Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Sun

I saw this pigeon napping in the sun today on a south facing lawn protected from the wind. It was still pretty cold in Brooklyn, about 34 degrees F (that's 1 degree C), but yesterday's snow was melting fast and the little bit of warmth felt good.  
These two robins were part of a winter flock of about a dozen down by the East River, all puffed up and facing south -- soaking up the rays. Click to enlarge. 
And this ring-billed gull stood still on a post. No wind. No snow. Warm sun.  
Manhattan across the river -- undoubtably full, too, of creatures appreciating the warm winter sun. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Where are they now?

Everyone seems to be pretty well informed about the migrations of monarch butterflies in North America. Long distance southbound fliers end up in southern states in the east and in refuges in California and Mexico in the west. In spring, northbound females lay eggs that hatch into butterflies that fly north and lay eggs, reaching further north with each generation until the far reaches of monarch territory are repopulated for the year. So their current whereabouts are accounted for.  But what about other kinds of butterflies?                     
The common cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, for instance. Cabbage whites are still here. They are hunkered down for the winter in the chrysalis stage. Click to enlarge.
Red-spotted purple butterflies, Limenitis arthemis, spend the winter in the caterpillar stage. The caterpillar makes a little shelter called a hibernaculum from a leaf and attaches it with silk to one of its food plants. When it wakes up in spring it is close to a food source and ready to start eating. 
Question mark butterflies, Polygonia interrogationis, like this one hibernate as adults in sheltered spots like hollow trees or crevices and in human built structures. 
There are even some butterflies that overwinter as eggs. So for every stage of the butterfly life cycle, there are species that spend the winter that way -- as an egg, larva, pupa (chrysalis), or adult. You can find them on plants, in leaf litter, under tree bark, in your garage, and wherever they decide to shelter. They're out there in the cold right now, under the snow, and on branches bending in the winter wind. On this 20 degree day in New York City it is reassuring to be reminded that spring is coming.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

             "And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been."                   
Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

It's a stinging rose caterpillar, Parasa indetermina. Call me crazy, but they remind me of Christmas candy, although, of course you cannot eat them or even touch them because of their stinging spines. Happy Holidays to all! Click to enlarge. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

First Snow

We had our first substantial snowfall in Brooklyn this week. I am always impressed at how well the birds endure the cold winter weather; see how the sparrows on my fence puffed up their feathers for maximum insulation. Click to enlarge. 

I provided a breakfast buffet for the birds the next morning. There are always European house sparrows like these around happy to accept a handout. 
This extra cold looking mourning dove had some seeds, too. 
And my favorite -- a winter robin -- ate some raisins. We'll see more of this guy in the coming months. He looks great on a white winter background, doesn't he? 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Vulnerable Giraffes!

This week the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the keepers of the Red List of Endangered Species, declared wild African giraffes Vulnerable to Extinction.   
It makes me sad. I've always loved the gentle gangly giants. I photographed this young pair at the Cape May County Zoo, in New Jersey. Click to enlarge. 
Want to sign a petition to urge their protection? Click here.
Want to make a donation to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation? Click here. 
And maybe, if you have not finished shopping for holiday gifts, you might want to click here to check out how to send a giraffe adoption package from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) -- you can shop and save giraffes at the same time. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Bird Jokes!

Know why I fly over the sea?
Because if I flew over the bay -- I'd be a bagel. Ha ha ha ha ha!
Know why I hold up one foot?
Because if I held up two -- I'd fall over. LoLoLoL!
What's got six legs and can fly? Us! Ha ha ha!  
What's the best time to buy a parrot?
When they're going cheep! Ha! 
Composing a tweet right now. :-)