Butterflies and Moths of North AmericaThis 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.
...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.Caterpillar Hosts: Apple and other fruit trees, clover, corn, cotton, elms, grasses, pines, oaks, smartweed, strawberry plants, and willows.
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):
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. 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.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.