Category: Animals

White Breasted Nuthatch – Sitta carolinensis

wpid-2014-11-20-12.54.57.jpg.jpegThese 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.

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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.

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

 

© The Naturarian

 

Giant Leopard Moth ~ Hypercompe scribonia

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This little guy is in his ‘Don’t eat me!’ a posture that protects his underside and flashes the orange stripes, which usually mean this meal is unpalatable.

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
Adults fly from April to September

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.

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

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© The Naturarian