Make Every Drop Count
By Claudia Kirscher
Liberty Wildlife Contributor
This week, I measured the amount of water I run down the drain while warming the water for my shower. It took 3.5 gallons to reach my desired temperature. Yes, I collected that water in buckets, and yes, I used that water elsewhere in the house and yard. Now it’s your turn! Try for yourself and see how much water you could save by cutting down on your water usage.
Here are some ways to conserve water in your garden:
- Mulch planting beds with newspaper, leaves, bark, or wood chips. Mulches retain soil moisture and improve soil quality.
- Water your plantings with a hose or drip irrigation system. Less water evaporates this way than with a sprinkler, and you target your watering.
- Use a timing device with any watering system. Water only in early mornings or late evenings.
- Avoid watering on windy days.
- Don’t water the gutter – direct all sprinkler heads away from sidewalks or driveways.
- Use “wasted” water for your plants. A rain barrel or cistern that captures rainfall from your roof is a great garden reservoir. In some areas, gray water – water from bathing or washing clothes – can legally be diverted to garden use.
- Plant native species which are drought-tolerant, require less water, and attract native insects, which in turn will attract native birds.
- Group similar water usage plants together.
- Consider reducing turf grass areas and plant with drought-resistant species and xeriscape landscaping.
*Previously published July 2020.
Felines on my Mind
By Gail Cochrane
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Shortly after Thanksgiving I walked along the fire road, a broad trail that divides my neighborhood from the South Mountain desert preserve.
Over the holiday we visited my brother-in-law and his wife, who have adopted four beautiful cats into their home, their lives. After multiple previous tragedies involving coyotes, Todd installed an enclosed ramp along the outside of the house. The cats exit an open upstairs window and traverse the screened ramp, which leads down to an enclosed portion of garden that includes a tree, and on into the large and luxurious outdoor cattio.
Certainly, cats were on my mind as I walked, and when I glanced into the wash below, lush with mesquites, Palo Verdes and creosote, there walked a cat!
This was a gorgeous, spotted cat, with glossy dark markings along the spine. It walked with purpose, weaving through the undergrowth with fluid grace. Not far behind, emerged another cat! Then I noticed the short tails. Bobcats.
At 15-30 pounds, bobcats are somewhat larger than the average house cat, although our orange boy Boo weighed in at 18 pounds at one point. Bobcats’ long legs, broad cheek ruffs and big ears do give the impression of a larger animal.
Bobcats are found in many habitats, from forests and riparian canyons to low desert. They live where there is ample prey to sustain them. Hunting mostly by ambush, but sometimes by just moseying along, bobcats pounce on rabbits, hares, rodents, snakes and birds.
These are solitary cats, pairing up only at mating season in winter to early spring. Two to three cubs will be born in a carefully hidden den. The mother moves her kits often to keep them safely concealed. The youngsters learn to hunt from mom, staying on with her until fall. Then they must establish their own territories, which will be areas of several square miles.
I envision my hiking trails as bobcat territory. Surely at some time or another there has been a bobcat watching from a covert hiding place as I stroll by. To me this makes my desert haunts even richer.
*Photo by Michael McGarry.
By: Carol Suits
Liberty Wildlife Volunteer
Kids are Superheroes when they find ways to help nature.
It’s getting colder outside so now is the perfect time to make a bird feeder and fill a bird bath with water!
- Do you have a pinecone, or an empty toilet roll and some string?
- Do you have some peanut butter to put all over the pinecone or toilet roll?
- How about bird seed? Can you get some to put all over the peanut butter?
- Use the string to hang up your bird feeder!
In December, the Superhero Club was all about feathers! With the help of Liberty Wildlife’s CEO and all-around knowledgeable nature expert, Megan Mosby, the superheroes learned about Liberty’s Non-Eagle Feather Repository (NEFR) and got to handle everything from a large condor feather to that of a tiny hummingbird.
They examined owl wing feathers, and saw how the edges were very soft, allowing owls to fly quietly. It was such a big difference from the condor feather which was stiff and strong to help lift condors into the air! Then, they held down feathers that birds have next to their skin to help keep them warm. So much to see!
Later, the group made their own feather ornaments, donating a few to the Liberty Wildlife Christmas tree.
Superheroes at the NEFR table Making feather ornaments with help from mom
How about feather hats?? Feather ornaments ready to hang!
The Superheroes next meeting will be at the annual Conservation Expo, OdySea Aquarium, Scottsdale AZ, on January 13, 2024. The Expo is from 9 – 2, on the Boardwalk and free to all participants. Superheroes can meet at Litter Critter’s station at 10 to check in. All are welcome!