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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yours truly gets lifetime achievement award

From birth, most people are taught not to be boastful, immodest or pompous. I'm going to break that rule right now because this is MY blog, and I'm not beholden to any company policy, outdated manners or any advertisers (that's my choice and intent). So I can write my opinions about whatever I see fit. If you think otherwise, email me with the subject line "Put in Trash".

This past Saturday, I was honored to receive a lifetime achievement award at a banquet in Corpus Christi.  It was for my work involving native Texas plants, presented by the Native Plant Society of Texas. Thank you very much!

NPSOT (as it's called - pronounced just like it's spelled) was founded in 1981 in Denton TX, and now has 34 chapters throughout the state. They've taken on the monumentally ambitious task of making Texas landscapes compatible with our unique environments. The method is to dramatise the many native plants of Texas, and that they, over the ages, got used to our heat, drought and poor soil. Therefore, they'll survive here!

The native plants, used in place of exotics, always fare better than the typical exotic plants from Japan, California, Italy or some other far-off land. Usually requiring much less maintenance too. The finicky exotics often end up in a dumpster.

My landscape design work, always including native plants, encompasses commercial and institutional work, as well as residential projects throughout Texas. In addition, the award is for extensive writing - over 200 articles plus this blog.

Great Blue Heron
But enough about me.  The following day we went to Padre Island and saw lots of Pelicans (whose beaks can really hold more than their belly can), tons of water birds, and a few Great Blue Herons (pictured).


Monday, October 21, 2013

House Finches live among us

House Finch
Personally, I like House Finches. Their songs are pleasant, they’re very comfortable around humans, and can be very colorful. However, some people have large throngs of House Finch visitors, and some more desirable species may get crowded out.

The gregarious House Finches are terrible “clingers” so try this; Try removing the perches from your tube feeders. Most tube feeders allow you to do this, and it has minimal effect on clinging birds (such as Chickadees and Titmice) - who usually just cling to the edge of the “port” (or opening) instead. There are a few seed feeders on the market, such as a globe feeder, with no perches. These can keep most House Finches from your seed for a while, but my advice to live with them, and enjoy them.

Some people confuse them with Cardinals, because the head and breast can be so red on the males. This comes from pigment in their food. In fact the female selects a mate depending on its redness, rightly assuming that a bright red male is a better food finder and can feed youngsters better.

House Finch
They used to be found only in far west U.S. and in Mexico. But they’ve expanded to cover the entire country. Believe it or not, the Great Plains (which includes north Texas) has the least House Finches; though your neighbor who gets hundreds may not concur.

Also, House Finches are one of the few species that can feed seeds (like from a feeder) to their young. So a House Finch at your feeder may be eating for two, or three, or four or…

A non-stop flight that wasn’t delayed

The record for non-stop bird migration has been set by a Bar-tailed Godwit (you won’t see one around here). The shorebird flew from New Zealand’s North Island to Yalu Jiang, at the northern end of China’s Yellow Sea, a distance of 6,200 miles, in nine days.  There was no tailwind and no stopping (the route was mostly over water anyway). The numbers are precise since the Godwit was equipped with a satellite transmitter.


 OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.