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More Chickadees and Insects, a Brief Look
August 08, 2011

Hurray, the Heat Wave is over (for now).

At least it is in Michigan.


The sun now sets before 9:00 PM in Southwest Michigan.

Yes, the days continue to grow shorter.

I do however, enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.

Don't you?

Besides all of the flowers and veggie gardens.

Other things are happening.

It is almost like magic...............

Turn the calender from July to August and something special happens.

A symphony ................

(Katydid, pictured)

Insects of all shapes and sizes join in to fill the air with music that was left void when our birds stop singing.

Crickets, Katydids, grasshoppers, Cicadas and other insects fill the air with music.

Add the frantic sounds of hummingbirds and other pollinators and I'm good to go.

This may annoy you, but for me....

It says August.

A Big Welcome to all our new readers as we continue to grow every week.

This past month we have experienced wonderful growth.

Please stick around and hopefully we will become friends as I try to inform and hopefully entertain you.

Currently, I am in a series about insects (you can find past letters in the archives posted at the bottom of this letter).

You will learn a bit about me and my family......................

I even share some on the fur kids Akita (Keet), and Ziggy the Poodle.

I believe in God and Creation, but don't let that stop you from hopefully learning a thing or two, and from you teaching me (as many readers have and will).

A special thanks to all that continue to share and spread the word.

'Gardening For Wildlife ' is a rapid growing aspect in gardening and one we all need for ourselves and our wildlife.

I said I would share more on my Black-capped chickadees this week, so here goes.

I have a nest box in a neighbors yard and this was the second clutch produced this year (most years, chickadees will have a single, large brood of 6 to 8).

Well, several days after the young fledged, the parents brought the three fledglings to my peanut feeder that hangs near the deck.

A light bulb turns on and I'm off to get some peanut pieces.

I break them into smaller pieces and put my hand right next to the peanut feeder.

Almost immediately, a young bird jumped onto my hand.

Then another and another.

The parents were slow to take my offerings and are still a bit hesitant, but they too will snatch and fly away.

The fledglings are noticeably smaller and at that time, still had the yellow lips that said they were young (now the yellow is gone).

Fledglings haven't learned to fear or be cautious of people just yet and were easy to hand train.

By breaking the pieces into bite sized morsels, I now have youngsters that will stay and feed on my hand for up to a minute at a time.

It is so neat to watch.

When they snatch and run or even stay and feed, they go
into the tree and wipe of their bill on a tree branch (no napkin or shirt to wipe on), and often go to the water container, take a drink and return to feed.

When they have had their fill, they simply fly away.

One fledgling in particular has become a favorite.

I call it 'Two Toe' as it seems to have a small birth defect with the outside claw on its right foot (see picture).

If 'Two Toe' is around when I step onto the deck, it comes flying down as if to say ........... "Well, I'm Waiting".

At times I will put a finger from my free hand down to see if I can pet it.

'Two Toe' will have nothing to do with that and pecks at my finger.

No, it doesn't hurt, but is fun to do.

I do however, have it trained to jump or land on a finger as if it were a perch and then down to the feeding hand.

The birds come and go more often now as they explore their surroundings (even Two Toe), but return enough to hand feed.

I hope nothing happens and I can feed these little birds into the winter and beyond.

It has been a learning experience and very entertaining for all of us.

I even have my four year old grandson hand feeding them.

When they aren't feeding, they delight us with their antics.

When they aren't at the feeders, wild birds are feeding in 'Nature's' buffet.

Yes, wild birds still get 75% of their groceries (insects, fruits, etc.) from the wild and our gardens.

I realize that last week's topic on mosquitoes wasn't exactly the most popular of subjects, but I wanted to give you an idea how all insects play a vital roll in the circle of life.

The most deadly of insects, yet it feeds so many other creatures.

Even our little hummingbirds eat copious amount of mosquitoes (protein).

I could write scores of letters on insects, however there are so many other topics to cover.

Yes, I will be winding down in the next week or so.

This week is a brief look into the wonderful world of insects.


A brief look at just a few of these amazing creatures might well convince you that insects deserve your respect.

You don't have to like them, do try to respect them.

I was once ignorant and did my best to wipe out as many insects as possible.

After all, many of us grew up with dust and chemical spray cans in our hands.

It was after all, "The Law of the Land".

Before declaring war on every bug that crosses your path, why not try to learn something about their world.

After all, with a population that outnumbers humans by about 200,000,000 to 1, you can be sure that insects are here to stay.

Masters of Flight, Marvels of Sight:

Many insects are masters of flight.

Consider these examples.

Mosquitoes can fly upside down.

Some can even fly through the rain without getting wet.

Yes, they actually dodge the raindrops.

Some tropical wasps and bees buzz around at speeds of up to 45 miles [72 km] per hour.

One tagged monarch butterfly of logged 1,870 miles [3,010 km] on its migration flight.

That in itself is mind boggling amazing.

Hoverflies can beat their wings more than a thousand times per second.

(The poor soul that has to sit and count :-)

Dragonflies can fly backward, a fact that has stimulated the curiosity, and close study of researchers.

