It has been years, maybe decades, since I visited the Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota. I believe my first experience visiting was as a child as part of a Bluebird trip. The same star-like lights were still hanging in the Sunken Garden and the tropical trees looked the same, although they have been cut back a huge number of times. The Conservatory is free to all, although a donation is gladly accepted.
For the first time ever, I spotted several Indian pipe plants, with their nodding flowers, in the woods near our house. These rare plants are usually white and do not have any chlorophyll. Indian pipe plants are parasitic, relying on certain fungal hosts associated with the roots of trees in dense forests. Here, the plants flowered in later August after several days of heavy rain.
In the late 1800s, many wealthy German merchants built elegant and lavish homes along the San Antonio River, just south of downtown San Antonio. Known as the King William District, the neighborhood is known as one of the most beautiful residential areas in Texas. King William Street, named after King Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, is lined with many of the most famous homes.
I have been fortunate to spot and photograph a red fox in our backyard this year. Red foxes tend to be very shy and primarily nocturnal. I saw this particular fox several times during mid-morning and early evening.
Red foxes are more common these days throughout the U.S. Most are thought to be the descendants of red foxes imported from England for sport in the mid-eighteenth century and released on the east coast of the U.S.
A red fox can run almost 30 mph and can leap in a single bound more than a kangaroo, some 15 feet. My fox was eagerly awaiting a very nervous squirrel to come down from our deck. Too bad for our fox, the squirrel did get away!
I can’t say enough about the tremendous work the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC) is doing to care for sick, injured, and orphaned wild birds and animals. It is one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation clinics in the U.S., treating more than 8,600 animals each year.
For the first time, I attended the WRC Open House on Feb. 7, 2016. I picked out a stuffed animal (robin) to go through a mock exam. My robin had a fractured wing and he was taped before going to radiology. Along the way, volunteers and veterinary students explained how and why certain procedures are performed and what type of cage my robin would be in during rehabilitation. Everything was so interesting! I didn’t know birds have nucleated red blood cells!