Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Prairie Skinks are fairly common lizzards found in this area.
With a little research I discovered it is common for them to feed on reptiles, and even more surprising, researchers have discovered that western fence lizzards have a protein in their blood that kills the Lyme disease bacteria.
I hope more research proves skinks have the same bacteria killing protein, since western fence lizzards don't live around here.
Monday, July 15, 2013
29 people participated, so lots of eyes were looking with nets at the ready.
This American Lady butterfly was one of 17 species we spotted. Over 20 years the number of species has ranged from 10 to 24 so this year was right in the middle for the number of kinds of butterflies seen.
So the drought last year, the late, wet, cold spring this year, and other factors have combined to make it a rough year for butterfly survival.
So the butterflies kept their wings closed, making it harder to see them, since the bright colors are mostly on the inside surface of the wings.
The books say these butterflies do not overwinter here, but migrate up here from the south in the summer. But we have seen them every year for the last three years in the south prairie, making me wonder if they are not somehow here all year now.
I'll try to go out on a sunny day and see if I can photograph some butterflies with their wings open. Then I can post some bright colors instead of these subdued butterflies here.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
The gold decoration spots are just that and serve no purpose other than camouflage, although they don't look like an attempt to blend in.
The forming butterfly inside is itself green, as the outer skin is completely transparent. So it needs to make big changes in the next 48 hours to have the bold colors of a Monarch Butterfly.
The chrysalis is completely still for the entire ten days, making no movement after the first few hours when it formed.
Now, just before it emerges, small movements can be seen through the camera lens around the legs and head.
In the pictures below the new butterfly drops completely out and struggles to get a leg hold outside the chrysalis skin.
From the instant the chrysalis skin breaks open the butterfly is pumping fluid from its abdoman into the wings, even while it emerges from the chrysalis.
Note how big the abdoman is and how small the wings are in the pictures below.
Within an hour the wings are fully extended, but are very limp, and need to harden. The butterfly turned and moved around quite a bit on the old skin while pumping fluids into its wings.
I took the butterfly outside and put it on the wild Vervain in the garden. After a few seconds it flew off into the sky.
I only had time for a couple of pictures, one below, before it was gone.
It took 27 days for the entire process from egg to flying away as a butterfly. 3 days as an egg, 14 days as a caterpillar, and 10 days as a chrysalis. With luck, the butterfly will live for several weeks. Enought time to start the next generation.
Friday, July 5, 2013
Orchard Orioles are closely related to Baltimore Orioles, in fact were considered the same species until recently. The male Orchard Oriole is quite dark though, with a rusty red breast instead of bright orange and yellow like the more common Baltimore Oriole
She obviously does not have the black head color, or the rusty red of the male.
They weave the living leaves into the nest as well, making it very difficult to see the adults and babies when they feed. I had to stand on a ladder to get to the one opening that existed to see the young and adult at the same time.
Here you can see this baby is ready to fledge, or leave the nest. It is standing on the edge of the nest, and almost jumping out of the nest when the parents come with food. It was actually off the nest on a branch once, but hopped back in.
Here the male has brought food for the female, and she has accepted it. A few seconds later they were observed mating, and then he brought her food again.
I thought they would wait until a week or so after fledging occurred, but this suggests they will move right into a second nesting quite quickly.