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About Time - June 2012

California poppy, Eschscholtzia californica
California poppy, Eschscholtzia californica

This is the greenest time of year. All the trees and shrubs have expanded their leaves. The leaves have not yet fully toughened up so most of them retain the bright, spring green that’s my favorite color. Still, the lowlands are drying out. The licorice ferns have turned yellow-brown and are falling off the tree branches. Only the ground dwelling colonies in damp, shady spots are keeping their green for a few more weeks.

We notice that very few birds are coming to the feeders. Migrations are over and the nesting season is in full swing. The birds are protecting their territories so they don’t gather at feeders. We will see them again with their fledglings.

 The biggest surprise for us is the chickadee family using an old decorative nest box which was gifted to us many years ago. Corn cobs, millet heads and lichens were glued to make it attractive to birds but they hardly ever came to feed off it. Just as we were about to take it down because it was falling apart, chickadees started exploring it and now are feeding young. Unlike other nestlings I’ve known, these are very quiet to avoid bringing attention to themselves.

Vandals scratching the educational signs along Delta Pond trails brings a sad note to our walks. If they don’t like nature, why don’t they just stay away? No Azolla in the ponds this year but there are lots of poppies. They will bloom summer and into fall with occasional rainfall. 

David Wagner is a botanist who has lived in Eugene for more than 30 years. He teaches moss classes and leads nature walks. He may be reached at fernzenmosses@me.com