Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekly Species Highlights

Sorry for the late posting. I was busy scouting for the big Birdathon that was held on Saturday, then spent 17 hours birding with my friends Doug and Shane (report to follow). Anyway, here are the weekly species highlights for the second week of May:

Bird: Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) - These brilliantly colored orange and black birds of the Icterid family are neotropical migrants. They spend their winters as far south as northern South America and as far north as Mexico, sometimes along the southern coast of the United States. Nesting in open deciduous forests, they breed from Wisconsin to Maine and south to central Mississippi and Alabama, northern Georgia, and western South Carolina and North Carolina. Baltimore Orioles have adapted well to human habitats and can be found nesting in urban parks and suburban landscapes. Orioles weave a hanging pendulous nest made of plant fibers, bark, and string. In NYC parks they mistakenly use discarded fishing line in their nests, which can be a death sentence to their offspring.



videoAmphibian: Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) - "Snappers" are the largest freshwater turtles in the United States. These aggressive fighters with massive, sharp-edged jaws intimidate nearly all aquatic creatures. Large individuals can weigh, on average, forty pounds. Their webbed feet are very wide and have large, coarse nails. Its head is huge and powerful with hooked upper and lower mandibles. Found in slow running and muddy, rivers, streams, ponds and marshes, these prehistoric looking creatures possess tremendously powerful jaw muscles. They are carnivorous and eat just about anything they want. Young waterfowl are snatched from below the water, quickly drown then eaten. In the early 20th century, snapping turtle meat was sold in food markets.

Wildflower: Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) - Bleeding Heart is also known as Venus's car, Dutchman's trousers, or lyre flower. It is a perennial native to eastern Asia from Siberia south to Japan. The common name comes from the heart-shaped flowers which have a longer inner petal that extends below the 'heart'. Flowering in late spring they form a bushy, mound of pale green fern-like foliage. Going dormant by midsummer, they return again in the Spring. Contact with the plant can cause skin irritation in some people.

Tree: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) - Flowering Dogwood is a species of dogwood native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southern Ontario and eastern Kansas, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. Other common names include boxwood and cornel. In the southern part of their range they flower in early April, in New York and higher latitudes late April to early May. It is one of America's most popular ornamental trees. The species name is Latin for flowering, however, the showy flowers are not flowers, but actually bracts. The bright red berries are poisonous to humans but provide a great food source to a variety of wildlife. They have been recorded as food for at least 36 species of birds, including ruffed grouse, bob-white quail, and wild turkey. Chipmunks, foxes, skunks, rabbits, deer, beaver, black bears, and squirrels also eat dogwood fruits.

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