Just a quick bite!

This rose-breasted grosbeak flew in and out again, because these days no one wants to be out in the sun long. We squirrels are avoiding the streets–it’s hot on our paws, and we move fast! We’re feeling sorry for those animals who can’t and hope you humans are remembering their paws can’t take the heat. Wildlife will really appreciate it if you can put out an extra dish of water!

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And in local flower-bird relationships…

We have long admired the flowers our neighborhood humans have chosen to plant–with decided favoritism to native wildflowers!

Today, Hickory, Miz Flora and I leaped over to a new garden bed they put in this spring. Miz Flora though it was quite resourceful–though long-overdue–that they split their coneflowers and planted the splits in a new location, adding to the beds.

The plants don’t have the fullness of the original bed, but for only being in six weeks or so, they are doing well. Except…why are some of the flowers missing petals?

“Wait!” Hickory chitters. “I want to save that for mystery day.”

We squirrel-grappled with this–which meant lots of running around tree trunks–but finally I won out…mainly because Miz Flora spoke up!

The petals are being plucked off by finches as they eat the seeds on that side of the flower.

Miz Flora asked: “I want you to pose this question to our regular readers: Have you ever observed finches eat flower seeds while they are most definitely still green?”

We are confused, maybe because squirrels don’t eat green acorns.

N is for Nectar-Feeders!

And by this we don’t mean the human devices that hold sugar water–no, we mean the animals that feed on nectar!

Yes, it’s honeybees

and solitary bees

and other insects besides.

Butterflies,

and moths that we don’t see because they feed on night-blooming flowers.

And even this confusing little hummingbird moth–who looks and behaves like a hummingbird, but is actually an insect. Speaking of hummingbirds…

Yes, they are nectar-feeders and will come to your nectar feeders.

So feed them both ways, and enjoy them in your garden!

Of course, we can’t leave without our Motionless Monday–here’s a different version of a wildlife statue today!

Have a great week!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a good one for you–

What’s this mulch doing at the bottom of a tree in the woods?

I’ll check back in later!

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Several of our readers guess correctly:

These chips fell from the tree as a Pileated Woodpecker chipped away at the tree. And how do we know it was a Pileated? Well, we saw him, but also the holes are squares, which is how a Pileated makes them.

This tree is skinny, so the woodpecker was after the wood-boring grubs in the tree, not trying to make a nesting cavity.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Our mystery today comes to us from regular reader, Connie. Thanks, Connie!

Mystery #179

Yes, it’s those little blobs, about the size of a small acorn.

I’ll check back later for your guesses, but if you’d like a hint, scroll down:

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Hint: Connie found these on her pontoon boat.

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One brave reader guessed that these particles were the stuffing from the boat. No, but that was our first guess, too! No mice or insects were burrowing inside. This was deposited on the boat and appears nearly every morning, Connie tells us.

And every morning someone visits the boat.

Great Blue Heron on Lake Audubon Paul Hartke 2016

If the light is a bit too dim for you, here’s another photo.

Great Blue Heron on Lake Audubon

That’s a Great Blue Heron. A very old one, we believe, because his beard–the feathers trailing from his neck–is full. Now we squirrels had heard of owls regurgitating pellets of fur and bones after they eat, but not herons, so we did a bit of research. Turns out herons do as well, and it’s called “casting.”

fish bones in a Great Blue Heron casting

fish bones in a Great Blue Heron casting

If you look closely, this deposit, or regurgitation, contains small fish bones and scales!

Herons also have a throat pouch. When they have young in the nest, they swallow a fish or two and carry them back to the nest and regurgitate them for the young birds. Young birds might do the same if a predator attacks their nest to frighten it away.

Want to learn more about Great Blue Herons? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a camera on a heron nest and answers many questions about these birds on their Bird Cam FAQ website.

Pokeweed, leave it or weed it?

American Pokeweed

The berries of American Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, are poisonous. And oh-so tempting to you humans, especially when they are in full ripeness –and at their most toxic!–this time of year.

Pokeweed in late summer

The plant is big and weedy and produces many berries. No wonder it can take over a farmer’s field!

Yet there are birds who will eat them with no harmful effects, like the Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Gray catbird and Brown Thrasher.