Author Archives: kkovarik

What’s New in the Neighborhood

We’ve got solar panels in the Arboretum! And just up the street! I really would like to have these on our house. I think that all new construction should just automatically have energy efficiencies included.












We also had a few new visitors to our backyard, ones that are pretty rare in urban settings. The first was a Spring Azure. Pete said he used to see these in Connecticut in the 1970s. These butterflies are typically found near wooded areas, so to see one in our yard was pretty special. First one that we’ve seen ever in Ohio.





Finally, Pete saw a brown thrasher in our backyard. This was the second time he had seen one. Well, heard one would be more like it. Pete heard what he thought was a mockingbird. Then he saw the thrasher and heard its call and knew that’s what he had heard before. The birds are related so the calls are very similar. The fact that the bird saw our backyard as good habitat was really neat. We have lots of ground cover (leaves) and low bushes, which is what they like. One thing that worried us were neighborhood cats; the thrasher’s feeding and nesting habits make it vulnerable to predators.

Brown thrasher







Don’t forget LOUA’s Earth Day event:

Saturday, April 25, 2015
9-11am and 1-3pm

Click here to volunteer. Once you open the page, you’ll volunteer by clicking on the date in the box.

Until next time!

SAVE THE DATE: Earth Day and BioBlitz

Glen Echo

LOUA Earth Day at Glen Echo West

LOUA’s Earth Day event is just around the corner. Time to get out there and get rid of some invasives!

Saturday, April 25, 2015
9-11am and 1-3pm

Click here to volunteer. Once you open the page, you’ll volunteer by clicking on the date in the box.

BioBlitz 2015

Once again, we are going to survey all the birds, plants, insects, and wildlife in Glen Echo Ravine. This is a great way to learn about what’s living in Glen Echo as well as a way for LOUA to see how our efforts to clean the ravine of invasive plants are making Glen Echo a haven for native species.

Saturday, May 16, 2015
8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Glen Echo Ravine

Mike Graziano is working on the schedule, which I’ll post as soon as it’s finished. We’ll have the same sort of line up as last year: bird walks, plants walks, and other wildlife.

Spring Comes to the Earth (Day)


LOUA has the place, date and time set for Earth Day at Glen Echo West: Saturday, April 25, 2015, 9-11am and 1-3pm. Click here to volunteer. Once you open the page, you’ll volunteer by clicking on the date in the box.

Finally, Spring is here…sort of. We’ve seen a few signs of plant life in our yard: the snow trillium have bloomed as well as the poor hellebores, which looked as if someone had poured hot water on them. We were concerned about one that came from Pete’s Aunt Rose, but it is coming back. We didn’t want to lose that one, as it came from her yard after she died. It has come full circle, because we bought the plant in Columbus, took it to Connecticut, then brought it back to Ohio.

Also, the big news in Glen Echo was a sighting of an American Woodcock. Pete says they are not typically found in urban areas, and this sighting, according to John Finn (of the Glen Echo Bird Club), is the first time this bird has been sighted in Glen Echo Ravine. Of course, it was our own Mike Graziano who saw the bird.

American Woodcock

Wintry Weather

Well, it’s been a long time, I know. I hope everyone is staying warm in this cold, snowy and blowy weather. I don’t recall ever letting my faucet drip so often!

The reason for the delay in my posts was due to my laptop power cord fraying and spraying sparks everywhere. The computer is so old that I couldn’t just go to the computer store to buy a replacement. So my friend at work told me to find one on eBay. That was fun, as most were very inexpensive but had to be shipped from China. The cost of shipping was twice the cost of the power cord! I finally found one online and ordered it. Apparently, my poor power cord had a hard time getting from Texas to Ohio, thinking that the most logical way would be via Michigan. So what should have arrived in five days took nearly two weeks. Then, our modem went out. One store said I couldn’t buy a replacement, that everything had to be done online. That wouldn’t do at all. Then another store said they had a modem that I could buy, which I promptly did. I got that all up and running, only to find that it wasn’t working correctly (incidentally, it was operator error that made it not work…) I’ve finally got everything fixed, but I’m sorry for the long delay!

palm oil plantationOne of the things I read in the latest issue of Sierra was how palm oil is wiping out millions of acres of the rain forest. Palm oil is in half of all packaged products including processed foods, cleaners, and lipstick. According to the article, “the average U.S. consumer uses about eight pounds of palm oil each year.” It has several other names: vegetable oil, palmate, cocoa butter equivalent, sodium lauryl sulfate, and glyceryl stearate. What happens is that farmers take down the natives trees and vegitation to plant palm oil plantations. Losing those forests, in turn, threatens many species such as tigers, leopards and orangutangs. Also, indigenous peopleare pushed off of their land and have to deal with pesticides in their water supply.

