Category: Animals

Four-Spotted Sap Beetle ~ Glischrochilus quadrisignatus

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!! If you’re enjoying your libations during the weekend and notice you’re not drinking alone anymore… This guy may be your buddy!

Four-Spotted Sap Beetle (or picnic beetles, picnic bugs, or beer bugs) feed on sap from injured trees, decaying vegetables or fungal matter. They love ripened fruit, as well as beer, wine, fruit juice and fermented beverages. The beetles like to party in large numbers wblack sap beetlehen these beverages are present, often drowning while enjoying their libation. Then I get to enjoy protein in my wine =-P

They can be a nuisance to farmers, however they don’t generally bother crops until something else causes the crop to be damaged in some way. Once damage is done, like Japanese beetles nibbling on tomatoes do they come from miles around. They aren’t strong fliers, however scientists have tested marked beetles by placing a basket of rotten tomatoes 200 yards away, and the beetles found the prize in less than two hours.

Researchers have also found that their favorite food is beer mixed with bananas. Hmmm, I do peanut butter and bananas.. However, I wouldn’t think to down my meal with beer, yuk.

© The Naturarian

American Robins (Turdus migratorius) Nesting Outside My Door

robins nest in my flower pot attached to houseRobins are the largest North American thrushes. They are named after the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), however they aren’t in the same family.

Females have paler heads with a grayer back than the male.robin's nest with blue eggs

Robins are not cavity nesters and prefer to nest in evergreens and eaves. They also like to nest near humans. In the below photo, that is our main entrance in the background, with our driveway/parking to the right.

Robins build their nests with long coarse grass, twigs, paper, feathers and is fastened with mud. The inside is softened with grass or other materials. An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year.

I left a pot on the side of my house and Ms. Robin took advantage of the situation.

baby bird robins in nestRobins eat different types of food depending on the time of day: earthworms in the morning and fruit later in the day. Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is susceptible to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.Baby robins in nest

There were five bundles of joy in her nest.

Robins are among the first birds to sing at dawn. This possibly relates the saying, “The early bird gets the worm”.

Robin bird trying to be scary
Mom sometimes thought we were getting too close to the nest. INCOMING!!

The Robin uses sound, smell and possibly feels its prey moving in the ground with its feet, however vision is the major method of prey detection. In addition to hunting visually, it also has the ability to hunt by hearing. Experiments have discovered that Robins can find worms underground by simply using its listening skills. So all the cute running, stopping, hopping, and cocking of the head is how a Robin find its breakfast.

mom robin sitting on nestRobin roosts can be huge, sometimes including a 250,000 birds during winter. In summer, the females sleep in their nests and males gather at roosts. As young robins become independent, they join the males. Female adults join the roosts only after they have finished nesting. These guys left one by one, until there were none!

© The Naturarian

 

Courtship Dance & Serenade – House Finch Style

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) breed between March and August. Courtship practices can entail some crazy serenading like in the video below. After the female chooses the perfect, bright red suitor, she builds a nest, which is made of any soft material available. A pair can lay as many as three clutches of eggs in one summer, however they usually can only successfully raise two. The female lays 3 to 6 bluish or greenish-white eggs, with each egg weighing approximately 2.4 g that take about 14 or 15 days to hatch. The female incubates the brood and feeds the naked chicks for five days, then both parents take over feeding.

The nestlings leave the nest when they are 13 to 20 days old. The male continues to feed the fledglings for about two more weeks. (It’s actually quite comical to see the ragged-feathered dad with three youngsters in tow, all screaming FEED ME!!!) The female avoids this nonsense and begins to build a new nest so the cycle can continue…


© The Naturarian

13 Illinois Toads and Frogs

Here in the Midwest, you may not be able to see the flowers blooming yet, but you can hear the local residence waking from their long, winter slumber.

Vernal pools have started to form from the melted snow and early spring rainfall that the ground can’t uptake because of the frost line or excessive saturation. These vernal pools (also called ephemeral, temporary, or seasonal ponds) are where many frogs, salamanders and newts call home. These pools provide protection from predators that live in permanent bodies of water including fish, invertebrate predators, and even other amphibians, such as American Bullfrogs and Northern Green Frogs.

