Friday, May 27, 2016

The Thursday Micellany-Catbirds, the Reproductive Parts of Oak Trees and an Oriole Creates Acorns Part 1

For whatever reason suddenly there are Gray Catbirds, Dumetella carlinensis, in residence this year.
 Then she gives me a binoc look...
And she's off.  Yes I know the photo is blurry but I rather love bird feet position on a hasty retreat but that isn't it either.  A Gray Catbird has chestnut undertail coverts which are a field mark for the species but one rarely if ever sees them.  You'd think in this position they'd be exposed.  


A bit later I spy the male striding down the fence as if  it were his personal walking path.

Next up for you botanists out there what are the variegated orange flowers above?
 And how about this one?

 Remember the Bleeding Hearts?  On the right are the seed pods.  and on the left is a pod just appearing from the protection of the blossom.
As you can see from the angle of the light that the sun is getting low, and time for the Chimney Swifts, Chaetura pelagica, and those that appear for a fill up before roosting or a night on the nest to appear.

Ever try to get a photograph of a Chimney Swift?  There is a reason they are called Swifts.
 And as Roger Tory Peterson describes them...they look "like a cigar with wings".

 Sometimes their wings seem to be moving independently of each other.  Which looks rather wacky. They aren't.  It is just one of those strange birdie optical illusions.

Then I see a flash of orange heading for the oak tree!  I've been seeing quick flashes of a male Baltimore Oriole, (another new species for my patch), through the window overlooking the feeding area in the early morning but the minute I see him, he's gone.
 It's a FEMALE Baltimore Oriole.  Alright, there may well be a nesting pair!

 She tips her beak up and appears to be eating  the staminate catkins of the oak.  Unless she is collecting bits for a nest?
 While she's eating...a digression.

Oaks produce both sexual manifestations in Spring..  She is dealing with the "male" parts, the staminate  flowers in catkins  that produce pollen.  The The female flowers are much more inconspicuous. They appear about a week after the male flowers. The snuggle in the base of twigs, they look more like tiny leaf buds and are hard to see.
 Looks more like eating.
She gives me a look.
She flips round to the other side of the branch and gives me another look.   She isn't nearly as shy as the male. But then she is up in a tree and he tends to appear on the fence of the feeding area and I'm peering at him through the window, perhaps 8 feet away.
Her beak goes to the female organ of the oak.  I'm assuming she is eating a bit of it as well as pollinating the tree.  

Wow.  Who knew the activity of Baltimore Orioles could create acorns?

Whenever I discover something like this I'm quite newly boggled by the interconnections and complexity of the natural system.

Then suddenly she took off.

To be continued....


lmarylin Sperling said...

Those dainty peach colored flowers (as well as the purple ones interspersed with them are wild columbines! I have them in my yard in Queens ,NY and they self sow.Mine are pink,purle aid violet !You asked! I am a chatter at WSP site and love your stories too! Marylin Sperling

Donegal Browne said...


Thank you! That flower bed tends to be the area where I plant the natives, but I wasn't altogether sure if the peach Columbines might be a cultivar. I'm afraid that my botany has gone by the wayside at times. Pushed aside I'm afraid by all the cultivars in Central Park and a focus on avian behavior. It has been low these many years since I had Dr. Galen Smith to walk the woods with. Thank you again!

Karen Anne said...

I'm not sure the purple ones are columbines. When I bigify the picture, the flower shape does not look right. It looks more flat.

Sally said...

Those peachy long flowers we called honey flowers because they are very sweet if you pick them and suck on the bulb end, kind of like purple clover or honeysuckle :)