Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Sightings at the Sanctuary: Birds and Butterflies Galore!

The heatwave and then autumnal weather that followed has not kept the wildlife away this summer at the Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary. Birds, bugs, and reptiles have been all over the grounds. Tiger Swallowtails can be seen in the dozens on our property, especially on the butterfly bush near our headquarters office on the lower part of the Sanctuary. Of course, you can also find them in our fields.

By our nature store, you can be sure to see a male/female pair of Bluebirds at our feeders. We've also had male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks on our property, and our visitors and staff have caught glimpses of the beautiful Indigo Bunting recently.

Since our mission here at Scherman Hoffman is to connect people with nature but also to educate them, here is a quick fact sheet about our frequently-found wildlife. Come to our Sanctuary and see all of the wildlife we have flying (and swimming and walking) around!

The Bluebirds can both migratory or a have a permanent residence in certain areas of the country.  Some stay all year-round from here in New Jersey to Florida and parts of Mexico.  Others spend their summer in Canada, New Hampshire, Maine, etc. and migrate to the Texas or Northern Mexico area for winters.  The Bluebird is not all blue as the name implies, but actually has a white belly and an orange breast and neck area.  This is both the same for the males and females, but the males' colors are significantly brighter and bolder than the females'. One key difference between the male and female is also the females' wings and head are of a combination of gray and blue rather than a bright blue color of the males'.

Indigo Bunting 
Indigo Buntings live all across the country, from the East coast to the occasional in West during the summer months.  Most migrate down south to Florida, Texas, Mexico and the occasional in Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama for the winters.  What makes the Indigo Bunting unique is the males have a very dark, royal blue color covering their entire bodies with black-tipped wings in the spring and summertime.  Meanwhile, the females are a cinnamon color all year round but have a white colored throat which contrasts the rest of its light brown head especially during the summer months.  If you see two blue-colored birds around the Sanctuary, keep in mind that the Indigo Buntings are smaller than the Bluebirds.

Photo by Joseph F. Pescatore

Tiger Swallowtail 
The Tiger Swallowtail butterfly resides in all of the East coast along with most of the Mid-West.  The males are a light yellow color with tiger-like, black stripes going down the the wing along with the edges having a thick line of black surrounding the wings.  Although, some of the females can appear to be black as well as the yellow color like the males' wings.  The stripes are still visible even if the butterfly is the black color.  The Tiger Swallowtail is a rather large butterfly with a wing span about 3.5 to 6.5 inches on average.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are a migratory bird in the East coast and Mid-West.  They spend their summers in the most the Northern United States and their winters on the East coast, Mid-West, and the South-East.  The males have quite a color change, from a brown streaks mixed in with white, black and some rose color on their chest in the winter, to their bright, red chest, white and cinnamon belly, and dark black head and wings in the summer.  Their black wings are also sometimes speckled with a little white.  The female has a similar appearance to the male in the winter;  they have streaks brown, black, and white going down their back, wings, and belly and their uniquely striped head, covering it eye and most of its face.

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