As late migratory birds birds pass through and local residents continue with their seasonal duties, a number of butterfly species are currently on the wing.
Butterflies noted recently in our area include Eastern tiger, black, Palamedes, zebra and spicebush swallowtails, cabbage white, cloudless sulphur, sleepy orange, mourning cloak, red admiral, question mark, variegated fritillary, pearl crescent, azure sp., gray and red-banded hairstreaks, Horace's and Juvenal's duskywings, Carolina satyr, silver-spotted, fiery, whirlabout, broad-winged and clouded skippers.
A few odonate (dragonfly and damselfly) species have also been noted on the wing. Among those seen are great blue skimmer, Eastern pondhawk, black and Carolina saddlebags, 4-spotted pennant, common green darner, blue dasher, common whitetail, fragile forktail and Rambur's forktail.
The ruby-throated hummingbird breeding season is well underway, and the first youngsters will be leaving the nests any day now. For the first few days out of the nest, the youngsters will follow their mother about learning how to find food and survive in the wide world. Once they are able to fend for themselves, their mom will chase them from her immediate territory, where she will attempt another brood. From the end of the first week of June onward, it can be difficult to identify/distinguish between the immature and female hummers visiting your feeders, as all young hummingbirds look like females when they leave their nests.. It takes awhile for males to begin to show any sign of what will become their colorful gorget (throat) feathers. Young ruby-throated hummingbirds can be so similar in appearance to adult females that the only way to accurately discern the age and sex of the bird is to have it “in hand” to look at the shape of one particular flight feather and check for microscopic striations of the bill that help to determine whether or not the bird was born this year.
Size is not an accurate indicator of hummingbird age, as young hummers are actually larger than their mother when they leave the nest (as is the case with most birds species.) The additional mass of recently fledged birds gives them a bit of a survival “cushion” as they enter the period when they must learn to survive on their own.
Remember to keep your feeders clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, including red food coloring which is a known carcinogen and banned from use in food in many countries around the world.