27 de mayo de 2024

MBP - Big-eyed Toad Bug

The well-named Big-eyed Toad Bug (Gelastocoris oculatus) is found throughout much of the U.S. and Canada on the muddy or sandy edges of ponds and streams. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, it is the only member of its family (Gelastocoridae). It is amphibious, capable of swift underwater motion and leaping many times its body length when on land. Its bulging eyes, bumpy pronotum and elytra, and specific habitat make for a pretty easy ID.

📸: (c) Benjamin Burgunder, some rights reserved (CC BY, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) - Prince George's Co., Maryland (5/11/2024).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:
https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/view/11104

Bill

Publicado el 27 de mayo de 2024 a las 02:12 PM por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de mayo de 2024

MBP - Virginia Opossum with young

Wayne Longbottom documented this momma Virginia Opossum carrying her growing babies on her back in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland yesterday. America's only marsupial starts with tiny honeybee-sized babies in her pouch, which move out and into piggyback / possum-back mode as they mature. These cuties should be between 2 1/2 to 4 months old. Not only is Virginia Opossum the only marsupial in the U.S. and Canada, it's the the marsupial with the northernmost range in the world.

📸: (c) Wayne Longbottom - Queen Anne's Co., Maryland (5/20/2024).

More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:
https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/view/760

Bill

Publicado el 21 de mayo de 2024 a las 01:24 PM por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de mayo de 2024

Monterey Audubon - Western Tanagers

Western Tanagers were migrating along the coast this morning and likely throughout Monterey County. This individual was one of several in a mixed flock dominated by Hooded Orioles at El Carmelo Cemetery.

Western Tanager is a fairly common migrant in the county, occasionally in large and conspicuous pulses, and with a long spring migration window continuing well into June. In Monterey County, the species nests at elevation in the Santa Lucia range and on Fremont Peak (Roberson, 2002).

Bill

Publicado el 09 de mayo de 2024 a las 03:06 AM por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Monterey Audubon - Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher is a common breeder in deciduous woodlands across most of Monterey County, especially around chaparral and at elevation. They can also be found in many riparian habitats. Interestingly, they are absent as breeders in the coastal pine forest of the Monterey Peninsula, where they are rarely detected as migrants.

I still need it for my 5-mile radius list!
(but I have Great Crested, a rare eastern vagrant in the same genus!)

📸: (c) Karen Krieger - 5/5/2024
https://ebird.org/checklist/S172448083

🔍 More at eBird:
https://ebird.org/species/astfly

Bill

Publicado el 09 de mayo de 2024 a las 03:05 AM por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de abril de 2024

Monterey Audubon - Pigeon Guillemots are in!

Pigeon Guillemots are in! Now is a great time to see (and even hear!) our distinctive breeding alcids around Monterey Harbor. This species is a common nester in the county from Monterey south. Don Roberson noted in "Monterey Birds" (2002) that almost 20% of our population nests under wharves and old buildings in Monterey Harbor and Cannery Row. That is an interesting development as most nests to our south are in rock crevices and burrows! Another surprising thing about our local population is that it appears to migrate north instead of south after the breeding season, heading as far as British Columbia. Fascinating!

📸: (c) Brian Sullivan - Monterey Harbor (4/6/2013)
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/27363551

Pigeon Guillemot at eBird:
https://ebird.org/species/piggui

Bill

Monterey Audubon on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/monterey.audubon

Publicado el 03 de abril de 2024 a las 04:49 PM por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

MBP - April Fool's Quiz Answers

** SPOILER ALERT **

If you haven't sorted yesterday's April Fool's Day quiz and want to sort the surprising facts from the fun nonsense, stop reading and see yesterday's post!

