Hibiscus coccineus or scarlet rose mallow, is a hardy Hibiscus species whose leaves resemble those of Cannabis sativa (marijuana). It is also known as Texas star, brilliant hibiscus, and scarlet hibiscus. The plant is native to a marsh-like habitat. It dies back during the winter and grows 7'-10' high when spring returns. In addition to the scarlet flowering variety, a white flowering variety is also known as the white Texas star or lone star hibiscus. Hibiscus spp. is a large genus, containing several hundred species that are native to warm regions throughout the world. Member species are noted for their showy flowers and are commonly known simply as hibiscus, or less widely known as rose mallow. The generic name, Hibiscus, is derived from the Greek word ἱβίσκος (hibískos), which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40–90) gave to Althaea officials, a close relative. This photograph was taken on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, at the edge of the Parque Nacional Corcovado.
Southern dewberry is a trailing, prickle-laden plant that will shred anyone bold or foolish enough to walk through it. But its white flowers are gorgeous, with a texture that makes the color white something quite special. It grows in open, disturbed areas along fence lines, roadsides, and in natural clearings along the coast of Texas, but it is most abundant along the Coastal Bend and upper coast of Texas. Southern dewberry flowers in early spring and provides a tasty black fruit similar to blackberries. The predominant species along the gulf coast is Rubus trivialis, southern dewberry. The genus Rubus is large (<250 species) and hybridization makes assigning species problematic. The fruit of many Rubus species are similar and quite delicious. This photograph was taken along the Texas coast near Corpus Christi.
The northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), sometimes known simply as the shoveller, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America. These migrators winter in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon. This species is unmistakable in the northern hemisphere due to its large, spatulate, shovel-like bill. The breeding drake has an iridescent dark green head, white breast and chestnut belly and flanks. In flight, pale blue forewing feathers are revealed, separated from the green speculum by a white border. In early fall the male will have a white crescent on each side of the face. In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake resembles the female. The female is a drab mottled brown like other dabblers, with plumage much like a female mallard, but easily distinguished by the long broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible. The female's forewing is gray. This photograph was taken in Port Aransas, Texas. Although it appears to be a loving embrace, these two males are squabbling over a bit of territory and female affection. It appears that one of them is getting the upper hand!
The Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus) is a medium-sized New World oriole. Adults have a pointed bill and white wing bars. The adult male has a gorgeous, high-contrast orange head with black on the face and throat; they are black on the back, wings and tail, and orange on the underparts. Hooded oriole breeding habitat is open areas with trees, especially palms, across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The nest is a tightly woven pouch attached to the underside of a leaf or tree branch. These birds migrate in flocks south to Mexico's southwestern coast; they are permanent residents in Baja California Sur, the Mexican east coast, and Belize. Some may over-winter near the comfort of maintained feeders. They forage in trees and shrubs, as well as feeding from flowers. It is a nectar robber because it pierces the base of the flower, and does not assist in pollination. These birds mainly eat insects, nectar and fruit, and will also visit hummingbird feeders. This photo was taken in south Texas along the Rio Grande border with Mexico.