Homemade Bee Guard for Nectar Feeder
This old Oriole sugar water feeder has been converted into a Hummingbird feeder. Bumblebees would occupy the openings and drive away the Ruby-throated hummingbirds so I thought up this idea of using a plastic soda straw to keep the bees away from the sugar water and allow the hummingbirds access to the sugar water. It worked! Depending on the style of your Hummingbird feeder you can find a plastic soda straw that best fits the opening(s) in the feeder. You might have to improvise a bit, possibly splitting a straw or using a split straw as a shim to secure a good fit. Or using a smaller diameter straw to keep out honeybees. I inserted the straw to the bottom of the feeder and cut it off one-half inch above the feeder opening. Hummingbirds visited the feeder within minutes of this alteration.
Above are some color morphs of the Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger. No. 1, usual coloration, No. 2, almost solid yellow, No. 3, usual color with white tail and underbelly, No. 4, black morph with white back and red tail.
Pied Northern Cardinals
The unusual looking female Northern Cardinals at left were photographed by Crystal Tyo near Clinton, MO and John Hartley of Pittsburg, KS in late January 2008. Strikingly similar in appearance one can only speculate if these are random plumage aberrations or a genetic mutations. It seems that the white areas are most prominent around the head and neck.
On January 15, 2009, Joe Klinkon photographed this white-headed female Cardinal (left) at his feeder just west of Arma, Crawford County, KS. This aberration is seen quite often in Northern Cardinals.
The pied Cardinal to the left resided in the yard of Bill Peterson of Roscoe, IL for about a year and was thought to have raised young with a normal colored male. This bird started out with a normal plumage and molted in the white. She was not seen since the fall of 2008.
Black-headed male Cardinal
Summer reports of birds displaying bare heads are not too uncommon. Most often the bird is a Cardinal, usually referred to as red-birds by the general public. On July 27, 2005, the adult male Cardinal in the photo (left) was photographed by Ron Ginardi of Frontenac, KS, during one of its visits to his yard. Ginardi thought he could see a "thin, lone feather was coming out of the top of it's head". For an interesting account of this condition in birds click here.
On August 29, 2003, Jim Ziebol photographed this very white "mutant" House Sparrow on a parking lot near Tower Grove Park in the St. Louis, Missouri area. It was among a small flock of House Sparrows and probably the same bird reported earlier by Gail Ahumada. Thanks to Yvonne Homeyer for relaying Jim's photos for use on this web page.
Please notice that the white bird has some dark (pigmented) areas in its plumage and has, what appears to be, "dark eyes". Albinos are all white with pink eyes.
(Photos by Jim Ziebol)
Devoted Killdeer protecting nest.
An orange flag marks a Killdeer nest on the parking lot of Big Brutus, just southwest of West Mineral, Cherokee County, Kansas. Emmett Sullivan took these photos of this protective parent bird at very close range, as it performed the "crippled wing" act. The nesting area was protected from vehicles, allowing the Killdeer to nest successfully. Killdeer nest in slight depressions in the rocks, and as depicted in the adjacent photo the eggs are quite difficult to see against the rocky background. The young are able to run soon after hatching.
What is wrong with these pictures?
There is no doubt what is being projected by the body language of this young Mom! "I'm just fine but don't move one inch closer!" The photo was taken on July 5, 2003, by my wife, Liz Mangile, during a presentation on reptiles at Lake Crawford, near Farlington, KS. Over 60 people, including many children, were in attendance. Park Naturalist, Adam Murray, who assisted with the presentation, tried to ease the tension as he attempted to get this young Mom acquainted with a beautiful, harmless, rough green snake. The kids begged to hold the snake - but adults are apparently much smarter! Other adults responded in the same manner as the pretty young Mom in the photo - snakes represent a menace, to the adult mind. This photo seems to be one of those special shots that captures the essence of the moment; like the sailor kissing the girl on the street, after World War II . It is too good a shot not to share.
In stark contrast to the lady above, these two little cuties at the right were completely unafraid of the baby black rat snake they were holding. Their names are not known but they were fully aware of their snake-bearing status - working the crowd as ambassadors. They were part of a crowd pleasing baton show at the October 4, 2003, Craft Show that was held as a fund raiser for the South East Kansas Nature Center currently under construction in Schermerhorn Park at Galena, KS. They deserve thanks for posing for the photo but as you might detect the pleasure was all theirs! I wonder if Moms, like the one above, can answer why their child's behavior is so much different than their own. After all that is a "snake" they are holding!
Pied Common Grackle & Red-winged Blackbird
Throughout the winter of 2002 and 2003 there were several reports of pied (spotted; partly colored) "blackbirds" in the Pittsburg, Crawford County, Kansas area. One such report was of a solid white bird seen in a flock of blackbirds of unknown species. On March 13, 2003, a pied common grackle Quiscalus quiscula, (above left), visited our yard and was photographed through the window of our garage, as it mingled with a small flock of other grackles. On April 6, 2009, Joe Klinkon snapped this pied Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus, (above right), that had been visiting a feeder at a friend's residence. Such irregularly pied birds are erroneously referred to as "partial albinos" and are a human curiosity. Albinos are all white with pink eyes.
Dilute-blond vs. Wild Color Ring-necked dove
Click here for call of Ring-necked Dove, Streptopelia "risoria"
Upper left: Photo of an apparent escaped domesticated Ring-necked dove, Streptopelia "risoria" (call ringed turtle dove in birding guide books), was sent to me by Jan Neale of El Dorado, MO. Upper right & Lower left: The wildtype coloration of the ring-necked dove raised in captivity. - - Ring-necked doves have been bred in captivity for centuries. Escapees cause confusion among bird watchers because they look much like the Eurasian Collard dove, Streptopelia decaocto. One of the most distinguishing characteristics is the difference in their call. Domestic Ring-necked doves are commonly bred in a variety of colors. The wild Eurasian Collard dove is a bit larger and not found in a wide variety of colors. The photo in upper left appears to be dilute-blond (or fawn color). To learn more about the variety of plumage types in the domestic dove click here.
Diamondback Water Snake
Eating Bullhead Catfish.
Caught in the act of eating one of his hand fed Bullhead Catfish, Bob Hurt of rural Pittsburg, KS snapped this photo on August 15, 2002. The Diamondback Water Snake was said to be about 3-feet, or so, in length and about 2-inches in diameter; the catfish was about 10-12 inches long. It took the resident snake, AKA "Sneaky Snake", about an hour to get itself around the catfish. Great shot Bob, and thanks for feeding the wildlife!
Addendum: The diamondback water snake is not poisonous. Some species of water snakes are called "water moccasins" but they should not be confused with the Cottonmouth (Water) Moccasin, which is poisonous. For a picture and some information about the cottonmouth click here.
Maintained by:Robert J. Mangile