Archive for June, 2014

Jun 30 2014

Green Flowers

Published by under Phenology,Plants

Flowers of Indian cucumber root, 22 June 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

It seems odd that a plant would have green flowers but a surprising number do including jack-in-the-pulpit, northern green orchid and ragweed.

In mid-June I found a blooming Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) that I nearly missed because the flowers didn’t stand out.  The top two had already gone to seed and those in bloom were camouflaged in a greenish yellow way.

The bottom whorl of leaves caught my attention.  It’s typically five to nine long leaves (this one had seven) suspended a foot or so above the ground.  Only the blooming plants have the smaller top whorl too.

I tried to take a picture of this arrangement but even my best photo is confusing.  The small flower whorl blends in with a second plant behind it even though the background is beyond the mossy log.

Indian cucumber root, Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, 22 June 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

Having paused to take a photo I knelt down to see the flowers.  This perennial is pollinated by insects, probably flies.  The color green makes sense for flies as they don’t need fancy red, white, yellow or purple to be attracted to the plant.

Indian cucumber root earned its common name when Native Americans taught the settlers that the edible root smells and tastes like cucumber. People still dig and eat it today, thereby destroying the plant.  It’s endangered in Illinois and Florida.

Though not threatened in Pennsylvania, I won’t say the exact location of this flower.  Only that I found it in the Laurel Highlands, an area encompassing 3,000 square miles.

 

(photos by Kate St. John)

No responses yet

Jun 29 2014

Color On The Wing

Published by under Insects, Fish, Frogs

Calico pennant (photo by Charlie Hickey)

If you’re like me, you’re in the midst of a low spot in the birding year.  There are lots of birds in Pennsylvania right now but they’re secretive because they’re nesting, and they’re going to stop singing in July.  Sigh.  (Check out this graph of the birders’ emotional year to see what I mean.)

However, it’s Bug Season!  Beautiful bugs are here to fill our need for color on the wing.

In June Charlie Hickey and his wife watch for the dragonflies to emerge from the lake at their backyard in Berks County.  Charlie posted this Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) on his Flickr page on June 5, the day they first appeared.

Dragonflies come in so many colors: blue and green Eastern Pondhawks, golden Eastern Amberwings, black and white Widow Skimmers.  My very favorite is the black and iridescent blue Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly.

Click here to see Charlie’s Odonata (dragonfly) album.  So many colors on the wing!

 

(photo by Charlie Hickey)

One response so far

Jun 28 2014

A Native Portulaca

Published by under Plants

Round-leaved Fameflower (photo by Dianne Machesney)

This Pennsylvania threatened plant is in the Portulacaceae family, related to our garden variety Portulaca.  Look closely at its thin, round, succulent leaves and you’ll see the family resemblance.

Round-leaved fameflower  (Talinum teretifolium), also called Quill fameflower and (Phemeranthus teretifolius), is found in rocky or sandy soil from Pennsylvania southward to Georgia and Alabama.

Dianne Machesney found this one last week at serpentine barrens in Chester County.

It was a Life Flower(*) for her. It would be one for me, too.

 

(photos by Dianne Machesney)

(*) Life Flower: Borrowing a term from birding, this means the first time one has ever seen this species.

No responses yet

Jun 27 2014

Cute Kits

Published by under Mammals

Red fox kit (photo by Dan Arndt)

Most baby animals are cute but fox kits could win the Cutest prize.

Last month in Alberta, Dan Arndt photographed three red fox kits playing and exploring while their mother supervised nearby.  They tussled like puppies and paused to look curiously at the human with the camera.

Click on Dan’s photo above to see his Foxes 2014 album on his Flickr page.

Soooo cute!

(photo by Dan Arndt, Creative Commons license on Flickr.  Dan lives in Calgary and writes for two blogs: Birds Calgary and Bird Canada.)

3 responses so far

Jun 26 2014

TBT: From the Hummingbird’s Point of View

Published by under Plants

Close-up of a nasturtium (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

… Throw-Back-Thursday: What does a hummingbird see in here? …

Facebook has Throw Back Thursdays (TBT *) and now, so do I.

I’ve been writing Outside My Window since November 2007 and accumulated more than 2,320 articles.  Many of them are great information that I’ve almost forgotten, so today I’m starting my own Throw Back Thursdays to reprise some really cool stuff.

Let’s re-explore the inside of a nasturtium.  Did you know it has a special structure just for hummingbirds?

Click on the photo to go back in time to 2011 and read “From the Hummingbird’s Point of View.”

 

(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the photo to read more about it)

(*) If you aren’t on Facebook… Throw Back Thursday (TBT) is the day each week when Facebook users post an old photo from their past.

One response so far

Jun 25 2014

Til Death Do Us Part

One of a pair of snow geese at Martin's Creek PP&L, June 2014 (photo by Jon Mularczyk)

In this month of wedding vows …

Jon Mularczyk confirmed that there are still four snow geese at the Martin’s Creek PP&L lands in Northampton County.  This species is quite unusual in Pennsylvania in June.

All the other five million snow geese are nesting at their arctic breeding grounds right now and their eggs are about to hatch.  The four geese near Bangor, PA should have left months ago.

Why are they still here?  Because they mate for life.

When snow geese are two years old they choose a mate … forever.  Their pair bond is so strong and so permanent that they will never abandon each other as long as they live.  The bird pictured above is able-bodied and could fly to the arctic but his mate, below, has a broken wing.  He won’t leave without her.
Snow goose with broken wing at Martin's Creek PP&L, June 2014 (photo by Jon Mularczyk)

The other two geese are probably their one-year old “kids.”  Young snow geese stay with their parents during their first round-trip migration so if Mom and Dad get stuck in Pennsylvania the kids stay, too.  Family ties are important.

