Linking to Skywatch Friday.
Linking to Skywatch Friday.
As I sit at the laptop and type, I am listening to a cacophony of blue jay calls in the backyard. Lately, I’ve been noticing groups of blue jays banding together in sound and purpose just about everywhere. Blue jays have always been one of the staple backyard birds of my New Jersey upbringing. I have a vague remembrance of my father being dive-bombed by a blue jay as he mowed the lawn – perhaps he ventured too close to a nest. During the last year, blue jays seemed noticeably absent. I would glimpse an occasional lone jay but, for the most part, the usual crowd at our feeders included sparrows and finches, eating their seeds without verbal interference from blue jays.
After experiencing firsthand some of the effects of Hurricane Sandy last year, I wasn’t surprised when I read recently about the impact the storm had on birds, mostly because of storm damage to either the bird’s habitat or food sources. An article from the National Wildlife Federation specifically mentions blue jays as one of the species that flew south in search of food after the storm. Based on my own casual observations, I think they’ve now returned back to the north!
This very young robin was hanging out on the railing at a local park the other day. Linking to Friday’s Fences at Life According to Jan and Jer.
After eating dinner yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice the sun shining through the clouds preparing for its descent. Rather than watching through the window or in my backyard, I grabbed my camera and headed out to a park to enjoy the view. Not only was I rewarded with a beautiful sunset, but I also managed to snap a shot of my first owl! Welcome sunshine, welcome spring.
The insect had a brownish colored abdomen with a pattern on it and long front antennas. I had never seen an insect like it before. I was intrigued enough to run back inside the office to grab my camera. After taking a photo of the bug, I Googled “large brown bug with antennae” to see what I could find out about it. I figured out that the mystery bug was a Western Conifer Seed Bug. Western . . . immediately I thought I had made a mistake identifying the insect. Since I live on the east coast, I checked to see if perhaps there was an eastern variety of seed bug. After a little reading on the Penn State Entomology web page, I learned that the western conifer seed bug has been expanding its range into the east. At first it was identified in Pennsylvania and now the bug ranges in New Jersey and even into Canada.
Although the western conifer seed bug I saw on the sidewalk was barely moving, apparently they buzz and fly like a bee. The bad news for me is that the bug is considered a pest that likes to come indoors, inside homes and office buildings, in the winter. Perhaps this western conifer seed bug has been hanging around with the stink bugs at my office all winter and I hadn’t noticed it before.