Dinner time conversation between a pair of grackles

Grackle dinner conversation
Grackle dinner conversation

Red-winged blackbirds don’t like crows.  The crows are likely to rob the blackbird’s nest.  But a lone blackbird is not afraid to tackle a crow:

Red-winged blackbird harassing crow
Red-winged blackbird harassing crow
Red-winged blackbird harassing crow
Red-winged blackbird harassing crow

I didn’t know until I took these pictures that the blackbird raised its red feathers while in flight, presumably as a warning signal.  Here’s what they look like when not in flight. I’ll have to try harder to get one head-on.

Red-winged blackbird
Red-winged blackbird

 

 

Mini hummingbirds? No, hawkmoths.

Hummingbird Hawk Moths, a few more colourful insects and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak in flight in my Ontario Garden.

I’ve been watching out for these and they arrived a few days ago.  Even smaller than a hummingbird, they look very similar from a distance as they sip nectar while hovering in front of the flowers in just the same way:

Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Hummingbird Hawk Moth on Beauty Bush

You may know about Monarch butterflies, famous for migrating thousands of miles between Canada and Mexico each year.  The Monarch is (to a bird at least, I haven’t tried) nasty-tasting and poisonous.  I haven’t seen one yet this year, but the aptly-named Viceroys are here.  The Viceroys are edible to birds but look very similar.  Birds can’t really tell them apart but will eat them until they taste their first Monarch, then they stop.  So the early Viceroy gets the bird.  It shows that lateness pays.  Here is one that has stayed out of reach so far:

Viceroy butterfly
Viceroy butterfly on Ninebark

I’ll post this again side-by-side with a Monarch when they appear.

Also on a Ninebark is one of our daylight moths:

Virginia Ctenucha Moth
Virginia Ctenucha Moth

Far less welcome in the garden is this lily beetle.  I thought it was chewing through the plants rather quickly for a lone beetle until I saw all its horrible larvae as well.  I’ll spare you that picture, they’re ugly.

Lily Beetle
Lily Beetle on, obviously, a lily

A much nicer insect, that not only looks pretty but devours mosquitoes instead of lilies, is this damselfly that lives only down by the river:

Jewel Damselfly
Jewel Damselfly

You can just make out the bristles on its legs that it uses to make a kind of basket to collect insects as it flies.

On the subject of flying, another Rose-breasted Grosbeak. This one flew up from the ground and showed the colour on its wings as it cleared the feeder:

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 

 

 

 

Invaded by Ninja Turtles

Snapping turtles, that is, not teenage or mutant.

In spite of the ugly chicken wire fence I put around my water garden, this monster got in. I noticed a couple of snipped-off water lily leaves so I knew she was in there, so I got out the turtle net and waited quietly for her to show the tip of her nose to breathe. The “ninja” part comes from the fact that she is so stealthy in the water, for a lumbering, clumsy creature on land. Sort of like me except for the fact that I’m also hopeless in water.

Snapping turtles, that is, not teenage or mutant.

In spite of the ugly chicken wire fence I put around my water garden, this monster got in.  I noticed a couple of snipped-off water lily leaves so I knew she was in there, so I got out the turtle net and waited quietly for her to show the tip of her nose to breathe.  The “ninja” part comes from the fact that she is so stealthy in the water, for a lumbering, clumsy creature on land.  Sort of like me except for the fact that I’m also hopeless in water.

Snapping turtle in the net
Snapping turtle in the net

I know it is a female because she comes to lay eggs in our driveway and then stops off to ruin my pond on the way home (a bigger uncultivated pond next door with no juicy water lilies or brightly coloured, easy to catch goldfish, just tough weeds and fast native fish).

Here she is after I gave her a taxi ride home in the net.

Snapping turtle

Snapping turtle

Then when I got back, I found this 8 cm (3 inch) turtle on a rock by the pond.  Obviously one of last year’s hatchlings who had moved in permanently.  So it got a new home too.

Young snapping turtle
One year-old snapping turtle