How Northern Flickers Build Their Nest


A happy couple of Red-shafted Northern Flickers took just a week to create this impressive nest.

Flicker pairI was away in Gillette, Wyo., giving the keynote presentation at the Native Plants Speaker’s Series when I called home to check in.

John brought me up-to-date on what was happening at the homestead and before ending the call he said, “I have something to show you in the backyard when you get home.”

My imagination was set in motion, but I wasn’t prepared for what was about to unfold.

A pair of Red-shafted Northern Flickers was preparing a nest in our neighbor’s old cottonwood tree.

It was our incredible good fortune this happy couple decided to build the nest within direct eyesight of our office window.

Over the course of a week, we watched the pair share the construction duty. Each took turns pecking at the tree with long, curved bills and discarding the wood chips on the ground below.

Bodega Birdhouses Make Great Gardening Gifts


The beautifully-designed Bodega Birdhouses, manufactured by Roost, are made of recycled materials.

Looking for a gift for the gardener who has everything?

The bird lover in your life will certainly appreciate receiving a Bodega Birdhouse for the holidays.

These birdhouses are made of matte-glazed, speckled stoneware and are carefully constructed using recycled or repurposed materials for the teak roofs. Each birdhouse provides a safe and secure homestead for your fine feathered friends.

Offered by online retailer, aHa! Modern Living, the birdhouses were a featured item in the spring issue of Leaf Magazine.

The three styles of birdhouses include Bungalow (shown above), Tower, and Chalet. Just choose the one that matches the garden style and backyard habitat of your favorite gardener.

Or, if your gardener is like me, these birdhouses can be displayed inside to add a touch of nature to any room in the house. Each birdhouse has stainless steel hardware fastened to a sisal rope that can be adjusted to fit a corner in the sun room, hang near the kitchen sink or add to the guest bedroom.

High Style Birdhouses for Gardening


The beautifully-designed Bodega Birdhouses are featured in the Spring 2012 issue of Leaf Magazine. The magazine says these birdhouses are part of a collection of “contemporary, environmentally responsible affordable items with high style” offered by online retailer aHa! Modern Living.

The birdhouses come in three styles, including Bungalow (shown here), Tower and Chalet. Each stoneware birdhouse is carefully constructed, using recycled materials for the teak roofs.

I’m delighted to offer these birdhouses as an aHa! affiliate.

Leaf Magazine is the new online free garden and design magazine that features gorgeous images and interesting design ideas for every kind of garden and landscape. Gardeners (and garden designers) can sign up to get every new issue of the magazine delivered to their email inbox.

If you’d like to add some high style to your gardening efforts, click on the Bodega Birdhouse images to the right for more information about these adorable birdie abodes.

Golden Eagle Likes My Backyard Habitat

It was a cold, gray day in my suburban Denver neighborhood yesterday until I spotted this immature Golden Eagle landing in a nearby tree. I was absolutely thrilled to be able to watch this big, beautiful bird for several minutes before it left its perch and soared away.

Apparently it likes my backyard habitat, certified by the National Wildlife Federation, because it was back again today. This time it perched in a tree closer to my house and directly above the bird and squirrel feeders. Mourning Doves landed close by, but the squirrels stayed snug in their nesting box until the eagle flew away.

I’ve seen some other interesting birds in my yard in the past including an American Kestrel, a Great Horned Owl, and a hawk that flew away before I could identify it. But thisĀ  is my first eagle and I hope it stays around long enough for me to get a closer look.

Monarch’s Visit is a Gardening First



This migrating monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) stopped just long enough to make my heart soar.


monarch-blogMany butterflies have enjoyed the nectar from my butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), but this was the first time I’ve seen a monarch drop by for a snack. Even though this is one of the best-known and most recognized butterflies in North America, I’d never seen one in my backyard.

Sure, I might have caught a glimpse of one as it sailed through the yard. But I was never sure that’s what I saw. It could always be another member of the family with the distinctive deep orange, black and white coloring.

Reading up on these beautiful insects, I learned that when migrating, they can be anywhere from the Midwest to the coast of California. They like open fields, roadsides, canyons and even suburban areas like my backyard.

They migrate from September through October in huge numbers on their way to the mountains in Mexico where they prefer to spend their winters.

Just like Gardeners, Squirrels Love Tomatoes


The early squirrel gets the tomato.

squirrel-bites-tomato-blogWhile I was on my way to the garden to pick tomatoes this morning, an early bird–I mean squirrel–was making a delicious tomato breakfast from one of my Celebrity tomatoes.

I saw this tomato yesterday when it was just turning ripe red, but I decided to give it one more day.

Can squirrels read minds?

This tomato was obviously the low-hanging fruit for the little guy. I can picture him standing on his hind legs, holding onto both sides of this delicacy and chewing away like crazy. He neatly sheared off one complete side of the fruit of my labor.

But it’s okay. I’m not mad. Squirrels are just part of the fun in my backyard habitat.

I actually admire the critter for having such good taste. Celebrity (Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Celebrity’ Hybrid) is an All-America Selections winning tomato from 1984 and it continues to be a reliable performer in my garden year after year. Its disease resistance is one of its most attractive features.

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