Saturday, October 25, 2008

this is not a blog about birds

But I've gotta say, holy cow, have you been watching the crows flying around these days?

Crows are all over the city right now. Just look up and I can almost guarantee that you'll see one, maybe a whole bunch. Watching them pitch and roll and play with each other never fails to lift my heart.

I know that corvids are complicated birds to love, on one hand, they're incredibly smart (and always remember a face), on the other, their increased numbers are often correlated with declines in other birds (see Rebecca Solnit's excellent essay "A Murder of Crows: On Globalized Species" for more on this).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

street trees!

For a long time now I've had "learn street trees" on my list of things to do. When I first moved to the city I was obsessed with street trees. The Mission was the densest, most urban neighborhood I had ever lived in and it freaked me out-there was way too many people and way too much concrete-so focusing on street trees was a way out, a place for me to redirect my attention to something that was beautiful and quiet and alive in a city that often bowled me over.

While street trees are what set me off on this path of trying to notice nature in the city, my progress on learning their names has been dismal. Previously, I'd toyed with the idea of making signs with their names, or just writing their names on the ground next to the tree as a way to learn some names, like when you label everything in your house to learn what it's called in spanish. That project has languished, but may be resuscitated thanks to the totally awesome San Francisco Urban Forest Mapping Project. What is this cool project you say?

From their website:

In the past, San Francisco's long-term urban forest planning was hindered because there was no way to share information, much less get the community involved. That's all changed, thanks to a significant partnership effort between Friends of the Urban Forest, the City and County of San Francisco, and Autodesk. By working together and leveraging new technology – MapGuide Open Source – the project team has created an Urban Forest Map, which digitally pinpoints the location of each tree, maintains tree data in a consistent database, and offers web access to the tree data – key for maintenance and planting efforts. The community can get involved by posting photos and stories about their own trees that they plant and map online.

Heck yeah! Look up the tree outside your house! Not there? Find out what it is and add it to the map!

This is our street tree, a flowering cherry
(Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'). This picture isn't very impressive, but in the spring, this tree has the most incredible pink puffball flowers.

Want to learn more about street trees? You can find tree descriptions and a calendar of San Francisco tree related activities (including tree tours and tree plantings) at Friends of the Urban Forest.