Wildlife Wednesday: January 2016

Most of what I’ve seen this month has been from the inside looking out.

christmas dove 2015
The Christmas Dove. Peace on Earth

Once again I’ve come to appreciate how even a small change can have multiple consequences.

The usual gang comes to the feeder outside my window: English house sparrows, chickadees, tits, cardinals, house finches. The female house sparrow always amuses me; she is absolutely implacable. A pregnant squirrel comes around sporadically. Best of luck to her and her little ones. Overall it seems like we have more and more visitors who tend to stay for longer periods of time.

Carolina Wren California Dreaming
Carolina Wren California Dreaming

What’s new? Blue jays. The odd one used to visit from time to time but now at least two come by on a daily basis. I believe they are drawn by the bees and their fuzzy protein.

So I’ve increased the amount of bird seed I pour into the feeder each morning hoping that sunflower seed is easier to eat than honey bees on the wing.

Thanks, blue jays. Everyone’s a winner.

A new bird for me is the yellow rumped warbler. They are common winter visitors around here apparently and I certainly recognized the call but this is the first time I’ve seen one. Do check out Tina’s post for better photos and some interesting details about this bird. You can hear their songs here.

yellow rumped warbler
Setophaga coronata with bright yellow underarms.

And here’s an insect I just discovered. Try not to laugh.

DSCN4671
Gallinipper (Psorophora)

Yeah, in the photo it simply LOOKS like a mosquito. And it is a mosquito but it was the hugest mosquito I have ever seen. The wingspan was > 1 cm. A real monster. I believe the one I saw was a male sipping away at the fatsia flower. Let’s hope he is a bachelor. The females are supposed to have an extremely painful bite.

Fascinated, I had to learn more and happily found a hilarious song written by Blind Lemon Jefferson. Why there aren’t more blues songs about mosquitoes is a wonder. I listened to a couple versions and honestly the misery sounds all too true. Poor guy.

Mosquito Moan

I’m sittin’ in my kitchen, mosquitoes all around my screen
I’m about all ready to get a mosquito bomb, I’ll be seldom seen
I must sleep under a tin tub, try my best to brad their bills
Mosquitoes so bad in this man’s town, keep me away from my whiskey still
I love my whiskey better than some people likes to eat
Mosquitoes bother me so I can hardly stay on my feet
I bought a spray last night ’n’ I sprayed all over my house
Mosquitoes all around my door won’t leave nobody come out
Mosquitoes all around me, mosquitoes everywhere I go
No matter where I go, they sticks their bill in me
I would say gabbernipper, these gabbernippers bites too hard
I stepped back in my kitchen and they springin’ up in my back yard
(I may be laughing now but we’ll see if I’ll be singing a different tune this spring! The Blue Jays and Co. are more than welcome to eat every single mosquito they can find.)
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42 thoughts on “Wildlife Wednesday: January 2016

  1. Haha that song is brilliant! You’re so right, it’s surprising there aren’t more blues songs about mosquitoes.
    And great photos, as always.

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  2. Great post – I like the design tweaks. You always keep things interesting.

    Holy cow, that’s a big skeeter. That one I’d try to swat at least. (say if a female weirdly preferred me to a flower…). Those adorable yellow flashers – I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen one yet. I’m on the lookout now though. The mild weather is triggering a lot of activity on the early side. I think it might be better if we did get a hard freeze and I know it would be better if we got more rain. D-ry! Too dry. I’ve got those “It’s supposed to be El Niño but you can’t prove that by my garden” blues.

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    1. Thanks, Deb. Not to invite disaster but it really looks like we made it through the winter without a freeze. Part of me is totally ok with that. haha

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  3. While I don’t like the cold weather all that much, I’m praying for some hard freezes to take those pesky Mosquitos out for a little while longer. Your gallinipper photo makes me itch just looking at it, but what an awesome shot! Love the birds too!

