Bee Fly

This cute little honeybee sized guy is among the many species of Robber Flies, but this Bee Fly  Diptera: Bombyliidae is another family of flies.  When he is not on cameras, he can be found checking out the pollen of the flowers, and on the ground.  This species lays its eggs in soil and takes a year to complete the life cycle.  The larvae are parasitic on immature stages of other insects and therefore is considered beneficial.

Bee Fly visiting Oakridge; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Bee Fly visiting Oakridge; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

Reviewing pictures we have taken, I found a shot of the bee fly building his burrow in the ground.   I did not realize until recently, what the identity of the insect was.

Found the bee fly burrow, May 2012
Found the bee fly burrow, May 2012

 

 

 

Water Lilies in the Rain

If you’re driving Miller Creek Loop, you will find these water lilies as we did last Saturday in the rain.

Water Lilies; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Water Lilies; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

White Water Lily, Fragrant Water LilyNymphaea odorata.    These perennial lilies are native to Texas and only become a problem if they become too thick within their environment .  Then there is a risk they will start to shade out other plants.  These lilies are found in our ponds, lakes, slow streams and ditches.  The plant parts and seeds benefit waterbirds and small mammals.

Water Lilies on Miller Creek Loop, Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Water Lilies on Miller Creek Loop, Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

 

 

Good Morning, World! – Update2

Moving Day!

Moving Day!  Carolina Wrens moving out; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013
Moving Day! Carolina Wrens moving out; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013

Little Carolina Wrens are ready to leave the nest at 12-14 days after hatching.  These little ones are just about ready to fly!  Today is day 12 and we are watching them as they move halfway in and halfway out of their nest.  Sure hope these little birds reuse this nest soon!

Ready to Leave Home; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013
Ready to Leave Home; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013

Almost a week old, all 5 hatchlings are still doing well (see below).  Mr. Carolina Wren (the dad) brings food to Mrs. Carolina all throughout the day.  These little ones open their mouths when my camera nears thinking food is on it’s way in!

One week old Carolina Wrens; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 30, 2013.
One week old Carolina Wrens; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 30, 2013.

The Carolina Wren is an industrious little bird and a noisy one, too!  They have a loud song for such a small bird.  The male & female are similar in color & markings, only the male is slightly larger.  Male Carolina Wrens work vigorously to build several different nests at the same time.  These little guys are tireless!  But when it comes time to actually lay eggs, the female will chose which nest she wants.  Below is a picture of the male wren as he works building his nest in a flower cart on our porch earlier this month.

Caroline Wren Male Building Nest; Photo by Brenda LaVergne, May 2013
Carolina Wren Male Busy Building Nest; Photo by Brenda LaVergne, May 2013

Once the female has chosen a nest, she sets up housekeeping and lays her eggs.  This family laid five eggs most of which you can see below.  Only the female sits on the nest and the male brings her food all throughout the day.  She will only leave her nest about 6 times a day for water and such, much less often than other species of birds.

Wren eggs in the new nest; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 11, 2013
Carolina Wren eggs in the new nest; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 11, 2013

Hatching begins after 14 days and all the eggs will be hatched out over a 24 hour period.  “Mrs. Carolina” left her nest this morning just long enough to allow me to snap this picture of her new babies.  If you click on the picture below and enlarge it, you can see they have very few feathers at this point and you can see the small bones inside the wing and the claws on the feet.

Three of the five have hatched out just this morning; not many feathers on them yet.  Photo by B.LaVergne, May 25, 2013.
Three of the five Carolina Wrens have hatched out just this morning; not many feathers on them yet. Photo by B.LaVergne, May 25, 2013.

The male will continue to bring food to the female and new hatchlings until they are ready to leave the nest.  The male is a busy bird!   It’s been a real treasure to have the opportunity to watch this happen right on our front porch.  So keep your eyes and ears open for the Carolina Wren.

