Fall Update

Top Photo: Eastern phoebe awaits airborne insects. These hardy flycatchers will be with us for most of the winter.

The weather is delightful and so are the sights outdoors at the museum. But, you have to be there to see them.

Abelia is still blooming and attracting visitors at the Butterfly House Garden. It’s a non-native species but not considered invasive.

Late blooming Abelia.
Male monarch butterfly takes nectar from Abelia flower…
then takes flight.

A carpenter bee buzzes by goldenrod in the garden along the stairway and ramp leading to the Butterfly House.

Carpenter bee buzzes goldenrod.

Nearly each morning as I walk up the stairs of the Butterfly House I see migrant birds in the garden that borders the stairs. Today, it was a female common yellowthroat in Abelia bush.

Female common yellowthroat.

Along the way, a honeybee stocks up on nectar and pollen from the purple asters next to the path.

Honey bee gathering nectar and pollen.

While at the asters you may see a pearl crescent.

Arrow points to origin of butterfly’s name, pearl crescent.

Or an American lady.

American lady nectaring on purple aster.

If you happen to be in the Vegetable Garden next to the Cafe and notice something odd about the white butterflies mixed in with the leafy vegetables, don’t fret, they’re not real. They’re decoys. They were the idea of Horticultural Mgr, Bobbi Jo Holmes.

Decoy cabbage white butterfly.

The decoys are intended to discourage real cabbage white butterflies from laying their eggs on the collard greens, cabbage and other green leafy vegetables planted in the garden. The larvae of these butterflies do considerable damage to cabbage and other leafy plants.

According to theory, the butterflies will not approach and therefore lay eggs upon plants already occupied by larvae of their own species. “If a cabbage white sees another cabbage white in the immediate area it will by-pass the plant and move on to the next.”

We’ll see how this experiment turns out in the weeks to come. I’m betting on the butterfly doing what they always do, but it’s worth a try. In any case, the decoys add a bit of atmosphere to the garden.

Although I saw a lone ruby-crowned kinglet a few weeks back, they seem to be more numerous this week.

Ruby-crowned kinglets arrive.

Scarce this week were gray catbirds, presumably headed south for the winter.

Gray catbirds depart.

And, of course, the yellow-rumped warblers continue and probably will as long as the wax myrtle berries hold out.

Here for the duration.

If you’ve been patiently waiting for the arrival of yellow-bellied sapsuckers, wait no more, they’re here.

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker looks back at me as I take it’s picture.

Though I saw a sapsucker the previous week, they arrived in numbers this week.

And, finally, the local blue jays have been actively caching acorns in the woods up behind the Lemur House for the past week or two. They fly to an undisclosed location on the east side of campus and fly back with a bill full of acorns. They then bury the acorns in the soft soil of the woods for future use as food. It’s not known how many of the acorns are actually recovered. I’d wager, though, that many an oak tree growing on campus is the result of a forgotten blue jay cache.

Blue jay with acorns to cache.

See you out there!

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