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applestar
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2013 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

One of the positives about our forum is that I get inspired by the enthusiasm of other energetic gardeners to push myself and get those gardening milestones done even when I'm feeling like I have zero energy :D -- Of course I overdid it and nearly gave myself a heatstroke, and the dull ache I was feeling from a low grade fever has increased to a throbbing pain. But now, if I can just keep the seedbeds watered, they will get the start they need to grow and let me enjoy something to harvest in the fall.

So I was taking it easy and looking out of my favorite window after spending some hours earlier out in the garden clearing weeds and amending and sowing seeds. What gives me so much pleasure about my garden is that when I look out that window, almost every time, something interesting is going on out there. 8)

This time, a pair of cardinals came winging in and started foraging. I heard their distinct chirrupping when I was out earlier, so no doubt they had wanted to feed but were too wary of me. Apparently, there are more than just the elderberries and arrow wood viburnum berries which I thought were their intended menu since they were hopping and flittings here and there. As I watched, I noticed something odd about them, and realized that although they both had orange beaks and not black, they were still incompletely dressed in their adult plumage.

The male's red feathers were disarranged and he had brown feathers around the eyes and lacked the head crest, and the female had patches of gray-brown feathers were she should have been more colorfully adorned... And her feet were pink! I wonder if they were siblings that fledged together? I'm thinking these might be the babies for whom the male cardinal had come by to hunt often in my garden earlier in the summer.

The male settled down to snacking on buckwheat seeds and the female found something on the ground or in the weeds under the corn stalks. I couldn't tell what she was eating but it occupied her for some while. :o

...

After they were gone, a tiny shape hurtled by the window, so I grabbed the binoculars to follow it into the Spiral Garden. Wondering what the hummingbird was doing in the garden which now looked unusually less green and more brown, I realized that she was hovering where I pulled out a large Jewelweed because it would have shaded the newly seeded pea patch. She then shifted position and spent some time helicoptering around where I deadheaded the mostly finished hot pink monarda. I admit there were maybe one bloom left on the brown seed heads on perhaps 6 or 7, but really, they were looking pretty crummy. She hovered back and forth between those two areas, then finally gave up and went to check out the Rose of Sharon privacy hedge. Sorry! :|

...

Even if the young cardinals didn't want them, a catbird had no problems claiming the indigo blue arrow wood viburnum berries. It spent some time hopping from one cluster to another, gobbling and making catcalls.

--

Black Swallowtail sipping from the one patch of Cardinal flowers to another, and a dragonfly stopping to rest on a Sunflower leaf were some more interesting observations today. :()

... So what's going on in YOUR garden? :-()
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Sounds so peaceful and relaxing and if the birds and butterflies are making the rounds there is plenty there for them to eat.

Do the birds go after your tomatoes? If I don't net large tomatoes, they will go after them even when they are green. The only go after the cherry tomatoes if there are no big ones or ripe papaya around.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I've never had birds bothering my tomatoes. I cage them to protect them from raccoons, oppossums, and groundHOGs. But then I have different birds than you do!

Lots of hummingbird action these days. We had a pair and now we have the pair and their two babies (not that we can tell them apart any more, but we do see all of them at once). They are in their end of summer stocking up phase, so they are around ALL the time. I always grow hummingbird flowers on our deck so the hummingbirds come right up on the deck with us and zoom around right next to us. They are quite fearless.

I have some beautiful yellow swallowtail butterflies around most of the time.

And of course there's always lots of action at the bird feeders. We have a lot of goldfinches, because we use the upside down feeders. The males are the brilliant gold ones and they are quite territorial and try to drive each other off. We frequently see two males start down by the feeder and fly up, going around and around each other in a tight spiral - looks like an aerial dance.

This year there have been several bunny sightings (usually the outdoor cats keep them away, but maybe they are learning to co-exist, who knows?) and one day a deer standing on our patio, browsing the redtwig dogwood leaves (there are plenty, it was by far not the worst thing he could have been eating). His (probably) brother was in the next door neighbor's yard at the same time. I assume the relationship because they were both two point bucks travelling together. It's pretty remarkable, because I am 4 miles from down town and the front of the house faces on to a big busy street.