  1. TRUE! Many turtles can breathe through their butts. It's a key adaptation for how they survive the winters in our area.
  2. FALSE - Hoop snakes! I wish it were true (those in doubt are relieved). Alas, no specialized snake species can hold their tails in their mouths and roll down hills to surprise their prey.
  3. FALSE - Also would be cool. Hummingbirds have not been documenting conserving energy during migration by riding on the backs of larger species such as Branta geese and Sandhill Cranes.
  4. TRUE! The Pirate Perch has an anus that moves from where one would expect it to be on a fish to it's throat.
  5. FALSE - All mammals are vertebrates and have full skeletons. No aquatic mammals or rodents lack bones to assist with specialized movements.
  6. TRUE! Shark stomachs have been found containing surprising items, including a suit of armor, a cannonball, and a bottle of wine. There are some good videos, podcasts, and articles summarize findings (here is an example - https://www.sharksider.com/14-weirdest-things-sharks-eaten/).
  7. FALSE - The beautiful and native Cow Killer is known for its painful sting ("strong enough to kill a cow!"), but they do not swarm up and attack large mammal prey.
  8. TRUE! Bolas spiders throw balls of web, emit pheromones to attract specific prey, and have many other amazing facts.
  9. TRUE! Arctic Terns are the world's longest distance avian migrants, migrating from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back each year. Based on known migrations and lifespan, an individual may fly over a million miles in its lifetime.
  10. FALSE - Snipe are very real and they are even occasionally hunted, but "snipe hunting" is a popular practical joke to trick the uninitiated into a comical foray into the woods. The hilarious part is that many people then share the punchline that there's no such thing as a snipe! There are totally snipe. They also have wild, zig-zagging flight when flushed, which may be part of the original inspiration for a comically hard hunt.

Bonus (not scored):

  • Turtles dream in color. As noted, a real question - one of my favorites - that I once received from an elementary school class during a presentation. I did check if turtles have good color vision, so that's a key thing to know. If they didn't, it would be a long shot that would dream that way.
    My girls asked me if I would drink wine from a bottle found in a shark's stomach, and then quickly noted, yeah, you definitely would. TRUE!

📸: (c) Wilson's Snipe photo by Jim Stasz - Somerset Co., Maryland (2/16/2010). Photographed but not as far as I know captured with a burlap sack.

🔍 Wilson's Snipe at Maryland Biodiversity Project:
https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/view/1070

Bill

Publicado el 03 de abril de 2024 a las 04:47 PM por billhubick billhubick | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de abril de 2024

MBP - April Fool's Quiz

This April Fool's Day, I present to you a mix of surprising facts and nonsense for you to sort through. Which of the following are true? Answers will be posted tomorrow.

  1. Many turtle species can breathe through their butts.
  2. Some specialized snake species can hold their tails in their mouths and roll down hills to surprise their prey.
  3. Some species of hummingbirds have been documenting conserving energy during migration by riding on the backs of larger species such as Branta geese and Sandhill Cranes.
  4. The Pirate Perch has an anus that moves from where one would expect it to be on a fish to it's throat.
  5. Some aquatic mammals and a few rodents lack bones to assist with dynamic movement (strong currents, tight crevices).
  6. Shark stomachs have been found containing surprising items, including a suit of armor, a cannonball, and a bottle of wine.
  7. A wasp relative called the Cow Killer is known for large swarms' ability to prey upon large herbivore prey.
  8. Some spiders can throw balls of web and create pheromones to attract specific insect prey.
  9. Arctic Terns migrate from the Arctic to the Antarctic each year. Based on known migrations and lifespan, an individual may fly over a million miles in its lifetime.
  10. Snipe populations are much reduced in some regions due to the pastime of collecting them at night using flashlights and large bags.

Bonus (not scored):
11 - Turtles dream in color

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge this question remains unanswered. Real question - one of my favorites - that I once received from an elementary school class during a presentation. 🙂

Bill

Image generated with AI. Demand that any content generated with AI be labeled as such.

Publicado el 02 de abril de 2024 a las 01:16 PM por billhubick billhubick | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

26 de marzo de 2024

MBP - Mourning Cloaks

Incoming reports of Mourning Cloaks are a sure sign of spring. Overwintered adult Mourning Cloaks are among the very first butterflies to become active as temperatures warm in early spring. This is one of many species that benefit from "leaving the leaves", not overly tidying yards in autumn and leaving leaf litter for overwintering species that need it.

