Confirmed sightings

Having submitted sighting reports for my September sightings of a Variegated Fritillary, Monarch, Pearl Crescent, Red-spotted Admiral, and Common Buckeye to the Butterflies and Moths of North America site, I was delighted to learn that all five identifications have been confirmed. They don’t represent a very high degree of difficulty, but I was a little doubtful as to the Variegated Fritillary and the Pearl Crescent. It’s nice to feel that I’ve made a tiny contribution to the recorded sightings.

Other recent sightings

We’ve had a cardinal family dropping by every morning. The male is very bold, coming close to the house and waiting for me to toss out some sunflower seeds. Then the female and the young male join him. I’m glad to see them raising an actual cardinal for their second round; they started the summer by raising a cowbird.

The other day I was home in the middle of the day and was surprised to see an adult rabbit in the yard. This was the first rabbit we’ve seen all year.

From time to time the female hummingbird has come back to visit the butterfly bush. I’m realizing we don’t have very many suitable flowers for her right now. I’ll try to do better next year.

Earlier this week I spotted two Northern Flickers facing each other in the middle of the lawn. From time to time they moved their heads from side to side and pointed their beaks upward. I gather this is called a “fencing duel” (Cornell’s All About Birds site has a good description) but this seems to be the wrong time of year.


This morning I watched two mourning doves on the walk behind the house. One (female?)  was standing still, close to the second one (male?) who was completing a thorough grooming. Feathers settled, the second one then began to peck at the first one’s neck and head. A quick search lead me to this blog post at, where I learned the term “allopreening” for this behavior.

Bees on the butterfly weed

Here is the Asclepias tuberosa I planted last July, hoping to support butterflies. I was so pleased to see that it survived to grow and bloom this year. At first I didn’t see any insects visiting it, but today noticed three different small bees on it, two of which are visible in this photo. The few butterflies we’ve had lately have focused on the butterfly bushes, and the little zinnias that have begun to bloom.


The Swallowtails are Back

Yesterday we had two Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the yard. In the afternoon we visited Wheaton Regional Park, which includes a lot of tulip trees, their larval food plant.  We spotted our first butterfly on a patch of bare ground as we entered the park. Continuing on to the gardens, we arrived at the massive bottlebrush buckeye at the edge of the woods, to find a dozen or more swallowtails and several hummingbird moths visiting the blooms. They were all in motion, but I did manage to capture two in this photo.