Thursday, May 9, 2013
Dark-eyed Juncos in general are small and slender birds with an overall length of 5 - 6.5 inches (12.5 to 16.5 cm). The Slate-colored Junco has dark gray plumage on its head, breast and upper parts, which are in contrast to their striking white, outer tail and belly. Sexes are colored or patterned differently with female and immatures somewhat browner than the adult male; juveniles also have streaked breasts. Males are usually around 5% larger than females. Members of this species have a pink bill and dark eyes. A typical weight for Juncos is 0.67 ounces (19 g) and an average wingspan is 9.25 inches (23.5 cm).
Sunday, May 5, 2013
The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a small bird, measuring approximately 4.5 inches (11 cm) in length with a wingspan of 8.5 inches (22 cm) and a weight of only 0.35 ounces (10 g).
Red-breasted Nuthatches breed in coniferous forests across Canada, Alaska and the northeastern and western United States. Though often a permanent resident, it regularly irrupts further south if its food supply fails. It forages on the trunks and large branches of trees, often descending head first. Its eat mainly insects, sometimes catching insects in flight, and seeds, especially from conifers.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch is one of the four species of Nuthatches in North America. The other three being the White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Pygmy Nuthatch. At 4.5 inches (11 cm) in length it is a little larger than the Brown-headed and Pygmy Nuthatches, which average about 4 inches (10 cm), but much smaller than the White-breasted at 5 - 6 inches (13 - 14 cm).
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Mourning Cloaks range across all of North America south of the tundra to central Mexico, but are rare in the Gulf States and Florida peninsular. Also native to temperate Eurasia. It's one of a number of species of butterflies that overwinter as adults. They spend the winter frozen in "cryo-preservation" in tree cavities, beneath loose tree bark or in unheated buildings. Virtually anywhere they can fit to protect themselves from winter winds and to keep out of the view of birds and squirrels. Since it overwinters as an adult, it is one of the first butterflies seen on the first warm days of spring. As for it's common North American name, Mourning Cloak, it refers to its resemblance to a traditional cloak once worn when one was "in mourning".
Sunday, March 24, 2013
The Fox Squirrel is the largest species of tree squirrels native to North America. They are also sometimes referred to as the Stump-eared Squirrel, Raccoon Squirrel, or Monkey-faced Squirrel. Sometimes they are mistaken for Eastern Grey Squirrels by casual observers in areas where both species co-exist, despite the differences in size and coloration.
The Fox Squirrel's natural range extends throughout the eastern United States, excluding New England, north into the southern prairie provinces of Canada, and west to the Dakotas, Colorado, and Texas. They have been introduced into Northern California. While very versatile in their habitat choices, fox squirrels are most often found in forest patches with an open understory, or in urban neighborhoods with trees. They thrive best among trees such as oak, hickory, walnut and pine that produce winter-storable foods like nuts. Western range extensions in Great Plains regions such as Kansas are associated with riverine corridors of cottonwood.
Total body length measures 17.71 - 27.55 inches (45 to 70 cm) tail length is 7.87 - 13 inches (20 to 33 cm) and they range in weight from 1.1 lbs - 2.2 lbs. (500 to 1000 grams). There is no sexual dimorphism in size or appearance. Individuals tend to be smaller in the west. There are three distinct geographical phases in coloration: in most areas the animals are brown-grey to brown-yellow, while in eastern regions such as the Appalachians there are more strikingly patterned dark brown & black squirrels with white bands on the face and tail. In the south can be found isolated communities with uniform black coats.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
The Pearl Crescent ranges from southeastern Alberta, Canada south through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and southeastern California to Mexico; east to southern Ontario, Canada and all the eastern United States, with the biggest concentration in the Midwestern States during the summer months.
Habitat includes open areas such as pastures, road edges, vacant lots, fields, and open pine woods.
Adult butterflies nectar from a great variety of flowers including dogbane, swamp milkweed, shepherd's needle, asters, and winter cress.
The Pearl Crescent gets its name from a pearl colored crescent shape seen above on the underside of its hind wing, which is usually outlined in black. This butterfly can be hard to identify because it resembles several other species and because the overall pattern on its wings can differ geographically and can change depending on the time of season. During the cooler part of the season this butterfly typically has more markings on the underside of the wings and is a darker orange. Males are best identified by the antennal knobs, which are usually all black.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Carolina Wren's upper parts are brownish-red, almost a cinnamon color. It has a long yellowish-white streak over the eye that extends down the neck and is edged on top with dark brown. The head is large with very little neck, and the distinctive bill marks it as a wren: long, slender, and curved downward. Throat is greyish-white, underparts reddish-buff. Legs and feet are flesh colored. The tail feathers are long and curved downwards. Both gender look essentially the same, although the female tends to be tinged with grey on its underparts.
At approximately 5.5 inches (11.5 cm) in length with a 7.5 inch (19 cm) wing span it's a large Wren as far as North American Wrens go and in the United States is second in size only to the Cactus Wren.
The Carolina Wren ranges in the eastern half of the United States from extreme southern Ontario, Canada, to the extreme northeast part of Mexico. A second distinct population can also be found in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Belize and the extreme northern part of Guatemala. It's one of nine wrens found in North America, and four here in the Midwest, but it's the only one that over winters locally.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
House Finches are mainly permanent residents throughout their range, although some northern and eastern birds migrate south. Their breeding habitat is urban and suburban areas in eastern North America as well as various semi-open areas in the west from southern Canada to northern Florida and the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The common name, as well as the scientific name, of the Northern Cardinal refers to the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear distinctive red robes and caps. The term "Northern" refers to its range, as it is the northernmost cardinal species. It ranges from southern Canada, through the eastern United States from Maine to Texas and south through Mexico. It is found in woodlands, gardens, shrublands, and swamps.
Friday, January 25, 2013
The Fiery Skipper is a butterfly of the family Hesperiidae and are approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) long with a wing span of 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches (3.2 - 3.8 cm). Males are typically bright orange or yellow with dark spots while the females tend to be more brownish in color.
The Fiery Skipper ranges from the southern United States south through the West Indies and Central America to Argentina. They cannot survive harsh winters, but each summer this skipper strays north of its year-round range to colonize northern California, the northeastern United States including southern New England, and southern Ontario, Canada. Most sightings of the Fiery Skipper in the northern areas are usually mid to late summer - early fall.
Prime habitat is sunny, open areas such as fields, lawns, gardens, levees, roadsides, and second-growth scrub.
Adult skippers nectar from a variety of flowers including sweet pepperbush, swamp milkweed, asters, sneezeweed, knapweed, ironweed, and thistles.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker of the Picidae family. It breeds in southern Canada and the northeastern United States, ranging as far south as Florida and as far west as Texas. They are a fairly large bird typically measuring 9 to 10.5 inches long (23 - 27 cm), and have a wingspan of 15 to 18 inches (39 - 46 cm).
Look for Red-bellied Woodpeckers hitching along branches and trunks of medium to large trees, picking at the bark surface more often than drilling into it while searching for anthropods. They may also catch insects in flight. They are omnivores, and will also eat fruits, nuts and seeds. Like most woodpeckers, these birds have a characteristic undulating flight pattern.