by Stephanie H, Sprague Branch
It is June and that means we are officially heading into summer here in Utah! You may have noticed that everything is in bloom right now, and there are baby birds all over the place. Here is a small list of flowers, plants and birds you may notice around your neighborhood:
Sunflower (Helianthus annus)
Probably one of my favorite flowers, you will see these cheerful yellow flowers popping up all over SLC, in yards, roadsides and the foothills. There are many different varieties of Sunflowers, and the seeds can be eaten and also used to dye fabric. Pollinators such as bees, wasps, hummingbirds and butterflies love sunflowers.
Columbine (aquilegia family)
There are a few varieties of Columbine the grow in SLC, including the Yellow Columbine (aquilegia flavescens) and Graham’s columbine (aquilegia grahamii). Columbine have long petals that attract hummingbirds and moths. I found two different varieties of Columbine while walking through Hidden Hollow in Sugar House, including this one with yellow and red flowers.
Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Miner’s lettuce is found all over SLC, including on roadsides, forest areas and even growing in people’s gardens. As you may guess by the plant’s common name, Miner’s Lettuce is edible although I would not recommend consuming it unless you know for certain that what you have found is in fact Miner’s Lettuce and you know that it has not been treated with any pesticides or weed killers.
There are five different species of hummingbirds that hang out in Utah during the summer. The most common two are the broad tailed hummingbird and the black chinned hummingbird. I have to admit that I have a hard time telling the different species apart because they are often zooming around to different pollen sources. If you put up a hummingbird feeder in your yard or on your balcony you will definitely get visitors! You can use this easy recipe for your feeder, just make sure you clean it every other day! I was able to snap this picture of two hummingbirds perched on old Yucca stalks at Red Butte Garden last year.
The two most common woodpeckers in SLC are the Hairy Woodpecker and the Downy Woodpecker. These two guys are almost identical except for size. The Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy Woodpecker. I see these birds all the time while walking through neighborhoods. You may often hear them hammering away at a tree, looking for insects. The Northern Flicker is also part of the Woodpecker family, although they pound on trees as a form of communication. I spotted this Flicker while I was in a drive-thru.
If you are interested in documenting different plants and animals in your neighborhood, I highly recommend downloading the inaturalist app , iNaturalist was created by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic as a way for citizen scientists (aka us regular folk) to record what is happening in their area and connect with other citizen scientists to discuss these findings.
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