Friday, November 16, 2018

Bird Identificaiton

Sometimes, identifying a bird at your feeder can be tricky. The two birds shown below are of different species, albeit in the same family.

The bird in front is a House Finch, a year round resident.


The one in the rear is a Purple Finch, a winter visitor. While both have a red-purple head and breast, the Purple Finch looks as if it "has been dipped in grape juice"*, or perhaps red wine.


Once you know what to look for it's easy to tell them apart, isn't it?


Here a third finch, the American Goldfinch has joined the line up, in front of the other two, while a Tufted Titmouse stands perched on the feeder edge (both year round residents, as is the bird shown below).

And then sometimes it is rather easy to ID the birds at your feeder.


Especially around Thanksgiving.

🦃  🦃  🦃  🦃  🦃

* In quotes because it is not original with me, but I can't recall where I first heard or read it.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Winter Is Coming

Temperatures will drop.


And in inverse proportion heating bills will rise.


Do you have enough insulation?


There is still time to pick some up.


An easy do it yourself project.


Off to install ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Puzzlement

I spotted these scratches on this tree in our yard a couple of days ago.


I have no idea what caused them. A midget bear marking its territory? A tiny dear scratching its antlers? A woodpecker with a dull bill?

I posted these to an online group and they were split better a buck deer scratching its antlers, although this is a larger tree than usual for that, or squirrels eating lichen off the bark. We do have quite a few squirrels about the place.


It was suggested that I put a trail cam out there to see. So I did. And there was nothing on the memory card. Nothing. Seems the batteries died. So I replaced the them and am waiting some more. But there do not seem to be any new marks. So I may have missed it.

🦌  🐿  🦌  🐿  🦌  🐿  🦌  🐿  🦌


Above is the best image on the trail cam. A female White Tailed Deer and thus no antlers for tree scratching. I also got a an even worse image of a squirrel, not even blog worthy (and it wasn't on the tree in question).

𐂂 𐂂 𐂂 𐂂 𐂂

So that didn't help much, and the marks will likely remain a puzzlement.

The Killing of the Shrew

Despite our best efforts to control our cat's time outdoors, we can't control all of the creatures in our yard.

Sadly, this Masked Shrew suffered the consequences.


As you can see these are small animals, not much larger than a US 25¢ piece. With a black tipped tail almost as long as the body.


Also known as the Common Shrew, it is the most widely distributed shrew in North America. They thrive in moist habits. Our yard certainly meets that criteria. So there are probably many more about the place.


Small, fast, and nocturnal, so despite being abundant in the areas they inhabit they are rarely seen.

Which is true of most of the small mammals that call our yard home. Lives lived unseen. It is only at times like this we know they are here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Safety in Numbers

Not so frightening when you're with family ...

Mom, sans tail, and the three kids wander in to the feeding station.


And proceed to gobble up the bird seed, peanut butter, and whatever else edible they can find.


Uh oh, where'd everybody go?


Look behind you, they're on the triple stump.



🎃  🎃  🎃  🎃  🎃

This is the last (?) post in the Jack-O'-Lantern series. At least for 2018.

This is the second family of Northern Raccoons, both with a mom and three young. The first family had Stumpy Jr., who we took to a local animal rehab center.

And I've also noted we've several raccoons without tails. Along with Stumpy Jr. we've also had Stumpy, who travels alone, and is likely not the Ms. Stumpy shown in this post. Who is stealing raccoon tails?

Not as Scary in the Daylight

Actually, I'm not sure which looks scarier ...


Turkeys appear to be excellent evidence that birds are dinosaurs. (Pun!)

Monday, November 12, 2018

It's Green

There's a well known scene in the original Star Trek series where Scotty drinks an alien under the table. Toward the end of the scene Scotty comes out with a bottle and the alien asks, "what is it?", to which Scotty, slurring his words, answers, "it's green".


That's kinda the best I can do when trying to identify this bee. I was able to narrow it down to the family Halictidae and tribe Augochlorini, which a gentleman on BugGuide confirmed and went further to state that it is an adult female.

And that's pretty much as far I can go.

🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝

     Kingdom: Animalia
          Phylum: Euarthropoda
               Class: Insecta
                    Order: Hymenoptera
                         Family: Halictidae
                              Subfamily: Halictinae
                                   Tribe: Augochlorini
                                        Genera: ?
                                             Species: ?

It's green.

🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝

So, never under estimate the collective knowledge of the crowd, especially when the crowd includes the guy who "... initiated and subsequently managed the American Museum of Natural History Bee Database Project." and who the very next morning after I wrote the draft of this post went and ruined the premise.

We now have:

     Kingdom: Animalia
          Phylum: Euarthropoda
               Class: Insecta
                    Order: Hymenoptera
                         Family: Halictidae
                              Subfamily: Halictinae
                                   Tribe: Augochlorini
                                        Genera: Augochlora
                                             Species: pura


It's Pure Green Augochlora