As the season approaches fall, we see and hear an arrival of a good number of late summer and early autumn plant and animal species. The arrival of the summer's newly hatched and developing young are always a treat, as is the opportunity to observe the changing colors of the season.
This year is no different. Included in this week's article is a combination of photographs depicting the start of the changing of the seasons, as determined by nature, through the appearance and disappearance of plant and animal species common to both periods of the year.
Warren McPherson submitted some excellent photos of a family of deer that consisted of three juveniles and one adult, while Nin Privitera sent in several great pictures of Great Egrets.
The Great Egret, as photographed by Nin Privitera.
Another animal that is more often heard than seen at this time of the year is the small Cicada Fly. The cicada is a member of the insect family and can be heard throughout our area with its high frequency buzzing sound. There are four species of cicadas in our country, ranging from about one-half inch to three inches in length. All have the same general appearance, with four glassy wings held over the body like a roof as indicated in the photo.
One in particular is the "17-year cicada," or sometimes referred to as the Locust. It has probably been seen and heard by all in this country where it is native. The injury done by this animal occurs when it lays eggs. Quite often, the cast skin or shells of these insects are found attached to many vertical objects, such as trees, fence posts and telephone poles. Many of these are found by children who often bring them into their homes. When disturbed, they produce a very shrill note. The great naturalist Charles Darwin often spoke of the sounds he heard made by a Central American locust species in his native country. I have included a submitted photo of one of our local cicadas, along with a cast of its external skin that it emerges from as it matures.
The White-tailed Deer is no stranger to anyone. Native to just about all of North America, they are interesting and fascinating animals. A majestic animal, it prefers forests or large woods that contain water areas such as ponds or small lakes. The White-tail has been observed making bounds as long as 22 feet. The white underside of the tail is seen and a whistling snort is heard when the deer is startled and as it leaps away. The White-tail also prefers mixed or deciduous woodlands or forest edges. Peak breeding season begins in our part of the country around November. The small fawn is spotted and weighs about three to five pounds. As you can tell from the pictures sent by Warren, I estimate these animals to be about a few months old. The White-tail is often determined to be the most important big game animal of the eastern part of our country.
The Great Egret is the largest and most widespread egret in North America. It is commonly found in ponds, small lakes and streams in our county. Most egrets are white. For a time in history, they were endangered, as their population was hunted for their feathers, which were prized in the millinery industry. Today the danger confronting them is the draining of their habitat. I would be remiss if I did not quote my most respected naturalist of the early part of this century, Frank Chapman. Chapman was concerned about the egret due to the hunting of them. He later was pleased as laws were passed to protect them with strict hunting regulations. However, we now know today the greatest threat is loss of suitable breeding habitat. I am confident that continued conservation practices and strict enforcement will provide a positive outlook for this beautiful creature.
I am always interested in photographs, article suggestions and anecdotal information about nature in your area, and questions you might have about the living world around you. You can send information to me at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.