Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Yeah, Like You Blend!


If you’ve seen the movie My Cousin Vinny, then you know the title of this blog entry is one of the movie’s classic lines.  We are currently experiencing this part of the movie in reverse as we travel away from the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.  Instead of being a couple from New York visiting the South, we are South Carolinians visiting New Jersey.  A combination of grandparents without Internet and a tree limb taking out our other hosts’ cable has prevented our blogging from the road.


Try as we might, we do not blend into the environment of the Northeast.  We’re heading to Washington, D. C. tomorrow, so we’ll have a better shot.  However, topic of blending reminded us of several recent events.  First, was the nearly-invisible Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) that we discovered along the low boardwalk during summer camp.  The snake is camouflaged in the leaf litter as it waits coiled in an ambush position for prey to wander within striking distance.  Secondly, there is an article in this month’s National Geographic Magazine entitled “The Art of Deception: Sometimes Survival Means Lying, Stealing, or Vanishing in Place.”  Many of the species noted in the article inhabit rain forests around the world.  However, there are several fine examples in the old-growth swamp at Beidler Forest.  In fact, Jeff Mollenhauer, director of bird conservation for Audubon South Carolina, was able to capture digital images of the predator-prey deception game.


In the first image, we’ll give you a clue…the predator is the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea).  Can you spot the prey?  The second image is a closer look and both predator and prey are in view.  Clue #2: 

The prey is an insect and in the third image you can tell that the bird has spotted his meal.



Not sure where the bird found the caterpillar.  Glance back at the previous images and see if you can find the small twig that disappeared.



Obviously, no camouflage is foolproof, but a good camouflage scheme undoubtedly decreases one’s chances of being detected and possibly eaten!  That reminds me, when they ask if I want to go halves on a pie, they mean pizza and not pumpkin.  Blending is harder than it sounds.

Images by Jeff Mollenhauer

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