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Frog or Toad…What’s the Difference?

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Originally, these Anglo-Saxon words referred respectively to species of the genera Rana and Bufo, Britain’s native taxa. (Rana and Bufo are Latin for frog and toad—those genera are also the common ones in Italy.) As English-speakers moved across North America, … Read more

The Gardener and the Quail

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Years ago, there was a quail refuge on the outskirts of the town of Bolinas. Seeking to restore her yard to the coastal prairie it used to be, Bolinas writer Judith Lowry decided to shape her garden to meet the quail’s habitat needs. In the process, she discovered how a covey of quail can stitch together a sometimes fractious neighborhood.

Undercover San Francisco

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Have you ever wondered what some familiar spots in San Francisco looked like 300 years ago? Environmental artist Mark Brest van Kempen did, so he went back in time and took some pictures.

Frog Resources

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Want to know more about frogs and how to keep them among us? Do you miss being awakened by frog songs in the night? There are fewer frogs in fewer places than there used to be here in the Bay … Read more

Wildflower resources

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Books and Other References This small selection of wildflower guides lists those that are most useful for wildflower watchers in the Bay Area. Some of these books have been in continuous publication for decades, a good measure of their usefulness … Read more

A Leap of Faith

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After moving to Berkeley from Mendocino County, writer David Wallace found that he missed the springtime serenades of his local amphibians. So the dug a small pond in his backyard to see if he could get a few frogs to breed there. It turns out that despite the very real threats posed by pollution and sprawl, the Bay Area’s native frogs are remarkably resilient survivors.

Butterflies and Bulldozers on an Island of Time

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San Bruno Mountain rises along the southern border of San Francisco, remnant of an ecosystem that once covered much of this peninsula. The mountain provides a tenuous refuge for some of the rare plants and endangered butterflies that have lost much of their former habitat. And it beckons to people who want a taste of the San Francisco peninsula as it was before Europeans arrived.

From the Bottom Up

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It’s small, it’s restless, and it changes sex halfway through its life. Plus, the humble bay shrimp occupies a crucial niche in the complex food web of San Francisco Bay. It once played a significant role in the economy and culture of the local Chinese community. Today, both the shrimp and those who fish for it are still hanging on, but it hasn’t been easy.

Legacy of the Red Ore

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Numerous animals make their homes in burrows in the hills of this Santa Clara County park, but none dig as deep as the miners who hauled mercury-laden ore out of the ground for 125 years.