Category: Pacific Northwest


Northern Idaho and surrounding areas of Washington and Montana are blessed with a great variety of both flora and fauna.  The southern edge of the boreal forest, the Rocky Mountains and inter-montane habitat types blend into one another into.  Many species of migratory birds pass through the Idaho panhandle following Pacific flyway routes. Canada Geese, often called Honkers, are one of the most common.  Large flocks settle on the lakes and rivers.

Some Canada Geese are also year-round residents in the Sandpoint-Lake Pend Oreille area.  The image below depicts some of them on Sand Creek just a short distance upriver from Sandpoint.

While we do not seem to have suffered from a loss of birds that has plagued many part of North America I have noticed an increasing number of dead geese, and fish, in recent years while in my kayak. Whether that somehow results from the appearance of Eurasian Milfoil in out waterways, chemicals used to combat the infestation, construction and habitat degradation near the water, or some other factor, I do not know, but I worry about environmental degradation in this are as the population grows.

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honkers and cattails

Canada Geese And Cattails

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Breakup

In the north the term “breakup” refers to melting of the ice in lakes and , especially, rivers. When breakup occurs masses of ice begin melting and moving; spring soon follows,

I recently picked up a few tips that will allow me to become better at the mechanics of using 3D software to make art. Those tips are incorporated into this image; a mountain lake in spring. Sunlight reflects off trees in the distance in a more natural way that I was able to achieve previously. And I think I was able to render a fairly good approximation of ice as it appears on a lake in spring when it melts most days and then refreezes at night. And the partially-melted snow on the hills also looks natural.

I added a Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) in the foreground as they are one of the most beautiful and interesting birds in the upper left hand corner of North America. We call them screeches as that is what they do.

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a mountain lake in spring

A Mountain Lake In Spring

Here is a rendering of a tree-covered, rocky island off the coast of British Columbia which I saw while aboard a ferry from Alaska. I have dubbed it Salish Island though it most likely has some other name.

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salish island

Salish Island

The word “salish” is used by linguists to refer to several related languages of the indigenous residents of the US Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The term “Salish Sea” refers to an area consisting of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, of which the island in this image is a part, are located in the Salish Sea.

Sunrise on Lake Pend Oreille. I went down to the waterfront one morning to watch the sun rise. Both clouds and smoke from forest fires in the region contributed to the redness of the sky. There was a very liquid feel that morning with the weather and that fact that the sun reflected off not only the water but the underside of the cloud layer, so I made this image a bit “out of focus.”

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A very red sun rise on Lake Pend Oreille

A very red sun rise on Lake Pend Oreille

Fall Camp

Before the land was covered with shopping malls, golf courses and highways.

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teepee, native american and horse

Fall Camp

Canada Geese goslings are escorted along the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho by an adult; nice blue mountains on the other side of the lake. This is a typical scene at City Beach park in Sandpoint.

For many years there was a group of resident geese. The powers that be decided they had to go – too many droppings – despite protests. The geese were eliminated and, in my opinion, it was a loss to the town. Now, however, there is a new group of year-round residents. They are fairly tolerant of humans allowing for close viewing and photography.

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canada goose and goslings

A stroll on the beach

I hope you like this one, a wild rose, I think it came out extremely well.

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Rosa spp,

Wild Rose

Often, what is believed to be a wild rose, fluffy pink roses around abandoned home sites, are not wild roses, but the descendants of cultivated roses tough enough to survive without human care. .Roses have been hybridized since Roman times, there are thousands of tough, long-lived hybrids.

True wild roses, the botanical term “species rose,” occur naturally, with no human involvement. There are over 100 species of wild rose, some native to North America, many from the Orient and Europe. All have five petals and almost all of them are pink. A few species are few white or red, a very few may be yellowish.

Two species, Wood’s Rose (Rosa woodsii) and Nootka Rose (R. nutkana) are common to the Northwest, Western Canada, and parts of Alaska. The image above, from a photograph I took, is of one of those two species. Determining which can be very difficult as they are very similar and each appears in a number of varieties.

Wild roses serve as browse for browse for big game, including moose and deer, from spring through fall. Porcupines and beavers also browse the leaves.

Wild rose hips persist on the plant through much of the winter. Many birds and mammals are sustained by these dry fruits when the ground is covered with snow.