The raccoons are very bold and come right up on our deck looking for something to eat, even when we are sitting there. Where I used to live I had tamed one which would come and eat out of my hand. I'm sure I could tame these too, but I don't really want to encourage them more.

I've never seen a snake in my yard, but I have lots of little delicate 6" long lizards. Recently a whole bunch of eggs must have hatched out, because now we have tiny baby lizards all over the place.

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Great post applestar! I appreciate your enthusiasm :D

A week or two ago a large flock of birds was moving through my woods, eating the cherries from the tall wild cherry trees. It was a quiet morning and you could hear what sounded like the first drops of a heavy rain hitting the leaves. Then I walked into the woods and listened and the rain really started. It was the birds dropping hundreds of small cherry pits from high up in the canopy. I sat there and listened to the cherry pit rain and watched the birds dive from one tree to the next.

This morning I was standing by my peppermint patch - it's in full flower and the flying insects love it. I saw some sort of wasp I had not seen before. It had black and a red band on its tail. It would land on a flower spike and quickly run all around it in a very determined manner. It was hunting for something, I wonder what.
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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Photos from around the garden:

Brown Garden Spider that keeps weaving a 3-4 ft web across my path
d8d6cef93cd2861280d704f4d3da5d83.jpg
Hoping this is a Carolina Praying Mantis as it was on a Sedum 'Autumn Joy' next to the Ginkgo where I found the ootheca.
b5e8b61d3e70ac3f7d06efd00c09be3a.jpg
Skipper, Common? -- can't remember if it has a specific name
299f6292dd9b5aa9197c9346e8a8f276.jpg
Red Spotted Purple butterfly
2eceff15edeafde19b85b3e03b9a0999.jpg
Hairstreak, I think
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I heard a cicada making weird loud noises -- not the usual sing song, and there was no trees, shrubs, or even a stick where it could be clinging. After some intense listening, I found the hapless creature being consumed by a fully mature praying mantis who is no doubt eating for a few hundred babies:
Praying mantis eating a cicada alive
Praying mantis eating a cicada alive
I was trying to take a video and record the odd sound the cicada was making, but I started feeling conflicted -- it so sounded like the cicada was screaming in pain or even for help... but logically, cicada only lives for a few days to a week, but this praying mantis got this big performing active duty in my Garden Patrol all season, and she is now getting ready to give life to her eggs and build an ootheca for the future generation. I made myself turn my back on the carnage and walked away.

Here is a caterpillar that looks like it is or is going to be consumed much more quietly. Zoom in if you can't see what looks like clusters of parasites clinging on its head and back:
61c3cca943743000d8e8f34c23ac3792.jpg
I also found a big fat woolie bear caterpillar. It lumbered away rather more quickly than expected when my cell phone cast a shadow on it so this was the best picture of three:
7c7d8fd7c93da016ab20626c54ada173.jpg
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

What a lively garden you have applestar! You've given me hope that my autumn joy sedum will eventually flourish and provide nectar to friendly visitors. My sedums are looking terrible since they were stripped by the deer and left with a pale pink tuft atop a naked pole. I can't bear to chase them away though, lots of little spotted Bambis still following their moms around. As long as they leave something to keep the plants alive I guess I'm okay with them snacking a bit.

Baby praying mantises are so fun! I always have to do a double take, it's such a surprise to see them in miniature form.

My cardinal babies are also still growing up and getting out of that awkward teenage phase as well. They were at the feeders this morning along with some morning doves picking up the mess below. I had some chickadees perched on the arbor and a hummer buzzing in the agastache. Yesterday evening some gold finches were digging into the black eyed susan and blanket flower seeds. I was startled by a little brown snake when I was cutting back some ugly stalks of spent perennials. I'll be missing all the buzzing and fluttering as the weather cools. At least the birds keep visiting through winter!
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applestar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I love it! There is something so satisfying about seeing nature in action in your own garden, isn't it?