Frogs & toads are pretty cool creatures that can survive winters by hibernating and by having antifreeze run through their veins! Terrestrial frogs normally hibernate on land. American toads (Bufo americanus) and other frogs that are good diggers burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Aquatic frogs such as the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and the leopard frog (Rana pipiens) typically hibernate underwater. Some frogs, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and the spring peeper (Hyla crucifer), are not skilled at digging and seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or just dig down as far as they can in the leaf litter.

Most frogs have amazing proteins in their blood, called nucleating proteins, that cause the water in their blood to freeze first. This ice sucks most of the water out of the frog’s cells dehydrating them. Then the frog’s liver starts making large amounts of glucose (a type of sugar) which fills into the cells and plumps them up. The concentrated sugar solution helps avoid additional water from being pulled out of the frog’s cells, which can cause death.

Right now, the majority of calls I hear are from the Western Chorus Frog. I think they sound like the noise made by running your finger over the teeth of a comb. Frogs and toads make many different calls that all sound alike, however mating calls are specific, which are what you will hear in the soundtracks. This is the easiest way to ID frogs, as seeing them at night might nearly be impossible.

Frogs of Illinois:

Western_chorus_frog
Western chorus frog

Western Chorus Frog – Pseudacris triseriata

Wood frog
Wood Frog

Wood Frog – Lithobates sylvaticus

American Toad
American Toad

American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus

Bull Frog
Bull Frog

Bull Frog – Lithobates catesbeianus

Tree Frog
Copes Grey Tree Frog

Copes Grey Tree Frog – Hyla chrysoscelis

Cricket Frog
Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog – Acris crepitans

frog
Eastern Grey Tree Frog

Eastern Grey Tree Frog – Hyla versicolor

Fowlers toad
Fowlers Toad

Fowlers Toad – Anaxyrus fowleri syn. Bufo fowleri 

Green Frog
Green Frog

Green Frog – Lithobates clamitans

Green Frog SOS Call

Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog – Lithobates pipiens

Frog
Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog – Lithobates palustris

Plaines Frog
Plains Leopard Frog

Plains Leopard Frog – Lithobates blairi

Spring peeper frog
Spring Peeper Frog

Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer

This one has to be my favorite. It’s just so cute!!

Credit: IL D N R for the Frog Calls!

© The Naturarian

Mr. Robin Singing His Love Song

Let me translate:

Hello my Love, wherever you are!

I will sing until I find you.

I’ll bring you worms and seeds for our babies!

To you I will always be true!!

I’m so happy to see the Robins back! We hoomans like everything in order, which is why we had to place Spring on a calendar. In my opinion, Spring happens when nature tells us its happening!

Have a Happy Spring Everyone!!

Female Cardinal ~ Cardinalis cardinalis

Happy Valentines Day!

I though today would be a great day to write about cardinals.

Cardinals are monogamous birds whose relationships with their spouses are harmonious, romantic and musical. The male and female sing duets, calling similar songs to each other. Native American lore says if a cardinal crosses your path or attracts your attention, and you’re single, there may be a romantic relationship in your near future. If you’re already in a relationship, you may experience renewed romance and courtship. If you or your partner have been unfaithful, monogamy is the cardinal’s message.

Cardinals make a distinct ‘chirp’, that my ears pick-up quickly. I was home writing posts, when I heard the call. This little gal was under the suet puck I have hanging from a shepherd’s hook. Mr. Squirrel was up on the puck, gobbling and dropping a lot of crumbs. Perfect situation for Ms. Cardinal! I crept up to the window and looked down, hoping not to spook her. The cardinals here are very skittish. Any movement at all has them flying off. This gal had no fear, though. As long as the crumbs rain down on her, she was happy.

Cardinalis cardinalis is what’s called a tautonym: zoological names of species consisting of two identical words (the generic name and the specific name have the same spelling). Such names are allowed in zoology, however not in botany. Clearly, like I’ve said before, botanist’s are EVIL!!! Click here to see the long list of tautonyms available from the Wiki. Some of my favorites: Bison bison, Chinchilla chinchilla, Iguana iguana, Gorilla gorilla. 😉

My gift to you on Valentine’s day; a romantic Native American legend.

The Red Bird

A Choctaw Legend

Once, when time was not quite old enough to be counted, there lived a beautiful Indian maiden. This was a special maiden. She could do all the work that needed to be done to keep her lodge in order and to satisfy her mate. But this maiden did not have what she longed for — her mate. As she sat under the large tree one day, she heard the Red Bird.

