Bird list & natural events, June 2012

June was hot and dry, getting worse throughout the month, really a repeat of May in which we also didn’t have much to write about (or energy to do so). We did take a few more photos this month of interesting insects and wildlife, which we’ll share below. The ongoing drought makes us ever-more concerned about wildlife pressure on the vegetable fields, as these areas are now clearly the lushest parts of the farm and thus increasingly attractive to desperate deer, rabbits, coons, and more. In addition, our irrigation lines are one of the only sources of fresh water left on the farm and so draw in even more voles and other rodents, sometimes causing damage to the lines themselves and/or to crops along the lines. Here are some of the birds & other things we observed this month:Migration is truly past now, as you can tell by the large number of birds no longer present. What’s left will be our standard summer population, with a few species popping in and out depending on observational luck (like killdeer, which are present regionally but don’t always fly overhead when we can hear/see them). New birds for the month listed in red, birds not seen since the last month struck out.

RECORDED IN JUNE (40 species, 2 new, 28 unobserved since May)
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Broad-Winged Hawk (definitely nesting again this year; we see them carrying rodents to the nest every so often)
Killdeer
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Common Nighthawk
Whip-poor-will
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (population seems to be sparse this year, but we did find a nest!)
Belted Kingfisher
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great-Crested Flycatcher
White-Eyed Vireo
Red-Eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-Capped Chickadee
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Wood Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush
Grey Catbird
Northern Parula
Tennessee Warbler
Blue-Winged Warbler
Kentucky Warbler (? think we heard, but too busy to confirm; song can be confused with several other species)
Nashville Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brown Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
Red-winged Blackbird
White-Crowned Sparrow
Least Flycatcher
Orange-Crowned Warbler
Blue-Headed Vireo
Blue Grosbeak
Bobwhite Quail
Wild Turkey
Chuck-Wills-Widow

Above is a dead Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, one of our favorite birds. They have very distinct sounds and behaviors, generally moving among dense treetops and thus being very hard to see. Their patterning and shape up close are really neat. This one must have hit a window on our house; we found it fresh on the ground and took advantage of the rare chance to examine it up close. The folk name of the cuckoo is the Rain Crow, and they do seem to vocalize more frequently in conjunction with a weather system (& rain) moving through. Somehow a suicidal cuckoo seems to make an appropriate statement regarding this year’s persistent drought.

Flowers this time of year always attract lots of interesting life, the interactions and ecology of which no one really understands fully. This year, especially, many of the pollinators are desperate for anything as so many plants are stressed. Our clover and buckwheat are loaded with bees.

Here are a few interesting moths/butterflies Joanna managed to capture on camera.

Milkweed plants generally have some interesting beetles, such as those shown above.

Not shown are Japanese beetles, an increasing threat to both agricultural & wild plants in our region. They can swarm over favored plants and defoliate them. For example, skeletonized wild grape leaves are littering the ground in some parts of the farm, thanks to the action of Japanese beetles. Of the crops we grow, their favorites seem to be okra, edamame, and blackberries, but we’ve also seen them on a number of other plants including beans, potatoes, and tomatoes. Our control method is digital; that is, we pick them off with our fingers. Their numbers have been increasing each year we’ve been here. The only bit of good news is that we’re seeing a number of assassin bugs that are actively preying on these annoying pests.

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