Black Swallowtail Caterpillars 2: July 30, 2018

A few more pictures from that batch of caterpillars

They start off so small. (There are 2 eggs in the picture above)On their way to becoming eating machines. (4 caterpillars near the middle of the picture, click on the image to get a full size version)The black swallowtail after pumping his wings full. This set of pictures was from a couple of years ago. Usually, the butterflies from the first batch of the year emerge around the beginning of July. As mentioned in the last post, we will often plant fennel for the purpose of hosting the caterpillars. It doesn’t cost much and seeing the new butterflies is definitely worth it. They (Black Swallowtail caterpillars) will eat parsley, carrots, dill and several other related plants. The ones in our area seem to prefer fennel.

One other interesting thing happened with the fennel. It grew back the next year. If the conditions are right it is a biennial or even a perennial. It was even bigger than the year before, but the caterpillars seemed up to the challenge.

Tail Identification: May 16, 2018

Hiding on the far side of a feeder doesn’t always work.

With bird feeders, and seed blocks especially, you really begin to learn how to identify birds by their tails. Some birds spread their tails out while others neatly stack them. Then there is the positon that they hold their tail in (up, down, straight out). After a bit of time, you become familar enough with your local birds to be able to make a pretty good guess at identification from just the tail. This particular picture shows some of the body as well.The bird in question is a Tufted Titmouse. The above picture is from one of our other feeders a couple of years ago. In the case of the Tufted Titmouse, it is the color combined with the mostly stacked straight out position that typically gives it away.

Meanwhile, They Are Leaving: March 28, 2018

Goldfinches leave our area just as they get their yellow back

Goldfinches (well the males) are bright yellow during the summer, but are fairly plain during the winter. Where we live they tend to leave about the same time as their summer color comes in. Sadly, we are just south of their summer nesting range.

Snow: December 11, 2017

Our local birds look a bit worried, or at least hungry

This is a problem that the birds that visit our birdfeeders do not usually have to worry about. Seeing snowflakes is rare enough in this part of the country. A couple of days ago we were treated with enough snow to leave a couple of inches on the ground, and quite a few upset birds. As it stands today, the last few sheltered patches of snow in the shade are losing their fight and are melting away.