Lets say weve tasked NASA or the CIA to design a device weighing half as much as a paper clip. We want this device to be able to fly. In addition, we want it capable of navigating as far as 3,000 miles to a specific location, refueling on its own. Its doubtful it could be done with current technology. Yet that is exactly what nature long ago accomplished in the form of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Right now, Monarchs have massed to peak numbers in our area on their way to wintering grounds south of Mexico City.
The line between abundance and burden is often short and not well marked. Author Edna Ferber said, Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little. Wildlife and its interaction among humans is a consistent study in varying perceptions of this. Case in point: Coopers hawk (Accipiter cooperii). It wasnt very long ago, say 15 years, when Coopers hawks were difficult to find locally and would cause quite a stir among birders if one was seen. That has all changed. It is increasingly rare to walk through one of the parks in the metro area and not see one.
It happens every year around this time almost like clockwork. The phone rings, an Email arrives, or the subject simply arises during the course of casual conversation. Some person tells me how he or she saw this beautiful, striped hummingbird feeding on nectar in their flower garden. Its certainly not the only case of mistaken identity I hear of but it is perhaps the surest bet. For the next several minutes I carefully explain what the individual witnessed was actually a cool insect called a White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata) and not a hummingbird. According to Dr.
Its already past sunset so the light is getting dim. Curious little, twittering birds are whirling around in high-G force turns. On some unknown cue, the black creatures fall like a funnel into the chimney, not to be seen again until dawn. It must be a relief of sorts to finally rest. The Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) spends its entire day in flight. Unlike most other birds, swifts are incapable of standing or perching and must cling to a vertical surface when at rest. It does this with tiny feet tipped with short, sharp claws and a stiff, bristly tail.
Recently, I helped the West Fargo School Districts Reach program with their Prairie Day outdoor learning at various work stations on the Henke farmstead. My station was bird-watching. The kids were a joy to work with and displayed enthusiasm and knowledge I hadnt expected. (Jolene Beckman-Sternhagen and Kim Sandvik should be patted on the back for what they accomplish with our kids). What made it fun for my groups was an informal contest to see which could find the most bird species.