Animals like this little Loggerhead shrike bring out the wannabe ecologist in me. Shrikes of different species inhabit Eurasia, Africa and sparingly North America. They’re predatory birds, but lack the deadly beak and lethal talons of raptors, like hawks, owls and eagles. Sometimes they eat insects and other bugs, but lizards can also fall prey to shrikes, which are more difficult for the shrike’s small beak. Which means…that to eat their prey, they have to impale them on a long spike of some sort. Shrikes in Africa sometimes use thorns on Acacia trees, whereas shrikes in California use spokes and barbs on fences. It’s so interesting to me that evolution kept the birds as predators, even though that is such an odd method of predation! Okay, end of my nerd session for the day 🙂
I should start off this post by saying that these pictures are courtesy of Maria Matthews, my mom, who took them on a walk at Harvey Bear while I was at work. With that said…that’s a Diamondback rattlesnake! My mom didn’t realize it until she’d ended her photoshoot with the rattler when he gave her a short warning with his rattle to give him some space. Pretty crazy! For whoever’s reading, make sure you know that if you see a snake with a triangle-shaped head in the US, that’s a rattler and you need to be extra careful!
I was watching the backyard the other day and noticed a few baby robins hanging out on the grass. As I watched, the number of babies went up to five baby robins, followed by their dad joining them for a little bit before returning to his perch in one of our trees. The babies are the speckled ones and the dad is one with the bright russet chest.
There’s a little place I frequent, teaming with finches, wrens, nuthatches, hummingbirds, butterflies, carpenter bees, occasionally a cooper’s or red-shouldered hawk, and wild rat terriers. It’s conveniently located in my backyard, and is full of wildlife largely thanks to my mom’s lovely garden (because I, like most of many other twenty-somethings, had to move back home after college for a little bit before heading out on my own). The photos in this album are of my mom’s veggie garden and the butterfly bush turned butterfly tree that’s taken over our backyard and attracts all kinds of butterflies, including our tiger swallowtails.
Okay, so I’m a nerd and think insects are cool and I saw this mayfly on my car window before I left for work yesterday morning. Nerd alert: Some male mayflies don’t have mouths when they morph into their adult bodies and only have enough energy reserves stored up to reproduce once before they die! Crazy!
My family used to have a raging passion flower taking over the fence in our backyard. It was gorgeous, but was destroying our fence, so it had to go. Before my family pulled it out, we found a spiny little caterpillar in the brush and after some research I found it was a Gulf fritillary. Very beautiful and a great surprise!