The hardy butterfly is Holarctic in its distribution, found throughout much of northern Europe and Asia in addition to most of North America. (I recently saw my first of the season in Monterey, California as well!) This butterfly can be found basking in open woodlands or attracted to rotten fruit or sap runs on trees.

The species seems to favor willows (Salix) as host plants, but will also use aspens (Populus), birches (Betula), American Elm (Ulmus americana), and hackberry (Celtis).

📸: (c) Lydia Fravel - Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (2/23/2022).

🔍 More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:
https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/view/562

Bill

Publicado el 26 de marzo de 2024 a las 12:20 PM por billhubick billhubick | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

MBP - White-throated Sparrows and Supergenes

We're going to learn a lot about supergenes in the coming years. One of the best examples we know of can be observed in any Maryland backyard - the common migrant and wintering species, the White-throated Sparrow. Today's graphic summarizes the differences between "white-striped" and "tan-striped" White-throated Sparrows. White-striped individuals tend to be more aggressive, better singers, and worse parents. Tan-striped individuals tend to be more protective, worse singers, and better parents. White-striped individuals nearly always pair up with tan-striped individuals and vice versa. It's easy to speculate about the advantages of ensuring that mix of strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and genetic variation. Absolutely fascinating and full of implications. Is there an ancient and deeper truth to "opposites attract"? Have you ever noticed how commonly Homo sapiens "introverts" and "extroverts" - these are over-simplified terms, but useful shorthand - pair up?

What else? It's looking like Common Redpoll and Hoary Redpoll are genetically one species with traits that express themselves differently at different latitudes (including climate and habitat).
And those amazing bird examples are eclipsed by the incredible gene expression in the Eurasian shorebird species (and rare but regular North American visitor), the Ruff.

Alvaro Jaramillo did a fantastic job introducing this topic on a recent episode of Life List: A Birding Podcast. I highly recommend listening to that one and subscribing to that podcast if you don't already!
Expression of supergenes:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/expression-of-supergenes-in-birds/id1578168978?i=1000648757820

Bill

Publicado el 26 de marzo de 2024 a las 01:08 AM por billhubick billhubick | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

12 de marzo de 2024

MBP - Winged Insect Orders

We need to talk. I feel PTERA-ble. Nearly all of us have been PTERA-ble about understanding even our most common types of winged insects. Many serious naturalists use the order name Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and Coleoptera (beetles), but our pronunciation helps mask their very useful meanings.

Anyone who reads MBP outreach has seen me talk about Diptera, that we probably shouldn't say DIP-tera, but DI-PTERA to highlight what it means. Insects in the order Diptera - the true flies - have two wings. DI (two) - PTERA (wings).

But there are similarly obvious and relevant meanings in our other orders of insects ending in PTERA. Let's have a look. Should we consider emphasis on the PTERA?

  • LEPIDO-ptera - SCALY-winged. Butterflies and moths have their colorful scales on their wings.
  • COLEO-ptera - SHEATH-winged. Those heavy elytra cover the more delicate wings, protecting them when underground, under logs, under bark, underwater.
  • HYMENO-ptera - MEMBRANE-winged. The very thin wings of bees, ants, and wasps.
  • HEMI-ptera - HALF-winged. Many species of true bugs have partly thickened and partly membranous wings.
  • NEURO-ptera. NERVE-winged! So obvious when you don't say NEUROP-tera. The lacewings, antlions, and such.
  • TRICHO-ptera - HAIR-winged. Caddisflies and others.
  • MEGALO-ptera - LARGE-winged, of course. Dobsonflies and those related impressive beasts.
  • ANISO-ptera - DIFFERENT-winged. Note how dragonflies and damselfies have a larger pair and smaller pair of wings?

📸: (Scaly-winged) Rosy Maple Moth in Preston County, West Virginia (7/1/2006).

🔍 More at Maryland Biodiversity Project:
https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/view/338

Bill

Publicado el 12 de marzo de 2024 a las 01:47 PM por billhubick billhubick | 9 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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