Friday, November 26, 2010

Bumblebee on Lantana

Bumblebee on Lantana



I know, another bee photo, but I just can't help myself. I photographed this one on in our backyard on Lantana. I just love all that pollen she has stored up on the hind legs. Adult females use modified hind legs equipped with corbicula to carry pollen to their offspring. Here is a great article where you can learn more about bee parts.


Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday Round 17

Mystery Critter Wednesday



This weeks Mystery Critter is once again not native to Florida so keep that in mind. This weeks prize is a free "Follow my Blog" membership for 2011! Have fun Mystery Critter Slayers!

Note: Since I have so many Social Media outlets, it's too difficult to keep track of everyone's answers from other mediums. Therefore, only answers left on the blog are considered in determining the winner of MCW. Prizes are taxable for their actual value, but don't worry they are not really worth anything!


Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monarch Laying Egg

Monarch Butterfly



Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed, and caterpillars only eat milkweed. But humans don’t seem to like milkweed very much and are cutting it down for various reasons. Sometimes humans cut down milkweed in order to build houses, buildings and streets. Sometimes the milkweed is cut down when trees are removed to harvest the wood. In recent years there have been a lot of wildfires that have destroyed a lot of milkweed. Humans cut milkweed down in their own yards because it doesn’t smell very good or they think it is a weed. But these humans don’t realize that monarch butterflies need the milkweed in order to survive, and the monarch butterfly population is dwindling.

The humans who do realize how much the monarch butterfly population is in danger because of the disappearing milkweed are doing something about it, and you can, too. These people are called conservationists. What they do is purchase some land or even set aside a piece of their own land, and they plant milkweed on the land as well as everything else that is needed for the monarch butterflies to live and grow in a natural habitat. You can help the monarch butterflies by asking your parents for a small portion of a back corner of your yard for a monarch butterfly conservation area. You can plant milkweed for the monarch butterflies, and perhaps a nice butterfly bush to attract the monarch butterflies to your conservation corner. Before you know it you will be hosting new generations of beautiful monarch butterflies every few months.


Research Link

Photographed by Craig on Milkweed.


Side Note: The yellow things are not eggs but Yellow Milkweed Aphids (learn more).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gulf Fritillary on Lantana

Gulf Fritillary



The Gulf Fritillary or Passion Butterfly, Agraulis vanillae, is a striking, bright orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae. These were formerly classified in a separate family, the Heliconiidae or longwing butterflies, and like other longwings this species does have long, rather narrow wings in comparison with other butterflies. It is not closely related to the true fritillaries. It is a medium to large butterfly, with a wingspan of 6–9.5 cm (2.4–3.7 in). Its underwings are buff, with large silvery spots. It takes its name from migrating flights of the butterflies sometimes seen over the Gulf of Mexico.
Egg

The Gulf Fritillary is commonly seen in parks and gardens, as well as in open country. Its range extends from Argentina through Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean to the southern United States, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area on the west coast. It is occasionally found farther north in the US.


Research

Photographed by Me in the backyard.


Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed

Monarch Butterfly



You can’t raise Monarchs without the Milkweed family of plants. It is the sole Monarch caterpillar food source.

There are over 100 species of milkweed in North America. They are members of the genus Asclepias.

The thick, white milk (sap) of the milkweed family of plants contains lethal cardenolides (heart poisons).

They produce vomiting and sometimes death if eaten by a predator.

The Monarch’s tissues are miraculously not harmed by the chemicals which normally effect the nervous system.

This means the Monarch:

  • has few competitors for milkweed
  • caterpillar, after eating milkweed, has higher concentration of poisons than the plant
  • poisons are passed from caterpillar to butterfly during metamorphosis
  • predators stay away after one taste, however, Cardinals seem to think they are very tasty!

The Monarch’s total dependency on milkweed also means “no milkweed......no Monarch”.


Research

Photographed by Craig Glenn on Milkweed in our backyard.


Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday 16 Solved

Giraffe Topiary



Well the Mystery Critter fans were stumped this week! Sometimes the answer is as plain as the big green Giraffe in front of your face. But for being such loyal fans I have included a nice Busch Gardens Giraffe for you to enjoy. But first here's some cool facts about Topiary.


Topiary is the horticultural practice of training of live perennial plants, by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, perhaps geometric or fanciful; and plants which have been shaped in this way. It can be an art and is a form of living sculpture. The word derives from the Latin word for an ornamental landscape gardener, topiarius, creator of topia or "places", a Greek word that Romans applied also to fictive indoor landscapes executed in fresco. No doubt the use of a Greek word betokens the art's origins in the Hellenistic world that was influenced by Persia, for neither Classical Greece nor Republican Rome developed any sophisticated tradition of artful pleasure grounds.

