Friday, December 17, 2010

Leaf-cutters and birds

On Mondays I rove from 8 AM to 11. This week the temperature started in the low forties and went up around twenty degrees. It was a beautiful, cloudless, windless day, and there were lots of birds all through the Park: pyrrhuloxias, Abert’s towhees, black-tailed gnat-catchers (a pair), a Cooper’s hawk, possibly a juvenile red-tailed hawk, and all the usual suspects: housefinches, 2010_1018roadrunner0001 lesser goldfinches, cactus wrens, Gila woodpeckers, phainopeplas, a curved-bill thrasher, one of the first seen in ages, and probably others I’ve forgotten.
Leafcutter nest good 12-13-2010 9-26-37 AM 3616x2712
In one of the main wildflower beds we saw this leaf-cutter ant nest, clearly displaying the ant hill, the pieces of leaf, the trail of cut leaves. Leafcutter trail 12-13-2010 9-27-00 AM 3616x2712 I get aggravated when they destroy my ornamental plants (they seem to love roses and pomegranates), but boy are they efficient! They do not actually eat the leaf and flower bits, but rather feed the bits of plant to the colonies of fungus that they tend. Then they eat the fungus!

1 comment:

  1. Well, Happy New Year! i missed this one over the break. Very interesting ant nest photos. I knew the "farming" details, but have never seen the greenhouse!