What we call weedsMonarch Butterflies call flowers. Especially milkweed, which monarchs need to survive. Monarch females drink from fragrant milkweed flowers and lay their tiny opalescent eggs on milkweed leaves. The eggs turn into black and orange and white monarch caterpillars. The caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves and form a chrysalis, the translucent pouch that turns into – a monarch butterfly!
Monarch males have two tiny black dots on their wings. The black dots are located on either side of the body, towards the rear end.
Crested Mergansers are diving ducks. They dive to hunt small fish and if the water is shallow, to feed on invertebrates (animals without backbones) on the bottom. In the waters around the Refuge, they are winter residents only. The mated pair shown here on a cloudy day, were the last two to leave.
It’s been a long spring. Which seems to be the New Normal. Although, “Normal” is a strange word for it. The climate is in chaos. The Arctic is too warm, dislodging the high speed winds called the Jet Stream and as a result, that Arctic cold is blown down on us. The winter ducks linger longer. The spring migrations of birds tend to be a little late. Many birds stay with us for a shorter time as a result. Some, inexplicably, seem to come late. The image above is a Common Loon taken during a Spring rain shower. His coloration (or plumage as it is called) is his Breeding Plumage. This is the way loons look just before they leave us and head north to build nests, lay eggs, and hatch out their babies. 48 hours after this picture was taken this loon (along with the 6 or 7 others who winter at the Refuge near Menunkatesuck Island) all left to do just that. More photos of the Late Leavers and Early Arrivals to follow. Check back soon!
Common Eider Diving for Blue Mussels
It’s winter at the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and a new contingent of ducks has arrived. These are diving ducks, and they hunt for fish and crustaceans in the shallow waters near shore, making them easy to spot from any beach in the Refuge. Come have a look!