Wild roses hips can be eaten raw or cooked, remove the tiny hairs and seeds in the center. They are used in making jelly and jams and can also be dried to make a tea. Dried leaves can also serve as a tea substitute. Flower petals are great in salads adding a light flavor and beautiful color. Native Americans utilized young shoots as a potherb

The dried leaves are used as a tea substitute. Used as a medicinal plant all over the world for thousands of years wild roses are mentioned many old manuscripts and even in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Wild rose hips contain citric acid, flavonoids, fructose, malic acid, sucrose, tannins, vitamins A, B3, C, D, E, and P, calcium, phosphorus, iron, rutine, hesperidin and zinc. Research indicates that wild roses may aid in halting or reversing the growth of cancers. Rose hips are also known to lower saturated fats and triglycerides, helping to control blood pressure. The seed is rich in vitamin E and an oil extracted from the seed is used externally in the treatment of burns, scars and wrinkles. A poultice of the chewed leaves is used in an emergency to allay the pain of bee stings.

Europeans utilized hips as a source of Vitamins A and C. Rose hip powder was used as a flavoring in soups and for making syrup. . The leaves were steeped for tea, petals were eaten raw, in salads, candied, or made into syrup. The inner bark was smoked like tobacco, and dried petals were stored for perfume.

If you have ever eaten a rose hip you may have noticed that it may taste somewhat apple like. The interior of a rose hip, and the seeds, may also remind you of an apple. That is not an accident. The Rosaceae (The rose family) includes not only roses, but also the genus Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and almonds), as well as raspberries and strawberries.

Continuing with this summer’s botanical series here’s a very tasty wild fruit that you have probably never heard of though species grow in Alaska, the Lower 48 and parts of Canada. I can attest that the Saskatoon makes for great pies and syrup. They can be added to cereal or muffins, dried as “raisins,” or just eaten fresh.

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amelanchier alnifolia

The Saskatoon, Amelanchier alnifolia

The Saskatoon tastes rather like a blueberry with almond added. There are several species in North America. At least one species is native to every U.S. state except Hawaii and to every Canadian province and territory. Two species also occur in Asia, and one in Europe. Amelanchier species can be anywhere from about six inches to sixty feet tall. The origin of the generic name Amelanchier is probably derived from amalenquièr, amelanchièr, the Provencal l names of the European Amelanchier ovalis. Members of the rose family, Amelanchiers are related to hawthorns, crabapples, cherries, plums, and peaches.

The various species of Amelanchier are known by several common names: shadbush, shadwood, shadblow, serviceberry, sarvisberry, wild pear, juneberry, sugarplum, wild-plum and chuckley pear. Pigeonberry was once also used. The name serviceberry comes from the similarity of the fruit to the related European Sorbus (Ash); it is also said that their flowers heralded the roads in the Appalachian mountains becoming passable, which meant that the circuit-riding preachers would be coming soon and church services would resume; also, that the ground was thawed enough to dig graves, and funeral services could be had for those who died over the winter. Shadberry refers to the shad runs in certain New England streams, which generally took place about when the trees bloomed.

The name Saskatoon originated from the Cree Indian name misâskwatômina (misāskwatōmina, misaaskwatoomina) for Amelanchier alnifolia, the species found in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada and Alaska.

In some areas the Serviceberry was included in pemmican, a combination of minced dried meat and fat, as a flavoring and preservative.

Amelanchier plants are preferred browse for deer and rabbits. Caterpillars of various moth species, as well as various other herbivorous insects feed on Amelanchier.

Saskatoons are harvested commercially and several named cultivars have been developed. Canadian growers are promoting the Saskatoon as a superfruit. Saskatoon berries contain significant Daily Value amounts of total dietary fiber, vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and biotin, and essential minerals, iron and manganese, a nutrient profile similar to the content of blueberries.

Saskatoons also contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants, again, similar in composition to blueberries.

Tiger Lily

One of my favorite wildflowers because the color stands out against all the green this time of year.

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tiger lily

Lilium columbianum

There are several species of lily species in North America which share the common name “Tiger Lily.” The species native to the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia (Lilium columbianum) is also known as the Columbia Lily, and the Small-Flowered Tiger Lily.

The lightly-scented flowers can be yellowish, but are usually orange. The spots are a dark purple. It can be found in drier coastal meadows, forests, roadsides, and subalpine meadows.

Lilium columbianum occurs in open woods and forest openings from southern British Columbia south to northern California and east to Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

Several West Coast and Californian Native American tribes ate the species’ bitter or peppery-tasting bulbs. Dried Lilium columbianum is also eaten all around the world but it is not well known for it. Dried whole L. columbianum has a sweet and a sour taste. Unlike many native lilies, it is not particularly rare, but picking the flowers is discouraged as it impairs the ability of the plant to reproduce.

This is the same group of Bunchberry plants
that I pictured some time ago. Shown later in the year. A bit worse for wear as is evident, but with nice red berries.

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Bunchberry with berries

Bunchberry; With Berries

Bunchberry, along with a few others, such as Thimbleberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Huckleberry, and Pacific Elderberry, are some of my favorite plants.

As usual, this image is available on a number of items at my Zazzle store.