The plants used in topiary are evergreen, mostly woody, have small leaves or needles, produce dense foliage, and have compact and/or columnar (e.g. fastigiate) growth habits. Common species choices used in topiary include cultivars of European box (Buxus sempervirens), arborvitae (Thuja spp.), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), holly (Ilex spp.), myrtle (Eugenia or Myrtus species), yew (Taxus species), and privet (Ligustrum species.). Shaped wire cages are sometimes employed in modern topiary to guide untutored shears, but traditional topiary depends on patience and a steady hand; small-leaved ivy can be used to cover a cage and give the look of topiary in a few months. The hedge is a simple form of topiary used to create boundaries, walls or screens.




Topiary Research

Photographs by me at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday Round 16

Mystery Critter Wednesday



There will be no mercy for Scooter this week! I have got him for sure this time. Hidden in this image is one of the greatest masters of camouflage known to exist in the natural world! So rarely seen, they are believed to not even exist. There are no known photographs in existence. Until NOW!!!


Good luck Mystery Critter Slayers!


And as always, thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eastern Gray Squirrel in Magnolia

Eastern Gray Squirrel



Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the eastern gray squirrel is a scatter-hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery. Some caches are quite temporary, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for re-burial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later. It has been estimated that each squirrel makes several thousand caches each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimeters of the cache. It is one of very few mammalian species that can descend a tree head-first. It does this by turning its feet so that the claws of its hindpaws are backward pointing and can grip the tree bark.
Eastern gray squirrel drey

Eastern gray squirrels build a type of nest, known as a drey, in the forks of trees. The drey consists mainly of dry leaves and twigs; Spanish moss is also useful where it's available. It may also build a nest in the attic or in the exterior walls of a house, often to the consternation of the homeowner. In addition, the squirrel may inhabit a permanent tree den.

Eastern gray squirrels are more active during the early and late hours of the day, and tend to avoid the heat in the middle of a summer day. They do not hibernate.

Predators include humans, hawks, mustelids, skunks, raccoons, domestic and feral cats, snakes, owls and dogs. On occasion, a squirrel may lose part of its tail while escaping a predator.


Research

Photographed by Craig Glenn in the Magnolia tree in our front yard.


Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Common Buckeye on Lantana

Common Buckeye



The (Common) Buckeye (Junonia coenia) is a butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is found in southern Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia and all parts of the United States except the northwest, and is especially common in the south, the California coast, and throughout Central America and Colombia. The sub-species Junonia coenia bergi is endemic to the island of Bermuda.

Its habitat is open areas with low vegetation and some bare ground. This species and its relatives were placed formerly in the genus Precis.



The bold pattern of eyespots and white bars on the upper wing surface is distinctive in much of its range, though compare related species in the same genus. (These are Mangrove Buckeye, Junonia evarete and Tropical Buckeye, Junonia genoveva, formerly considered one species, the Smoky Buckeye, Junonia evarete.) The eyespots likely serve to startle or distract predators, especially young birds. The species has many flights throughout the year, with mostly northward migrations for the summer. Much of the northern United States is only colonized in the fall from southern populations. Some of the later broods move southwards in the fall. Common buckeyes exhibit seasonal polyphenism, the summer version of the butterfly has light yellowish ventral wings and is called "linea". The Fall morph has pink ventral wings, and is called the "rosa" morph.



Adults feed on nectar and also take fluids from mud and damp sand. Males perch on bare ground or low plants, occasionally patrolling in search of females, but they are not territorial. The female lays eggs singly on buds or the upper side of leaves. The caterpillars are solitary and feed on the foliage, flowers, and fruits of the host plant. A variety of (typically) herbaceous plants are used, including especially plants in the snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae). These include snapdragon (Antirrhinum), toadflax (Linaria), and Gerardia. Caterpillars also feed on plants of the plantain family, such as Plantago; and the Acanthus family including ruellia (Ruellia nodiflora). Larvae feed singly. Adults and some larvae overwinter in southern areas. The pupa may not have a resting phase (diapause), as in many other butterflies.




The Common Buckeye was featured on the 2006 United States Postal Service 24-cent postage stamp.


Research

Butterfly Picture by Craig Glenn on Lantana in our back yard.


Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Memory of Jake

Good-bye to one of our blogging family



Jake from "Jake and Ruths Photo Blog" has gone home to be with his Lord.


Jake was a wonderful photographer and I have enjoyed many of his works. I always knew there would be an inspiring word and beautiful photo on their site. My prayers go to Ruth and their family as they celebrate the life of one of God's own.


From their site:

Greetings Friends,
At about 4:25 PM jake went to meet his Lord and Savior.
It was a very peaceful passing,and my first words were"Thank-you Jesus".
This is what he wanted and we are content knowing that he is no longer struggling.
I will post further once we have made the arrangements.
Than-you for you love and prayers,we appreciate each one of you.
Ruth and Steve

Mystery Critter Wednesday 15 Solved

Gila Monster





WOW Scooter is back! Nailed it early in the morning too. I really have to start making these harder. Scooter says he googled the strip colors and Gila Monster is what he found. Of course Gaelyn know without having to use the internet for help but it is first come first serve here at MCW! So come on over and pick up your t-shirt Scooter!


The Gila monster (pronounced /ˈhiːlə/, HEE-la), Heloderma suspectum, is a species of venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States and northerwestern Mexican state of Sonora. A heavy, slow-moving lizard, up to 60 centimetres (2.0 ft) long, the Gila monster is the only venomous lizard native to the United States and one of only two known species of venomous lizards in North America, the other being its close relative, the Mexican beaded lizard (H. horridum). Though the Gila monster is venomous, its sluggish nature means that it represents little threat to humans. However, it has earned a fearsome reputation and is sometimes killed by hikers and homeowners despite being protected by state law in Arizona and Nevada.

Venom is produced in modified salivary glands in the Gila monster's lower jaw, unlike snakes, whose venom is produced in the upper jaw. The Gila monster lacks the musculature to forcibly inject the venom; instead, the venom is propelled from the gland to the tooth by chewing. Capillary action brings the venom out of the tooth and into the victim. The teeth are loosely anchored, which allows them to be broken off and replaced throughout life. Gila monsters have been observed to flip over while biting the victim, presumably to aid the flow of the venom into the wound. Because the Gila monster's prey consists mainly of eggs, small animals, and otherwise "helpless" prey, it is thought that the Gila monster's venom evolved for defensive rather than for hunting use. A defensive use would explain the Gila monster's bright warning coloration.

Although the venom is a neurotoxin as toxic as that of a Coral Snake, H. suspectum produces only small amounts. The Gila monster's bite is normally not fatal to adult humans. There are no confirmed reports of fatalities after 1939, and those prior to that year are suspect due to the primitive dangerous "treatments." The Gila monster can bite quickly (especially by swinging its head sideways) and hold on tenaciously and painfully. If bitten, the victim may need to fully submerge the attacking lizard in water to break free from its bite. Symptoms of the bite include excruciating pain, edema, and weakness associated with a rapid drop in blood pressure. More than a dozen peptides and proteins have been isolated from the Gila monster's venom, including hyaluronidase, serotonin, phospholipase A2, and several kallikrein-like glycoproteins responsible for the pain and edema caused by a bite. Four potentially lethal toxins have been isolated from the Gila monster's venom, including horridum venom, which causes hemorrhage in internal organs and exophthalmos (bulging of the eyes), and helothermine, which causes lethargy, partial paralysis of the limbs, and hypothermia in rats. However, the constituents most focused on are the bioactive peptides, including helodermin, helospectin, exendin-3, and exendin-4. Most are similar in form to vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), which relaxes smooth muscle and regulates water and electrolyte secretion between the small and large intestines. These bioactive peptides are able to bind to VIP receptors in many different human tissues. One of these, helodermin, has been shown to inhibit the growth of lung cancer.



RESEARCH

Photograph by Craig Glenn at Busch Gardens Tampa.



Thanks for playing!

Be sure and visit WeLoveButterflies.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday Round 15

Mystery Critter Wednesday



Attention all Critter Mystery Buffs! Here is this weeks challenge. Again I have featured a Critter from Busch Gardens Tampa. He is not native to Central Florida and as far as I know Joan the Bug Lady doesn't have one in her hope chest!

Have fun and post your guess now. Watch out for Scooter and Joan as they are tricksters and only play for the prizes. This weeks prize is an old t-shirt that I have long held dear but Maureen says I have to sell it at the yard sale. So instead of trying to put a price on such a treasured item I have put it up for grabs here on my blog. No cheating now as the stakes are high!

