Monday, March 29, 2010

Phenology Notes: Black-Backed Woodpecker and Morning Cloak Butterfly

Entries from John Latimer's Phenology Notes:

April 12th, 2009: In the black spruce swamp west of the house a black-backed woodpecker was busy flaking bark from the trees. His motions were economical and extremely facile. Supporting himself with his tail he leaned to the left and struck the bark with one or two well placed blows. Quickly shifting to the right he struck a blow and the whole piece of bark flaked off. A quick inspection for insects followed and the whole sequence was repeated. There were no wasted motions. It was like watching a well choreographed dance. The male black-backed and the male northern three-toed are the only woodpeckers of the northern boreal forest that have no red on their heads. Both sport a medium sized yellow cap.

May 5th, 1998: The spring azure and mourning cloak butterflies are out and flitting around today. The spring azure is a lovely small blue butterfly. Butterflies employ several strategies to get through our winter. Some like the mourning cloak over-winter as adults hiding in cracks and cavities, while others like the monarchs migrate. The spring azures are the first butterfly to emerge from a chrysalis in the spring. They spent the winter wrapped in silk awaiting transformation to the butterfly stage. Though they live for only a week or so as adults they add immeasurably to the beauty of the north woods. First juneberries are seen in flower, while on the forest floor the wood anemones are starting to bloom.

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