Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Some Summer puzzles in #phenology

I can understand, sort of, how bees find nectar in flowers, because nectar is in the flower, which is distinct from the stem and the leaves and all the "green stuff." (Can you tell I've never studied botany?) Hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers. Orioles to orange and purple. For the life of me, I can't figure out what possesses an ant or ants to climb up the hanger and seek out the bee-guarded feeding port to get at the nectar solution in a hummingbird or oriole feeder. Perhaps they can smell the sugar from a distance.

hummingbird at yellow "bee guard"
hummingbird at yellow "bee guard"
Photo by J. Harrington

Neither can I quite picture who or what has pulled the yellow bee guards from one of our hummingbird feeders. I suspect it's one or more of the local squirrel gangs, but it might be a woodpecker getting the soft guard stuck on its bill while drinking the solution. Ants, squirrels, birds or whatever aren't nearly as destructive as black bears, but their behavior and its consequences can be much more puzzling.

whitetail fawn in field of hoary alyssum, hairy vetch and hoary puccoon, mid-June 2016
whitetail fawn in field of hoary alyssum, hairy vetch and hoary puccoon, mid-June 2016
Photo by J. Harrington

Although we're having a wet Summer so far, the past Spring wasn't as wet as last year's, at least according to the flowers in our back yard prairie. About mid-June last year, we had lots and lots and lots of hoary alyssum and hairy vetch in bloom about now. Nowhere near as many flowers are showing yet this year. Also, we've seen fewer fawns so far this year, but I'm now sure if that's related to the forage, the flowers or what.

Zoophabet: Ants to Zorillas

By Avis Harley

Ants use antennae to seek out their tracks,
Beavers gnaw trees for their lodge,
Camels store food in the humps on their backs,
Dragonflies dazzle and dodge,
Elephant trunks furnish watery flings,
Flamingoes eat shrimp to keep pink;
Grasshoppers' ears appear under their wings,
Hummingbirds hover to drink,
Inchworms advance with a rear-ended loop,
Jellyfish sometimes can sting,
Kestrels catch lunch with a lightning-like swoop,
Larks love to warble and sing,
Moles tunnel intricate malls underground,
Newts thrive in ponds filled with weed,
Owls like to swivel their heads right around,
People can learn how to read,
Quetzals are gorgeous in feathery dress,
Rats have acquired a bad label,
Seahorse appears like a figure in chess,
Tortoise found fame in a fable,
Umber-birds thrive in the African wild,
Vipers can poison their prey,
Worms turn the soil when the climate is mild,
Xylophage chews wood all day,
Yaks grow in horns that are gracefully curled,
Zorillas are striped black and white;
          each zooabet creature is part of this world:
          unique, with its own copyright!

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