Every once in a while, the opportunity arrives for me to provide an article based upon the great number of pictures and ideas I receive from many of you. Counting e-mails and U.S. mail, I am obtaining an excellent collection of photos and suggestions for articles, which I hope to share with everyone as much as possible in the future.
This week I would like to describe background information on several of those photos and an interesting biological relationship known as symbiosis.
Starting with the photographs, Dave Neveu has sent me some pictures he received of the following birds: Tree Swallow, Bobolink, juvenile Yellow Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole.
Above, as taken by Steve Bixby, the symbiotic friendship between a Gray Squirrel and dog.
The Tree Swallow is one of six members of this family found in our county. It is a bird commonly found in the fall, flying across open fields that are particularly active with people moving about, stirring up insects for their food. I am often found during this time of the year watching the young soccer players at the Fredonia Public Schools playing fields. There, one can see many of these birds excitingly flying a few feet above the ground, enjoying a meal of insects that are scared up by the youngsters' activity. While observed at that location at this time, they are still one of the first spring arrivals.
A cavity nester, their nests are often a common sight along sand and water banks, and they are usually common in open fields. The adult female is usually a little darker than the adult male. The tree swallow arrives in our county around the fourth week of March and departs near the end of October.
Another photograph submitted was of the Bobolink. It is a member of the blackbird family - though it sometimes does not appear as dark as other family members, such as the grackle, cowbird and others, due to its somewhat brighter coloration with the ivory marking on the back of the male's head. The Bobolink is a short-time visitor to our county, arriving the last week of April and departing the fourth week of August.
I would be remiss if I did not quote my favorite ornithologist from the past, the late Frank Chapman, when it comes to this species. Chapman gives us the true history of this species. He states, "In June, our fields and meadows echo with the Bobolink's mad music as, on quivering wing, he sings in ecstasy to his mate on her nest in the grasses below. What a wonderful song it is, an irrepressible outburst, a flood of melody from a heart overflowing with the joy of early summer."
The juvenile Yellow Warbler is one of 40 warblers sighted in our county. It is probably one of the most common and widespread across most of North America, inhabiting open woods and often preferring those along streams. It begins nesting near the end of May, anywhere at ground level to three feet above ground.
The Baltimore Oriole is no stranger to us. Referred to as the Northern Oriole by some ornithologists, it will always be the Baltimore to me. Similar to the Bobolink, the Oriole arrives near the end of April and departs by the second week of September. There has been an accepted sighting of one bird during the second week of December, but the location and reporter are not identified.
Steve Bixby has provided an interesting photo of a symbiotic friendship occurring between a dog and a Gray Squirrel. Symbiosis is defined as the result of a close relationship of individuals of two or more different species. Sometimes a symbiotic relationship benefits both species, sometimes one species benefits at the other's expense, and it is also possible that neither species will benefit.
Thank you all for your contributions. Remember to e-mail any messages or photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY, 14063. Thank you, and keep an eye out for nesting birds as well as juvenile mammals, snakes and turtles at this time of the year.
Enjoy nature. It is a great respite from work, TV and the rest of the daily routines.