Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bluebirds & Butterflies

This week, I've made an attempt to take a quick walk at Ojibway or visit the bridge to view the four fledglings after work. Its been pretty good. The this falcon above is called General Brock (note the red band). All four fledglings are doing well and flying around!

Ojibay Park (the tallgrass prairie in particular) has been great. I find that if you walk slow, really slow, you can see some amazing things. I was grumbling lately about not seeing Eastern Bluebirds, but during my last walk, I was pleasantly surprised to see a pair. It was very subtle, but I saw a female quickly fly into a group of Oak trees. Perch for a moment and disappear into the middle of a tree. At first I was disappointed that I was unable to get a nice shot of them, but I realized I was seeing something very special. Ten or so minutes later, I saw a male fly into the same group of trees, perch for a moment, then fly to the same dead tree stump, hidden from view by oak leaves. The male as you can see has a mouthful of bugs, possibly for its babies. The Bluebird flew to a perch, seemed to look around for a minute, then quickly feed its fledglings.  I can't help but wonder about this behavior. I was thinking that there are so many predators, so many dangers in the wild that these Bluebird parents are cautious not to make it obvious where their nest is. They don't really hang out, possibly so not to give the location of their nest to predators. Blue Jays as beautiful as they are, can be very mean to nesting birds and eat their eggs. Brown Headed Cowbirds would love to lay an egg in the bluebird nest and let the bluebirds neglect their own offspring while feeding this parasitic cowbird fledgling. Snakes and even Chipmunks have been known to attack bird nests and steal/eat eggs!

At Ojibway, there are breeding bluebirds, but no bluebird boxes. They nest in natural cavities in snags and dead branches. These are created usually by woodpeckers.
Just recently, there was an Ontbirds Posting about Chipmunk Nest Predation. The birder noted a Black Capped Chickadee Nest near his cottage that had Male and Female parents with nesting material to a cavity in a snag near his cottage. He noted that a chipmunk climbed up the snag, with much protest from the parent BCCs, went into the nest and left with an egg. He later went back and assumingly took the two or so remaining eggs, possibly stored in its cheeks as it escaped. The nest sadly failed and the female was not seen after this ordeal.

Us birders, nature lovers and photographers must be mindful of these struggles for survival that the birds we love to look at must go through. During breeding season in particular, we should be very cautious about playing bird calls because there are so many other things the parents of a nest should be doing besides perching on a branch for a great photo. I had no idea that cute chipmunks do such things, but as I stated before, we have very little understanding of all the dangers and struggles for survival these birds in the wild must endure.

Red bellied Woodpecker inspecting a cavity-ridden snag. Heavily cropped photo.

Some Ojibway Butterflies

Silvery Checkerspot on the left, Baltimore Checkerspot on the right.

A nice look at a Silvery Cherspot. I would have discounted it as a Pearl Crescent without Blakes recent mention of this butterfly. The Silvery Checkerspot is much larger than the Pearl Crescent. According to CBIF, "The submarginal row of black spots on the hindwings always has white centres to some of the spots, unlike similar species that have solid black spots."(CBIF)

Female Little Glassywing. The males have rectangular windows, females have square.

I would like to go to see the Dickcissels that Blake and Josh have been reporting recently. I had amazing views of them last year near Wheatley. I'm also on the lookout for Olive Hairstreaks, Checkered Skippers and Five-lined Skinks.

Good Birding!

CBIF, "Silvery Checkerspot", Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility , 2010-05-31, WEB, June 12, 2012, http://www.cbif.gc.ca/spp_pages/butterflies/species/SilveryCheckerspot_e.php

1 comment:

  1. We had a successful Chickadee hatch here, 4 in total. I'm glad the cute little Chipmunk who runs around our yard left the birdhouse alone. Informative post, really enjoyed it.



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