Recorded another video tonight of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. The light was not that great, but if all goes well I should be able to record some good videos over the weekend.
Are you ready for the Fall Migration of Birds and Monarch Butterflies? Fall officially starts on September 22, but the migration for many animals and insects have already begun.
Journey South (for the Fall migration. For the Spring migration it’s called Journey North) has published it’s second update for the annual Monarch Butterfly migration (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/fall2013/update090513.html). So far, it doesn’t look good. All year folks have been reporting lower than normal sightings on Monarch butterflies, and their migration towards Mexico is proving no different. If you haven’t signed up for Journey South, I’d recommend doing so if you are interested in the Monarch butterflies. (http://www.learner.org/cgi-bin/jnorth/jn-register). You’ll receive a weekly email regarding the Monarch migration sightings and news.
Speaking of Monarchs, I’ve had 1-2 flying around the yard lately, but these aren’t the migrating Monarchs since they have been laying eggs (on their Migration South, they do not lay eggs). As a result, I’ve seen a few eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises around the yard.
My milkweed looks fantastic with lots of full leaves. I took this picture the other day of a Caterpillar chewing on the end of a milkweed stem.
I’ve commented before about how I’ve seen a higher than normal population of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, and as of today, my population grew even larger thanks to a strong wind.
Whereas before I had 1 adult male, and several juvenile males, now I have quite a few adult males, who are all battling for position at the Hummingbird feeders. Below is a video I took this evening, showing just part of what the competition can be like. I should have probably switched to a smaller lens so you could have seen how many were flying around outside the range of the lens.
As I’m watching my multitude of wildlife cameras positioned throughout various places in the backyard, I notice a raccoon raiding my bird feeder. It’s actually a nightly occurrence, so I’m rather used to the invasion. I occasionally spray hot pepper sauce on the food, but this was one of the days that I neglected to do that.
As I go out to the backyard and shine my flashlight at the raccoon raiding the feeder, I notice a pair of golden eyes staring at me from the trees. Actually make that 3 pairs of golden eyes staring at me. Two young raccoons were in the trees, as well as a young possum.
Anyway, one of the young raccoons in the trees I recognize. It’s the one with an injured foot. For having an injured (and it appears completely useless) foot, it has amazing strength to climb.
With one hand I keep my flashlight trained on the injured raccoon, and I slowly walk back towards the house to grab my camera. Surprisingly I make it back out with my camera and flashlight in tow and position the lighting towards the injured raccoon. Keep in mind, it’s pitch dark outside so I have zero light other than my flashlight, and the flash from the camera.
Below is a picture of the injured raccoon. You can see how it’s right front paw just dangles as it’s climbing down the tree. I tried to zoom in on this picture to see if I could find any obvious wound or injury, but there was nothing obvious.
In theory I could try and capture the animal and take it to a wildlife rescue, but I have yet to see a raccoon who has a pleasant demeanor once captured and I really don’t want to get attacked. And no, I’m not going to shoot it to put it out of it’s misery, that’s not really an option for me.
I’m continuing to see Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. It’s still about 3 weeks early from when I normally see large numbers of them, but I always welcome their visit. Right now, I think I have about 5 hummers.
It’s not uncommon for them to hang out around this large Chaste tree that I have. It provides good cover, and they can see all the hummingbird feeders around the yard.
This is actually the fourth seed pod from a single Queen Palm tree that I have in my backyard. I haven’t done anything different this year versus the other 7 years that I have had this tree, but for whatever reason, the seed pods are just emerging like crazy. Even though this is the fourth seed pod this year, there is still one more that has yet to open.
I didn’t realize it previously, but apparently these seed pods are loaded with pollen. When I went out this evening, the seed pod was just covered in honeybees, and their legs were so full of pollen, they could barely fly.
You can’t tell from these pictures (because I had too large of a lens to capture the full pod), but the seed pods are really huge and covered in little tiny seeds. If you’re curious if these are edible, I really don’t know. I’ve tasted one before and it was awful!
I included this next picture, not because it’s such a great picture, but because it almost looks like I captured some of the pollen in the air (bottom left of the picture) while the picture was being taken
I’m a little late in posting this picture. I actually took the picture on August 12, but I guess I never created a post about it.
Anyway, this is the remaining pair of Eastern Bluebird siblings I had from a nest earlier this year. The father continues to visit occasionally, but the mother has not appeared since shortly after everyone fledged.
These are the siblings who were basically raised on mealworms that I put out for them in the afternoon.
In addition to my recently discovered mystery regarding Wrens and Cardinals eating mealworms, I also seem to have an influx of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. Traditionally, I might see one Ruby Throated Hummingbird in the Summer months, but so far I have counted four. It’s way too early for them to have already started migrating (typically Sept, Oct for my area), but they are definitely here and feeding from my feeders, bottlebrush plants, and butterfly bush. While four Hummingbirds doesn’t seem like much, I only had two a week ago and I thought that was unusual.
None of these pictures I’m going to share are that great, but since I haven’t posted in a while, and I’ve witnessed something I think is a little unusual, I hope you’ll bare with me.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I put out live mealworms for the Eastern Bluebirds. By the way, two of the recent fledglings from the Bluebird nest are still hanging around. The one fledgling with the deformed legs, I haven’t seen, nor have I seen the mother Bluebird (I hope she didn’t die, but I have a feeling something happened to her). The father still hangs around as well, just not as often. Below are the recent fledglings (I hate the picture, had to use flash, etc).
