#360 Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

28 February 2021

A common breeding bird in marsh environments and well-vegetated lakes. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada and the northern USA, will migrate to more temperate climes. This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. It forages beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed. Its wide feet allow it to hop about on lily pads. It is often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, the common gallinule remains plentiful and widespread.

The common gallinule will fight to defend its territory. The nest is a basket built on the ground in dense vegetation. Laying starts in spring, between mid-March and mid-May in northern hemisphere temperate regions. About 8 eggs are usually laid per female early in the season; a brood later in the year usually has only 5–8 or even fewer eggs. Nests may be re-used by different females. Incubation lasts about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These fledge after 40–50 days, become independent usually a few weeks thereafter, and may raise their first brood the next spring. When threatened, the young may cling to a parent’s body, after which the adult birds fly away to safety, carrying their offspring with them.

#359 Norway Spruce (Picea abies)

27 February 2021

A species of spruce native to Northern, Central and Eastern Europe.[5] It has branchlets that typically hang downwards, and the largest cones of any spruce, 9–17 cm (3 1⁄2–6 3⁄4 in) long. It is very closely related to the Siberian spruce (Picea obovata), which replaces it east of the Ural Mountains, and with which it hybridises freely. The Norway spruce is widely planted for its wood, and is the species used as the main Christmas tree in several cities around the world. It was the first gymnosperm to have its genome sequenced.

#358 Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

26 February 2021

Q dominant understory perennial flowering plant, native to the sub-boreal conifer forests in Canada and the northern United States, from Yukon and British Columbia east to Newfoundland and south to Nebraska and Pennsylvania, and also in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia. It can be found growing under both evergreen and deciduous trees.

It grows to 10–25 cm (4–10 in) tall, and has 1–3 leaves, with clusters of 12–25 starry shaped, white flowers held above the leaves. The flowers are produced from late spring to mid summer, and have four tepals and four stamens, as in the very closely related Maianthemum bifolium and Maianthemum dilatatum. The fruit is a berry containing 1–2 round seeds that becomes red and translucent when ripe. The berries are mottled red in early summer and turn deep red in mid summer. Seed is produced infrequently and most plants in a location are vegetative clones, the plants spreading by their rhizomes, which are shallow, trailing, and white.

Leaves are alternate, stalkless, oval, and slightly notched at base. They are not oppressed to the stem. The plant appears in two forms, either two or three leaves growing with a fruiting stem, or a single leaf rising from the ground with no fruiting structures.

#357 Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)

25 February 2021

A perennial herb with an erect habit, and reaches 30–120 cm (12–47 in) high. The blue-green[3] leaves are pinnate with lobed and wavy margins, up to 30 cm (12 in) long. When injured, the plant exudes a yellow to orange latex, or sap.

The flowers consist of four yellow petals, each about 18 mm (0.71 in) long, with two sepals. A double-flowered variety occurs naturally. The flowers appear from late spring to summer, in umbelliform cymes of about 4 flowers.

The seeds are small and black, borne in a long, cylindrical capsule. Each has an elaiosome, which attracts ants to disperse the seeds (myrmecochory)

#356 Philadelphia Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)

24 February 2021

A widespread North American plant in the daisy family. Also known as common fleabane, daisy fleabane, frost-root, marsh fleabane, poor robin’s plantain, skervish, and in the British Isles as robin’s-plantain. It is native to North America and found there in nearly all of the United States and Canada. It is also introduced into Europe and Asia, considered an invasive weed in many places

#355 White Avens (Geum canadense).

23 February 2021

A herbaceous plant with basal leaves that have more than three leaflets and are arranged in a low rosette. Leaves above the basal rosette are alternate, with those placed just above the basal leaves typically trifoliate, and upper leaves usually simple. Basal leaves are a darker green and are often coarsely hairy compared to the lighter green and fine hairs found on upper leaves and stems. In milder climates the foliage is evergreen.

Blooming occurs for one to two months in the summer; each flower has five white petals and five green sepals. Flowers are replaced by clusters of long, thin seeds each with a hook on one end that may catch on clothing or animal fur. The flowers resemble those of other members of the rose family such as blackberries and strawberries

#354 Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

22 February 2021

Native to Europe, northern Africa, and Asia, and introduced in the Americas and Australia.

It is a hairy biennial plant that can grow to 2 m tall or more. Its small, yellow flowers are densely grouped on a tall stem, which grows from a large rosette of leaves. It grows in a wide variety of habitats, but prefers well-lit, disturbed soils, where it can appear soon after the ground receives light, from long-lived seeds that persist in the soil seed bank. It is a common weedy plant that spreads by prolifically producing seeds, and has become invasive in temperate world regions. It is a minor problem for most agricultural crops, since it is not a competitive species, being intolerant of shade from other plants and unable to survive tilling. It also hosts many insects, some of which can be harmful to other plants. Although individuals are easy to remove by hand, populations are difficult to eliminate permanently.

#353 American Germander (Teucrium canadense )

21 February 2021

A robust perennial plant with a fibrous root system, forming clumps up to 3 ft (90 cm) tall. The upright squarish stems have small side branches, and send out rhizomes at the base. The leaves are opposite, stemmed lower on the plant and unstemmed on the upper sections of the stalk. They are ovate or lanceolate, deeply veined and coarsely toothed, up to 5 in (13 cm) long and 2.5 in (6 cm) wide. The terminal inflorescence contains numerous whitish or pale lilac lipped flowers with large shelf-like lower lips. The fruits contain four pitted seeds covered with white hairs.

The species is native to North America. Its range extends throughout the 48 contiguous states of the United States, and it is also present in much of Canada. It is a common plant, growing in moist grassland, at the edges of forests, in thickets, on river verges and at the edges of marshes. It also grows on wasteland, in poorly-drained areas and beside roadside ditches, and can be somewhat invasive.

#352 Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)

20 February 2021

One of the most common owls in forests across northern North America (and across the U.S. in winter), saw-whets are highly nocturnal and seldom seen. Their high-pitched too-too-too call is a common evening sound in evergreen mountain forests from January through May. Listen for a sharp, high, repeated too-too-too call. During the day these small, hard-to-find owls roost silently in dense conifers. Your best chance of seeing them is to pay attention to small songbirds—if they discover a roosting saw-whet, they’re likely to kick up a racket, calling and flying at the owl until it moves on.

#351 Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

19 February 2021

These nocturnal hunters roost in dense foliage, where their camouflage makes them hard to find, and forage over grasslands for small mammals. Long-eared Owls are nimble flyers, with hearing so acute they can snatch prey in complete darkness. In spring and summer, listen for their low, breathy hoots and strange barking calls in the night.

Methodically search pine stands or shelterbelts near grassland or pasture for roosting owls, often close to the tree trunk among dense branches. Also look along the ground for pellets (gray, roughly oval cylinders of regurgitated fur, feathers, and bone). If you find a large number of these, you may be under a roost tree. Long-eared Owl pellets are typically 2-3” long, while pellets of other owls found in such situations are either larger and less elongate (Great Horned Owl) or smaller and rounder (Northern Saw-whet Owl). Also scan the ground and lower branches for extensive whitewash (bird droppings), which can also indicate recent roosting by owls.