The olive-sided flycatcher is a tyrant flycatcher that breeds primarily in the coniferous forests of North America. Their breeding territory consists of most of Alaska and Canada, plus the Rocky Mountain and Appalachian Mountain regions. They winter as far south as central South America. Since they have such a long migration they usually arrive at the breeding territory later then other species and leave earlier. This pic was taken at the beginning of September at the Carpenter Nature Center. Since we do not have the proper breeding habitat for this species, except in the north east corner of the state, I assume that this bird was migrating south and stopped for a lunch break. Olive sided flycatchers almost exclusively eat flying insects. They typically find a perch that is in the open and wait to ambush an insect as they fly by. I watched this one catch and eat several bees, which are one of their main prey species. They also eat wasps, flying ants, moths, grasshoppers and dragonflies.
Especially if you are a bear. When you are one of the largest predators around there are not many things that will mess with you. Other then humans bears really only have one predator and that is another bear. Female black bears are considerably smaller then their male counter parts. During mating season if a male finds a female with cubs he will often attack and try to kill the cubs. If he is successful the female will go into estrus and he will have the opportunity to mate with her. But female bear do not give up lightly they will often risk their life to protect their cubs who are taught to climb a tree at the approach of an other bear.
The scissor-tailed flycatcher is a bird that nests in the south central United States and northern Mexico and winter in Central America. They prefer to nest in savannah habitat with few trees and scrub. They may also nest in area inhabited by people, such as farms, parks, or golf courses. In these areas they often materials discarded by people when constructing their nests. As a flycatcher, most closely related to kingbirds, scissor-tails eat primarily insects.
Crex Meadows in west central Wisconsin is a great place to go to find and photograph some unusual early season butterflies. Last year I went on a butterfly excursion with a local butterfly expert. I have been photographing butterflies for years but have concentrated more on my odes then on lepidoptera.
I had photographed butterflies at Crex before. This was primarily in the middle of summer when the fields are full of wild flowers and orange and black fritillaries and monarchs and yellow sulphurs are all over the place.Going out in early may with someone who knows where to look offered me an opportunity to photograph some species that I had not in the past. I had photographed Olympia marbled, first pic, in the past but it was my first time photographing any species of elfin butterfly. We found 3 different species of elfins that day, the most common was the eastern pine elfin which is pictured above, This year the cold weather pushed the dates of the butterfly trip back to the end of May and unfortunately I was not able to attend but I am hoping to get back out there next year.
When they think of spiders most people think of webs. Charlotte and scary spider movies have helped to reinforce the link between spiders and webs in the public consciousnesses. However not all spiders spin elaborate webs to catch their prey. The goldenrod crab spider is a good example. The goldenrod crab uses camouflage to ambush its prey. It is able to change its color between white and yellow so that it can blend in to a flower where it can wait for prey. When the skipper comes in to the flower to collect nectar and/or pollen the spider attacks, injecting its prey with a paralyzing venom.
Last weekend I was finally able to photograph one of the birds that has eluded me here in Minnesota for years. Don't get me wrong I have seen barred owls here in Minnesota on many different occasions but I have never managed to get a photo of the bird. Typically I find them in dense copses of evergreen trees. I walk into a clearing and the owl flushes from the trees. I see them for a second or two as the fly over the clearing and then they are gone, blocked by the surrounding trees. The only wild barred owl pictures that I had prior to this weekend were from our 2005 trip to Florida and they are on film. Barred owls are not as common in Minnesota as they are in the southeastern U.S. but they are not rare. That is why it has always been kind of frustrating not having any pictures from around home. In this case I was able to find the owl when he began to call. I walked by his location a couple of times prior to that and had no idea he was there. Now the only Minnesota owl that I have left to photograph is the short eared owl.
This has been one crazy May. It has snowed more then once this month here including a breif shower of snow/hail on last Saturday. I started that morning out wearing gloves because the overnight temps were down to freezing. Then by Tuesday we were flirting with our first 90 degree day. Nothing like a 50 degree swing over a few days. Hopefully the warm temps are here to stay because Summer is not far off.
Photographing warblers can be quite the challenge. These tiny little birds are constantly moving. Warblers like this magnolia spend most of their time fluttering from branch to branch gleaning insects from the trees. Fortunately because of the late winter the trees have not completely leafed out because once that happens the difficult becomes the near impossible.
The red-headed woodpecker is a striking woodpecker found in the eastern United States and southeast Canada. In the northern portion of their range they migrate south during the winter while in the southern portions they are year round residents.They are omnivorous. About one third of their diet comes from insects and the other two thirds is comprised of seeds and fruit. The red-headed woodpecker is one of only four species of woodpeckers that cache food. The immature below is caching an acorn so that it will have food later when times are harder.
Once the red-headed woodpecker was a common site through most of its range but over the past 50 years studies have shown that their population has declined an average of almost 3% per year.Part of this may be due to habitat loss. Red-headed woodpeckers rely heavily on dead trees. As a cavity nester dead trees provide nesting habitat. They also provide nooks and crannies for caching food. As humans began to remove more dead trees, for aesthetic reasons and for fire prevention, this limited the red-heads habitat. Competition from other cavity nesting species has probably also contributed as well as the decrease of fruit and nut bearing trees.
Well the wave of warblers that I have been hoping for this past month finally hit this weekend. Even though it was a bit chilly it was sunny and the warblers were out in force. It was a perfect weekend for photography. Because of our late winter the trees are just starting to leaf out which makes photographing these tiny little birds a lot easier.
The last time that we had a warbler wave was back in 2011. During that wave I photographed many of the different species at the Minnesota Valley Refuge and Crosby Farm Park. So on Friday, after I left work, I headed over to Crosby. The woods were thick with the common warblers, yellow-rump, palm, black and white and yellow, but I also managed to find some of the sexy warblers, like magnolia, black-throated green, Wilsons, blackburnian and more. Crosby is an excellent location to find warblers during spring migration because much of the park is wooded flood plain which is excellent habitat for wood warblers. The park is also along the Mississippi River which is the path that the warblers in this area take to migrate, the Mississippi flyway.
The Arctic skipper is, as its name would suggest, found primarily in the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere. Its range extends as far north as Alaska. Here in Minnesota we typically see one brood per year and they usually emerge in late spring or early summer, mid May to early July. The larva feed on a variety of different types of grasses while the butterfly feeds on the nectar of various species of flowers. The Arctic skipper is one of the more colorful skippers that we see here.
I have spent most of the past couple days out photographing warblers. In years that we have winter that lasts longer then normal we often have a week or two of great warbler opportunities. The warblers usually begin to migrate through at the beginning of May. Usually it is the yellow-rumps that come first and they are the species that we see the greatest numbers of. Usually it is the end of the second week that we see the sexy warblers, like the blackburnian above. So far this year there are still a few species that I hope to see but have not spotted yet but tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day weather wise so I still have a chance. Even if I do not see all the species I have had some great opportunities to photograph most of the species which is a lot better than last year. In 2012 winter was over in March. When the warblers came through in May the trees all had leaves and there were plenty of insects to eat up on their nesting territories up north so I only was able to photograph yellow butts.