Sunday, September 15, 2013

White-lined Sphinx Moth

This weekend, my son and I were on the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory hawkwatching tower, when from the bottom of the tower, Paul Pratt & Bob Hall-Brooks called up that a White-lined Sphinx Moth was being observed. Having seen the Clearwing Hummingbird Moth and the Snowberry Hummingbird Moth earlier this summer, I was eager to catch a glimpse at a third species of Hummingbird Moth: The White-lined Sphinx Moth! This moth was huge! Its wingspan spans 3-3.5"! The moth was attracted to a giant patch of Jewelweed.

Its funny though, my friend Rick Mayos had recently sent me a photo of a Nessus Sphinx Hummingbird Moth that he had taken in his backyard.  Along with the photo, he sent me this article summarizing the four major "Hummingbird Moths" [link]. This dialog started Rick and I on a summer-long discussion on the various moths and butterflies we were seeing.

Nessus Sphinx Moth! ©Rick Mayos
Naturally, I texted Rick a photo of the White-lined Hummingbird Moth by taking a photo of it off my camera's preview screen with my cell phone. He had never seen this fourth hummingbird moth... until he looked out his window and found one on his butterfly bush in his backyard just minutes after seeing my text message! This means Rick has achieved the holy grail of mothing... 1-Clearwing, 2-Snowberry, 3-Nessus and 4-White-lined moths ...The Grand-slam*** of hummingbird moths! I myself am one species short of this noble achievement... I still need to glance at the Nessus Moth to make that bold claim :-).

Snowberry Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on Wild Bergamot

Hawk-watching at HBMO is always good during the fall. Its been a tradition for me to go out to HBMO at least weekly during the fall raptor migration season. Some birds seen this weekend include: Bald Eagles (6), Merlin (8), American Kestrel (10), Sharp-shinned Hawks - (25), Northern Harrier (1), Red tailed Hawk - (2), Broad winged Hawks (100's)... and the season is just beginning. There must be at least 40 species of ducks/geese/swans on any given day along with the passerines (Jays, Waxwings, Goldfinches) not to mention warblers, vireos, wrens and Gnatcatchers. (I should be putting this all into ebird... I know.)

Broad winged Hawks (mini kettle) - At stratospheric heights... imperceptible without proper optics.

Obligatory Sharp shinned Hawk photos.

Bronze Copper Butterfly - Abundant on the Goldenrod surrounding the hawk-watching tower at Holiday Beach.

Black Saddlebags - I this photo made me realize the "saddlebags" are a visual effect from the black wing colouration... not the shape of its abdomen!
Bronze Coppers were abundant at Holiday Beach as well. Bronze Coppers can be abundant around smampy marshes and wetlands as their larval foodplant -Curled Dock is abundant in marsh habitat. Singles of Common Buckeye and Monarch were also seen... Still no Grey Hairstreaks this season!

Good birding!

*** - (Nerdy blog readers will recall when I had a "chickadee grad-slam" two years ago: Chestnut-backed, Mountain, Boreal and Black-capped [link])


  1. Wow, 3 species of hummingbird moths is incredible! I can't believe how large the white-lined sphinx is! Great shots, Dwayne and I hope you come across that hairstreak!

  2. Wow!!! Beautiful shot too Dwayne!
    I wonder if I saw a White-lined Sphinx Moth at Pinery Prov Park many years ago. I remember thinking it was a hummingbird at first, except louder. Back then, I wasn't paying attention to things like that though! :) I guess it's getting too late in the season to hope for your grand slam?

  3. I love it: "The Holy Grail of mothing." So nice to meet you finally. I'm sure we will see you again.



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