Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Learning About Lepidoptera - Part 2

So here is Part 2 :)  I wanted to cover moths in a separate entry. I know even less of this group. But I do enjoy discovering them in the field every once in while; in particular, the giant silk moths (family Saturniidae)!

A few years ago, I stumbled across a Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia). According to Wikipedia, it is North America's largest native moth. Pests have become quite a threat to this species. This one that I found was in Halton Region. I believe it is a male, because its plumose antennae is very bushy (females have moderately less bushy antenna). Someone may wish to correct me.

A few weeks ago I discovered a couple of Polyphemus Moths (Antheraea polyphemus) north of Acton while conducting Bobolink/Eastern Meadowlark surveys. It was interesting comparing its features in photographs to that of its close relative the Cecropia Moth. I love the translucent eyespots or 'windows' on the wings!

Cecropia Moth - male

Polyphemus Moth - upperside - female

Polyphemus Moth (underside hind and forewings)
male - note large, bushy antennae


Polyphemus Moth - underside hind and forewings

Front view of female - note small, fine antennae

 Next on my bucket list: Luna Moth!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Merlins Nesting in Cambridge

I wasn't the one who found it, and unfortunately due to property owner sensitivity I can't disclose the location, but here are a fews photos at least.

Merlin - AHY

The adult male is finely streaked, reminiscent of the prairie subspecies richardsoni. We watched him deliver a headless Tree Swallow to his mate.

Merlin - HY

This recently fledged bird was testing out his wings before taking a short practice flight around the neighbourhood.

Merlin Nest

The nest is mostly vacated now but the young birds might return periodically.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Thanks to BatchGeo and The Birdist there is a way to view all of your eBird locations together on one map. Try it for yourself!

Here's mine (since 2008):

View MyBirdingLocations in a full screen map

Very fun!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Favourite Ontbirds Footer

Re: [Ontbirds] Frigatebir​d species

Please note that excellent flight photos taken yesterday at Clear Creek are diagnostic for Magnificent Frigatebird, a "first-stage" juvenile per "Seabirds" by Peter Harrison (1983: page 312).
Presumably the Ontario Bird Records Committee will concur with this initial assessment, provided that all relevent documentation is submitted for review.

Mr. X

53 Year Old Mom Looks 33
The Stunning Results of Her Wrinkle Trick Has Botox Doctors Worried

Monday, July 2, 2012

Learning About Lepidoptera - Part 1

I don't know a lot about the order Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) yet, but I've been slowly trying to understand more about them when Rob and I are out birding together, or when I'm doing surveys for work. I have come to realize that there is a lot to learn about them. They have their own complexity that is different from their other winged friends.

Take for instance the Phycoides group (i.e., Northern and Pearl Crescent). There is such a great degree of variation in both sexes both in colouring and size that it becomes nearly impossible to separate them. According to a friend, James Holdsworth, opinions range from some questioning whether they are even two species to some who believe that there are up to four species!

Phycoides sp.
Phycoides sp.

We have also discovered how much fun they are to photograph! They have so many beautiful, intricate patterns and colours.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) - view of undersides

Often one of the keys to identifying a butterfly is get a good view of the underside hindwings and forewings. In the case of the Polygonia group, this holds true. The uppersides can be quite variable in Grey Comma (Polygonia progne), Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) and Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) for example, making them confusing to identify just from views of the uppersides. The undersides of these three species provide clues that distinguish them from each other. Below is a photo of a Question Mark, which has a small sideways silver "?" mark on the underside of the hindwing. The Eastern Comma has a silver "," on the underside of the hindwing where the comma is enlarged at both ends, whereas the Grey Comma has a silver "," similar to the Eastern Comma, but the comma tends to taper at both ends instead.

Polygonia sp. - view of uppersides
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) - view of undersides

 Stay tuned for more entries on the fascinating world of Lepidoptera in the future!