Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'



Great Egret

Ardea alba have even been known to show up in small backyard goldfish ponds. If there’s food… and they do seem readily habituated to the presence of similarly long-legged hominids.One of the bird’s long plumes, or aigrettes. These are breeding plumage feathers; this one about 18″ long. They’re the reason these birds were nearly hunted to extinction, so these plumes could be stuck in ladies’ hats. This one was on the ground, so I kicked it into the water to dis-incentivize anyone from sticking into their hat. (Possession of such a feather would be illegal, but hardly anyone knows this.) Here’s another in the spartina at Bush Terminal Park.

Great Egrets nest in the smaller islands of the NYC archipelago.

 

PSA: How to Debate A Science Denier (from Scientific American.)

Quiscalus quiscula

Now, there’s binomial! Doesn’t really help to translate it, however, since it basically means “quail quail.” Well, then, my favorite quail… anyway, as long as we stay away from the Middle Latin-to-English thing and just let Quiscalus quiscula ripple off the tongue. What I’m trying to suggest here is that “Common” Grackle is simply unfair. I mean, just look at this thing!Feather-grooming after bathing. Looks perturbed, but hey, that’s just grackle.

Raptor Wednesday

Monday morning dawned and lo and behold there were two female American Kestrels on the Solar Building! The one on the left had the tell-tale head fuzz of a fledgling. Just like that, voila! So there was another Brooklyn Kestrel in the house!Was there only one?

Within the hour that Monday morning: there were three separate kestrels in the air at the same time. All looked like females from my admittedly brief view.

About 50 minutes before sunset Tuesday, two female fledglings were on the solar building, perched side-by-side on one of the roof pipes. Sisters! The mother, who looks small in comparison after working so hard for these beasties, was also briefly perched up there at the same time.

No activity was seen in the nest this season. Admittedly, last year, I only saw two glimpses of young ones inside. Once, when one of the little air-tigers was grasping at a wind-tossed string somehow jammed into the structure, probably bought as nesting material by Starlings, who seem to have used this cavity before. I think this cavity is deeper than the 5th Avenue one, which had inquisitive faces poking out it this year and last year.

There were three successful fledglings last year, two female and one male. What became of them? The odds were not good for two of the three. Youngsters disperse as fall approaches. The mother bird heads elsewhere. This is the father’s territory. Back to today: no males of any age have seen in the last several days. The #BrooklynKestrels saga.

The Membrane-Winged

An Eastern Carpenter Bee working the milkweed.This is one of our biggest bees, so note the tiny little critter to its right in both pictures above. Didn’t see this one while photographing. Not sure if its a bee or wasp.
One of the leaf-cutter bees stuck to a Drosera filiformis, thread-leaved sundew. This carnivorous plant is tiny and usually snags much smaller insects with its gooey droplets. The bee is visible mired in the filament-like mucus of the plant, but she struggled free. This particular drama was found amid cranberries in a saucer of boggy delights during the Flatbush Gardener’s urban safari. Most of the critters pictured here today were found there.Humped Beewolf, a wasp that preys on bees.Blue Mud-dauber Wasp working on her nest. She captures spiders to entomb as food for her young.Texas Leaf-cutter Bee, as IDed by iNaturalist, which records them in Texas, Louisana, NY and PA. Good rule of thumb is that bees are vegetarians and wasps carnivores (at some stage in their their life: some adult wasps will sup nectar).Look at these saddlebags of pollen on this Bombus bruiser’s legs! Bumblebees really shake down flowers for pollen — in fact, they and some other types of bees forcible release pollen by buzz pollination — the frequency of their buzzing wings. This pollen, by the way, is food for her and her babies. She’ll make a wax chamber for each egg, sealing it with a ball of pollen. Nectar will go in wax pots for herself and future daughters.
The word Hymenoptera, the order that includes wasps, bees, ants, and sawflies, means membrane-wing. They have four such wings (in the caste system of ants, it’s the reproductives who are winged). Flies, in the order Diptera, have two. I’m putting this Common Eastern Physocephala fly in here because it looks superficially like a wasp. BUT: note the little white tag that seems to be coming from the abdomen in the above picture. I’ve darkened this image to make it stand out a bit more. (Clicking on it will make it fill your window.) There’s one on each side of the back end of the thorax. These are halteres, essentially modified hindwings, which help balance these fliers. This fly, by the way, parasitizes bumblebees.

Question Marks

Polygonia interrogationis , the Question Mark butterfly. The wings need to be closed to see the mark in question. I think it’s more of a semi-colon. The similar Comma (Polygonia comma) has the “comma” mark but not the dot. Mud-puddling. Everyone does it, but butterflies are so conspicuous they get noticed doing it. Insects need their vital salts and nutrients as much as other lifeforms, so they suck it up from damp patches, mud puddles, and, I just learned this week, from places naturalists-in-the-know pee. Carrion is another source: very magic realist this, a flutter of butterflies on meat. This one is hoovering up the stuff — moisture, salts? — from this leaf.

Various Insects

Polished Lady Beetle. The gloss on these things! You can see the trees overhead reflected in the elytra*.Red-banded Leafhopper. You must get close to this little one to see this wild pattern.Invasive European Wool Carder Bee. They hover very much like flies and are quite territorial. All over now, they were first detected in New York in 1963.Oleander Aphids.So many wasps, so little time!A Least Skipper, first one I’ve seen. In the marsh area of Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park. *Beetle forewings have evolved into hardened coverings for their hindwings. These coverings are called elytra. Elytron is the singular. On this firefly they are opening in preparation for flight……beetles are not the greatest fliers in the insect world.

Speaking of flying: hot off the scientific press is news that captive-raised Monarch Butterflies don’t know how to migrate. Here’s another abstract.

Isn’t Monarch-raising rampant in schools? Who will tell the teachers? What about other butterflies and moths? Hobbyists are mentioned, too, since in-door raising of wild-caught Monarchs also results in the loss of the ability to orient south. But not all butterflies and moths are migratory… yet the study found that commercial Monarchs have differently shaped forewings than wild ones.

To market, to market; it is devouring the world.

I looked up the National Association of Biology Teachers… and noticed that one of its funders is Monsanto. The Octopus surrounds us.

Raptor Wednesday

I’d hoped to be able to report some exciting falcon-reveal news about the local American Kestrels. The parents have been here and there, but as of this, written late yesterday afternoon, we’ve got nada to say about fledglings.Meanwhile, can I offer you this dicey situation as a substitute for your Wednesday raptor needs? A perched Red-tailed Hawk, being chirped at by an Amerian Robin or two, and this Grey Squirrel sort of moaning in a tree knot.The hawk spent much more time looking elsewhere, that old ploy.This is the way we left the stand-off.


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