Photo of a Razorbill I took at Machias Seal Island, off the coast of Maine. This colonial seabird breeds off Maine and the east coast of Canada. You may see them if you go on a whale watch or pelagic birding trip in summer. Love this bird. Here's information on the pelagic birding trip to Machias Seal Island.
Lots of people ask us what to do because they have found a baby bird. If it is a healthy fledgling (fully feathered and can hop or flutter, such as the fledgling robin above) chances are the parents will care for it if you put it back where you found it and keep pets and humans away from the area.
If it is so young it has no feathers, few feathers, feathers in their sheaths, or still seems too young to hop about or fly, try first to put it back in the nest, if you can locate the nest. Or make a fake nest of a berry basket or margarine container and put it nearest where the original nest was. Watch quietly from a distance for an hour to see if the parents care for it.
If truly abandoned, or if it is injured, you need to get it to a licensed bird rehabilitator as soon as possible. It against the law to keep native baby birds. Licensed bird rehabiltators have special expertise to care for sick, injured and abandoned birds, which they care for with the goal to release them back into the wild. To find a directory of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your state click here:
You can also call your nearest audubon society or nature center and get the names of licensed bird rehabilitators near you.
Meanwhile, while caring for a baby bird while waiting to get it to a licensed bird rehabilitator, keep it in a warm, quiet place, such as a shoebox with ventilation holes, or a box or berry basket with soft kleenex as a nest. Here are tips on what to feed and how to care for it as emergency measures but take it to a licensed bird rehabilitator asap!
Here are some red, white and blue birds plus an Eastern Bluebird, male, that gets our vote for most patriotic bird as he has the combined colors in his plumage. Happy Fourth of July! Hope you have a great holiday and see some red, white and blue birds!
Monarch Butterfly. They lay their eggs on milkweed and their caterpillars feed on this plant.
Great Spangled Frittillary on Purple Coneflower
Close-up of Great Spangled Fritillary
American Lady Butterfly, told by the two eye spots on underside of the hindwing
Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies are unmistakable
Spicebush Swallowtails can be told from other big, dark swallowtails by their single row of prominent white dots inside the margin of their forewings. The larvae of Spicebush Swallowtails feed on spicebush and sassafrass.
Pearl Crescent butterfly. Scores are feeding on white clover on our path so we keep the path mowed high to preserve the clover flowers for them.
Mourning Cloaks are widespread across much of North America. They are one of the few butterflies who overwinter as adults, finding protected places in log piles, nooks, or under loose bark, and when they emerge in the spring they look worn, as this butterfly does. They are one of the longest lived butterflies and some may live as long as 10 months. Mourning Cloaks feed on sap and fruit.
Our butterfly bushes will bloom soon and they're magnets for the butterflies. Here's a Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly on one of them.
We've written two books to help you attract and identify butterflies. Stokes Beginner's Guide To Butterflies, has an easy ID key to help you quickly identify the butterflies you see by size and shape.
Stokes Butterfly Book gives you plans for a butterfly garden, lists and photos of butterfly plants, and chapters, with color photos, on the identification, behavior and caterpillars of common butterflies. Both are available at amazon.com and stores.
When the birding is slow, and it's the middle of the day, a wonderful thing for birders to do is look for butterflies. Butterflies are colorful flying creatures, just like birds. The identification skills birders already have can be transferred to identifying butterflies.
Look at butterflies through your binoculars, no need to catch them in a net.
The hot weather favors butterflies as they need to warm their bodies to fly. They need to get their body temperature up to 85 to 100 degrees Farenheit in order to fly well. Adult butterflies come to flowers for nectar, lay their eggs on special host plants, which can be unique to each species of butterfly. The eggs hatch, larva feed on the plant then turn into a pupa or crysalis from which the adult butterfly will emerge. A complete cycle or generation is called a brood, and butterfly species can go through from just one to as many as four broods per year, depending on the species and the number of warm months. Different butterflies are on the wing at different times during the summer, so you will continue to see new species.
There are about 17,000 species of butterflies in the world. In North America there are about 700 species but only a small fraction are common and likely to be seen by the average person.
When you see a butterfly watch it closely for several minutes. Observe how it flies, its size, shape, and the colors and patterns on its wings, both above and below.
Start by knowing the major families of butterflies that are distinctive. Below are some:
Swallowtails - are our largest butterflies and most have long tails coming off their hind wings.
Whites and Sulfurs - these are all medium-sized butterflies that are predominantly white or yellow.
Gossamer Wings - this group is easy to identify since it includes all of our smallest butterflies, such as the blues, coppers and hairstreaks, and metalmarks. The blues tend to be iridescent blue, coppers are often copper, hairstreaks often have hairlike tails on their hind wings, and metalmarks often have metallic spots on their wings.
Brush-footed Butterflies - this is a large and varied group of medium-sized, generally dark-colored butterflies with such strong and rapid flight they are hard to follow. Their is no one field characteristic, besides their flight, that makes them easy to identify as a group.
Satyrs - these are medium-sized butterflies that are almost all brown, often with darker eye-spots on their wings. They have a weak and bobbing flight and are often seen at woods edges or among grasses.
Skippers - are small butterflies whose flight is extremely rapid and erratic. They are mostly rich brown or orange-brown.
The Bobolinks are breeding at Bobolink Farm, our NH home. Likely 4 breeding pairs. So happy we provide a safe grassland for them to breed in, with our farmer not mowing until August when the young are safely out of the nest.
Thrush serenade. A Hermit Thrush was singing its beautiful song as we walked down the dirt road near our property, Bobolink Farm, in NH. Such a treat! Learn the various songs of the thrushes near you and prepare to be serenaded!
Happening now! Daddy bluebird feeding his fledgling baby mealworms from the feeder. Sooo cute! Soon the fledgling will learn to use the mealworm feeder itself. In this cold, rainy weather when the insects the parents also feed the young are less active, the mealworms are a welcome help to the busy parents. Love the bluebirds it is such a special treat to have them breeding right by.
There's a Scarlet Tanager singing in our backyard right now. These beautiful neotropical migrant birds fly each fall across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in South America then return in spring to breed in forests across most of the upper two thirds of North America and southern Canada. Look for them up high in the tree tops and learn their raspy song that sounds a little like a robin with a hoarse voice.