Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bald Cardinal

At bird banding this past Sunday at Springbrook we caught the sad looking female cardinal in the picture above. A very bad hair...ahh...feather day.  We often capture cardinals with some of this "baldness" in the summer months, but this poor gal has it really bad. 
There is some debate over what "it" is. Some feel it is normal molting, some think a skin mite, and others think a feather mite.

All I know for sure is that she can't get much more pathetic looking.  And her ears are very noticable, the opening below and behind her eye.  She should have her feathers back in a few weeks and look more like her old self  in the picture to the left here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dragonfly Obelisks and Cannibals

 Saturday was Springbrook's annual dragonfly count day.  We saw many, and learned interesting things.  This Twelve Spotted Skimmer was on the Beaver Pond trail pond.  This is a male based on the white spots, which the females don't have.

Down below is a Blue Dasher sitting in the "obelisk" position.  Some dragonflies point their abdoman directly at the sun to reduce their exposure and potential over-heating.
 The Blue Dasher moves his body up until his shadow is the smallest it can get.  The smaller
shadow means less exposure to the sun.
 A different Blue Dasher wasn't watching close enough and this Eastern Pond Hawk dragonfly ate him for lunch.  The wings of the Blue Dasher are in the middle and smaller than the Pond Hawk's, so size means survival in this dragonfly eat dragonfly world. Cannibalism is an everyday occurance in this habitat.
This beautiful Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, along with several other species of damselflies, were also seen on the hike.  This is a female, which is made known by the white spots on the end of the wings. 

Dragonflies all hold their wings out flat all the time, while damselflies bring their wings together over their backs when at rest.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dobsonfly Pupae Becomes Adult

 Above is the picture I posted two weeks ago just after the Hellgramite larvae shed its skin into this interesting pupae.  Nine days later I photographed it again the night before it emerged as an adult Dobsonfly. 

The color changes in the wings, legs, eyes, jaws, head and thorax. The wings especially will grow enormously after it emerges, as can be seen in the pictures below.
 If this picture is compared to the close up of the head in the previous post there are a lot of color changes.  The skin of the pupae seems to be separating from the new skin underneath of the adult Dobsonfly around the eyes and on the back of the head.

Even at this point the pupae was very active and trying to bite with its jaws.  It was difficult to get it to sit still long enough for the pictures.
 Here is the cast off pupal skin I discovered the next morning.  It is entirely intact with only a split on the back where the Dobsonfly emerged.  Except for the vacant head and eyes, it looks alive, but a bit transparent.
 Here is the adult female Dobsonfly that emerged from the pupae.  She is a little over 4 inches long and very agressive and defensive.  At night after dark she was flying strongly around the room.

The day after I took this picture someone brought a male into the nature center. Its photo is below. The big difference between the males and females is very obvious.  The pincers on the male are huge, and he can use them effectively, drawing blood from a finger that is not protected when positioning him for a photo shoot!

 Here is a last shot of the two heads showing the difference.  Notice also the two extra eyes in the middle of the top of the head that face slghtly backwards.  I had some interesting reflection from these eyes with the flash from the camera.  I will put those pictures up in a future post.

June Beetle Pupae

 The June beetle larvae molted last night into their pupal stage.  They moved from laying on their side to laying on their back.  The skin splits in the middle and the old skin becomes their new bed.

I think they look like a baby Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars.  They are very active squirming around.  But remain on their back in the bed of their old skin.  Several have made chambers down in the dirt an inch or two.  Four came to the surface and molted while laying on the top of the dirt. 
 Here again is the larvae.  It was pretty quiet for two weeks, then started forming the chambers under the dirt, and now has molted this thin transparent skin.
The old larvae skin is easy to see here.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the adult beetle to emerge.

Stay tuned for the next stage of this insects life.