Plant Quiz

Sent in by Donna Burrows, ORWMA Habitat Chairperson:

Do you know what I am?   Photo by Donna Burrows_May2013
Do you know what I am? Photo by Donna Burrows_May2013

Can you identify this plant?

Hint:   This is the spring time look — it is much different looking later on in the fall/winter.

We will post the answer, along with the picture of its fall look later.  Reply with your answers by sending in a “Comment” on this post.

Changed in an Instant

New Hatched Monarch Butterfly; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Newly Hatched Monarch Butterfly; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

“This male Monarch butterly emerged from his chrysalis this morning about 9 AM.  I caught his picture immediately after his first flight.  He is gorgeous!” – quote from Donna Burrows

Please be sure to leave plenty of host plants on your property for this beautiful creature.  One source of information to learn more about “hosting” the Monarch is www.texasbutterflyranch.com.   Thanks to Donna Burrows, ORWMA Habitat Chairperson, for the wonderful picture above.  Another good place to learn about the Monarch is www.monarchwatch.org.  Check it out and have fun!

 

Hawk Nursery at Oakridge

Red-Tailed Hawk babies are growing!  See below for an update from the Petters.  One baby moved down into the nest, but this one remained on the look-out.  Click on the picture below to enlarge it and see more color and detail on the hawk.

Growing Baby Hawks updated  May 17, 2013; Photo by L.Petter
Growing Baby Hawks updated May 17, 2013; Photo by L.Petter

 

Red-Tailed Hawks just born at Oakridge; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013
Red-Tailed Hawks just born at Oakridge; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013

The attached pictures were sent in to ORWMA by Larry Petter. Linda Petter was so excited to take these of new hawk babies!  The parents are the Eastern Red-tailed Hawk. This is the 3rd year in a row they have raised little ones here at Oakridge.  Both hawk parents come regularly to feed the chicks.

Red-Tailed Hawks are monogamous and are solitary nesters.  This is the most common hawk in North America.

Red-Tailed Hawks just hatched; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013
Red-Tailed Hawks just hatched; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013

 

New Visitor to Oakridge

This Greater Yellowlegs came fishing at our pond late this afternoon; he’s a common sandpiper.  Looks like he still has his winter plumage due to the mild temperatures we’ve had this spring.  These birds like small fish, insects and snails.  What a joy to find a new species on the Ranch!

Greater Yellowlegs; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_May2013
Greater Yellowlegs; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_May2013

 

Hidden Treasure! Update

New fawn hidden by mom; photo by Brenda LaVergne
New fawn hidden by mom; photo by Brenda LaVergne

If you’re planning on spring mowing on your property, be careful to watch out for fawns a doe may have hidden in the tall grass while she eats.  This little guy in the picture was still wet from birth when we happened on him during a hike of our place.  New life!  What a beautiful thing to behold this time of year!  And don’t forget those moms need a little extra protein during this season to help keep them healthy while nursing those little ones.

Please send your pictures and stories to ORWMA at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.

Young Fawn, May 8, 2013; Photo by Douglas Mason
Young Fawn, May 8, 2013; Photo by Douglas Mason

This picture of a young fawn was sent in to ORWMA by Douglas Mason.  He/she is estimated to be three to four weeks old.  Such a beautiful time of renewal here at Oakridge Ranch!

Nuisance or Necessary?

The Common Raccoon is listed as a nuisance animal by Texas Parks & Wildlife.  This mainly nocturnal animal is considered to be a carnivore, but will eat anything you offer them.  Their average weight is from 4 to 20 pounds.  They have sharp claws and teeth, are good climbers and strong swimmers and can often be aggressive and dangerous.  Raccoons adapt easily to living around humans and will often find their way into your attic or pantry.  The raccoon can be a frequent carrier of the Distemper virus, as well as Rabies.

Let us know if you have any Raccoon stories here at the Ranch.  Send your comments and pictures to us at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.

Common Raccoon at Deer Feeder; Photo by Gary LaVergne_2012
Common Raccoon at Deer Feeder; Photo by Gary LaVergne_2012