Saturday, January 10, 2009

Birds and Plants

I still have no phenological events to report, so I thought I would try to remember why it was that I wanted to do this!

My interest in birds and their behavior started at Dan's grandma's birdfeeder. She would comment on all the different birds there, and I was fascinated by how many different types of birds were there, and impressed that she knew what kinds they all were. She lives in the country, so I assumed that the variety was because of that. But then I started looking in the city, and was amazed by how many different birds there are here too.

I love the country but don't like to drive, which means we have to live in the city. So discovering that such diversity and abundance of wildlife exists in Madison in the form of birds really enhanced the joy of the city for me. The return of the birds that migrate south in the fall in the spring feels like greeting an old friend. I also find new kinds of birds every year that I've never noticed before, and feel greatly enriched by this too.

My interest in plants originated from more practical reasons. I am a lazy gardener and am always delighted to find wild plants that are edible and that require no work. Then I found that my older daughter Maynie, who is the pickiest eater I have ever met, actually is not as picky when it comes to wild edibles. She turns into an adventurous eater, and even enjoys food when she is out foraging! So learning about wild edibles became an obsession for me to provide nutrition for her. This led to a lot of learning about all plants in general because that is what one has to do to learn about the edible ones. A knowledge of phenology is incredibly important for wild edibles because the seasons can be short, and one can miss an entire year's eagerly awaited treat by not knowing when to look for it.

I am still learning, and always look at unidentified plants with the hope that they might be another tasty treat! The other pleasure I've found with plants is the discovery of the incredible diversity of them even in the city (especially in our overgrown backyard!)

I have inconsistently recorded a phenological event here and there for the past two or three years. Through this blog, I hope to record more and also put the data in a database. I am also hoping to get my daughters to take pictures to post so that every year I don't have to look through all the identification books again to try to remember what I already figured out the previous year. Let's see how well I am going to be able to keep up with recording with the onslaught of phenological data come spring!

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