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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Butterfly Watching For Birders!

Monarch Butterfly. They lay their eggs on milkweed and their caterpillars feed on this plant.


Great Spangled Frittillary on Purple Coneflower


Close-up of Great Spangled Fritillary

American Lady Butterfly, told by the two eye spots on underside of the hindwing

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies are unmistakable

Spicebush Swallowtails can be told from other big, dark swallowtails by their single row of prominent white dots inside the margin of their forewings. The larvae of Spicebush Swallowtails feed on spicebush and sassafrass.


Pearl Crescent butterfly. Scores are feeding on white clover on our path so we keep the path mowed high to preserve the clover flowers for them.

Mourning Cloaks are widespread across much of North America. They are one of the few butterflies who overwinter as adults, finding protected places in log piles, nooks, or under loose bark, and when they emerge in the spring they look worn, as this butterfly does. They are one of the longest lived butterflies and some may live as long as 10 months. Mourning Cloaks feed on sap and fruit.

Our butterfly bushes will bloom soon and they're magnets for the butterflies. Here's a Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly on one of them.


We've written two books to help you attract and identify butterflies. Stokes Beginner's Guide To Butterflies, has an easy ID key to help you quickly identify the butterflies you see by size and shape.


Stokes Butterfly Book gives you plans for a butterfly garden, lists and photos of butterfly plants, and chapters, with color photos, on the identification, behavior and caterpillars of common butterflies. Both are available at amazon.com and stores.


When the birding is slow, and it's the middle of the day, a wonderful thing for birders to do is look for butterflies. Butterflies are colorful flying creatures, just like birds. The identification skills birders already have can be transferred to identifying butterflies.
Look at butterflies through your binoculars, no need to catch them in a net.

The hot weather favors butterflies as they need to warm their bodies to fly. They need to get their body temperature up to 85 to 100 degrees Farenheit in order to fly well. Adult butterflies come to flowers for nectar, lay their eggs on special host plants, which can be unique to each species of butterfly. The eggs hatch, larva feed on the plant then turn into a pupa or crysalis from which the adult butterfly will emerge. A complete cycle or generation is called a brood, and butterfly species can go through from just one to as many as four broods per year, depending on the species and the number of warm months. Different butterflies are on the wing at different times during the summer, so you will continue to see new species.

There are about 17,000 species of butterflies in the world. In North America there are about 700 species but only a small fraction are common and likely to be seen by the average person.

When you see a butterfly watch it closely for several minutes. Observe how it flies, its size, shape, and the colors and patterns on its wings, both above and below.

Start by knowing the major families of butterflies that are distinctive. Below are some:

Swallowtails - are our largest butterflies and most have long tails coming off their hind wings.

Whites and Sulfurs - these are all medium-sized butterflies that are predominantly white or yellow.

Gossamer Wings - this group is easy to identify since it includes all of our smallest butterflies, such as the blues, coppers and hairstreaks, and metalmarks. The blues tend to be iridescent blue, coppers are often copper, hairstreaks often have hairlike tails on their hind wings, and metalmarks often have metallic spots on their wings.

Brush-footed Butterflies - this is a large and varied group of medium-sized, generally dark-colored butterflies with such strong and rapid flight they are hard to follow. Their is no one field characteristic, besides their flight, that makes them easy to identify as a group.

Satyrs - these are medium-sized butterflies that are almost all brown, often with darker eye-spots on their wings. They have a weak and bobbing flight and are often seen at woods edges or among grasses.

Skippers - are small butterflies whose flight is extremely rapid and erratic. They are mostly rich brown or orange-brown.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

National Eagle Day!


It's National American Eagle Day. Here's a pair of Bald Eagles, may favorites, greeting each other.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bobolink success!

The Bobolinks are breeding at Bobolink Farm, our NH home. Likely 4 breeding pairs. So happy we provide a safe grassland for them to breed in, with our farmer not mowing until August when the young are safely out of the nest.

Hermit Thrush Serenade, Beautiful!

Hermit Thrush

Thrush serenade. A Hermit Thrush was singing its beautiful song as we walked down the dirt road near our property, Bobolink Farm, in NH. Such a treat! Learn the various songs of the thrushes near you and prepare to be serenaded!

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, secretive, cool bird!

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo was calling off our deck recently. Here is a link to their sounds
So cool to hear this rather secretive bird that hunts for caterpillars, especially tent caterpillars. Love the big, white tail spots. (Photos from another time).

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Bluebird Baby!


Happening now! Daddy bluebird feeding his fledgling baby mealworms from the feeder. Sooo cute! Soon the fledgling will learn to use the mealworm feeder itself. In this cold, rainy weather when the insects the parents also feed the young are less active, the mealworms are a welcome help to the busy parents. Love the bluebirds it is such a special treat to have them breeding right by.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Scarlet Tanager Neotropical Beauty!

Scarlet Tanager, male

There's a Scarlet Tanager singing in our backyard right now. These beautiful neotropical migrant birds fly each fall across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in South America then return in spring to breed in forests across most of the upper two thirds of North America and southern Canada. Look for them up high in the tree tops and learn their raspy song that sounds a little like a robin with a hoarse voice.

Warbler Excitement Still Going On!

American Redstart, male

Northern Parula, male

Blackpoll Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Warbler excitement still going on here. A few of the warblers that have passed by our deck in the last few days. American Redstart, Northern Parula, Blackpoll Warbler, Nashville Warbler. It takes them a while to get here, but such a treat. For those moving on to their breeding grounds we wish them a successful breeding season.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mt. Auburn Cemetery Birding Hotspot!!

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler


Northern Parula

Birders searching in the tall trees.

Veery

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

You can drive and park on the roads and get out to bird.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA is a world famous birding hotspot and the birds showed up today. Lots of warblers and lots of birders were there including us with our friends, Bill Riley (one of the founders of the Everglades Foundation) and his wife Suzie. Blackburnian Warblers were one of the highlights and we saw many other warblers including Northern Parula, Bay-breasted, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided and Prairie Warblers. Plus other species like Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles and a nice Veery. However, the birds are way high up in the trees and the trees were partially leafed out obscuring the birds. Thus photography was a challenge with the point and shoot Canon SX 50. It is such a beautiful place with multiple habitats and lots of mature oaks whose flowers attracted the many insects the warblers were actively feeding on. Safe journey birds!