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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I love the Song Sparrows! They are prominent winter birds here and I see and hear them a lot in spring. They seem to think the garden gate honeysuckle arbor is an ideal place to sing, and its right outside the bedroom window. I cant remember if they migrate away but they always return in flock with White-throated Sparrows.
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I spotted a new-to-me caterpillar on the raspberry. At first sight thought it might be an Io moth caterpillar that came over from the Baptista to the left, and considered catching it and raising it so we can see it eclose, but I wasn't sure, so I left it alone.
Image

I'm glad I did because I had to do some research -- NOT Io moth caterpillar. But found a match here:

Caterpillars of Northern Illinois
https://www.richard-seaman.com/Arthropod ... nIllinois/

(You have to scroll a ways down the page. Usage conditions prohibit direct- linking to the jpg file so I wont... But here's a description.)
This beautiful smeared dagger moth caterpillar was hanging out on a reed beside the boardwalk that goes through Volo bog.
This is another of those relatively few caterpillars in America which have a common name - the smartweed caterpillar.
The name is only somewhat appropriate, since it eats many different types of plants and not just smartweed. [...] In all cases they have an interrupted yellow stripe below white spiracles, and a few very long hairs sticking out from the head and the tail.
Butterflies and Moths of North America
https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/spec ... a-oblinita
Caterpillar Hosts: Apple and other fruit trees, clover, corn, cotton, elms, grasses, pines, oaks, smartweed, strawberry plants, and willows.
...so GLAD I decided NOT to weed out the Smartweed in the backyard. Birds like the flowers and seeds, too, so this is a win-win.
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Red Admiral Butterfly caterpillar in the stinging nettle patch :-()

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Ha! Finally got the pictures from my new phone to my computer!
Saw this guy/gal the other day;
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

my milkweed plant is just covered in orange aphids. oh my gosh! of course i can find on the internet ways of getting rid of them. but i thought i would come here and ask if anyone has this problem and what did they do that was successful. this is my first year with milkweeds and i have planted them everywhere in my yard. i do have a couple caterpillars but i worry that these little creatures will win this war.

please HELP!!!!!!

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Be patient. If you have ladybugs or lacewings around they will find your aphid colony and eliminate it. The aphids most likely won't harm the milkweed and any pest control option might kill off ladybug and lacewing larvae. If you absolutely must thin the population then check to make sure there are no lacewing or ladybug larvae in the group then carefully squish the aphids with your fingers. You can wear rubber gloves if the thought of having bug guts on your fingers is one you can't stand.

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Another mantis, this one hanging over the hummingbird feeder. There is no danger of this kind eating hummingbirds, they are just way too small for such large prey. It was most likely looking for ants or flies. And yes, despite what I've read on the internet this species of mantis does eat ants. I've seen them doing it before.
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I saw this post and was thinking hm... I really haven't seen any praying mantises around, but they HAVE to be here somewhere....

Haha almost right away, came across one hiding in the trellis for the Cherry tomatoes 8)

Image
...the rest of the collage are some of the caterpillars...
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

This shot took a lot of patience
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Beautiful! We have hummingbirds constantly at our feeders (one is in front of the window over the kitchen sink, so you can watch hummingbirds while you wash dishes! :) )

I didn't get a picture, but there was one of these floating around my garden today:

Image

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

There was a swarming event of dragonflies over our front lawn again yesterday. I only noticed around 10:30 AM and I didn't see very many swallows this time. Not sure if it's because it was earlier this time or because I missed them -- I had to water yesterday and my attention was focused on the ground, so I didn't look up at all until then

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As far as what they were after -- all I saw, and they were in the BACK yard not the front yard, were clouds of infinitismally tiny insects -- are they midges? -- i tried to catch one so I could see what they are but was not able to. I had to keep my mouth closed so I wouldnt breath them in ...and was concerned that they might just go up my nose :lol: :roll:

Last year -- Sept. 19

Subject: 2015 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching
applestar wrote:I think I posted about one of these before -- there was some kind of insect hatching event in my garden again. A little after 11 AM, I noticed there were a huge number of swallows zooming and swooping over my house and garden. They were flying overhead near roof level and just a little above all over the back yard and front yard.

I pointed my iPad at the sky and took videos and as I was doing that, realized there were not only swallows but dragonflies too.

Since I was looking up and recording, it became more and more obvious that they were *really* only flying over my garden -- making sharp turns to come back and swoop through over and over again. I walked to the front yard/sidewalk to one end of the property, turned and recorded over my house, to the front, then turned around slowly recording the neighborhood, then to the other end, there was no doubt.

As I walked, I looked everywhere, on the ground, in the air, and including the house siding just in case it was something nasty, but I couldn't see what they were so excitedly feeding on.

