Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 28, 2017

Aren't these hawthorn flowers beautiful?  While some hawthorns have a profusion of white flowers, this one is obviously more brightly colored -- a welcome sight in any yard.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 21, 2017

Today's the official start of summer, but I'm still celebrating spring-flowering trees.  This is an Ohio Buckeye which, despite the name, thrives in Wyoming.  Its trunk and branches are particularly sturdy, making it ideal for the strong winds.

What you see in the picture above is the first stage of the flower and leaf buds opening.

Here you see that the flower has emerged, and the leaves are beginning to take shape.

Although it doesn't have the showiest of flowers, the buckeye makes up for their somewhat bland color with quantity.

The next step is the formation of nut-like fruit clusters.

Although these are supposed to ripen in the fall, so far -- and I've had a buckeye in my yard for thirteen years -- I have not seen any last long enough to mature, but there's always a first time, isn't there?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- June 14, 2017

Although Wyoming winters are noted for being harsh -- and they are, with the combination of fluctuating temperatures, strong winds, and minimal precipitation making it difficult for trees to survive -- many crabapples, including this one, thrive.

This is a Centurion Crabapple.  Although you can't tell it from this picture, the leaves are often almost as red as the blossoms.  And, when other trees' leaves turn red or gold in the fall, these turn green.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming - June 7, 2017

Although there are times when I miss the flowering trees and shrubs I had in the East, with dogwoods, azaleas, and rhododendron topping the list, spring in Wyoming has its own beauty ... and its share of flowering trees.

This is a dalgo crabapple, which produces what the nursery called "persistent fruit."  That means that the fruit lasts most of the winter, providing food for the birds.  The birds enjoy that.  I enjoy the spring flowers.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 31, 2017

I'm ending the month with what I call the Mystery Bird.  It appeared in the yard in mid-December and stayed long enough for a photo shoot, but -- despite hours spent with my Audubon Field Guide -- I could not identify it.  Neither could my neighbor, who's an avid birder.

Do you know who the mysterious visitor was?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 24, 2017

Today's post is going to be longer than normal, because I want to show you three Horned Lark chicks from hatching to fledgling.

Did you know that Horned Larks build their nests on the ground? That would seem to make them susceptible to being trampled by cattle or humans, but somehow they survive.
As you can see, their camouflage is excellent. If it weren't for the bright orange throat of a hungry chick demanding food, you might not even notice the nest, particularly since the egg looks very much like a rock.

At this point, the nest doesn't appear too crowded, but that's because all the chicks haven't yet hatched.

Here's the second chick, just hatched. If you look closely, you can see the eldest chick with its head next to the unhatched egg and its yellow down quite visible.

What are these two siblings doing? My guess is that they're waiting for the third egg to hatch. Note that their beaks are open, probably in search of food.

At last! Three chicks and -- yes! -- three open beaks.

The nest is getting crowded now, but the triplets aren't ready to leave. Did you notice that you can see darker feathers beginning to emerge under the yellow down? I'm amazed that their beaks are closed.

Here they are, beginning to look more like birds than chicks and almost ready to leave the nest. Good thing, since the nest is now very crowded.

Once they leave the nest, I see them perched on fence posts and hear their song, and then the cycle begins again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- May 17, 2017

I was fascinated when this bird appeared, since I'd never seen one with such a pronounced chest patch.  It turns out that it's a Northern Flicker, part of the woodpecker family.