Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This Old World Must Still Be Spinning Round

Here are some of the things we've been seeing around the yard and out on our walks.

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
The Western Tanager migrates from Mexico and Central America. This is a non-breeding male. The breeding male's head is stunningly red. Interestingly, the red pigment in the face of the Western Tanager is rhodoxanthin, a pigment rare in birds. It is not manufactured by the bird, as are the pigments used by the other red tanagers. Instead, it must be acquired from the diet, presumably from insects that themselves acquire the pigment from plants.

House Finch & Black-headed Grosbeak
Our feeder attracts a wide variety of birds. We often see house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) (male pictured here) and black-headed grosbeaks (Pheucticus melanocephalus) (female pictured here).
The red or yellow color of a male House Finch comes from pigments that it gets in its food during molt. The more pigment in the food, the redder the male. Females prefer to mate with the reddest male they can find, perhaps assuring that they get a capable male who can find enough food to feed the nestlings.
The female Black-headed Grosbeak commonly sings. The female song is generally a simplified version of the male song. Occasionally, the female sings full "male" song, apparently to deceive its mate about the presence of intruders and force him to spend more time at the nest. The male Black-headed Grosbeak does not get its adult breeding plumage until it is two years old. First-year males can vary from looking like a female to looking nearly like an adult male. Only yearling males that most closely resemble adult males are able to defend a territory and attempt to breed.

Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
The Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species in which the female is more brightly colored than the male. Among the 93 species of kingfishers, the sexes often look alike. In some species the male is more colorful, and in others the female is.
We love watching the kingfisher go after its food. It dives headfirst into the water for small fish and returns to a branch to eat it.

Green bee
We could not adequately identify this insect. We think it may be a metallic green bee. Anyone out there have any clues?

No comments:

Post a Comment