Craig Glenn
Please visit WeLoveButterflies.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Redhead Duck at Busch Gardens Tampa

Redhead Duck




A big shout out to Jen over at "i used to hate birds" for helping me with the miss-identification of this beautiful male Redhead duck. I thought it was a female Lesser Scaup! Please pay Jen a visit and follow her beautiful nature blog! Thanks to Jen, I now have a new lifer!


The Redhead (Aythya americana) is a medium-sized diving duck, 37 cm long with an 84 cm wingspan.

The adult male has a blue bill, a red head and neck, a black breast, yellow eyes and a grey back. The adult female has a brown head and body and a darker bluish bill with a black tip.

The breeding habitat is marshes and prairie potholes in western North America. Loss of nesting habitat has led to sharply declining populations. Females regularly lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads or other ducks, especially Canvasbacks. Redheads usually take new mates each year, starting to pair in late winter.

Following the breeding season, males go through a molt which leaves them flightless for almost a month. Before this happens, they leave their mates and move to large bodies of water, usually flying further north.

They overwinter in the southern and north-eastern United States, the Great Lakes region, northern Mexico and the Caribbean.



RESEARCH
Photograph by Craig Glenn at Busch Gardens Tampa


Thanks for stopping by,

Visit WeLoveButterflies.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bumblebee Buzz

Bumble Bee or Bumblebee?




A bumblebee (also spelled as bumble bee) is any member of the bee genus Bombus, in the family Apidae. There are over 250 known species, existing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere although they are common in New Zealand and Tasmania.

Bumblebees are social insects that are characterised by black and yellow body hairs, often in bands. However, some species have orange or red on their bodies, or may be entirely black. Another obvious (but not unique) characteristic is the soft nature of the hair (long, branched setae), called pile, that covers their entire body, making them appear and feel fuzzy. They are best distinguished from similarly large, fuzzy bees by the form of the female hind leg, which is modified to form a corbicula: a shiny concave surface that is bare, but surrounded by a fringe of hairs used to transport pollen (in similar bees, the hind leg is completely hairy, and pollen grains are wedged into the hairs for transport).

Like their relatives the honey bees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young.





Bumblebees form colonies. These colonies are usually much less extensive than those of honey bees. This is due to a number of factors including: the small physical size of the nest cavity, a single female is responsible for the initial construction and reproduction that happens within the nest, and the restriction of the colony to a single season (in most species). Often, mature bumblebee nests will hold fewer than 50 individuals. Bumblebee nests may be found within tunnels in the ground made by other animals, or in tussock grass. Bumblebees sometimes construct a wax canopy ("involucrum") over the top of their nest for protection and insulation. Bumblebees do not often preserve their nests through the winter, though some tropical species live in their nests for several years (and their colonies can grow quite large, depending on the size of the nest cavity). In temperate species, the last generation of summer includes a number of queens who overwinter separately in protected spots. The queens can live up to one year, possibly longer in tropical species.





Bumblebees are increasingly cultured for agricultural use as pollinators because they can pollinate plant species that other pollinators cannot by using a technique known as buzz pollination. For example, bumblebee colonies are often placed in greenhouse tomato production, because the frequency of buzzing that a bumblebee exhibits effectively releases tomato pollen.

The agricultural use of bumblebees is limited to pollination. Because bumblebees do not overwinter the entire colony, they are not obliged to stockpile honey, and are therefore not useful as honey producers.





One common, yet incorrect, assumption is that the buzzing sound (About this sound listen) of bees is caused by the beating of their wings. The sound is actually the result of the bee vibrating its flight muscles, and this can be achieved while the muscles are decoupled from the wings—a feature known in bees but not other insects. This is especially pronounced in bumblebees, as they must warm up their bodies considerably to get airborne at low ambient temperatures. Bumblebees have been known to reach an internal thoracic temperature of 30 °C (86 °F) using this method.



RESEARCH

Photographs by Craig Glenn on Lantana



Thanks for stopping by,

Please visit

WeLoveButterflies.com!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Lantana

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


(click image to enlarge)

Here is so great information about this beautiful butterfly from Wiki.


The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is a species of swallowtail butterfly native to North America. It is one of the most familiar butterflies in the eastern United States.