I see this kind of localized swarming over my garden at least a couple of times during the summer. I remember seeing all the little black ant queens and drones taking off at once from their ant colony hills one time (they seem to do this together -- out of all of the anthills in the garden), and another time, something else that I couldn't identify. So maybe one of those? But I guess I missed the initial takeoff at ground level today, and they were all already a-wing by the time the birds and dragonflies were feeding.

It's really kind off odd to see the aerial activity from all different directions around the property and at the surrounding neighborhood, and realize it's just going on here. (But it also makes me happy to feel like this is an affirmation that my efforts to create a biodiverse wildlife habitat in my relatively tiny postage stamp of a garden are effective.) And I'm glad I took the videos because in a matter of 1/2 hr or so that I was looking up at the sky, both the birds and dragonflies started to disperse, and in an hour they were gone.

The videos I took today were pretty low quality, but, someday, if I ever learn to edit and splice these videos together into something presentable and learn how to post it in a way that can be shared, I will.

Here are a couple of stills extracted from the videos (tap/click to enlarge):

Image
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Fun stuff going on in the garden this morning. First a rare visit from a Mockingbird -- it first clumsily landed in a Rose of Sharon, where I thought it must have caught a hummingbird's attention for being in one of her favorite haunts because a green streak immediately arrived, and started zooming and swooping at the much larger bird.

The mockingbird made a hop over to no doubt the main purpose -- fruiting clusters at the top of the elderberry. Still being harassed by the hummingbird.

Then I saw what I thought at first was a faded red Cardinal, then I realized it's a juvenile in the final molt with tufts of grey still here and there. He was in the apple espalier but soon hopped over to the tomato row. But I was amused to note that here again, the feisty hummingbird was objecting to the larger bird's presence,

Then my attention shifted to a hairy woodpecker -- again a rare visitor -- he was going up and down the bamboo tomato stakes, darting his tongue at the vertical cracks in some of the older stakes, and climbing to the top and probing the opening. While I watched, the hummingbird zoomed over and started swooping at this bird, too :lol:
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I just saw a Limenitis arthemis astyanax – red-spotted purple or red-spotted admiral – from the upstairs window. Haven't seen very many of them this year.... They have gorgeous iridescent blue marking on the upperside of their wings and this one had its wings fully spread out flat and laying on a squash leaf. Maybe it was sunbathing to soak up some warmth since it's cool enough day to still leave the windows open.
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Caught 4 monarch caterpillars munching on butterfly weed and swamp milkweed yesterday! I felt bad because I already cut down one of my swamp milkweeds because it was smothering the surrounding plants with the weight of it's heavy fallen branches. That plant is being relocated to a better spot this fall. Fortunately the remaining swamp milkweed plant seems to be a sufficient food source at this point.

I also caught my first monarch butterfly drifting around my backyard a couple weeks ago. I tried so hard to get a photo of him but he was surprisingly quick!

I've had some battles at my hummingbird feeder recently and feel like I haven't been able to enjoy them because apparently no one is allowed at the feeder anymore... all chasing, no drinking. However, in the past 2 days I've had good timing with them flying right over to drink from plants I've been working near so I've had some really nice views of them :) They're so much more brave then all the other birds in my garden. The gold finches have been busily working on my black eyed susans and the second they see me they fly off screeching :( I get a couple brave chickadees that will tolerate me from a good distance and a few brave house finches that continue to eat at the feeders while they keep an eye on me, but for the most part you'd think I was the grim reaper or something.
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Oh PARDON ME!

I was reaching to harvest this cucumber from a vine that climbed up the elderberry when I realized it was occupied :shock: :oops:

Image

...I loved seeing that she is clutching a snack -- I vaguely recall that males bring a gift when courting a female (mostly to keep her busy busy while he approaches her, I believe :P )

...can anyone tell me if these are Carolina praying mantids? We usually don't get them around here, but I did find their squeezed out toothpaste like ootheca, unlike the "normal" triangular foam type, one year after hot summer and unusually warm winter. Wondering since we have had successive heatwaves all season plus we just had that hurricane remnant pass through, these might be the southern cousins.
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Yes, they are Carolinas. Today must have been mating day for them because I saw 2 pair on my butterfly bush this afternoon.

We never saw them here when I was a kid. I spent much time roaming all over the farm looking for bugs and while the Chinese were often seen I never saw the Carolinas. The first one I saw was in a nearby city, at a hardware store. I brought her home and turned her loose in the garden. Didn't see any more for a few years. But I've noticed that in the past few years I've seen fewer Chinese mantids and more of the Carolina species.

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I love learning new things from this forum! Apparently I've only seen the Chinese mantises in my garden. The Carolina variety is very pretty, how cool!

