Peachleaf Willow Tree
The Peachleaf Willow tree is a major contributor to important streamside vegetation. It can grow up to 60 or 70 feet tall with a single straight trunk. It has an incredible root system that holds the soil together along the bank and along the stream bed that prevents soil erosion.  Its name comes from its leaves which look like those on a peachtree.  Many animals are dependent upon this great willow tree as well.    
Salix amygdaloides


 Peachleaf Willow Leaf

This is the leaf of the peachleaf willow tree.  All of the leaf structures including the catkins (female, left and male, right) are shown.  

Cottonwood Tree
The Freemont Cottonwood grows from 50 to 75 feet in height and is also an important aspect of riparian life.  It is a true cottonwood as it belongs to the genus Populus. Its trunk tends to fork near the base into several equal trunks.  Its name comes from the man, John Charles Fremont, who learned to love it as he explored Western America in the mid-1800's.  This tree has great importance to the Native Americans and to Spanish pioneers as well for a fuel supply as it exhibits a perpetual self-pruning mechanism and drops valuable kindling to the ground.  It needs the direct stream-side water source to grow while at the same time, it provides homes and its leaves provide food for many animals including birds and butterflies. 


Cottonwood Leaf
These are Fremont Cottonwood leaves.  A photograph of them is above, while drawings of the leaves and seed pods are found below.  







Aphids are common plant parasites.  There are numerous types as they tend to develop host specificities.  These insects have winged and wingless and parthenogenetic and sexual forms.  Aphids hatching from overwintering eggs are all parthenogenetic females, usueally wingless.  The succeeding summer generations are also parthenogenetic females but may have wings.  They often have different host plants which reduces competition for food within the species.  The fall generation of winged females may migrate back to the primary host plant and produce a sexual generation of males and females.  This generation produces overwintering eggs  which are placed in the bark of the host tree.  There may be as many as 13 generations of aphids a year.  Aphids are common vectors of plant viruses, but can be controlled by ladybugs and birds such as the chickadees who eat the overwintering eggs.   The drawings to the left are of a typical aphid body form.   

The Mourning Cloak Butterfly is one of the most common butterflies in the North American temperate zone.  It lays its eggs in clusters on the twigs of trees.  Its caterpillars feed on willow and cottonwood trees in the riparian zones.  
Aglais antiopa
The Weidemeyer's Admiral Butterfly is also found in the riparian zones.  It's wing span is 3 inches and it looks much like the arthemis butterfly.  Its caterpillar feeds on the leaves of the cottonwood tree.  
Basilarchia weidemeyeri


The Black-Capped Chickadee is very common in North America.  While its favorite food is the sunflower seed, it also feeds on insect eggs and larvae found in the bark of trees such as the willows and cottonwoods.  There is no observable sexual dimorphism found in these birds.  Both male and female are 4.75-5.5 inches long.  The female lays 6-9 speckled eggs at a time.  Their mating call in the spring is "fee-bee, fee-bee", and their general call is "chicka-dee-dee-dee".  
Parus atricapillus


The Baltimore Oriole is a migrating bird that spends its summers in North America and migrates to Columbian Central America in the winter.  It feeds on caterpillars that are found on cottonwood trees.  The female builds this sack-like nest in which 4-6 eggs with black markings are laid.  She is much less colorful than her male mate.  They are both 7-8 inches in length.  
Icterus galbula


The Screech Owl is a common bird in North America, but is not seen much by humans since it is a nocturnal hunter.  in the east, there are two different colors that these birds exhibit (dichromatism):  the red phase, and the grey phase.  In the west, only the grey phase is found.  Screech Owls do not screech, instead they emit a wavering, tremulous cry.  It is the smallest owl with "horns" measuring only 8-10 inches in length.  It preys upon birds (including the black-capped chickadee and the oriole), insects, mammals, and fish.  It is therefore commonly located stream-side in riparian habitats.  
Otus asio

Harrison, Hal H.  American Birds in Color.  Wm H. Wise & Co, Inc.  New York.  1948

Holland, W. J.  The Butterfly Book.  Doubleday, Page & Co. Inc.  New York.  1905

Holland, W. J.  The Butterfly Book (Revised Edition).  Doubleday & Co.  New York.  1951.

Peattie, Donald Culcross.  A Natural History of Western Trees.  Houghton Mifflin Company.  Boston.  1953.

Swain, Ralph B.  The Insect Guide:  Orders and Major Families of  North American Insects.  Doubleday & Co., Inc.
    Garden City, New York.  1948.