Two species, the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) and the Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio appalachiensis), are very similar to P. glaucus, and are hard to tell apart. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has a wingspan of 7.9 to 14 centimeters (3 to 5.5 in). The adult male is yellow, with black "tiger stripes". There are two morphs of adult females, a yellow one and a dark one. The yellow one is similar to the male, except there is a patch of blue on the hind wing. In the dark morph, the yellow areas are replaced by dark gray or black.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be found in much of the eastern United States. It is generally common throughout its range, and can be found in various habitats, such as woodlands, woodland openings, woodland edges, fields, open areas, rivers, creeks, roadsides, gardens, urban parks, and city yards.

The female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail lays her green eggs singly on host plant leaves. Young caterpillars are brown and white, mimicking bird droppings. Older caterpillars are green, with two black, yellow, and blue eyespots on the thorax. It is also spotted with light blue on the abdomen. The caterpillar will turn brown just before pupating. It will reach a length of 5.5 centimeters (2.2 in). The chrysalis varies from a whitish color to dark brown. It is usually patched with green and other dark markings.


Learn more from Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Photographed by Craig Glenn



Thanks for stopping by,

Craig Glenn

Saturday, November 6, 2010

African White-backed Vulture at Busch Gardens

African White-backed Vulture






The White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is closely related to the European Griffon Vulture, G. fulvus. Sometimes it is called African White-backed Vulture to distinguish it from the Oriental White-backed Vulture—nowadays usually called Indian White-rumped Vulture--to which it was formerly believed to be closely related.

The White-backed Vulture is a typical vulture, with only down feathers on the head and neck, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff. The adult’s whitish back contrasts with the otherwise dark plumage. Juveniles are largely dark. This is a medium-sized vulture; its body mass is 4.2 to 7.2 kilograms (9.3–16 lb), it is 94 cm (37 in) long and has a 218 cm (86 in) wingspan. White-backed Vulture, Gyps africanus

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah. It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks. It breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying one egg. The population is mostly resident.

As it is rarer than previously believed, its conservation status was reassessed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List.



SOURCE
Photograph by Craig Glenn at Busch Gardens Tampa.



Thanks for stopping by,

Craig Glenn

Friday, November 5, 2010

Snowy Egret at Busch Gardens Tampa

Snowy Egret


The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is another graceful bird species in the Egret family of wading birds. Smaller in size than both the Common Egret and Great White Egret, Snowy Egrets achieve an average height of 22 to 26 inches, with a wingspan just over 3 ft. Snowy Egrets can be distinguished among the Egret family of wading birds by its exquisite "Snow White" plumage. The Snowy Egret can also be distinguished from other Egrets in this related family of wading birds by its smaller stature, black bill, and yellow feet. Also during mating season - by its yellow lores (the area around the upper mandible) which turns a reddish color during courtship.


SOURCE
Photograph by Craig at Busch Gardens Tampa


Thanks for stopping by,

Craig Glenn

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday 14 Solved

Mandarin Duck





Congratulations to Naturalist Guy!


Welcome to my blog first, and thanks for showing Scooter (my little brother) and Joan (the bug lady) how this game is played!

According to the Naturalist Guy's site he was "raised by hyenas, accepted into 21 indigenous tribes- what do you expect? Kenneth E. Barnett (Kenny) is NaturalistGuy (NG)."

Once again welcome Kenny and we really hope you return to play again.

Please go pay Kenny a visit at his great Nature Site.


The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 41–49 cm long with a 65–75 cm wingspan.

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and "whiskers". The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange "sails" at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill.

Unlike other species of ducks, most Mandarin drakes reunite with the hens they mated with along with their offsprings after the eggs have hatched and even share scout duties in watching the ducklings closely. However, even with both parents securing the ducklings, most of them do not survive to adulthood.

The species was once widespread in eastern Asia, but large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat have reduced populations in eastern Russia and in China to below 1,000 pairs in each country; Japan, however, is thought to still hold some 5,000 pairs.

Specimens frequently escape from collections, and in the 20th century a feral population numbering about 1,000 pairs was established in Great Britain. Although this is of great conservational significance, the birds are not protected in the UK since the species is not native there. There is also a free-flying feral population of several hundred mandarins in Sonoma County, California. This population is the result of several mandarin ducks escaping from captivity, then going on to reproduce in the wild.

In the wild, Mandarin Ducks breed in densely wooded areas near shallow lakes, marshes or ponds. They nest in cavities in trees close to water and during the spring, the females lay their eggs in the tree's cavity after mating. The males take no part in the incubation, simply leaving the female to secure the eggs on her own. However, unlike other species of ducks, the male does not completely abandon the female, leaving only temporarily until the ducklings have hatched. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, their mother flies to the ground and coaxes the ducklings to leap from the nest. After all of the ducklings are out of the tree, they will follow their mother to a nearby body of water where they would usually encounter the father, who will rejoin the family and protect the ducklings with the mother. If the father isn't found then it is likely that he may have deceased during his temporary leave. The Asian populations are migratory, overwintering in lowland eastern China and southern Japan.