“Red Bird, is it so strange for me to wish to have someone to care for, who will care for me?” asked the maiden. “If it is not so strange, why have I not found that one meant for me?”

The Red Bird had no answer for the Indian maiden, but he sat and listened to her because he could hear the lonely in her voice. Every morning for the passing of seven suns, the Red Bird came and listened to the maiden’s story. As each day passed, the loneliness felt by the maiden began to fill the Red Bird.

One day in the Red Bird’s far travels, he came to a handsome Indian brave. The brave saw the Red Bird and called him to him. As he began to talk, the Red Bird felt the loneliness in his voice that the maiden had shown. Soon the Red Bird began to see that these two lonely people had the same wish, to find another who would love and care for them as they would care for their mate.

On the fifth day of listening to the brave, the Red Bird became as a bird that is sick. The brave became concerned, for the Red Bird had become his friend. As the brave walked toward him, the Red Bird began hopping, leading the brave to the lodge of the Indian maiden. Because the brave was wanting to see if the Red Bird was alright, he did not notice that he was going from his home. The Red Bird saw the Indian maiden sitting outside of her lodge and when he came very close to where he knew the brave would then see the Indian maiden, he flew away. The brave saw the Indian maiden and realized that he had wandered far from his home. He went to the Indian maiden to ask where he was.

The Red Bird sat in the tree and watched the brave and the maiden. At first the brave was shy and the maiden would not talk, but they soon were talking and laughing like old friends.

Red Bird saw this and thought it was good. He had done as he could and now it would be up to the brave and the maiden. As Red Bird flew to his home he thought of how Great Spirit had known that someday the two would find each other. Now it was good, thought Red Bird, that maiden had someone who would see for her and brave had someone that would hear for him and that they finally had someone who would care.

© The Naturarian

White Breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis

These little gray birds make me tired just watching them! Back and forth, back and forth… From window ledge to the maple tree they fly to crack open the sunflower seeds I leave for them. I can’t tell the difference between the hims and hers. She is supposed to be a duller gray. Duller than our winter sky?

White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) are lively, acrobatic little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds like black oil sunflower. They get their name from their routine of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed.

I’m getting a head rush!

These birds are nonmigratory, during the fall they store food for winter in crevices behind loose tree bark. Pairs seem to remain together year-round, for the species may be found together even in the dead of winter. Although they often join mixed flocks of chickadees, woodpeckers, and titmice for protection, they stay in their territories and protect it.

white breasted nuthatch

“Hey Holly! We’re getting low on seed out here!!”

 

© The Naturarian

 

Giant Leopard Moth ~ Hypercompe scribonia

catapillar

The Giant Leopard Moth or Eyed Tiger Moth (Hypercompe scribonia) various forests having host plants on which the caterpillars forage extensively. Gardens, farmlands, woodlands and public areas can be frequented by them.

Females emit pheromones that are caught by the antenna of the males that successfully locates the female for mating. When mating is over, the female gets on with the process of laying eggs.

giant leopard moth

After the eggs are laid, the larvae come out of them which start feeding on the leaves where they emerge out of the eggs. As caterpillars, they assume the wooly bear appearance and go into hibernation for some time during the winters. But it might as well wake up for light foraging on milder days in the temperate regions. After sleeping over winter, it weaves cocoon from its body. It becomes the pupa after molting in the wake of spring. In the next few weeks, it transforms into an adult moth.

Host plants for larvae: cherries, plantains, violets, honeysuckles, magnolia, cabbage, sunflower, lilac, dandelion, pokeweed, willow, maples and other broad-leaved plants.

The dorsal aspect of the abdomen is iridescent, blue-black with orange lateral spots or occasionally orange with large blue-black spots. The legs also have iridescent, blue-black setae.

When threatened, adults ‘play possum’ and curl their abdomen to display their bright orange stripes. They also secrete a droplet of yellow, acrid fluid from the thoracic glands that is bitter tasting.

© The Naturarian

Dark-Eyed Juncos – Junco hyemalis

Juncos are one of my favorite birds. They are small-sized sparrows that only winter in my area and summer in Northern Canada. Their darker tops vary from dark brown to smokey gray. They are ground feeders and don’t usually land on feeders. They will take seed off my windowsill, though. They like the black oil sunflower seeds I offer.

dark eyed junko


Most of the time they are seed eaters, unless they are feeding their young. Then they will switch to insects.

dark eyed junko

dark eyed junco

 

© The Naturarian