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Friday, April 24, 2009

Weekly Species Highlights

Here are the weekly species highlights for the fourth week of April:

Bird: Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) - "Yellow-rumps" are one of the most abundant and wide ranging of the wood-warbler species. Their ability to digest bayberry & myrtle fruits allow them to winter farther north than other warblers. They have a breeding range that stretches across most of Canada and in the east around the Great Lake States. During this part of the Spring migration they are seen in great numbers, sometimes described as "dripping" from the trees. Expect to observe large numbers of these warblers this weekend.

Amphibian: Northern Green Frog (Rana clamitans) - Within the last week I have begun to see these common frogs warming themselves at the edges of ponds and lakes. They are sometimes referred to as "Banjo Frogs" because of their familiar "twang" call made by males advertising for females. They are primarily carnivores feeding on invertebrates such as insects, slugs, snails, crayfish and spiders. Also on their menu are small snakes and other frogs. Breeding in the late Spring the season can last from 1 to 3 months.

Wildflower: Grape-Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) - This flower's common name come from its clusters of bell-shaped, blue flowers which look like upside-down grapes. They are not native to North America but originate in the Mediterranean region. The genus "muscari" refers to the musky scent of many of these flowers. They secret a lot of nectar making them a useful plant for early Spring bees.

Tree: Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) - The Norway Maple is considered by arborists and conservation biologists as a nuisance. It is non-native to North American and pushes out many native species of trees and shrubs. Planted in cities because of its ability to withstand pollution and poor growing conditions, it has invaded forests and fields. It is recognized as an invasive tree in at least 13 states. I have added it to my weekly highlights because it is just now blooming everywhere within our city parks. The flowers have attracted swarms of insects just in time for the arriving songbirds. Look for flocks of warblers and other songbirds within the maple's pale-green canopy this weekend.

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