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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why plants native to north Texas should be planted here

Frequently I've advocated the use of native plants instead of plants whose origins are in Japan or Europe or...   Why?   The plants native to north Texas are easily recognised by wildlife (such as birds) who for thousands of years have instinctively and genetically known how to utilize our native plants for food, nesting, shelter and other ageless facets of life.

Plants' functions are also timed to coincide with our birds' needs. For example they'll produce berries just when birds are looking for food, and so on. Native plants also are better adapted to life in our dry, hot environment and our poor soil.  In other words, they'll live!

Perhaps this video explains it better. Fortunately we're about to enter (around mid-September) the best planting time for Texas plants (it's not spring, like up north). In my Landscape Architecture practice, I try to time my projects for Fall planting for this reason.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Probably that's a Chuck-will's-Widow, not a Whippoorwill

You probably don't see it, but it calls over and over and over and over and over and over. In much of the country that describes a Whippoorwill. But here in north Texas, that's almost certainly a Chuck-will's-Widow. They look somewhat similar, and both are in the Nightjar family.

Our Chuck-will's-Widow, however, has adapted to our environment.  It has a distinctive and persistent call - sounding much like its name.  It catches flying insects, like mosquitoes, with its huge mouth (2" across). Of course, if we kill most of the mosquitoes......

A hearty thanks to the powers-that-be where I live (Denton) for not spraying pesticides from airplanes on its citizens. West Nile Virus is certainly a bad thing for some people, but I have a very different view. 

To me, WNV is a plague that we, as humans, have brought on ourselves through our relentless destruction of bird habitat; places where birds can live. After all, a single bird c
an eat around 1000 mosquitoes per day (depending
on the species). So, having lots of birds around would take a big chunk out of WNV. 

Conversely, having fewer birds around means we have more mosquitoes. And more WNV. And if we kill the birds' food source, along with their habitat, we'll clearly have fewer birds. Many more people die each year in north Texas from asthma than from WNV, but many governments aren't taking drastic steps to curb its major irritant - air pollution.

Obviously I feel strongly about this, but I'll get off my soapbox now.