Humans could learn a lot from snow geese.

Til death do us part.

 

(photos by Jon Mularczyk, Broad-Winged Photography)

6 responses so far

Jun 24 2014

Ohio Spiderwort

Published by under Plants

Ohio Spiderwort, 14 June 2014 (photo by )

On June 14 Karen Lang and I looked for fledglings at two peregrine nest sites along the Ohio River.  When we got to Monaca Karen pulled into an open area between a house and an old industrial site on the upriver side of the Monaca-East Rochester Bridge.  All around us the edges were blooming with bright blue flowers.

Ohio spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis or bluejacket, is a native perennial that’s often cultivated.  It’s tall and showy but each flower lasts only a day.  According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, “When touched in the heat of the day, the flowers shrivel to a fluid jelly.”  (Click here for another view.)

The flowers were also blooming in the homeowner’s garden so my hunch is they spread on their own to the river’s edge.

It’s fitting that Ohio spiderwort grows next to The Ohio.

 

(photo by Kate St. John)

2 responses so far

Jun 23 2014

Downtown Lunch

Published by under Peregrines

Five peregrines in Downtown Pittsburgh, 21 June 2014 (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Five peregrines in Downtown Pittsburgh, 21 June 2014 (photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak)

Is this a flock of crows?  No!

Anne Marie Bosnyak went Downtown last Saturday to find Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower peregrines and she hit the jackpot.  At the corner of Fifth and Wood she saw two on the edge of the Citizen’s Bank Building.  As she watched, an adult arrived with food and four juveniles popped in for a meal.  From the looks of this, I doubt they were planning to share.

When they aren’t hanging out elsewhere the youngsters have lunch at the U.S. Steel Tower where Patti Mitsch can watch them outside her 38th floor window.  Here are four snapshots from cellphone videos she shared with me on Facebook.

Peregrine leftovers on the ledge, U.S. Steel Tower (photo by Patti Mitsch)

Juvenile peregrine with leftovers on the ledge, U.S. Steel Tower (photo by Patti Mitsch)

Two snapshots, juvenile peregrine on US Steel Tower ledge (photos by Patti Mitsch)

Peekaboo at the US Steel Tower ledge (photos by Patti Mitsch)

 

And just to prove that peregrines match the buildings, here’s another close-up.

Peregrine falcon juvenile at U.S. Steel Tower (photo by Patti Mitsch)

Juvenile peregrine at U.S. Steel Tower, 9 June 2014 (photo by Patti Mitsch)

If I had a peregrine outside my window I’d be unable to work for days! ;)

 

(top photo by Anne Marie Bosnyak.  Juveniles at U.S. Steel Tower by Patti Mitsch)

5 responses so far

Jun 22 2014

Portrait

Published by under Beyond Bounds

Tree swallow (photo by Jessica Botzan)

Oh, Mr. Tree Swallow, where did you get that blue?

 

(photo by Jessica Botzan)

One response so far

Jun 21 2014

He’s Flying at Hays!

Published by under Birds of Prey

First fledgling from the Hays Bald Eagle nest (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Dear Readers, there’s nothing like an in-person visit to correct a beautifully written but inaccurate story.  This morning I wrote that #3 had flown but I confused #3 with H3.  My original incorrect story follows.  Watch for the correction(**) at the end!

He hatched last and flew first! (**)

Yesterday morning the three Hays eaglets were still walking up and down the branches near their nest and testing their wings (click here for video). At 10:14am one left the nest but no one saw where it went. Then at 1:20pm that eaglet flew!  And guess what …drumroll…  the first to fly was Eaglet#3, the smallest and last to hatch. (** ummm. no.  See note at end!)

In early April we worried that #3 might not make it because he was so small and his oldest sibling bopped him on the head whenever his parents brought in food. But #3 proved to be a tough little bird who could “elbow” his siblings out of the way and get his share first.

As they grew we figured out that #3 is smallest because he’s male and his siblings are female.  This gave him First Flight advantage because he’s more maneuverable than his bigger, heavier sisters.

Yesterday at the Eagle Watch, Dana Nesiti was ready with his camera in case one of the eaglets flew.  At 1:20pm a young eagle went airborne and Dana captured it all.

The juvenile’s first landing was on the ground (uh oh!) but he got up and flew again, this time right past his mother.  Great shot, Dana!

Eaglet #3 flies past his mom on Fledge Day (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Congratulations, #3!  And thank you, Dana Nesiti, for sharing your photos!

See more of the first flight and great eagle photos at Eagles of Hays PA.

Visit the Hays Eagle Watch today and see the eagles in person.  Click here for directions and here for the weekend-only parking map.

Wooo hooo!

(photo by Dana Nesiti, Eagles of Hays PA)

(**) CORRECTION at 9:00pm!

I went down to the Eagle Watch this afternoon and learned my mistake. The watchers are as certain as they can be that the first to fledge is one of the two females.  Most say it was “H3.”  

H3 means “3rd to Hatch” but in eagle terminology it’s “3rd hatch of this mother” not “3rd hatch this year.” H1 was last year’s solo juvenile, H2 is this year’s first female, H3 is the 2nd female, H4 is the male.

This terminology is foreign to me, a veteran peregrine watcher.  Peregrine eggs hatch all at once so it’s impossible to identify the young by their hatch order and equally impossible to identify them by their birth order to the same mother.

So…. This year’s male hasn’t flown yet.  But he will soon.  His sister H2 may have fledged today just before sunset.  Stay tuned at Eagles of Hays PA and the Hays Eaglecam.

p.s. The Post-Gazette says the eaglet flew at 10:14am.  This is because the bird left the nestcam view at 10:14am. She was not seen flying until 1:20pm.

4 responses so far

Next »

Bird Stories from OnQ