Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bald Birds, etc.

I keep a close eye on the MDC Blog, and today this one jumped out at me, probably for something I have in common with an occasional bird.  Bald birds brings to mind turkey vultures and eagles, but other birds show their pate occasionally. 
The June 24th entry showed a bald cardinal on a feeder and it was one ugly bird.  It looks like a cross between a cardinal and a vulture.  Fortunately, baldness doesn't have the same effect in humans- I hope.  Tim Smith discusses how it happens.
The condition arises during the bird’s molting period, when old feathers are being replaced with a new set. In the few bald individuals, the feathers on the head are lost simultaneously. During the normal molting, with sequential replacement of feathers, the birds are never without their feathery covering. A contributing factor in the bald birds may be the birds’ rubbing their heads on objects during molting, due to itching from lice. The bald condition is temporary, as new feathers will later emerge to recover the bird’s head. It’s probably a good thing that most bird feeders don’t contain mirrors."
In Invaders at the Door on June 18th, Tim gives a nice succinct description of the life cycle of the Japanese beetle that is back plaguing the Ozarks.
 Adult beetles feed for about two months after emerging from the soil in late June. During July they mate and the females lay 40 to 60 eggs in the soil. Larvae, or grubs, emerge from the eggs in about two weeks and will feed on plant roots and decaying vegetation before overwintering in the soil and emerging as adults the next spring. The grubs can damage lawns by feeding on grass roots, leaving plants more susceptible to summer drought damage. The adults feed on the foliage, flowers and fruit of hundreds of different host plants, including fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs and agricultural plants such as corn and soybeans. When feeding on leaves, they eat the tissue between the veins, leaving mere skeletons of the former leaf.
Finally, the July 9th blog describes the two brand new publications from MDC.  Show-Me Herps covers turtles and snakes in a guide similar to the popular Show-Me Bugs.
Missouri Wild Mushrooms is a guide to 102 common mushrooms found in Missouri.  This is designed to educate without being encyclopedic.  It also has 24 recipes, which is why I am getting it for Barb for our anniversary.  An added incentive is the offer to Master Naturalists which Jay sent earlier.  Don't tell Barb it was a bargain- I want her to think I splurged for her. (editor's note: How could you think you could get away with that Bob?)

You may want to save a link to the MDC Fresh Afield blog on your browser, as we all will find something different to learn there.


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