Friday, December 21, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I loved making snowmen, snow forts and enjoyed a good snowball fight. My older cousins had snowmobiles and when we visited my grandparents' farm, they would hitch an inner tube to the snowmobile with a long cord. They raced at top speeds across the fields with the inner tube and occupants bouncing all over the place. Talk about a thrill!
Wilson A Bentley in 1925
Get outside, enjoy that snow and, if you can, take a kid with you. They will love it and just maybe you will, too! I know I sure did (and still do)!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Female cardinal-photo by John Howard
Young cardinal with gray bill
Monday, December 10, 2007
Maps showing the distribution of the House Finch through time.
Despite its origin, the House Finch is a handsome bird. The males color can range from yellow to orange to red, with the darker red males being in demand with the females. Supposedly, the more brilliant the red, the better the male is at obtaining good food, rich in carotenoids, a chemical found in many plants that have red and orange color. The females will want to choose a male that can provide ample food for her and the brood. The female is white and brown streaked, so she is better camouflaged when sitting on the nest.
House finch female
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
American Goldfinch winter male, photo by John Howard
Shoulder patch in winter male
American Goldfinch are closely tied to their food source. They are granivorous or eat mostly seeds. Even when they feed their young, goldfinch rely mostly on a seed diet. The Brown-headed Cowbird, which parasitize many birds nests by leaving its young to outcompete the smaller birds, does not survive in an American Goldfinch nest. The cowbird likes a diet rich in insects, which it does not get from the mother goldfinch. Most cowbird babies have retarded growth and die before they can leave the nest. Also, the males brillliant yellow hue is due to the food they ingest. Carotenoid pigments that produce yellow and orange colors in many composites or flowers in the sunflower family which is a favorite food of American Goldfinch. The frequently feed on Prairie Dock, Compass Plant, Rosinweed, and sunflowers. I used to work at a native plant nursery and we would have to put netting over these plants to keep the goldfinches from destroying the seed crops. They could wipe out a whole row of plants in no time. Besides the composites, American Goldfinch also use thistle as a food source and to line their carefully woven nests.