Saturday, June 24, 2017

Red-eyed Vireo

The Red-eyed Vireo’s persistent, clear whistle is often heard in North American forests. The song seems to ask a short question and then give a short answer. A folk name is Preacher Bird. One observer commented, “I have always thought that whoever dubbed this vireo the ‘preacher' could have had no very exalted opinion of the clergy” (Bradford Torrey in Bent 1950).

The word vireo comes from the Latin “greenfinch.” Most vireos are greenish birds (Gruson 1972). Whatever the name, this photo clearly shows this vireo’s red eye. Erika and I found this bird in Carleton College’s arboretum in May 2017. This species breeds across much of Canada and the United States. They winter east of the Andes in the Amazon jungle. When migrating, this bird orients to the earth’s magnetic field (Cimprich et al. 2000).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eastern Pondhawk

Eastern Pondhawks are abundant across much of eastern North America. This one is from Erika’s garden yesterday. I think this is a young pondhawk. Adult males will become all blue. The tail is just changing—a rather regal image in my opinion. Pondhawks are fierce predators. Several have been zipping around the garden this spring.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

American Redstart

American Redstarts are abundant in many eastern and northwestern forests. I had high hopes of catching this warbler’s “flash pattern” as it hopped through the forest sunlight and shadows. Wouldn’t you know that this individual appears to be missing his central tail feathers? During the flash pattern, the redstart fans his tail and droops his wings. This behavior attracts mates and warns competitors. The action may also flush its small insect prey from nearby vegetation (Sherry et al. 2016).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hagen’s Bluet

Hagen’s Bluets are among a suite of damselflies that are difficult to identify—unless you are an expert in a lab with a microscope. Yet these creatures are pretty and I find myself taking photos even though the prospects for naming them are slim. I shared this photo, taken on 16 June 2017 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Carver County, with my dragonfly guru, Scott King. To my surprise, he replied that this damselfly is a Hagen’s Bluet. Scott wrote, “the upper appendages slope downward, giving it a kind of wedge shape.” (The appendages are the structures at the very end of the abdomen.) You can enlarge this photo and almost see this trait.

Hagen’s Bluets are common near ponds and lakes across much of northern North America. They are named after Hermann August Hagen, a 19th century German entomologist. In 1867 he became curator of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, where he enjoyed the title of Professor of Entomology.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ebony Jewelwing

On 8 June 2017 I was checking my bird net when I kicked up a male Ebony Jewelwing. (Females have white spotted wing tips.) These damselflies are often abundant along area rivers and streams. I ran into the house to fetch my camera. By my reckoning, this individual is the 18th species of Odonata we have photographed in Erika’s garden.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wood Frog

Of the Wood Frog, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources writes, “Who is that masked frog?” The frog’s color ranges from brown to black or reddish-brown. I found this individual in our water feature on 3 June 2017. My first reaction was, “Whoa, that isn’t a Leopard Frog!”

Wood Frogs breed in the spring, often even before the snow melts. This frog is remarkably adapted to life in the Northwoods. They overwinter in leaf litter. They tolerate partial freezing of their body fluids. In the winter, according to the DNR, they stop breathing and their hearts stop beating. They produce antifreeze to keep their cells from freezing. As a result, this is the only frog found north of the Arctic Circle. Their range slides southeast from Alaska and most of Canada to northern Idaho, central Minnesota, and much of the northeastern United States.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pale Beauty

Despite the heat and wind of 10 June in Northfield, Erika and I took a short walk in the St. Olaf College campus. We came upon this relatively large, white moth. Googling “large white month MN” quickly led to the moth’s identity: Campaea perlata—Pale Beauty.

This moth is very common across northern North America. Adults are usually nocturnal. Perhaps this individual was blown by the wind from a perch. Their larvae consume a variety of trees and shrubs.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Canada Goose and Mallard Chicks

The local waterfowl have fledged their young. These photos, of a Canada Goose and Mallards, were taken on 8 June 2017 on local Northfield ponds.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dusky Clubtail

On 2 June 2017, Erika and I visited one of our favorite dragonfly spots. The Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Dakota County consists of about a dozen lakes nestled among urban sprawl. The lakes are surrounded by forest and the water seems be in fairly good condition, thus the dragonfly diversity. This day brought us a fair number of dragonflies, but relatively few species.

One I had only seen once before was this Dusky Clubtail. The first time was on 2 June 2015 in Washington County. At first this dragonfly perched on a branch at about eye-level. Then it flew almost to the forest floor. The species is known to perch on or near the ground. It proceeded to raise its abdomen skyward, until it appeared to be almost standing on its head. This behavior is probably a form of obelisking, in which odes attempt to keep cool during hot days by pointing their abdomens to the sky. At 90 degrees F, this day was, indeed, hot.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Summer Tanager

On 8 June I banded a Summer Tanager in our backyard in Northfield. Summer Tanagers are rare in Minnesota. This is only the second I have seen in the state. It is not the first Summer Tanager that I have banded. I caught two in South Dakota. Summer Tanagers breed across the southern United States. In the spring males are regularly reported north of the breeding range. Less often they are found in the north during the fall. Although fond of various fruits, Summer Tanagers have a predilection for bees and wasps.