

In his field guide Trees of Michigan, Stan Tekiela describes all 105 species found in the state. Fact-filled information contains the particulars that you want to know, while full-page photographs provide the visual detail needed for accurate identification. Plus, Stan’s naturalist notes feature fascinating tidbits and facts.  Today we take a look at the wild apple tree. Did you know that this tree with a single crooked trunk and many spreading branches is a direct descendent of the ancestors of cultivated apples now sold in grocery stores? The tree was introduced in colonial times to the U.S. along with the crab apple tree. Found throughout the country now, the apples are edible and some are very delicious. The fruit has been used in jellies and desserts such as pies. These trees, usually associated with former homesteads, are found along roads or fencerows where seedlings were planted or where apples were discarded and seeds...

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Great Horned Owl

Are Great Horned Owls Hooting in Your Backyard?

At this time of year, Stan Tekiela gets a lot of emails and texts from people reporting they are hearing an owl hooting outside their windows at night. While many enjoy the sound, others complain that they can’t get to sleep. Either way, chances are, Great Horned Owls are the culprits. The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is the most common owl in North America, ranging from coast to coast and well into Canada and Alaska and south down through Mexico and into Central America. The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl in America that has ear tufts. The tall and puffy ear tufts are a collection of feathers located just above each eye that look like ears or horns, hence the bird’s common name. The feather tufts don’t function to help with hearing; rather, they are thought to be a decoration or ornamentation. Some argue that the tufts help...

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Waterfalls of Pennsylvania Celebrates the Most Beautiful Falls of the Keystone State

Waterfalls create a feeling of serenity, a sense of restrained power. Their grandeur takes our breath away. Their gentle sounds complement periods of meditation. Let award-winning photographer and creator of Pennsylvania’s most-read travel blog Jim Cheney guide you to 185 of the top-ranked waterfalls of Pennsylvania. Your bucket list should include these gorgeous locales that decorate Pennsylvania’s landscape.  The waterfalls are organized geographically and ranked by beauty. Entries include all the information you need, like directions, distance, and hike difficulty, as well as details about each waterfall, such as height, width, and the best time of year to visit. Not-to-miss sights and nearby activities are also called out, so you can make the most of every outing. Plus, Jim’s incomparable photography makes this guidebook worthy of any coffee table.  From the towering falls of the Poconos to the scenic gems of the Laurel Highlands and everywhere in between, experience them all with...

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The Beauty of Colorado’s National Parks

Aimee Heckel, author of Colorado Day Trips by Theme, talks to us about Colorado’s National Parks.  Colorado has more National Parks—more than almost any other state. Rocky Mountain in the north is home to 124 named peaks; Great Sand Dunes in the south boasts the country’s tallest dune; Mesa Verde in the southwest is a step back in time; and the western Black Canyon of the Gunnison is famous for its steep gorge. Let’s look at three of them. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve  The highlight here is the tallest sand dunes in North America, which might come as a shock in a state not known for desert conditions. Coast down these dunes on special sand-boards and cool off in Medano Creek, which snakes through the preserve. Or just hike the dunes for a unique experience and excellent views. (Just make sure you pack plenty of water because it can get toasty...

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Cottontail rabbit

Blue Spots in the Snow: Could it be the Cottontail Rabbit?

Stan Tekiela tells us why, in late winter and early spring, he usually starts to see blue snow. That’s right, blue snow. Or more accurately, blue spots in the snow. If you have walked the woods at this time of year you may have seen small blue spots in the melting piles of snow.  So, what’s up with the blue snow? A quick Google search finds ridiculous comments about what causes the blue spots in the snow. I was shocked to see that some people have suggested that the blue spots are the results of spitting mouthwash on the snow. Others strongly suggest that it’s Bigfoot urine and point to the blue snow as evidence of his existence. Others suggest Smurfs. Obviously, none of these are causing the phenomenon. Upon closer inspection of the blue-stained snow you will also find the round woody pellets indicative of the droppings (feces) of the Eastern...

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Spring 2020 giveaway

Spring Giveaway for Bird and Bee Lovers

Spring is just around the corner, and we’re celebrating the season with a GIVEAWAY for bird and bee lovers. It is time to prepare your garden, and we have just what you need. Check out the package we have prepared for you: Adele Porter’s book Homemade Bird Food: 26 Fun & Easy Recipes to Feed Backyard Birds will show you what to do to attract birds to your backyard by making your very own bird food. Like many insects, bees are often overlooked and misunderstood. When viewed up close, these small creatures are really quite beautiful. While we tend to lump all bees together, they are an incredibly diverse group of insects and are found in a variety of sizes and colors. They also display a myriad of different behaviors, all of which are fascinating. Closely related to ants and wasps, bees are active fliers that have an exceptional fondness for flowers....

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Fun Facts About North American Birds

Stan Tekiela, author of Bird Trivia: Funny, Strange, and Incredible Facts about North American Birds, shares with us some more funny, strange, and incredible facts about birds of North America. Birds are amazing creatures that have captured the hearts and minds of people everywhere. From their outrageous shapes and colors to their unique behaviors, birds are endlessly interesting. North American birds have many incredible attributes to marvel at and admire. Learning about them makes for a fulfilling journey. Better yet, set up a feeding station in your yard to attract birds so you can see them in action every day.  Fighting Its Own Reflection Some male birds, such as male Northern Cardinals, are known to fight their own reflections in a window, vehicle mirror, or chrome hubcap. It is believed that these males see the reflection as a competing bird and attack it in an attempt to drive it off. Often this aggressive behavior continues...

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