I added a finch feeder with nyjer thistle on my front deck this week since I’ve been enjoying the visibility of my hummingbird feeder in that location. In the back I have several feeders with black oil sunflower seeds and a suet feeder that I only put out during the winter. Yesterday I had chickadees perched in a nearby tree taking their turns at the thistle. I didn’t know they ate thistle!? It doesn’t surprise me that they were the first to try it out because they seem much braver than my finches. This morning I peeked out before I opened the blinds and could see 3 gold finches eating the thistle seed! Of course they flew away once the blinds were opened, but I’m so happy to see them enjoying the feeder 

I have a very curious little hummingbird that has taken to following me around when I water in the morning. I’m just watering with a can and really just at the soil level so I was surprised she was so interested. It made more sense when I’d water with the hose and had a nice misty spray.

I’m thinking about getting some kind of solar powered water fountain feature for the birds and butterflies next year. I don’t have any outdoor outlets which is why I was thinking solar… has anyone purchased one before? I found some that seem fairly well rated on Amazon. Is there anything specific I should look for to draw birds/butterflies? Low water flow?
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I've got a Harbor Freight solar pond fountain in my little planting tub "pond". I've been very happy with it but it does get clogged quite a bit. Most of the debris is from the duckweed that dies and falls to the bottom of the "pond". It's too deep to attract very many birds but the wasps and bees love it.

This is the one I have:
https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=ha ... ajaxhist=0

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I have a spotting scope that I bought back when I thought I was going to really get into birdwatching.... Then realized I can generally see better and more (wider view for keeping up with moving objects) with binoculars.

But I do pull it out now and then, and I have been using it to spy on the frogs in the pond. :()

This morning, it let me spot this one -- one of the tadpoles I had put in a green 5 gal bucket is trying to climb out! Image

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Such a racket of chirping just outside the window, I HAD to find out what was going on! :-()

...it was a fledgling cardinal -- orange flight feathers, but still black-beaked so could still turn out to be a male and his/her Mama diligently hunting and feeding. They jumped into the remaining carrot patch in the SFH, so this might mean doom for any black swallowtail caterpillars that I might have missed and haven't transferred to the wildflower bed....
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

All kinds of ruckus going on outside -- a flock of migrating robins are stopping on the way through. :D

I wonder if other birds fly with? I thought I saw a couple of unusual visitors today. A pine siskin, maybe.

Also, a brilliantly colored male cardinal was insisting on having a turn at the birdbath -- I don't think he usually does that. Is he trying to assert his territorial presence against the onslaught of flyby tourists?
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I have two bird feeders out right now, once winter has set in another two will go out. So far this past week I have the sparrows, chickadees, juncos, blue jays at the feeders, and magpies show up to see if I have left any dry cat food out for the stray Tom. Oh, yesterday I spotted a nuthatch at one feeder. I like watching them, they seem to like being upside down when picking seed.

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Not a very good picture because I didn't want to get too close and scare it -- but this wood pecker was "making improvements" to the opening to this birdhouse. When I startled it, it jumped inside and peeked out of the hole until it felt OK to come out again, so it might be claiming this house to live in....

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Looks like a female hairy. If you are gonna have woodpeckers for neighbors, quiet ones like this are a keeper. :-)

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

THAT'S the name! HAIRY woodpecker. I was going nuts thinking too big for Downy, too small for Red Bellied... now what WAS the name of that medium sized one that looks like a downy? I felt like Goldilocks. :lol:

Thanks, LIcenter. :D
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Your welcome applestar,
I have quite a few here along with downies that love the finch feeders this time of year. It really was just a guess not knowing what size the birdhouse was, but the tail feathers looked rather long for a downy, so there ya go.

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

I saw Junco's outside this morning. Junco's are also called "Snowbirds" around here and, with their snowy white bellies, are harbingers of freezing weather. Their arrival signifies that the extended fall weather has likely come to an end.

Unless it's going to be a warm winter, I'm not likely to see any more passing Robins since they usually take over from each other as garden birds -- though sometimes they might overlap for about a week.
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Not all seed feeders feed just the little birds. Some also feed the larger birds, like this guy haunting my feeders just about everyday.

Juvie Coopers hawk.
Image

Image

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Cornell, All about birds: "Sharp-shinned Hawk, the smallest hawk in North America ... Similar Species Cooper's Hawks are notoriously difficult to separate from Sharp-shinned Hawks. Cooper’s Hawks are a larger species, but males and females differ so much in size that this character alone is rarely enough. Remember that Cooper’s Hawks tend to be more common breeders in suburban areas, whereas Sharp-shinned Hawks nest almost exclusively in conifers and heavily wooded areas; you’ll see them in neighborhoods typically only in winter... Sharp-shinned Hawks ... The Merlin is similar in size, but it’s a falcon..."

