PERHAPS NO BIRDS are more familiar than crows and ravens—but which is which in these similar-looking members of the genus Corvus? And who’s smarter? Ellen Blackstone of the popular BirdNote public-radio show is our guide again as we look skyward in this latest installment in our collaborative series. And watch out, there’s a crow-or-raven quiz at the end of this one (which is why I’m not telling you who’s who in the photos along the way). [read more…]
More than 60 kinds of birds visit my rural garden in New York State, near the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and the garden was begun with them in mind: no chemicals, water year-round, lots of fruit- and seed-rich plantings, plenty of cover.
I OFTEN SAY how the only thing I know with certainty about gardening, even after 30 years of experience, is this: Things will die. Just before my open garden day last week, a giant yellow magnolia called ‘Butterflies’ in the front yard decided quite unceremoniously that it was time to go. R.I.P., ‘Butterflies.’ But what felled you, I wonder? It was all so sudden–before I knew it, you were on the ground, and being carted away (above). [read more…]
WHAT NATIVE AMERICAN SHRUB smells like cloves right now, with a profusion of golden flowers, and handsome lobed foliage (which will turn nice warm colors in fall)? Another clue: It would have fruit, too, if you had both a male and a female plant. It’s the clove currant, which I know as Ribes odoratum, and woody plant expert Michael Dirr calls it “a rare gem in the shrub world.” [read more…]
YOU MAY HAVE SEEN bluebirds slugging it out with tree swallows over the season’s lease on a particular nestbox, or a robin flying by with a beak-ful of grass, back and forth and back again to the same spot. Everybody’s nesting—but what’s the best nest material, and to a bird, what’s the definition of prime real estate? In Part 8 of our popular ongoing series, Ellen Blackstone of the BirdNote public-radio program teaches us about the diversity of birds’ nests, helping us understand what’s going on as we look skyward. [read more…]