Back to the mealworms. So one thing I have never seen before is a Sedge Wren (at least I think that’s what it is), or a Cardinal, eating mealworms. Heck, it’s hard enough to see any Wren since they are so secretive, so I’ve certainly never seen one eating mealworms.
Nor have I seen Cardinals eating mealworms, but there is a young male who is eating mealworms daily. I have lots of Cardinals, but only this one eats mealworms.
For the record, Bluebirds, Titmouses, Mockingbirds, Chickadees, and Cardinals all seem to enjoy the mealworms in my yard.
Well if it’s not one thing it’s another. Today while putting on mealworms for the Bluebirds, one of the recent fledglings decided to pay a visit. I could tell when it first arrived something wasn’t right. For one, it’s tail feathers haven’t grown in, although that’s a minor issue. It appears this fledgling has splayed or paralyzed legs. I’ve sought some advice from Bet over at Sialis.org, but what I’m thinking of doing is trying to capture the bird, and take him to the wildlife rehab place. If it’s splayed legs, I think they can fix that. If it’s paralysis, well that wouldn’t be so good.
What’s rather amazing about this little guy is he can fly, and despite not being able to use his feet to grab on to anything, he has learned to land on his chest and flap his wings for balance. Obviously he won’t last long in the wild if a predator sees this, but for now he is able to eat and drink.
These pictures were not taken for their beauty, and they are heavily cropped, but I wanted to show what the legs looked like.
Any advice or guidance from the bird experts out there?
I saw some shedded snake skin in my bird stream today. After looking around for just a bit, I saw who the skin belonged to. It’s a Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake. Really a beautiful snake as far as snakes go. I just took some pictures and left it alone. It might eat a few lizards or frogs, but nothing substantial.
As requested, here are some clips of the Eastern Bluebirds fledging in real time. The first event occurs at the 7:31 mark where one of the parents comes up the nest to either give the fledgling some food, or saying get your butt out of the nest and fly! At 7:35 one of the babies leaves the nest. At 7:45 and 20 seconds, the second Bluebird fledges.
If this wasn’t so troublesome, I’d post more of these videos. In short, something so easy like copy parts of a video recorded from my DVR takes several steps and conversions before being presentable enough to show on the web.
Let me describe what you will be seeing. On screen 1 of my DVR is a real time camera with night vision that records solely on the disappearing bird stream. At night there’s not much activity, but where there is, it’s normally exciting. Either it will be a large mammal, like a skunk or possum stopping by to drink, a frog or two hopping around eating bugs, and an occasional snake hunting for those frogs. That was until a couple of nights ago when I had a bird visitor at 11:45 pm. It was an Eastern Screech Owl. Setting the background about why it may have suddenly appeared; we had temperatures of 108 degrees that day, and it didn’t cool down much even after dark. In the first clip, that I am NOT presenting, the Owl spent at least two minutes just drinking water. In the clip I do show, he drinks and bathes, preens some feathers, and just looks around.
Today is day 18 since the Bluebirds hatched, and they left the nest today. Specifically, one left at 7:35 am, one left at 7:45 am, and I’m not sure when the other one left, but either shortly before or after those other two times. I was watching the recording on my DVR and saw them actually leave the nest.
If the parents instruct the young like they did last year, I may see the babies again about 3 days from now and they will bring them to the mealworm feeder. It will also be when I’m able to say for certain if all 3 survived once they fledged the nest.
The picture below was taken yesterday, on day 17 since they hatched. I said in this post that they should fledge the nest around 17 days (July 1), but I was actually off by one day (I didn’t count the first day, and they actually left on June 30, not July 1).
On a side note, I didn’t hear the Purple Martins tonight when I went outside. Either they were already in the nest, or they have left the area.
So I’m sitting here watching my favorite late night TV show. It’s actually not a show, it’s my TV and the 8 real time cameras hooked up outside that I was watching.
It’s midnight, so I’m getting ready to go to bed, and suddenly I see this “thing” sitting on one of the rocks of my bird stream. My brain tries to quickly process. Regular bird, nope, too late for that. A rat? Nope, rats don’t stand on two legs (actually they do, but a rat wouldn’t normally be standing on two legs near my bird stream). Ah, ha, it’s an Owl. My very first Owl visitor!
Here’s what was rather cool to witness. The Owl sat on the edge of my bird stream, then jumped in the bird stream, and started bathing. Oh, and before I forget, it was 108 degrees outside today and stayed above 100 degrees well after 9pm. Back to my story. So this little Owl was bathing in my bird stream.
Since it was a little Owl, there’s no doubt it was an Eastern Screech Owl. A normal person would say, well that was nice, time for bed. Not me! I grad my night vision monocular (I knew I’d find a purpose for them one day) and dash outside. I do my best Screech Owl imitation, and the bird answers me! In the monocular, I finally spot two yellow eyes staring at me. I decide to try the dumbest idea first; taking a picture with my iPhone. Needless to say, that was a bad idea.
I dash inside and grab my real camera. I’ve rarely taken night pictures, so I do my best to aim my flashlight towards the Owl, and fire off a few shots. Another bad idea as I ended up with very blurry shots. I switch to automatic mode on my camera (I never shoot in Auto mode), aim the flashlight, and snap away. The results are below.