So check those labels for palm oil before you buy.

Until next time!

You might have heard…

That The Ohio State University’s football team won the national championship this year. (Pete and I finally watched both games, courtesy of YouTube. We don’t have cable, so we ended up listening to the Sugar Bowl and the championship games on the radio. The Alabama game, we both agreed, was the more exciting. But I must admit that watching a game you know the outcome, with all the commercials edited, was pretty sweet!)

So what does this have to do with trees and the Arboretum?

Well, Ohio State’s Chadwick Arboretum Tree Planting team took home a win of its own in Arlington, TX. Horticulturists from Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State, and Alabama competed to see which team could plant the most trees, with the Ohio State team winning first place. The tree planting, which took place at a new park, was part of The Playoff Green program, a group of sustainability projects developed around the college football playoffs. The program is meant to help offset the environmental impact in Arlington of hosting the college football championship.

Apparently, before they left for Texas, the Ohio State team was featured planting a tree in under 60 seconds on Channel 10. (I searched for a video to embed with no luck…)

IMG_3221Here is a photo of the tree planting team. From the left: Mike Boren (father of the 3 Boren Brothers who all play/played on the OSU football team); Christine Voise (Chadwick Arboretum GIS and Accessions Specialist); Mitch Gatewood (OSU Alumni from DFW area); Mike Pfeiffer (Chadwick Arboretum Horticulturist); Ray Kreutzfeld (OSU Alumni from DFW area); Christy Dudgeon (OSU Alumni and VP of Grass Groomers); Steve Schneider (OSU Landscape Planner and ISA Certified Arborist); and our own Dan Struve (Emeritus Professor of Horticulture and Chadwick Arboretum Volunteer).

IMG_3223All I can say is, we could sure use a team like that for LOUA when we are planting trees!

Congratulations on both Ohio State wins!

Until next time!

Christmas Hawk Part II

I had another encounter with a hawk, this time at Ohio State. I was walking down 12th Avenue when I saw a hawk go after a squirrel. Mr. Squirrel got away, although I do think the hawk winged him a bit. The squirrel made his getaway by jumping into a window well that had a grate on it. Mr. Hawk patiently waited on the ground for about one minute, just across the street from where I was standing. I’ve not seen one that close up – he was rather larger than I had expected but so beautiful. Well, I was about to get a much closer view. The hawk took off and flew right in front of me. I stopped short, and had I put out my arm, I could have touched him, he was that close when he went by. Amazing. (I thought about going back to see if the squirrel was okay, but realized that not knowing the answer to that might be best…)

Then our neighborhood hawk was back at it at the Bird Bush Deli across the street, looking for his dinner. The neighbor’s cat was in on the fun, hoping to get a stray bird or two.

Hope your New Year got off to an exciting start, too!

Until next time!

The Christmas Hawk

coopershawk A few years ago, when we went up to see my brother and sister-in-law in Michigan for Christmas, they told us about the hawk that was in their neighborhood, the one that MaryJo named Christmas. He liked to have a meal of the squirrels that came to Mike’s backyard – the very ones Mike was feeding peanuts to! (I know hawks need to eat, too, but it’s one thing when they are eating someone you’ve never met vs. someone you had eat a peanut from your hand…)

Anyhow, the hawk was very beautiful. We weren’t really sure what kind it was, and fortunately, it never managed to catch any prey while we were watching. You could tell it was in the area because immediately, all the birds and squirrels would hide.

I’ve been seeing a lot of a hawk lately There’s one that’s living near Ohio State and the South Oval. I think it’s a Cooper’s hawk. An absolutely stunning bird with a cream breast and dark speckles. It is incredible fast, too. Then today, Pete and I travelled to Springfield, and saw perhaps four more. Finally, a hawk flew down across our street into the neighbor’s privet bush that was full of chirping sparrows. Sure enough, the hawk caught one. All was quiet for a few minutes, then birds when flying everywhere, the hawk in full flight after one of them. All succeeded in getting away; it was a marvel at how quickly the hawk could change direction to follow the sparrow.

treeAs Pete said, “We’ve got wildlife in our neighborhood!”

We got our Christmas tree up (it only took me six hours to decorate!), and it looks lovely, if I do say so myself. I hope that all of your holidays are merry and bright, and that the new year is filled with joy, love and laughter – and wildlife!

Until next time!