10.17.2012

Nesting nocturnal birds

When people think of nocturnal birds, owls are usually the first, and often the only birds that come to mind. In addition to owls, birds from the family Caprimulgidae add their voices to the fascinating tapestry of night time sounds. There are two species that breed in the Florida panhandle.


Female Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) incubating eggs
videoThis video shows the rapid throat movements (gular fluttering) in the nighthawk's throat that help her stay relatively cool in the heat of the day while incubating her eggs. Lesser nighthawks (Chordeiles acutipennis) have apparently been observed sustaining this thermoregulatory behavior for eight hours a day on very hot days!

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) eggs


Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) hatchling

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) Fledgling


Female Chuck-will's-widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis) incubating eggs


Chuck-will's-widow doing broken wing display and gaping when I approached her eggs

Chuck-will's-widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis) eggs

Chuck-will's-widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis) fledgling

6.18.2012

Summer

Florida Bog Frog (Lithobates okaloosae)
Southern Hognose Snake (Heterodon simus)

I took the bog frog photo with my old camera before I broke it, but never posted it. This is the species that brings me out to work many nights during the summer months. Night work is one way to beat the heat.
Southern Hognose Snakes seem to have a very high tolerance for direct sun in the heat of the day. They and Eastern Coachwhips (Masticophis flagellum flagellum) seem to be the only snakes I'll see in the middle of hot days, with coachwhips being by far the more commonly encountered of the two.

6.11.2012

Pitcherplant Moth Life Cycle

Pale Shoulder Pitcherplant Moths (Exyra semicrocea)
in Whitetop Pitcherplant (Sarracenia leucophylla)
The adult females will lay eggs inside young pitchers.

After a couple weeks, the Pale Shoulder Pitcherplant Looper has woven webbing across the mouth of the pitcher, which effectively excludes many potential predators.

Opening a hole in the side of the pitcher reveals the moth larva where it has been grazing on the inner layers of plant tissue, but leaving the pitcher structure largely intact with one hole below to drain the pitcherplant's fluid.  The larva will pupate inside the pitcher over winter and emerge as an adult moth the following spring.

After noticing the adult moths perching inside the pitcherplant but not becoming meals for the plant as do most insects that enter, I became curious about them.  I found some good information on larval identification in Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America.

6.04.2012

New camera

After the better part of a year of not having a camera due to mine being inundated with salt water, we finally have a new camera!  It's our first DSLR, and I have much to learn.  I've lucked out a few times already, and am enjoying learning.  I hope you enjoy these photos as well, and I'm all ears on tips you might have for me!
Bearded Grass-pink (Calopogon barbatus)

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

Whitetop Pitcherplant (Sarracenia leucophylla) flower

Gulf Crayfish Snake (Regina rigida sinicola)

Pale Shoulder Pitcherplant Moth (Exyra semicrocea)
in Whitetop Pitcherplant (Sarracenia leucophylla)

Black Skimmer (Rhynchops niger) pair in courtship flight

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

Gulf Purple Pitcherplant (Sarracenia rosea) flower

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) in defensive posture

Whitemouth Dayflower (Commelina erecta)

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularius)

Little Ladies'-tresses (Spiranthes tuberosa)