This winter seems to be dragging on. Maybe its because last winter was so mild and this winter things are back to normal but it is getting hard not to be impatient. With March beginning tomorrow and winter still firmly her it looks like it may last a while longer. The only good thing about that is if the leaves do not leaf out until May we might have a good year for warblers.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The great kiskadee is a large brightly colored tyrant flycatcher. They are found from the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas south to Argentina. They are omnivorous. They primarily eat insects which they usually catch in the air. They also eat berries, lizards, rodents and they are one of the few passerines that will eat minnows and small fish. They can be quite loud and boisterous, especially when chasing other birds out of their territory, often times birds that are larger then they are. They received their name from their call which sounds like kis-ka-dee.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Saturday, February 23, 2013
The bobolink is long distance traveler. They breed in open grassland in the north eastern half of the US and southeastern half of Canada, from the east coast through the Dakotas and even further west on Canada. They winter approximately 12,000 miles away in central South America. That means that every two years a typical bobolink will travel the circumference of the earth at the equator. They can travel over a 1,000 miles per day. They typically migrate in flocks stopping to feed on grains and insects in agricultural on their way. Unlike most passerines the bobolink molts twice a year, once on the breeding territory at the end of the summer and once on the wintering territory before they begin their return flight. When the males molt on the wintering territory the feathers have yellow tips which makes it look like they have not changed from their non breeding plumage but as they begin to head north the tip wear off and by the time breeding season arrives their black and white breeding plumage is visible. This is a pair that I photographed at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Winter is eagle time in south east Minnesota. Minnesota has the largest population of nesting eagles in the lower 48 states. During the winter eagles from around the state and eagles that have migrated south congregate at the few spots where they can find open water. Most of these locations are along the Mississippi River in southern Minnesota. During the winter we also get a population of golden eagles that migrate down from northern Canada and spend the winter in southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin. Since they are not fish eaters the golden eagles are usually not found right along the river but they do like the rolling hills that are in the area adjacent to the river. Often time it is possible to see both species in the same area. Since bald eagles do not get their white heads and tails until they are 5 to 6 years old, it can be a challenge to distinguish the golden eagle from the immature bald eagle. In this photo we have one of each. Can you tell which is which?
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Like a stereotypical guy I am late for Valentines Day this year. I meant to post this last Wednesday but got rapped up in life and it slipped my mind. The calico pennant is one of the most colorful and attractive dragonflies that you can find in North America. In my opinion it rivals any of the butterfly species around and the distinctive red heart shaped spots on the abdomen of the male make it a great subject for Valentines Day, or in my case a belated Valentines Day.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The fox sparrow is large, for a sparrow weighing in over one ounce which is twice as much as many of the other species of sparrows. There are 4 different subspecies that breed in northern Canada, Alaska and along the Pacific Coast. They winter in the southern United States. Here in the middle of the U.S. we usually only see them during migration. Most often they are seen on or near the ground where they are searching through the leaves foraging for insects. The bird in the first picture was photographed on April 1st. When we see them at that time of the year they are a happy sign that spring has come and summer will soon follow. the second photo was taken in mid October. When we see fox sparrow at that time of the year it is not such a happy occasion because it means that winter is right around the corner.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Later in the 1960s a plan was unveiled to great the worlds largest airport in parts of what is now Big Cypress. Many locals joined with environmentalists, hunters and several Native American tribes to prevent the construction. Some of the locals and sportsmen were worried about access to Big Cypress if it was added to the Everglades National Park and so they came up with a compromise and the first US National Preserve was born.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
The Anthophora Urbana is a solitary bee that can be found in this area. They are a member of the genus Anthophora, a large genus in the Apidae family. They do not live in hives like honey bees. Instead they live in solitary holes that they dig in the soil. Often numerous bees will have burrows in the same area. I commonly find these at Crex Meadows, where I took this photo. Crex has a good number of sand prairies which are excellent habitat for this species. The sand makes it easier to dig burrows and there are plenty of flowers to get nectar from. This bee is perched on butterfly weed. A common form of milkweed with bright orange flowers. As its name would suggest butterfly weed is good at attracting butterflies and other nectar eating insects.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
Just like the order Odonata, dragonflies and damselflies, the order Lepidoptera has 2 similar but different groups, butterflies and moths. All lepidoptera are characterized by scaled wings and body, a proboscis or straw like moth, and a complete metamorphosis. There are nearly 175,000 estimated species of Lepidoptera and they are divided into nearly 175 families and superfamilies. There are different theries dividing these families up into which are butterflies and which moths because the differences between butterflies and moths are not cut and dry. For instance examine the two photos in this post. Both insects lack color, which is a trait that usually indicates moths. However they are both outside during the day and perched with their wings over their backs which are indicative of butterflies.
Both insects look very similar yet one is a butterfly and the other is a moth. Can you tell which is which? The best way to distinguish is to look at the antennae. Butterflies have clubs or widened sections at the end of their antennae where moths usually have either a straight or feathered antennae. With that hint can you tell which is which?