Did you ever notice…

…one of these clinging to a tree?

Bagworm Moth Case

A tiny little case, maybe only 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, made of plant or some other organic material held together with silk.  I have seen them secured to the tree…  I have also seen them moving along the bark!  Those of you familiar with stream and pond life may be wondering what a Caddis Fly larva is doing in the woods on a tree.  That’s what I thought, the first time I saw one!  But this is not a Caddis Fly.

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Bird Band Mystery Solved!

Remember this from last August?

Dead Bird

I had found this skeleton in the Girl Scout Gravel Pit in Randolph, New York.  I wrote about it here:  https://winterwoman.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/a-little-bit-gross-but-interesting/ .  I entered the band number into the appropriate database and never heard back…

Until today… I got the email about where it was originally banded!

Bird Band Certificate

It was banded 11 miles south of Nanticoke, Ontario in Canada.  According to Mapquest, to drive this distance would be 151 miles and would take 3 and a quarter hours.  I suspect the bird flew over Lake Erie and who knows how long that took??

Cowbird Map

Female Brownheaded Cowbird by makeupanidMy bird was a female Brown-headed Cowbird, hatched in 2006 or earlier.  It was banded on April 27, 2007 and retrieved from the Gravel Pit by me on July 24, 2007.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are very interesting birds.  They never raise their own young.  Instead, they lay eggs in the nests of other birds and let them raise the babies for them.

Learn more at Cornell’s website:


Six Word Memoir

She never cared much for sun.

Adam tagged me for a new meme in this post. It’s a six word memoir, inspired by Hemingway, who once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words.  He came up with:   For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Here are the meme rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir.

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.

3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.

4. Tag five more blogs with links.

5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

If it sounds like fun, consider yourself tagged!

P.S.  I think another blogging friend tagged me for this a while ago.  I wasn’t ready to play then.  This time when it came around, I instantly had an idea…  Apologies to the first tagger, and for forgetting who that was…

P.P.S.  That’s me with the crossed arms.

Barred Owl Encounter

Barred Owl by Casey TuckerI did not take this picture.  I don’t have a picture of a Barred Owl, though I was close enough tonight to get one even with my kit lens…  (except that it was dark… and I didn’t have my camera.)  Well… “dark” is a relative term.  The woods where I walk never gets truly dark, especially in winter.  The orange-pink lights of the city reflect off the clouds, which bounce light back onto the snow…  I can walk all the way around the path without a flashlight and see perfectly fine…

This picture was taken by Casey Tucker of Audubon Ohio when he was visiting Arkansas.  I’m borrowing it because the background makes it look like a snowy day…  And that’s what we had today!  (I was in a school for less than 6 hours and had to brush 4 inches of thick, heavy snow off my car.)

Small TreeAnyway, after supper I walked into the woods and there sat an owl…  I watched him for several minutes before going on to my Sit Spot.  I tried to inch closer, but I must have spooked him… It was awesome to see him fly absolutely soundlessly to a slightly more distant tree.

On my way out of the woods, he was back on a closer tree.  I stood and watched him again for several minutes.  Slowly I crept closer to the tree in which he perched.  He let me get right under him before flying off.

It wasn’t quite as exciting has holding an owl… But it was pretty special!

Sensitive Fern

Sensitive Fern Stand in WinterSensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) is also known as Bead Fern, and what better time to see where that name came from than in winter when only the beads remain.

Sensitive Fern Closeup

The beads are actually modified leaflets on the fertile frond.  Each rolled and dried leaflet contains spores – one of the ways that ferns reproduce.  Sensitive FernAs I was surfing around the ‘net to find interesting facts about this plant, I ran across the American Fern Society website.  If you need more proof of the incredible variety and wonder of the natural world, go to their site and click “Fern Basics”.  Read about fern reproduction.  I must have learned that years ago in Biology… But I had forgotten!  It’s pretty fascinating.  (Of course, I’m easily fascinated.)

The common name Sensitive Fern comes from the fact that this will be one of the first plants to wither with the first frost in late summer or fall.

Sensitive Fern withered after the first frost...

Range Map
North American Range Map for Sensitive Fern

Folks living along the east coast in the southern most states of this range should be aware that Netted Chain Fern (Woodwardia areolata) resembles and often grows with Sensitive Fern.  It’s fertile frond is completely different, however – green with spores forming on the underside of the leaflets.

