Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Many people have been reporting a hummingbird-like moth that they have been observing lately.  It is more than likely that they are seeing the White-Lined Sphinx moth shown above. (see article on this farther down in our blog.)

The catepillar of the Whited-Lined Sphinx Moth is about 3 inches long with a spike towards the end.

Last summer we found several of these large(2-3 inch) catepillars rapidly devouring Virginia Creeper leaves-this appears to be a Hog Sphinx Moth catepillar.

Last year we found this dead sphinx moth-a member of the clear-winged group-probably a Bumble Bee Moth-it is a bit our of its normal range for us.

Page 1 of article on Sphinx moths for Spring Valley Tribune

Page two of article for Spring Valley Tribune on Sphinx moths

The Golden Alexanders are in full bloom on the prairies and open woodlands

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Orchard Oriole photo courtesy of Bruce Lees.  This cousin of the more common Baltimore(Northern) Oriole arrived at our place May 9 of this year but did not seem to stay long.  Some years this oriole does nest at our place but it does not look like they will this year. 

Mourning Cloak butterfly on our new spruce growth.  This spring has been exceptional for both numbers of species and sheer numbers of butterflies.  On a 15 minute walk in Forestville St. Park this week we saw:    Mourning Cloaks, Monarchs, Commas, Giant Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Red Admiral, and more-and multiple numbers of each.  Perhaps the mild winter allowed higher survival rates of the overwintering eggs and in somecases overwintering butterflies.

The Indigo Buntings arrived at our place on May 3 and out blue the Bluebirds. They will sometimes hang close to the Goldfinches at our feeders.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Lees.  Yellow warblers are common in S.E. Minnesota and prefer scruby semi-open land close to water.

Found this Yellow Warbler nest in a raspberry bush along side a trout stream.  As of 5/14 she had laid her first of up to 5 possible eggs.

Palm Warbler photo courtesy of Bruce Lees.  The Palm warblers arrived about two weeks ago but don't seem to be here in the numbers they were last year-which for us was an unusually good warbler year.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Humming Birds have arrived again after an amazing journey of perhaps a 1000 miles on wings smaller than a thumb.  They have arrived at our feeders between May 1 and May 4 for 14 years in a row-as long as we have lived at our current place. We put our feeder out May 1 and the first male hummer arrived May 3 this year.  We mix 1 cup sugar with 4 cups of water, bring it to a boil, cool, and use that mixture as our food source. We do not add food coloring.  They are an amazing creature.

Yellow Warbler photo courtesy of Bruce Lees.  This warbler prefers open woodlands close to water.  It is quite common and does nest in this area.  Yesterday several of these warblers were down by the fishing bridge on the trail to Big Spring in Forestville State Park. 

The May Apples are showing off their flowers under the umbrella leaves now.  This flower will produce a fruit like green sphere the size of a nickel.  It does look like a small green apple-hence the name. We have heard it is edible but have never tried it. May Apple grow in clumps of up to 50+ plants.

Indigo Buntings arrived at our feeders yesterday.  They out blue the Blue Bird.

The Harris sparrow is a large sparrow that is now passing through on its way to its nesting grounds at the edge of the tree line and tundra in Canada.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The wild Columbine flowers are really putting on a show right now.  This flower tends to like a steep and rocky habitat at forestland edges. It is sometimes called honeysuckle, but the true honeysuckles are brushy shrubs.

The Baltimore Orioles arrived here May 3 which is about their usual arrival time for us.  They often show up just as our apple trees are blooming and feed on the nectar and insects-but the trees are already done this year.  We bribe them with oranges and grape jelly. The females are more yellowish and the males tend more to the orange and black.

Yellow Lady's-slippers are blooming about two weeks earlier than usual. 
We found several clumps growing in rich, steep upland forests in Forestville State Park. They also will sometimes be found on rich prairies.

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher photo courtesy of Bruce Lees.  This tiny bird is about the size of a thumb.  It has a high pitched almost buzz of a song and we use this song to find the Gnatcatchers in the tree tops in Forestville St. Park-spotted a wave of 8-10 yesterday.

The Wild Geraniums are at peak bloom right now and are blooming by the hundreds.

The Barn Swallows have taken up residence in our old barn.  They will soon try to nest in our garage and the annual battle over ownership of the garage will begin.

The male Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks arrived May 2 .  They enjoy the sunflower seeds at the feeder and have a great song that reminds me of a robin on steriods.

The Chipping Sparrows are very common in our mowed yard and are also very common in almost all towns and cities.  They do indeed tend to chip all day long and at times can become too much.

The Catbirds arrived May 3 and we will have many nesting pairs.

Cowbirds are common now-they lay their eggs in other birds nests and let the foster parents do all the work.

The Eastern Towhees have arrived and are scratching up food under our raspberries.

Page one of article for Spring Valley Tribune

Page two of article for Spring Valley Tribune