Category Archives: Animals

Special Invitation: Blue Ghost & Moth Viewing Party!

Hey all and happy Monday to you. If you live locally in Asheville or western North Carolina, this post’s for you–a special invitation to come out and join me on Friday night to watch a special firefly. (If not, so sorry! I will feature another post after the party with some photos)

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As you’ve likely heard me say a time or two, my husband and I live in the woods in south Asheville. We discovered some years ago that we have BLUE GHOST FIREFLIES on our property. Don’t know what a Blue Ghost is?

Blue Ghost Fireflies are different from other species of firefly in that their light stays lit for 30-60 seconds, 2 to 3 feet off the ground. So watching them is magical–it’s like ghosts are carrying lanterns as they move silently through the trees.

The firefly is only the size of a rice grain but his light is bright enough to light up the night, especially when there are a bunch in one spot. Females also have a light but have no wings so remain stationary.

On THIS Friday, May 26th, at 8pm, my husband and I are hosting a blue ghost and moth viewing party. We will sit outside and have a drink while we wait for it to get dark, then will learn a bit about these fireflies before going on a short walk to see some.

We will also put out a black light and white sheet to see what moths we might attract. I will mix up a special drink for the moths and will put it out near the sheet. After we watch the blue ghosts, we can walk over and check out what’s on the sheet. You never know what we might see! Here are a few of my favorite moths that I’ve seen other years:

Luna mothVirgin tiger mothInside of tiger moth's wingsTulip MothImperial mothTulip moth,maleA luna moth with another smaller mothUnidentified mothMoths Polyphemus mothTiger mothPolyphemus mothMoth on sheetMoth attracted to black lightMothMothFirefly in daytimeOrange patched-smoky mothA beautiful luna mothMultiple luna moths

If you want to attend, great, I can’t wait to meet you! PLEASE wear comfortable shoes for this! And note that we will not be using flashlights for much of the time in order to allow our eyes to adjust to the night. The driveway is wide and mostly level and we will not be off-trail at any time. But to get the address and directions, you must RSVP at my meetup site   or send me an email saying you’d like to go– sharenaturemore@gmail.com. To avoid overcrowding, I am limiting this to 20 people.

If you want to learn how YOU can attract moths to your yard, see this post or if you want to read about one of our more beautiful moths, check out this Tulip Tree moth. Or, here’s a quiz to see what you know about moths.

Lastly, if you are interested in learning more about moths, such as how to identify them, here is a link to a fabulous book–a Peterson Guide to Moths. 

Weekly Puzzler Answer #148

Happy Saturday to you! Were you able to identify the handsome bird in last week’s puzzler? Perhaps you’ve seen this bird use a lure to catch a fish?

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It’s a Green Heron, though honestly I don’t think this is the best name for the bird as in most lighting situations, it does not look very green.

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Check out this video! It’s amazing! (wait for the end, it’s worth it!)

Here is the next puzzler–another bird found in similar habitats as the green heron, yellow-crowned night heron and black-crowned night heron.

Enjoy your weekend! I will see you again soon.

Weekly Puzzler #149: Will Dance for Food

Years ago when I was in Florida on a photography trip I had the chance to photograph this next amazing bird with the help of a long lens that I rented. This bird is fascinating to watch because he runs around in the water as if he is dancing, running this way and then that way, all the while herding fish so he can stab them with his sharp beak. It is fun to watch! In hindsight I should have taken some movies of this.

Do you recognize this bird? (Hint: It is NOT a heron)heron-2-3

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heron--6If you want to guess, use the comment box below. All correct guesses will be entered in the quarterly drawing for a free photo prize–the next drawing will be on the first day of summer–in June.

See you again soon!

How Wolves Change Rivers

I have talked before about having a “Bucket List.” In recent years I have been fortunate enough to check many things off of my bucket list. Do you have a Bucket List? What are some things at the top of your Bucket List?

One thing on my list is to travel to Yellowstone to see wolves. I want to see them in action, raising pups, howling together, hunting, traveling through the magnificent landscape of Yellowstone. I have learned recently that there are some people who have been watching the wolves in Yellowstone daily since they were reintroduced in the 90’s. The things these people have seen! I want to sit with them and look though their scopes and learn about these amazing animals.

Ever wonder what happened after biologists reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone after they’d been absent for 70 years? Here’s your chance to see some of the changes they have made…

What do you think? Do you live somewhere that wolves live? Have you ever seen one?

 

Weekly Puzzler Answer #147

Did you recognize the handsome red-eyed bird in last week’s puzzler? If you’ve ever gone canoeing, kayaking or spent any time around water, you’ve probably seen this bird. It is called a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.

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Yellow-Crowned Night Herons are 22-28 inches tall with a wing span of a little under 4 feet. They are common in coastal marshes, barrier islands and mangrove forests, but can also be found inland to the Midwest and as far north as Michigan. Despite their name suggesting otherwise, they will hunt at all hours of the day, and night, stalking whatever they can catch but favoring crabs and crustaceans like crayfish.

In the US there are two species of night herons–the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron and the Black-Crowned Night Heron, pictured below. You can see that both were appropriately named!

A Black-Crowned Night Heron

A Black-Crowned Night Heron

Check out the next puzzler–another bird found in similar habitats.

And have a great weekend! See you again soon.

 

Weekly Puzzler #148: A Bird That Uses a Lure

So last week’s puzzler was a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron–a bird commonly found at the edge of ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, streamsides and other bodies of water, where it hunts fish, crayfish, frogs and other aquatic animals. I thought I would feature another bird commonly found in the same habitats as the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. Chances are if you knew the last one, you will know this one too.

This handsome, yellow-eyed bird has the unusual habit of standing on a branch or in grass hanging out over water and dropping sticks and other objects into the water with the intent of luring fish, which it then snatches from the water with its dagger-like bill. This is amazing to watch! Who said animals don’t use tools?

Here are two photos:

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Do you know the identity of this bird? Have you seen it in a body of water near you? If so, use the comment box below to offer your guess. All correct responses will be entered in a drawing to win a photo prize.

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Have a wonderful weekend and see you again soon! (I will show you a video of this bird using a lure next weekend–it is an amazing display!)

What Ants and Farmers Have in Common

If you’re like most people, you probably only think about ants when they get into your house or find your sweet crumbs during your picnic in the woods. Ants are truly amazing creatures… for instance, did you know the average ant can carry 10-50 times its own body weight? Consider this for a moment–that’s like a 200 pound man carrying two large cars or 10,000 pounds! And they are fast too, able to run 300 meters per hour. Another amazing fact about ants is their relationship with aphids and mealy bugs. Did you know some ants keep livestock just like farmers?

Here’s a video you have to see to believe–ants tend their flocks, move them and even protect them from the rain. Imagine!