Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Queen City Birding Festival, Sat. May 15th

In case you are looking for something different to do this weekend, I have a great option available. Come to the Third Annual Queen City Bird Festival!

This free event is hosted by Audubon Miami Valley of Ohio and the Avian Research and Education Institute. Come out and celebrate the beauty of spring, birds and nature! It is located inside Hueston Woods State Park at the nature center. Festivities will begin at 7am and run throughout the day until 6pm. Activities for the entire family, including:

  • Numerous activities for children and a wonderful way to introduce children to nature
  • Guest speakers on bird migration, bird banding and where to bird watch
  • A variety of food and merchandise vendors
  • Local conservation groups
  • Live music
  • Hourly bird walks
  • Bird banding demonstration

We would like to welcome our 2010 special festival guest Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Thane is an avid author and the world has benefited from his many wildlife programs at the Cincinnati Zoo. He is known for his radio series The 90-Second Naturalist on public radio which airs nationally to enhance public awareness of biological diversity, natural history and wildlife conservation.

Also, the lovely Susan K. Williams will be there from Raptors, Inc. with some of her bird friends. See owls and hawks up-close!

You’ll also enjoy many great classes such as “Birds in the Classroom” by Seven Hills School teachers Karen Glum and Jennifer LiCata. Sr. Marty Dermody of Mt St. Joseph will cover “Birding in Southwest Ohio.” Casey Tucker of Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics of Ohio will help you master “Birding by Ear.” “The Basics of Birding” will be covered by Bill Heck. Don’t forget to catch “Photographing Birds" with nature photographers Jim and Deb Chagares and don’t miss Rick Lee’s experiences while “Birding Antarctica

Jill & Dave Russell, Directors of the Avian Research and Education Institute, P.O. Box 555, W. College Corner, IN 47003 are co-organizers and sponsors of the Queen City Bird Festival. They are federally licensed bird banders and long-time birders who regularly provide educational seminars and lead birding trips internationally. Dave and Jill have spent untold hours encouraging the young and old to get out and explore their natural world. Their patience with the early birder and enthusiasm for bird research makes them the dynamic duo of avian awareness and research.

Bird banding lists and bird sightings from previous festivals are available on the AREI website. For further information please contact Jill Russell at 513-244-4783,, or Debbie Gross, Communications 513-255-5313.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Wildflowers-Dwarf Larkspur

The deep purple blossoms of Dwarf Larkspur, Delphinium tricorne, always make me smile. Such a beautiful little plant.

Larkspur is a relative to the garden variety Delphinium, as you can tell from the scientific name. Delphinium is derived from the Greek word "delphis" which means dolphin. The closed flower buds look similar to the nose of a dolphin. The "larkspur" name comes from the leaves and flowers that look like a lark's foot. Below is a rarer white variety.

Delphiniums and larkspurs are very toxic. They contain the alkaloids delphinine and aconitic acid. The alkaloids effect the nervous system causing one to become weak. The plant is also called staggerweed because of its affect on cattle that graze on the plant; they lose muscle control and stumble about. If enough of the plant is consumed it can cause respiratory failure and death.
The interestingly shaped seed pods splayed out in all directions look somewhat like a radiation warning symbol. The are filled with tiny brown achenes.

Dwarf Larkspur can flower April-June. They are especially beautiful along a roadside hill. It would make a lovely addition to any grden. Hopefully you will have a chance to catch this beauty in bloom this spring.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring Wildflowers-Appendaged Waterleaf

Appendaged Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum appendiculatum, is a delicate woodland flower with fragile pale lavender blossoms.

Its name "waterleaf" comes from the white marks on the leaves that look like water stains.

This Bumblebee was quite content lapping the nectar from the waterleaf flower.

Up close and personal. It was so engrossed I bumped it a few times when I got too close with the camera and it didn't mind one bit.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day-Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts have special meaning for me. This particular plant is located at my sister's house next to the front door. It was my mothers. When my parents moved to Otterbein Retirement Village, my sister brought a piece to her house. In the spring, it welcomes me home each visit and as I leave, it gently waves goodbye.

My mother brought her plant from her childhood home, a division from a huge Bleeding Heart located near my grandparent's well. I was always fascinated with the lovely pink blossoms. I marveled at how they formed such perfect delicate hearts.

Rumour has it, though I haven't confirmed this, that the original was from my grandfather's parent's homestead in Kentucky. This plant has been around forever and has strong family ties.

And, what a plant to do so. Look at the beautiful pink hearts stretched out along the stem. It just gushes out love and family. It always makes me smile. :) :) :) Happy Mother's Day!

A Smathering of Flowers

I have been on quite a few botanical forays in the last month or so and thought it might be nice to throw some of those photos up for you to enjoy.

Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris, was a plant so beautiful that I couldn't resist taking a bunch of pictures. If you look closely, you can see the faint nectar guides on the petals, thin lines leading to the center of the flower, that tell the bees where the goods lie.

Wherry's Catchfly, Silene caroliniana ssp. wherryi, is a rarity that will knock your socks off. This beauty is related to Fire Pinks and Royal Catchfly, but instead of red, it is a brilliant pink.

Barren Strawberry, Waldsteinia fragarioides. I really had to work for this one. I fell in the creek twice, got tangled up in some greenbrier and slid down a hill in the mud. Somedays, sigh, I am not very graceful. :)

This Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, was blooming along with many others in a large patch located at Southeastway Park.

Wild Hyacinth, Camassia scilloides, is another Southeastway specialty. The delicate ice blue flowers scattered across the forest floor are truly breathtaking.

I was so pleases this picture turned out. It was taken in the pouring rain after scurrying up a small hill. This is a Whorled Pogonia, Isotria verticillata, and it doesn't bloom every year. Rick Gardner, who has been practically everywhere in the state of Ohio, had never seen this in bloom. This told me this wasn't a flower to be missed!

Showy Orchis, Galearis spectabilis, is a gorgeous tiny wonder. This was a good year for them, with many found in Adams and Scioto County, Ohio.

The blossoms of Pinkster Azalea, Rhododendron nudiflorum, reminds me of a little girl's party dress that is perfectly pink with layers of ruffles. The fragrant flowers smell amazing.

Yellow Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium pubescens, look like little dutch shoes. This is one of my personal favorites.

Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, with its red and yellow flowers, is a hummingbird magnet.

Wild Geranium, Geranium maculatum, always makes me smile. There is a large patch at Southeastway that I walk by almost everyday in the spring.

The flowers of Pawpaw, Asimina triloba, form before the plant leaves out. The remind me of deep burgandy roses.

Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea, is a hemi-parasite. This plant can photosynthesize, yet will steal nutrients from other plants, as well.

"My woodland bretheren, it is good to be green." So sayeth Jack, who is preaching from the pulpit. Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, also forms clusters of brilliant red berries in the summer.

I was a little overwhelmed with ADD during this shot. A Pine Warbler was singing overhead, Henry's Elfin butterflies were dancing on the road, a grasshopper was daring me to chase it and these beauties were begging for me to take their picture. These are Birdsfoot Violets, Viola pedata.
And lastly, a lovely azure Long-spurred Violet, Viola rostrata. Rostrata means "beaked" and that beaked, pinocchio-like extension makes this violet easily identifiable.