Learn more:


I try to be pretty open-minded and tolerant of others’ ideas on how to connect with nature.  I have a good deal of respect for hunters, trappers, and fisher(wo)men, for example.  They tend to be brilliant observers of the natural world and storehouses of knowledge about wildlife!  They also do far more than the average birder or hiker to fund conservation efforts through their purchase of licenses.

ATV TracksI have a harder time being tolerant of those who drive ATVs and Snowmobiles – just to drive them… not to get somewhere… often with little apparent attention to the natural world.  I just don’t get it.  (For transportation, these types of vehicles are sometimes very practical.)

Once, I firmly stated, “I hate golf.”  I was attending a workshop, which had nothing to do with golf.  The instructor said, “That’s a pretty strong statement.  Could it be that you simply have not yet learned to appreciate the finer qualities of golf?”  Let’s give that a try:

I have not yet learned to appreciate the finer qualities of ATVs and Snowmobiles.

What about you?  What is your opinion of these types of vehicles for pure recreation?  If you enjoy them, please tell us why!  (I’m willing to learn!)

Unusual Birds Visit Feeder

Can anyone help with the identification of these unusual birds?  They are quite large, four-legged, and wingless.  They will take seed directly from the feeders, but more often seem to prefer to eat off the ground, like the Juncos.  They came to our feeders at around lunchtime yesterday:

Lunchtime Party at the Feeders

Ha ha…  Seriously… These poor deer must be hungry!  We rarely see them at this time of day.  The one on the right is Three-Legged Deer.  She’s been coming to the backyard feeders for 2 or 3 winters… we can’t remember exactly…  She always holds the one leg up.  We suspect that the muscles are completely atrophied.

Three-Legged Deer

I took these photos from my desk.  Don’t I have a great view out my window?

Happy Thankful Thursday!

Cecropia Moth

Oh my gosh!  You absolutely HAVE TO check out this site.  After a couple of my readers pointed me in the direction of the Cecropia Moth as the probable inhabitant of my cocoon, I googled and found this:


The author rears Cecropia Moths and has some INCREDIBLE pictures – including INSIDE the cocoon.  Absolutely fascinating!

Pupa Inside Cecropia Moth by Tom LeBlanc

Cecropia Caterpillar by Casey Tucker

Thanks Swamp4Me and NatureRemains for help with the ID!

Thanks Tom and Casey for use of your photos.

Lepidoptera in Winter

Argyrotaenia pinatubana Pupa InsideOccasionally during my winter walks my eye is drawn by signs of butterflies or moths.  I wrote about one of them in early December, which, technically, was still fall, though there was snow!  The Pine Tube Moth overwinters as a pupa inside a tube constructed by the larva from pine needles.

Not all butterflies and moths do the same…

Monarchs migrate.

Wooly BearBaby Isabella Tiger Moths spend the winter as larva.  You might know them as Wooly Bears.  (I remember the first time I discovered this.  I was cross-country skiing near a building that had overlapping shingle siding.  I watched a Chickadee fly to the side of the house and return to a branch with a Wooly Bear in its beak.  I ponder to this day:  How did that Chickadee know to find that caterpillar in that exact spot?  X-ray vision, perhaps?)

Moth InsideI’ve been walking by a cocoon the last few days.  I don’t know what kind of moth is inside.  It’s quite the elaborate shelter, though, isn’t it?  I’d love to find the larva one day in the process of making this.  (If you know of the video on YouTube, please tell us in your comment!)  Do you know the maker of this cocoon?

Gypsy Moths overwinter as eggs:
Gypsy Moth Eggs

Look for Gypsy moth eggs on the bark of trees.  Slip your glove off and pet them gently.  It’s one of the softest things in the forest!  (P.S. click here for a picture of a female adult laying the eggs.)

Mourning Cloak by Tom LeBlancAnd I wrap this up with a photo “borrowed” from Tom (a.k.a. Mon@rch):

The Mourning Cloak butterfly overwinters as an adult, tucked in behind loose bark, or holed up in a tree den…  And I look for them every winter… And I have yet to find one…  (There’s GOT to be one somewhere behind some of that Shagbark Hickory bark I walk past nearly every day!)

The Mourning Cloaks will start appearing in early spring… or maybe in late winter if it is mild enough… So keep your eyes open!

So much variety in nature… It never ceases to amaze me.

Ooooh!  Update (3/17/08).  Here’s a great picture of a butterfly in winter:

I don’t know the species.  But it seems to thrive in snow!