Birds.− This month, lucky birdwatchers may catch a glimpse of rare common mergansers, tricolor herons, little blue herons and snowy egrets. Also, sandpipers are beginning to return to the
Populations of the indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) have steadily increased in abundance since the 1900’s, despite being vulnerable to cowbird parasitism. These brilliant blue finches prefer to breed in forest edges, open woodlands, weedy fields and orchards. As
In July, remember to look for anting behavior, when birds carefully arrange themselves on top of an ant hill or vigorously rubbing its feathers with an ant. Summer and year-round residents that are known to engage in anting include the yellow-billed cuckoo, mourning dove, common flicker, brown thrasher and pine warbler.
Remember: Give those fledglings a fighting chance by KEEPING
Butterflies.− This month the grass skipper doldrums begin, but grass skipper activity should increase by the end of the month. Also, the flight of the common wood nymph is just beginning, so you may see some fresh (i.e., newly emerged) ones out and about. Lucky observers may also see fresh Appalachian browns and tawny emperors.
Also, observant naturalists and gardens may notice large green caterpillars with black and orange markings munching away on flowers in the Carrot family this month, or you might even see strange, greenish-brown cocoons hanging from plants (see video of the process). Most likely, you are witnessing black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) larvae in action. In fact, the black swallowtail is one of the most commonly seen garden butterflies. Males are recognized by their jet black wings lined with yellow-orange bands, a few blue spots and a single black-eyed orange spot. The female is mostly black with lines of yellow and blue spots. After a female black swallowtail lays yellowish eggs on a member of the Carrot family, it takes a few days to hatch into a caterpillar. The caterpillar will go through five instars (or stages, click here for more information) before transforming into a chrysalis. After about 10 days, a butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis, although in some cases, the chrysalis will over-winter.
Reptiles & Amphibians.− Keep an eye out for snakes and turtles this month, their eggs are still incubating, but some may hatch towards the end of the month. Fence lizards and skinks are also out in abundance. Large choruses of Cope’s gray treefrogs, green tree frogs, bullfrogs and green frogs can still be heard this month. Also listen for eastern narrow-mouthed toads and eastern spadefoots. Cope’s gray treefrog froglets will continue to emerge from ponds and wetlands this month.
Other Insects.− Cicadas and katydids will be chorusing in earnest this month. Also, lookout for increased numbers of Japanese beetles, a pest that arrived from
In Bloom this Month.− Lookout for some striking July flowers and their amazing array of pollinators. Ever wonder why flowers come in such a diversity of shapes, sizes and colors? They are meant to attract different pollinators. Orange flowers, like butterflyweed, and purple flowers, like purple-coneflower, primarily attract butterflies although other pollinators will visit these floral gems as well. Tubular red flowers with copious and sweet nectar, like cardinal flower and trumpet creeper, are very attractive to hummingbirds.
SMALL-FRUIT AGRIMONY – Agrimonia microcarpa
SWAMP MILKWEED – Asclepias incarnata
DOWNY YELLOW FALSE-FOXGLOVE – Aureolaria virginica
AMERICAN BEAUTY-BERRY – Callicarpa
TRUMPET CREEPER - Campsis radicans
WHORLED TICKSEED – Coreopsis verticillata
TICK TREFOIL(S) – Desmodium spp.
INDIAN-STRAWBERRY – Duchesnia indica
PURPLE-CONEFLOWER – Echinacea spp.
EASTERN DAISY FLEABANE- Erigeron annuus
NORTHERN RATTLESNAKE-MASTER – Eryngium yuccifolium
THOROUGHWORT – Eupatorium spp.
WHITE AVENS – Geum canadense
SCARLET ROSE-MALLOW – Hibiscus coccineus
ST. ANDREW’S-CROSS – Hypericum hypericoides
SUMMER PHLOX – Phlox paniculata
AMERICAN LOPSEED – Phryma leptostachya
BLACK-EYED-SUSAN(S) – Rudbeckia spp.
HOARY SKULLCAP – Scutellaria incana
STICKY ROSINWEED – Silphium glutinosum
STARRY ROSINWEED –Silphium asteriscus
AXILLARY GOLDENROD – Solidago caesia.
STOKES’-ASTER – Stokesia laevis
IRONWEED – Vernonia spp.
Piedmont Habitats.− Have you ever wanted to identify characteristics of a forest or habitat by a few key plant or animal species or cues from the landscape? Old hayfields are usually dominated by grasses and legumes, while former pasture land (i.e., grazed) is often home to eastern red cedar, thistle and dense fescue.
Burt, W. H. and R. P. Grossenheider. 1980. A Field Guide to the Mammals, 3rd ed.
Cook, D. 2001. The Piedmont Almanac.
Daniels, J. C. 2003. Butterflies of the
Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye (1988). The Birder's Handbook.
Elbroch, M. 2003. Mammal Tracks and Signs A guide to North American Species.
Wagner, D. L. 2005. Caterpillars of