Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sphinx moth

One of the coolest moths I have seen is the sphinx moth (actually there are a number of really interesting moths). I found this one working a large Japanese honeysuckle vine (a commonly planted non-native plant that in some locations can be invasive in natural areas) on my friend's, but I have also had them in my backyard in Canon City in the past.This is a White-lined Sphinx moth (likely due to the white lines on it's wings) but is often called a hummingbird moth because it hovers over flowers like hummingbirds do. It is also referred to as the Hawk Moth. Though many moths are most active at night, this one is active in both day and night. The bottom pic isn't that good but it does show the probiscus, the feeding tube that extends from it's mouth to flowers to suck up their nectar. SeEtta
Digg!

"Manufactured homes for the birds "

High Country News had a short article of a creative and somewhat desperate attempt to provide artificial cactus needed for the Coastal Cactus Wren:

"With a catastrophic rise in wildfires over the past two decades -- most of them sparked by human activity in this rapidly developing corner of California -- thousands of acres of hard-won coastal sage reserves have gone up in smoke. The wren’s population has consequently plummeted. The bird nests only in mature cacti at least 3 feet tall, and such stands take decades to recover from burning."

Read the full article (available free) hereSeEtta

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nictitating membrane on Lewis's Woodpecker

As noted in the post below, I took pics of this Lewis's Woodpecker today. In this pic, the woodpecker's nictitating membrane is over it's eye. The nictitating membrane is referred to as a bird's third eyelid. Bird's "blink" this nictitating membrane over their eye many times per minute and it apparently moistens the cornea.

High speed photography shows that woodpeckers close this nictitating membrane milliseconds before striking it their bills, thus protecting the eye from flying debris and also serving to hold the eyeball in place (to protect from the shock of the strike). Read more about the research on this and protection for their brains here

Double-click on the pic for a good close-up view of it's covered eye and also of it's tongue. SeEtta
Digg!

Colorful Lewis's Woodpecker



I have following a pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers that have a nest in a snag in a large cottonwood on my friend's property along the Arkansas River near Canon City. I have taken a number of pics of the adults attending the nest, but since it is in the tree it is quite shaded and the pics don't do justice to the beauty of these very colorful woodpeckers.

Today I saw this woodpecker that had stopped on a phone pole while bringing food to the nestlings (I can hear them loudly now) where there was sunshine to bring out some of the colors. The beautiful red on the face and belly does come through pretty accurately in these pics as does the grey collar. Though the back appears black in these pics as it often does on these woodpeckers, the green gloss does not show through.

The top pic shows the bird with it's eyes open (important comparison for next post). The bottom pic shows the bird with this large piece of unknown food that it subsequently takes to the nest after I took these pics. SeEtta
Digg!