Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Swallow Nest

The bird perched in the Sycamore tree is the Momma bird. She stayed pretty close while I took photos. I'm pretty certain that this is a Swallow Nest. It is built near the roof line of a two story home in the country, very near a river in Central California*.

*On the Stanislaus River in Stanislaus County

Bird Nest with Eggs, and Hatchlings

These are pictures of the same nest! The picture with eggs was taken on Easter, and the picture of the new hatchlings was taken only a week later. Unfortunately, I didn't get back to see the baby birds again before they left the nest, so I can't identify them. Still it's pretty neat to have the photos!

The photos were taken at my brother and sister-in-law's house. Birds make a nest in this planter on their front porch every year. I am very jealous!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It's kind of hard to see the ants surrounding this opening to their underground nest. I took several pictures of them running in and out, and the little stinkers were so fast that this is the only picture that had more than one ant in it! Can you find five? Click on the picture for a better view.

Cliff Swallow Nests

Do you see what looks like holes in the side of this cliff? They really aren't holes, but they are birds' nests built from mud! These nests were built by Cliff Swallows. Click on the pictures for a full screen view.

Here is some information that I found just for you about Cliff Swallows!
There are four very important things to consider if you happen to be a Cliff Swallow looking for a place to build your nest.
(1) an open habitat for foraging,
(2) a suitable surface for nest attachment beneath an overhang or ledge,
(3) a supply of mud of the proper consistency for nest building, and
(4) a body of fresh water for drinking. {Thank you UC Davis for this information}

Swallows kind of like to return to the same nest year after year, not always, but often. I think that's pretty interesting. Don't you?
Swallows feed on insects and spend a large part of each day in the air catching flies, beetles, and mosquitoes. Their long, pointed wings give them great speed and maneuverability.

Cliff swallows build mud nests attached to cliffs, bridges, buildings and other structures. This is particularly true of the cliff swallow—the swallow of San Juan Capistrano—which nests in large colonies of up to several hundred pairs. {UC Davis}

I wish I could have managed to get closer to take better pictures, but the river is really quite wide right here. I did find a site with wonderful pictures and even a little video that I'm sure you will enjoy. Look at The Birder's Report for more information.


This lizard did not want me to take his picture! Either his head or his tail, but not the whole guy.

This link will take you to a really cool site where you can view California Lizards, and see if you can identify this guy's variety for yourself!

Painted Lady Butterfly

An antenna is a sensory appendage that is attached to the head of adult insects. Antennae are used for the sense of smell and balance. Butterflies have two antennae with clubs at the end. For an even better look, click on the pictures.

Look at the butterfly's fuzzy body! Click on the picture to enlarge it for a better look!

All adult butterflies have six legs. The two forelegs of some butterfly species are tiny.
For Butterfly Activity Pages, I found this cool link!
This is a page that I especially like, for an activity sheet labeling the parts of the butterfly anatomy.
For more information about the Painted Lady Butterfly, just click on the name and it will take you to Wikipedia.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Snowy Day in England

Isn't this the most beautiful photograph of Ice Crystals?
My friend, Elaine*, who lives in England, took these photos and gave me permission to share them with you!

Click on the photos for a larger view.

Do you think the ice crystals look a little like feathers?

She took these photos of her frozen windshield.
Always try to take the time to stop and enjoy the beauty of nature.
It will amaze you, anew, every time.

*Moms and Dads,
I hope you will enjoy Elaine's Blog as much as I do!
Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover
Thank you, Elaine!

Saturday, January 31, 2009


These are so tiny, the largest one is about 3/4".
Notice they are growing in a very moist environment of mostly decomposing leaves.

Hidden Birds!

Maybe this guy isn't so well hidden, but he was sure keeping an eye on me!
As always, just click on the photo for a better look.

The photo above has two really well hidden birds in it. Well, two birds, one is really well hidden. I'll give you a couple of hints, the well hidden one is bright blue, and he's mostly hidden behind the branch.

More Bird Nests

Birds build their nests out of anything that they find handy. This nest (above) is built mainly of twigs and mud, but look at the fishing line! The orange thing is an oak gall. This particular nest was built in an oak tree alongside a river where fishing is a popular sport, which explains the fishing line.
The nest above was too high in the tree for me to get a better picture, but I can tell that it was built from a lot of grass. It must have been a nice soft nest for the hatchlings to snuggle down in.

I've shown this nest before, but now that all of the leaves are gone, it's so much easier to see. You can see that it was constructed mainly of mud, with twigs and grass. It is really a pretty big nest. I'm hoping that the birds that lived in it last year will return this Spring, and I can see what type they are.

An aerie is built of twigs and sticks. It doesn't look particularly soft and cuddly, do you think?

These branches are infested with clusters of mistletoe, but the very top, left cluster, isn't mistletoe at all. It is the aerie that you saw in the previous picture!
This is a wonderful time of year to hunt for nests in the woods! With few or no leaves on the trees, just keep your eye out for a tangle of twigs in a Y, where a couple of branches come together.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Frost, Ice Crystals

Don't you think the ice crystals are especially beautiful? Click on the pictures to get an even better look at them.

The pictures above and below are more heavily frosted because they are dead leaves. The leaves that are on live plants have fewer ice crystals because they still have liquid in their veins. This keeps them warmer, and they don't freeze as readily as the dead leaves.

Friday, January 9, 2009


This fellow has been hanging around my front yard for the last few days. His feet are bright yellow, and while he is perched there, he cheeps like an Easter chickie.

From the top of his head to the tip of his tail, he is about 18" to 20" tall. That's about as tall as a newborn human baby!

This is a view of the Hawk from the side. You can get a good look at the shape of his raptor beak from this photograph. For more information, click on the word Hawk!

After checking with Wikipedia, I feel safe identifying this fellow as a Sharp Spined Hawk.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Frost - Ice Crystals

It's very, very cold outside today! It's freezing, even! When it gets cold enough outside to freeze the water droplets in the air, we say that we have a "frost". This is a picture of the frozen grass on my front lawn.
Look at the individual ice crystals on these leaves! These are tiny leaves, about the size of your Mom's thumbnail. Click on the pictures to see a larger view.

This is not carpet! This is a close up of the ice crystals on the car's windshield! Did you know that this is the way ice looks up close? Click on the picture for a full screen view.

The next time that you have frost at your house, dress warmly and go outside to get a good look for yourself!

Do you notice that very near the house there is no ice or frost? Not always, but if it is a light frost, often times there will be ice all over the entire outdoors, but not next to the house! Do you know why that is? It's because the house is actually kind of warm, and the temperature of the ground next to it doesn't get all the way down to freezing!

Do an experiment! When there is a weather forecast for frost, before you go to bed, place a piece of newspaper out on your lawn, away from the house.
Put a rock on it to keep it from blowing away in case of a breeze.
When you get up in the morning, if it has frosted over night, dress warmly and go outside to see! There will likely be ice crystals on your lawn, on the rock and on the newspaper, but the lawn under the newspaper will probably have no ice crystals!

Can you tell me why there aren't ice crystals there? Tell me what you think!
For more information on frost and the weather, check out The Weather Channel Kids!