Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Turtle Crossing

They're back en force, rambling the roadways with all of the "kowabunga" of kamikazes and the visibility of rocks.

That's right: it's turtle time again. 

 Turtle crossing photo by Christian Engelstoft/Wikimedia.

This morning, I dodged the dull green arc of a shell around every curve. Some were boldly striding for the side of the road while others tucked tail right in the middle of the well-worn tire path. Why do they do it? Why, you might ask, does the turtle risk it all to cross the road? 

For the same reason we all do, I suppose. Learn about the appeal of the other side from the experts at the Missouri Department of Conservation.   

If you're in my neck of the Midwest, you're likely to encounter two varieties of box turtle on your travels. 

The most common is the three-toed box turtle:
Three-toed box turtle photo by Carnopod/Wikimedia.

 The rarer and more striking species is the ornate box turtle:

 Ornate box turtle photo by Chelsi Hornbaker/USFWS

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sweet Song of Summer

The summer serenade has begun in the Ozarks ...

Summer tanagers have returned!

We've heard the fair golden lady's song for several days, and finally she has made her visual debut on the pine branches outside our windows. Her scarlet husband bustles busily about, and I'm wondering about the location of their nest, which must be in progress. We're keeping our eyes open for a cup of dried grasses in a fork of a tree.

Check out this interesting tanager tidbit from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

"The Summer Tanager is considered a bee and wasp specialist. It usually catches a bee in flight and then kills it by beating it against a branch. Before eating the bee, the tanager removes the stinger by rubbing it on a branch."

I admit that I'm not a fan of the big, aggressive red wasps that frequent my area. I won't use toxic sprays to battle them, but I don't mind knowing that the tanagers are gathering them to feed their families ;)