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    1. Thanks, Julie. He definitely caught my eye as I was passing. I actually stopped and said out loud, “What on earth ….” It seemed so improbable. (I deleted your duplicate messages. Not sure why they weren’t put up right away. Weird)

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      1. Unshelled peanuts are loved by dees, nuttys, woodpeckers and even the cardinals as I have found. I have them up all winter. Jays will carry off peanuts in the shell to save. It depends on the birds ability to open the shell.

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  4. I like your new blog site Debra, you’ve had a revamp. Like your visiting birds too but not the mosquito. I tried to sing the song to my version of the blues, not sure I got it right but got Blind Lemon’s sentiment.

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    1. Thx, Julie. Same old really. I just changed the colour and removed the header. When I was little I was a mosquito magnet. I have memories of not being able to see my arms under the mass of tiny vampires. I can TOTALLY relate to his misery.

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  5. December 2014 while I was working at the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden (Dallas Arboretum) we spotted lots and lots of yellow rumped warblers. It took us several days to figure out the ID because they were a surprise sighting to the whole staff. They are real day-brighteners!

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    1. Seeing that yellow flash sure brightened my day. Hearing that they are common to the area, I am taking that info as a sign that I don’t get out enough during the winter!

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  6. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Or if I did, it was during a time when I wasn’t actively watching birds as much as I do now. I think they might be rarer here, because they simply migrate through on their way between their winter and summer grounds. Great photos! It’s too cold here for mosquitoes. That’s one of the only good things about winter in the Midwest. ;-)

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    1. It sure was a nice surprise. I don’t ever recall seeing mosquitoes here in December before. I know I never saw one in any season that was so big. As annoying as the tiny twilight biters are I really do feel some dread at the idea of being punctured by something big enough to feel like a bill!

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  7. Gabbernipper – love that!
    I’ve never seen blue jays going after honeybees. Ours eat the corn I put out for squirrels, black oil sunflower seed and suet. They will also bury acorns in the fall (and I’ve read they remember where they are better than squirrels do) and they chip paint for some unknown reason, which can be bad if its leaded. I put out crushed egg shells and they seem to leave the paint alone when I do. Today I saw one pecking at a frozen apple that is still attached to the tree. They seem to be quite versatile in their diet!

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    1. Great tip about the eggshells. Almost every time I spotted that jay last year it was hanging out near the compost pile. I wasn’t sure what was interesting him but I was throwing eggshells in there. Of course there were all kinds of other goodies. hahahaha The picture in my mind’s eye of a blue jay with a frozen apple makes me laugh out loud. They are so clever.

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      1. They are very clever, corvids that they are. They really have to pound on the frozen apples to dislodge pieces, but they manage quite well. Winter can be so challenging to wildlife.

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  8. I’ve seen those blasted mosquitoes!! The girl ones love me. 1:( you’re right, if we don’t get a decent freeze, they’re gonna be real pains in spring, summer, fall. Especially, if you have neighbors (like I do…) who like to farm (or would it be ranch??) mosquitoes.

    I thought your bird photos were just lovely–sweet dove and Caroline wren AND your new boy, that Yellow-rumped guy. Thanks for joining is, always a treat!

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  9. Nice photos. I especially like the wren. I don’t think I would have ever thought of it but I agree it does seem like there would be more blues songs about mosquitoes. While it is not specifically about mosquitoes your comment reminded me that Ike and Tina Turner have a great song called “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter”.

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    1. I always appreciate your encouragement. Thank you, David. That song title though: I am afraid to look — it sounds so nasty. hahahhaha

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      1. It’s completely safe (as is their song “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”) but a lot of blues songs aren’t. The blues did give us the term “rock and roll” and they weren’t talking about dancing. :)

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        1. I gave it a listen. Nina Simon does a fun version. I liked it a lot. “You got a mouth like a herd of bollweevils.’ The songwriter must have been feeling a LOT of hostility that day. haha

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