Mandarins feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat plants and seeds, especially beechmast. They feed mainly near dawn or dusk, perching in trees or on the ground during the day.

Mandarins may form small flocks in winter.

Mandarin Ducks, which are referred to by the Chinese as Yuan-yang and yang respectively stand for male and female Mandarin Ducks.

In the eyes of ancient Chinese, Mandarin Ducks form a life-time couple, unlike many other species of ducks. Hence they are frequently featured in Oriental art and are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity.

A Chinese proverb for loving couples uses the Mandarin Duck as a metaphor: "Two mandarin ducks playing in water". The Mandarin Duck symbol is also used in Chinese weddings, because in traditional Chinese lore they symbolize wedded bliss and fidelity.


SOURCE
Photo by Craig at Busch Gardens Tampa


Thanks for playing,

Craig Glenn

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mystery Critter Wednesday Round 14

Mystery Critter



This weeks mystery critter should be a little harder than last week, so I am giving you a little clue. This critter also lives at Busch Gardens Tampa and is not native to Central Florida, so think globally.


Good luck and have fun!


Craig Glenn

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wood Stork at Busch Gardens Tampa

Wood Stork


Wood Stork Migration


Not a true migrant; movements appear to be response to local environmental conditions: Moves from areas with poor food supply to areas with better feeding conditions. Exhibits 2 types of movement: (1) Displays extensive dispersal after breeding season, followed by movement south in late fall and early winter into Florida. (2) After large nesting failures or when no nesting is initiated, because of poor foraging conditions in s. Florida, many storks move north prior to beginning of summer rainy season. In latter situation, adults and immature birds depart, leaving young in nest to die or follow later (JCO).

No known migration over Caribbean; breeding populations on Cuba and Hispaniola are presumably resident. Storks use thermals for soaring flight for long-distance movements. Lack of thermals over water may restrict southern movement from Florida and movement among islands in Caribbean.

Little known about movements of populations in Mexico and Central and South America. Large numbers nesting during annual dry seasons in Llanos of Venezuela and Usumacinta wetlands of s. Mexico disappear from these regions during rainy seasons (B. Thomas pers. comm., JCO). Other populations probably exhibit postbreeding dispersal, but this is largely undocumented.


SOURCE
Photograph by Craig at Busch Gardens Tampa


Thanks for stopping by,

Craig Glenn

Monday, November 1, 2010

Roseate Spoonbill at Busch Gardens Tampa

Roseate Spoonbill



A bizarre wading bird of the southern coasts, the Roseate Spoonbill uses its odd bill to strain small food items out of the water. Its bright pink coloring leads many Florida tourists to think they have seen a flamingo. Listen to their call.


Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Threskiornithidae
Genus/Species: Ajaia ajaja
Roseate Spoonbill


Description:

The Roseate Spoonbill, a large wading bird with pink plumage and a distinctive spatulate bill, is one of the most striking birds found in North America. They stand 85 cm tall and have a 1.3 m wingspan. The bare skin of the adult's head has a greenish tinge with a darker black band around the base of the skull. The eyes and legs are red. The feathers of the neck, chest, and upper back are white. The upper wing coverts are red, the tail feathers are orange-pink, and the rest of the body and wing feathers are pale pink. The unique pale grey bill is long, flattened and spoonlike in appearance. Immature birds are paler in color and have feathered heads.

Distribution and Habitat:

Breeding in the United States is restricted to coastal Texas, southwestern Louisiana, and southern Florida. Their breeding range extends south from Florida through the Greater Antilles to Argentina and Chile. They inhabit marshes, swamps, ponds, and rivers within their range, feeding in both fresh and saltwater wetlands. Highly gregarious, Roseate Spoonbills breed and travel in flocks.

Diet:

Spoonbills consume a varied diet of small fish, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates, and some plant material. They feed in the early morning and evening hours by wading through shallow water with their bills partially submerged. As a Roseate Spoonbill walks it swings its head back and forth in a sideways motion. When the bird feels a prey item it snaps its bill closed, pulls the prey out of the water, and swallows it.


SOURCE
Photography by Craig at Busch Gardens Tampa


Thanks for stopping by,

Craig Glenn