The Karner blue butterfly is one of nine species of butterflies on the North American Endangered Species List. Lycaeides melissa samuelis is a subspecies of the Melissa blue butterfly. The Melissa blue is found in the western half of North America where the Karner subspecies is found in the Great Lakes Region. The reason why the Karner blue has decreased in population is because it is very specific in the larval host food. The Melissa blue caterpillar feeds on various plants in the pea family. The Karner blue caterpillar feeds only on lupine which because of habitat loss and fire prevention has been decreasing in the Karner blue's natural habitat. As the larval host plant declines there is less food for the Karner caterpillars and so their population declines too. Fortunately there are still some places where the Karners thrive. This photo was taken at the Necedah NWR in Wisconsin. Necedah has one of the highest known Karner populations around, including this pair that was doing their part to increase the species population.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
This is the time of the year when great horned owl chicks are starting to leave the nest. Some of the early hatches may be fledging but most are just starting the branching stage. Prior to fledging the young owls will climb around on the tree branches around the nest. This is called branching. At The Raptor Center we see a lot of baby owls at this time of year as some of the branching owls end up on the ground. The best thing for the owls is to go back to the nest, so after a quick examination to make sure they are not injured they are returned home.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Kestrels are in the small group of raptors where males and females can be distinguished by their coloration. Like most other raptors the female kestrel is larger then her male counterpart but her coloration is much more muted and earthy. This is a defense mechanism for when the female is on the nest incubating her eggs. since it is smaller then many other raptors the kestrel is often on the other side of the predator/prey relationship. Her brown striped pattern is camouflage that helps her blend in with the sticks around her nest. The male does not help with incubating the eggs and so it is not necessarily for him to be as inconspicuous. As you can see from the top photo the males are much more brightly colored.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Fortunately thing have gotten better. Visitor numbers are limited to help prevent over crowding on the beach. The park is closed one day a week to give the wildlife a break from nosy tourists. A marine education center was erected in 2002 to help educate the public about the flora, fauna, and habitat. New visitors are required to watch a short film about conservation of the bay. Tin order to reflect the change in priorities the name was changed from Hanauma Bay Beach Park to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Sea life has returned and has begun to thrive again and new live coral has begun to grow, second photo.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
Symmetry comes from the Greek word symmetrein which roughly translates as "to measure together". One of the most basic forms of symmetry is mirror or line symmetry. In a two dimensional figure, like the photo above, there is a a line that forms an axis of symmetry. On each side of this line there are matching points which are the same distance from the line, or axis of symmetry. So with water the axis of symmetry is the surface of the water. The points of the reflection are the same distance from the surface of the water as the identical points on the log. This is not a perfect example of mirror symmetry though because the water, and the ripple running through it, slightly distort the image.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The Julia butterfly, or Julia heliconian is a brushfoot butterfly that is found from Brazil to the southern parts of Texas and Florida. Like many tropical butterflies it is bright in color and feeds of the nectar of various flowers. I photographed this butterfly down in south Florida. The larval host plant of the Julia are various passion vines.
Monday, March 18, 2013
If a female liked a male heron's nest then the mating ritual would begin. The male would grab sticks from the trees on the island or from trees along the shore and bring them back to the nest. At the nest there was a ritual that the birds would perform, an almost intertwining of their long necks, with the male up high passing the stick and the female below accepting it. Then he would fly off to find another gift while she would use the stick to remodel the nest to her liking. Eventually this ritual would often lead to copulation and if the birds were lucky eggs. Unfortunately the summer after I took these photos a tornado hit the rookery destroying all of the nests and knocking over half of the trees. Last year I checked and none of the herons returned to the island. Most had probably moved on to less photographer accessible rookeries. But I keep checking and hoping that one day they will return.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Dragonflies have amazing eyesight. Their compound eyes are made up up to 30,000 different facets called ommatidia. Each ommatidia is made up of lenses that are attached to sensory cells. Since the facets are pointing in multiple directions the dragonfly has almost a 360 degree field of vision. Besides an expanded field of vision the dragonflies compound eyes can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, detect the plane of polarization of light with out sunglasses, and process movement faster then we can. I guess that when you are mostly devoid of other scenes your prevailing sense, in this case sight, evolves and becomes enhanced.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
There are a number of different ways that birds bathe. Birds with strong feet wade into the water, partially submerge themselves, spread their wings and roll back and forth. They will also submerge their head and through it back to help get water on to their back. That is how this yellow warbler bathes. Birds with weaker legs, like swallows, will just skim across the water, taking a shower as they fly. Most woodpeckers bathe by spreading their wings and feathers when it is lightly raining or misting. In areas where their is little water birds will take a dust bathe. They role around in a patch of dirt or sand. The fine dust that they bathe in collects the larger dirt and oils from their feathers and makes it easier to remove through rigorous shaking. During the winter birds typically do not bathe as often, but it is still necessary for them to bathe when they can. Often times they will bathe in snow melt or they will sometimes bathe in the snow itself. They use the snow similarly to how they would use dirt in a dirt bathe. They dig, role and throw the snow on themselves. When the snow melts the liquid washes away all of the excess gunk and the bird is clean again.