I can't go outside without seeing something to take a photo of. There,s something going on out there all the time.

On Thursday, I found a fledgling catbird tangled up in the deernet. It was on the ground and I had nearly stepped on it before realizing it was there. :shock: I had to cut around it then carefully cut away the netting -- it had stuck its head through the opening and caught the feathers from the wing shoulder in another opening, as well as tangling both feet.
Baby catbird
Baby catbird
Today, I found a toad sunning on the grapevine. I guess this morning's 45°F temp was unexpected for it as well.
Toad on grapevine
Toad on grapevine
...and this caterpillar I don't recognize on the old picnic bench
Unidentified caterpillar
Unidentified caterpillar
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

wonderful! what a cool pinstriped caterpillar. Never seen one like that before! Business attire for caterpillars....
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Ah ha! It's this one, I think:
Turbulent Phosphila Moth Caterpillar
https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/20048113
Image
It says their host plant is greenbrier, so you may have some in your woods, rainbowgardener.

...according to bug guide, it's related to cutworms and the adult moth is amazingly plain considering the larval form.... I guess it explains the bare, thorny smilax vines with no leaves at all that I sometimes find growing..
https://bugguide.net/node/view/27876/bgimage

...I *almost* want to go back outside and see if it's still there so I can turn it over to see the yellow belly 8) -- I didn't see that because I was ony looking at it from directly above. :o
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

It was pointed out to me that toads don't climb and this might be a White's Treefrog.

I always thought t was a toad because of the warts and the size/color. Also, one used to live in the propeller shaft of DH's boat -- there may have been a bit of water in the bottom since it was tilted up, but not much. (I never worried about mosquitoes in there for obvious reasons :twisted:)

The comment led me to look up White's Treefrog, but that species appears to be native of Australia and looks a little bit different. But it was enough to lead me to the photo in this blog  https://leslieland.com/2010/05/gray-tree ... -up-close/

...then onto this link
https://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/s ... color.html

There's a recording of their call on that site and that clinched it.
https://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/s ... g/file.mp3
Yep -- definitely have been hearing that call at night. I knew it had to be a tree frog call, but didn't know it was this one.

So, let's amend the ID -- I'm pleased to introduce our Eastern Gray Treefrog :D
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I hear treefrogs all the time, but never see them.

Was watering yesterday and a grasshopper took a flying leap out of the flower bed. It was pale greyish on the wing covers; all the rest of the visible parts were pale chartreuse-limey yellow with black stripes. Very pretty. I did some looking on line and couldn't find anything just like it, but there's hundreds of grasshopper varieites.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

The new dog was away from home on a playdate and I went out on the deck. There just finishing off the last of the cat food was a mama raccoon and her four little babies. The babies were maybe 8" long or so and still very fuzzy, so cute. I thought I hadn't been seeing raccoons because of the dogs presence, but maybe they were just holed up taking care of babies. We will see what happens.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I just posted elsewhere that I saw a frog in a shallow container of water on my patio and I fed it a chopped up slug, but it was gone by the end of the day (and so were the slug pieces)....

Well, I just went out there and it was in a different container -- a tub I used to keep feeder goldfish in, but they had all been relocated or died, but I left the aerator bubbling in it to keep out the mosquitoes and to use the water for watering. :D
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Anyone know what kind of frog this is? >> GREEN FROG
Anyone know what kind of frog this is? >> GREEN FROG
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Hmm... DD and I agree it looks like the Green Frog in this brochure: https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/pdf/frogs.pdf
-- this page has recording of their call: https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/ensp/fieldguide_herps.htm

Also, DH who grew up as a boy near rivers and creeks in NJ said "That's a Green Frog" when I showed him the photo. -- I guess he would know. :D
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Apple your photos are very good. What camera and lens do you use?

