Bombus mixtus enjoying the sage blossoms and snowberry in our front yard
Honeybee collecting nectar=Sage Honey this fall
©Tracey Byrne 2017
Did you know that almost 90% of all flowering plants rely on animals, rather than the wind, for pollination? Over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. The vast majority of animal pollinators are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies and moths; of these, bees pollinate the largest number of plant species. About 1,000 species of pollinators are hummingbirds, bats and other small mammals (Pollinator Partnership, 2017).
Visit Pollinator Partnership and bee inspired with ways to support all our pollinators
This female Yellow-rumped Warbler has been gracing us with her presence this winter. She is hard to capture on camera, as she rarely alights. Today I managed to catch her in action using my "sports" setting, telephoto lens, and a tripod.
All photographs posted on BeePeeking ©Tracey Byrne unless otherwise noted
Do you like birds?
Do you have curiosity and patience?
Can you tell a duck from a songbird? An owl from a raptor?
Congratulations! You have the basic skills to be a birder!
Backyard Birding 101
You do not have to travel far, nor do you have to invest a lot of time or money to improve your birding skills. Expedite your learning by observing the birds in your backyard and neighborhood and develop a friendly relationship with them.
To enhance your budding bird awareness:
1. put up a bird feeder or two: suet and seeds will attract a greater variety of species
2. invest in a decent pair of binoculars (or borrow from a friend)
3. familiarize yourself with a few different birds guides
4. keep a journal for notes, tallies, and nature drawing
I suggest that you find a window, hang your feeder(s) outside of it, pull up a comfortable chair, and give the birds a week or two to discover your treats. Then, all you have to do is set yourself down regularly to watch your "bird TV". After a few weeks, you will be amazed at what you have learned.
It is helpful to have a list of the birds that are likely to be visiting your backyard, as this will save you time as you begin to record the numbers and habits of the birds you see. You will notice that you get regulars, and these will be your gateway birds-the ones that you can identify by the way they move, sing, and their flight patterns-in addition to knowing them by their color and size. Once you get three or four solid regulars, you will find that you'll use these birds as your basis to compare and differentiate.
I have several favorite tools for ID, from my Project FeederWatch poster to Sibley's Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. A good book for novice birders is Birds of Seattle and Puget Sound, which has lovely illustrations of 125 birds and includes ID tips, notes on habitat and food, songs and calls, and similar bird species.
For those of you who partake in urban adventuring, I would like to suggest Sibley's folding guides; I have Backyard Birds of the Pacific Northwest and Backyard Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast tucked in my birding bag (along with binoculars and camera), which you can purchase at either Seward Park Audubon Center or the Washington Park Arboretum gift shop.
That should do it:
Ready... Set... Bird!
To find out more visit BirdWeb, Seattle Audubon's Guide to birds of Washington State
Mystery bug #2 is the larva stage of the Ladybug Coccinellidae. The first time I found baby ladybugs in my yard, I was pretty sure that I had discovered a new species of insect. Who knew?
Insects can go through complete or incomplete metamorphosis. Nymphs are tinier versions of the adults, and instars and larvae can look very different from the adult (think caterpillar/butterfly).
To see more examples of insects and their cycles, visit Mr.Science.
I've taught K-12 students from north of the Arctic Circle to the Puget Sound Ecoregion, garnering over thirty years experience as a classroom teacher, learning mentor, and private tutor.
I earned my MAT in AIP, which is a Masters of Teaching in Biological Sciences and Advanced Inquiry.
I spent most of the 1980s and 90s in Alaska
flying airplanes, floating wild rivers, winter camping, raising a wild child, and living off the grid :^)
Here in Seattle, I am an advocate for environmental stewardship, place-based education, and outdoor play.