Nature Blog

Occasional observations of birds, wildflowers, native animals, and other life of the earth.

Ruffle Lichen

A Ruffle Lichen 

I picked up a little twig from under the trees. Every spot was covered solid with lichen. This pale lichen was small enough that I could cover the whole bit with the tip of my little finger.  A Ruffle Lichen.  Jan. 21, 2022

Tufted Titmouse

Crest of the Tufty

Top-of-the-head feathers tell you how a Tufted Titmouse feels. This is a sociable litte bird, one that commnicates constantly with its family, flock, and, well, others. We can't know everthing it's saying, but here's a bit of it. Jan. 17, 2022

Northern Cardinal

The Cardinal's Face  

Sometimes you just wonder how nature comes up with shapes like the black patch around the bill of the male Northern Cardinal. Face on, it appears nearly square. There must be some advantage to displaying this pattern. Jan. 14, 2022

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrows gets all comfy in Iowa in winter, which is warmer than its summer home in the Arctic is now. They often hang out in bare Greenbrier. The daggery vine is safety and home sweet home for a little bird. Jan. 5, 2022

Northern Harrier

Harrier Air  Skating

Back and forth she flies, always looking down. With only an occasional flap, like a skater pushing off with one foot, she glides as if riding on ice, only a few feet above the ground. A treat to see on New Year's Day. Jan. 1, 2022

Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadee Dream 

This Black-capped Chickadee is poised to leave. Below, it is still and dreamlike. Above, it ripples with intention. Happy holidays! May we extend our love and generosity to all who share this earth with us. Dec. 24, 2021

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red Head of Winter 

Ate the moment of the winter solstice this morning, I could feel in the air that Red-headed Woodpeckers must be about. A quick movement up the treetops gave it away. Watching us. Living its wild life. Is this not happiness! Dec. 21, 2021

Gold-eye Lichen

Light from Heaven 

How I appreciate the way that big wind a couple nights back brought down treasures from up in the canopy. One of the millions of twigs had a spot of gold in the center, like a stone in a ring. Gold-eye Lichen. Dec. 20, 2021

Northern Cardinal

Fresh for Winter

Just two days before the official start of winter, the cardinal appears in top form. His plumage is in wonderful condition. Fresh, new, fluffy feathers have replaced the worn-out feathers of last summer. Molting in action. Dec. 19, 2021

Amerian Elm

The Elm and its Afterlife 

It has been a beloved tree. For as long as we have lived here the American Elm has arched over our gravel road. Today, with the respectful skill of a surgeon, Eli removed the dead limbs sure to come down in the first ice storm. Dec. 16, 2021

Bue Jay

Blue Jay Plants Oak Tree

An acorn is on its way to a secret burial spot. It may be dug up this winter and eaten. Or forgotten. Until it sprouts and becomes a new oak tree. Here is how Blue Jays saved the oak forest at the end of the Ice Age.   Dec. 11, 2021

Northern Flicker

Flicker's Hidden Gold

How nature half hides some of her beauty. Like the underside of the flicker's tail, a wink of molten gold. Its hard to see it when the bird is in repose. Like a fancy petticoat, designed to be alluring and yet demurly out of sight. Dec. 7 , 2021

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse Pearls

Tufted Titmouse dips beak down into the birdbath and up so quickly that pearls go flying into the air. It can grow quite trusting of humans. One reason may be that it does not migrate, so it lives its whole life in the same area. Dec. 2 , 2021

Wild Turkey hen

Wild Turkey Thanks

Wild Turkeys are native to North America. But they're good to eat, and by the early 20th Century, they had been hunted almost out of existence in North America. Now they're back, thanks to the wisdom of the wild. Nov. 25, 2021

Purple Finch

Purple Finch Warming

Purple Finches never look cold. I don't know if the color of their coat keeps them warm. It certainly warms me to see them. Here's a few of the ways they stay alive in sub freezing winter temperatures. Nov. 17, 2021



My grandmother used to push closely spaced cloves into an orange and let it dry until it became a fragrant sachet. Buttonbush seeds remind me of those cloves, the way they fit together so neatly that they form a solid sphere. Nov. 10, 2021

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck on Gold

A Ring-necked Duck swam all alone on the pond at sunrise. Why is it called Ring-necked Duck? It does have rings, but the most visible rings are not around the neck. Here is how it got its name. Oct. 26, 2021

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow at the Edge

Where I live in Iowa, we are near the northern edge of where this bird can survive the winter. An October Song Sparrow October may be weighing whether to stay or go. Such decisions draw the map of the species' range. Oct. 20, 2021

White-breasted Nuthatch

Toe of the Nuthatch

How does the White-breasted Nuthatch walk upside down like that? No doubt weighing only 2/3 of an ounce helps. Not much weight to support. Still, almost no bird can do it. Here is the nuthatch's special equipment. Oct 15, 2021

Swainson's Thrush

Virginia Creeper Berries

A Swainson's Thrush migrating north to south across North America in fall needs fuel to survive the trip. Fuel like the berries of Virginia Creeper. Some may hate it, but the birds need it. So I love it. Oct. 14, 2021

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Redbelly Cache

I'm wondering whether the Red-bellied Woodpecker will remember where she's stashing this acorn in a hole in a snag. This is one of few woodpeckers in North America who cache food in this way. Oct. 10, 2021