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

iPhone 4.... :oops:
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Sometimes, it pays to wake up in the middle of the night.
It's 3:50AM and I started hearing a Great Horned Owl calling outside-- "wh-wh-who-whoo who whoo"
After about 5 minutes, a 2nd one started to answer, lower and farther away? And now, a third has joined the chorus. 8) :()

...4am and they are done -- just an 8 min window of opportunity or you'll never know they were around. :o
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Wonderful! What a treat! They will begin their courtship season soon, so if you are awake very early in the AM, you may hear them more. Where I used to live on five wooded acres, someone had put a half barrel VERY high up in a huge old tree and the great horned owls nested in it every year. Otherwise they just use an old crows nest or something. Look for nests in a branch crotch near the trunk of a tree, very high up. They start nesting at the beginning of the new year.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I've been seeing a flock of Yellow Rumped Warblers in the garden. They seem to go everywhere -- before we had the freeze that killed the garden, I thought they were trying to eat tomato blossoms, but then realized they were skimming them without plucking them. Maybe they are looking for bugs? They were out there again today, hopping in and out of freeze killed tomato vines, the honeysuckle arbor, apple and pear espalier branches....

The honeysuckle arbor is a popular hideaway. A small quick hopping bird turned out to be a Chickadee with a seed -- looked like a sunflower seed -- in its beaks, looking for a good spot to crack it open.

Today, there were new visitors -- a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers. I first saw one pecking at a long dead tomato vine -- it was dried up and had some cracks and holes... Then I saw the second one, and this one was going up and down a long branch I'd used to stake a tomato. So I started looking closer and sure enough, they were male and female. They stayed a while, going from tomato plant to tomato plant, exploring cracks in the bamboo stakes, etc.

One of our cats was on the windowsill, intently looking down with her forehead pressed to the glass. I couldn't get the same angle of view, so I couldn't see what she was looking at until a Mockingbird flew out of the Arrowwood Viburnum which still has quite a supply of indigo blue berries on it. I believe they taste better after a few frost and freezes.
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Very nice AS. That is one of the main things I like about gardening; all the wildlife it attracts.

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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

moving INDOORS for the winter... :lol: -- Elsewhere, I posted about the Pickleworm caterpillars and moth that was found in DD's bedroom.

Today, I found this one -- another moth I believe -- on a chartreuse Cherkee Tiger Large Red tomato leaf:
image.jpg
image.jpg
I think it's the adult form of this inchworm caterpillar that was pretending to be a stick on my lemon balm earlier in fall: [img]https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3795/11500771263_7d187f3fda_b.jpg[/img]

...so I'm thinking it's a geometrid, but which one?
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

Ah ha! I KNEW it looked familiar -- it's a False Crocus Geometer moth. :-()
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Re: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching

I like the blue and purple butterfly.
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Re: 2013 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Yes, yes, digging up an old thread :wink:

Subject: 2013 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching
applestar wrote: ...and this caterpillar I don't recognize on the old picnic bench
Image
Subject: 2013 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching
applestar wrote:Ah ha! It's this one, I think:
Turbulent Phosphila Moth Caterpillar
https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/20048113
Image
It says their host plant is greenbrier, so you may have some in your woods, rainbowgardener.

...according to bug guide, it's related to cutworms and the adult moth is amazingly plain considering the larval form.... I guess it explains the bare, thorny smilax vines with no leaves at all that I sometimes find growing..
https://bugguide.net/node/view/27876/bgimage

...I *almost* want to go back outside and see if it's still there so I can turn it over to see the yellow belly 8) -- I didn't see that because I was ony looking at it from directly above. :o
I just HAD to make a comparison between the caterpillar I found in my backyard in 2013 ...and this anime character from BLEACH.... :>
FD1B2A46-389F-408C-98F6-D4DCF43AAF67.jpeg
...and if you know this manga/anime by Tite Kubo, Squad 12 Captain Kurotsuchi’s zanpakuto in Bankai form is a caterpillar, and a moth in its avatar form.... :lol:
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