Friday, May 16, 2008

Where's That Stimulus Check?

Although we already spent our stimulus check on a new camera (a.k.a. The Patriot Camera), there will be no such payment for the many families living near the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.

While watching a Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) nest for an hour, we saw the female return approximately every five minutes with another protein-rich morsel for the hungry, red maws hidden in the nook formed by several cypress knees. Normally, the male helps with the feeding, but in this case he was absent. The female brought a variety of food items, including several LARGE caterpillars, a green specimen from the grasshopper family, and an individual missing legs and wings (possibly a dragonfly like the one shown in the image with a male Prothonotary Warbler at a separate location). The chicks will fledge in approximately 11 days. As noted previously, it matters not that the nest cavities are over water as the chicks supposedly have the ability to swim.

While still watching the female Prothonotary Warbler return with food and depart with a fecal sac (a clean house keeps predators away), we spotted the family of River Otters (Lutra canadensis) that we reported seeing over the weekend. Mom and her two pups probed under the water for food around the bases of the trees and eventually hauled out on a fallen tree to preen. Well, mom preened and the two pups knocked the stuffing out of each other and tumbled back into the water.

So many mouths to feed and so little time!

Images by Mark Musselman

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