Seven Surprising Facts about Moths I Learned on my First Mothing Night

Luna Moth

What’s a Mothing Night? Something I had always wanted to try, but never did, was to set up a bright light at night in order to attract moths.  When I heard of other birding friends who did this regularly, I invited them to my house in the woods of Central PA to see what they could attract.  Paul Dennehy, a 9th grade science teacher who has been mothing for a score of years, brought his equipment and set it up in the yard before it got dark. I learned some […]

Damselfly party!

Bluet Damselfly Wheel

After the storm yesterday, I noticed a few hazy patches of vegetation in the water, maybe 25 feet out from shore.  A photograph with a long lens showed what was making the hazy movements.  There were hundreds of damselflies, most in tandem, busily laying their eggs in the vegetation!  These are mostly Powdered Dancers, with a few Bluits joining the massive egg-laying party.  Wikipedia gives an interesting explanation for the Latin name of Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta): The common name refers directly to the male’s pruinosity, appearing to be covered […]

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks are one of our smallest ducks, at 15 inches. They are all head, beak, and stiff tail, with a short body in between. They often swim with their tails upraised, and unlike other ducks they are able to slowly sink below the surface of the water.  According to allaboutbirds.org, Ruddy Ducks can be very aggressive during breeding season and will even attack rabbits along the shore!  Males perform unusual courtship displays in which they stick their tails straight up while striking their bills against their inflated necks, creating […]

Doves and Pigeons of Southeast Arizona

Inca Dove

  Inca Doves, Common Ground-Doves, Banded Pigeons, White-winged Doves, and Mourning Doves were fairly common on our birding trip to Southeast Arizona. With Mourning Dove being the only common Dove in our part of the Eastern US, it was fascinating to see doves of all sizes, shapes, and behaviors in Arizona. Inca Dove Inca Dove, the size of a large sparrow, has dark-gray tipped feathers, making them appear scaly. These doves have a square-tipped tail and rufous under the wings, readily seen when flying.  They were often observed by our […]

Elegant Trogons

Elegant Trogon

Elegant Trogons are supposed to be the highlight of any birding trip to southeast Arizona; that is, if you are lucky enough to see one!  They seemed to be late arriving at Cave Creek Canyon near our group’s home base of Portal, AZ. Only one pair had been seen in various places the week we were there;  sometimes at a sycamore tree in a dry creek bed near a trail crossing, and a couple of times flying through the campground.  My friend and I were with a Road Scholar birding group, and […]

Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Black-tailed Rattlesnake

According to an article on Black-tailed Rattlesnakes, this venomous snake packs a punch and “is capable of delivering large amounts of potent venom.  If encountered, it should be left alone.  A large percentage of envenomations occur when a snake is handled or abused.” While on a birding trip to Cave Creek Canyon in Arizona last week, our group was treated to more than birds!  We saw many lizards and a few snakes also.  This beautiful Black-tailed Rattlesnake was sitting on the road and I was able to get photos and […]

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

  The Common Yellowthroat is one of the first birds that I noticed before birding became a passion.  I’ll never forget disembarking from a canoe on the Beaver Creek in Ohio, walking around a shrub and coming face to face with this tiny masked bandit!  I still call it the bandit bird!  For such a tiny thing, it has a very lusty voice, singing “Whitchity, whitchity, whitch” by throwing his head back and singing with abandon.  The female is much drabber, has no mask and a warm yellow on its […]

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanagers, with their sing-song Robin-like voice, are the eye candy of the woods.  Their bright orange-red body and black wings and tail make for a startlingly beautiful sight!  The fact that they are larger and slower than the warblers also makes for one of the easier woodland birds to focus binoculars on.  The female is a dull greenish-yellow and is often seen near her mate.  The Scarlet Tanager bill in my photos shows an almost serrated edge which probably aids in a diet of fruits and insects.  Although they […]

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Nashville Warbler is a handsome warbler with a prominent eye ring, gray head, yellow throat and belly, and an olive-green back and wings.  In our part of Pennsylvania, the Nashville Warbler is only seen passing through in migration, and can be found by its two-part song, bitsee, bitsee, bitsee, bitsee, tititititi.