How can a dumb insect fly backwards.

Bumblebees, scientifically shouldn't be able to fly.

Yet they are marvels of flight and key pollinators.

If you have ever tried to swat a fly, you know that these insects have exceptionally keen eyesight, which is coupled with a reflex that is ten times quicker than ours.

Interestingly, the fly has a compound eye, containing thousands of six-sided lenses, each of which works independently.

Likely, then, the fly’s view is broken up into tiny bits.

Some insects can perceive ultraviolet light, which is invisible to humans.

Thus, what looks to us like a dull colored butterfly is anything but dull to the male butterfly.

They may even see if a flower is ripe for feeding or not.

Indeed, when seen in ultraviolet light, the female has attractive patterns that are ideal for grabbing the attention of courting males.

The eyes of many insects serve as a compass as well.

Bees and wasps, for instance, can detect the plane of polarized light, enabling them to locate the sun’s position in the sky..... even when it is hidden by clouds.

Thanks to this ability, these insects can forage far from their nests and still find their way, unerringly home.

Love Is in the Air:

In the insect world, sounds and aromas are often used to find a mate.

No small achievement if your life span is just a matter of weeks and prospective mates may few and far between.

Butterflies, moths and other insects find a suitor by emitting a scent that is so potent that a male can home in on its source from miles away.

His sensitive antennas can detect a single molecule of the scent.

Yes, some insects smell by their antennae and feet.

This comes in handy when you are near sighted like our butterflies.

You Name It, Insects Do It:

In the insect world, nearly every species has a different role, some of which are quite unique.

For example, some moths, seek life-giving salt and moisture by sucking the tears of bison.

Certain butterflies feed off manure piles and carrion.

Other insects, may be equipped with a potent antifreeze, inhabit freezing mountaintops and spend their lives scavenging bugs that have succumbed to the cold.

King Solomon observed thousands of years ago ......

"Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise. Although it has no commander, officer or ruler, it prepares its food even in the summer; it has gathered its food supplies even in the harvest."

(Proverbs 6:6-8)

The absence of a ruler is all the more remarkable considering that some colonies of ants may number upwards of 20 million.

Yet, this colony functions perfectly, with each ant performing its specific task, so that the entire colony is supplied with food, protection, and housing.

Possibly the most impressive example of insect housing is the termite mound.

Some of them stand 25 feet [7.5 m] tall.

For humans, the equivalent would be a skyscraper that stands six miles.

These marvels of construction come with sophisticated air-conditioning and underground fungus gardens.

Even more amazing, the termites that build these towering pyramids are blind.

Are you beginning to see the big picture?

Insects didn't just happen.

This vast and mysterious world of insects was created with reason and purpose.

Why We Need Insects:


Insects play a vital role in our daily life.

30 percent of the foods we eat depend on pollination by bees, and other pollinating insects.

But pollination is only one of the useful labors performed by insects.

As I mentioned before, insects keep the earth clean by means of an efficient recycling system, as they reprocess dead plants and animals.

They clean up dung piles.

The soil is enriched, and nutrients that are liberated can make things grow.

Insects help feed a planet.

Insects are sorely missed when their work is not done.

Why We Need Insects:

(Assassin Bug, one of many species.)

Insects play a vital role in our daily life.

30 percent of the foods we eat depend on pollination by bees, and other pollinating insects.

But pollination is only one of the useful labors performed by insects.

As I mentioned before, insects keep the earth clean by means of an efficient recycling system, as they reprocess dead plants and animals.

They clean up dung piles.

The soil is enriched, and nutrients that are liberated can make things grow.

Insects help feed a planet.

Insects are sorely missed when their work is not done.


Some insects totally revamp their appearance through a process called metamorphosis—literally, "change in form."

The changes can be quite dramatic.

Maggots change into flies,

Caterpillars into butterflies

(Monarch Larvae).

Aquatic larvae into airborne dragonflies, mayflies and scores of other insects.

Hundreds of thousands of insect species undergo metamorphosis.

To produce such a transformation, huge modifications must take place inside the insect’s body.

The butterfly, for example.

While the caterpillar is dormant in the chrysalis, most of its previous tissues and body organs break down and a whole set of new adult organs, such as wings, eyes, and antennas develop.

Often, the transformation involves taking on a new life-style.

For example, while in the larval stage, the dragonfly captures small fish or tadpoles and other insect larvae,

But, when it becomes a free-flying adult, it changes its diet to insects.

Now, I'm going to upset a few of you with what I am going to say next, yet I see no other way.

Could evolution orchestrate these incredible transformations?

How could a caterpillar simply appear on the scene, programmed to transform itself into a butterfly?

For that matter, which came first—the caterpillar or the butterfly?

One cannot exist without the other, for only the butterfly breeds and lays eggs.

Surely, the process of metamorphosis gives convincing evidence (one of many) of a Master Designer.

The one whom the Bible identifies as the Creator of all things, Almighty God (Positive Thought below).

Well <

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped"

Evelyn Underhill

Well Said.............

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24 (NIV)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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