LIcenter, your great photos and ID prompted me to ~ once again ~ try to identify the little hawks I would see almost daily, if I would pay close attention.

How do you identify the hawk in the picture as a Cooper's? Where would you expect to find the Cooper's nest; might it also be in an evergreen conifer?

Merlins were once common but I think that they are being displaced because of housing developments. Do you suppose that AllAboutBirds is saying that the Merlin falcon may be smaller than the "smallest hawk" Sharp-shinned but it's a falcon? I consider the Merlin a smaller bird. Heck's fire! The Merlin is also called a Pigeon "Hawk" ...

I've always thought that what I see is a Sharp-skinned but they are right on into urban neighborhoods, chasing ... pigeons.

Steve
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

digitS' wrote:LIcenter, your great photos and ID prompted me to ~ once again ~ try to identify the little hawks I would see almost daily, if I would pay close attention.

How do you identify the hawk in the picture as a Cooper's? Where would you expect to find the Cooper's nest; might it also be in an evergreen conifer?

Merlins were once common but I think that they are being displaced because of housing developments. Do you suppose that AllAboutBirds is saying that the Merlin falcon may be smaller than the "smallest hawk" Sharp-shinned but it's a falcon? I consider the Merlin a smaller bird. Heck's fire! The Merlin is also called a Pigeon "Hawk" ...

I've always thought that what I see is a Sharp-skinned but they are right on into urban neighborhoods, chasing ... pigeons.

Steve
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned are a bear to distinguish, even for the pros in the field. Hopefully a picture you have taken will have enough factors to rule out this from that. I did find this site to give me side by side comparisons. https://feederwatch.org/learn/tricky-bir ... nned-hawk/ I was lucky enough to get a few pics of it's legs, and a very good pick of it's head. Now this is a juvie which does make it more difficult, but if you look at it's eyes you will notice they are more set forward than the S-S. The legs are also thicker than a S-S as seen in this photo.Image Also when it was flying away I noticed the thicker white band at the tip of it's tail. As far as where they might nest, we have very large spruce trees in the surrounding area, that would support their habit nicely. A lot of lateral branches on these trees are thicker than many trees that grow in my area. Along with that are many marsh/bog, and small lake areas make it perfect for grabbing unsuspecting critters. My hope is, this youngin is the offspring from the one I saw last February seen here.Image
As far as falcons go, I have seen on many occasion Perigrine falcons, which are quite small, and very fast on the wing. I saw one take out a sparrow in mid-flight one time. What an awesome site that was. Oh and just to throw a monkey wrench into id'ing between a juvie C-H, and a S-S, never count out a Northern Goshawk either. :roll: Happy birding! :mrgreen:

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Well, I guess I can take comfort that both species are here. Good for them!

That's a nice comparison of photos on that feederwatch site. Thank you!

"...the careful observer must use a combination of field marks and draw from the overall “gestalt” of the hawk for proper identification. No field guide will substitute for plenty of practice in the field." I bet that's too much for me to expect of myself.

They fly quickly altho they will perch. I wish I could get a better look at the legs. Many hawks have huge legs and feet. If the S-s has unusually small, thin legs, it should be distinctive.

The idea of dove-size vs crow-size ..? I don't believe that what I'm seeing fits with as-small-as a dove nor as-large-as a crow. Significant size difference is noted but ... I'll say one thing, polymorphism wasn't a term I even recognized until I began looking longer and more carefully at hawks. I guess that polymorphism might play into the current controversy on a "modern evolutionary theory synthesis." I like that adaptation and environment and genetics are still in the pot and on the scientific front burner :).

Anyway, it's probably that Goshawk that will come up behind me when I have been for walks in the woods, all but darting over my shoulder as it passes me on the trail before veering off into the trees! Or, it could be the little Sharp-shinned and just that I'm startled into thinking that it's the size an F-22 !

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Here is a first backyarder for me. A beautiful sleek Sharp-Shinned hawk taken just as nightfall was setting upon us.

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Image

Image

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Great pics! :D
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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Why thank you applestar! :)

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Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Yes.

Don't edit out the hawk's red eyes.

I haven't had a feeder for years but have now and then discovered a hawk in the yard. A couple of times, the feathered evidence of their visits have greeted me after I have entered through the gate.

Whoa! the little carnivores are so aggressive out there in their bird eat bird world!

Steve
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

LIcenter
Senior Member
Posts: 269
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2014 2:23 pm
Location: Long Island, NY Zone 7a/6b-ish

Re: 2016 Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) wat

Saw her again yesterday sitting on my fence not three feet from my window. We had four inches of snow yesterday of which she was covered in. Guess she missed the mark as no signs of feathers were seen anywhere.

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