Archive for July, 2013

What the Robin Knows

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

I post here a book review that valued EARTH CONNECTION subscriber Todd Waymon wrote.  Based on Todd’s review, I think anyone who enjoys birds would enjoy this book.–April Moore

 

WHAT THE ROBIN KNOWS is a great little book for the outdoors-person.  Yes, it focuses on not just the robin, but on all the woodland creatures that the robin relates to:  other song birds, predators (owls, hawks, the fox, wild cats), deer, and of course man.

We spend a day at a “sit spot”–just watching:  from the first stirrings of the day, through the early feeding activity, to the alarm calls, to the evening settling.  We learn the five “vocalizations” that all bird species make–and go to a website to hear them!  There is really a lot of learning here insofar as the inter-relationships in an eco-system go, from “baseline” behaviors to alarm behaviors, and how “sentinels” for one species become sentinels for the whole community.

I highly recommend this book;  it’s by Jon Young, a lifelong birder, tracker, and naturalist.  Read it and learn to make a “respectful” entry into the wildlife community;  with patience, you’ll be accepted.

Naturally yours, Todd

 

 

 

 

Behind the Waterfall

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

 BillWeir02588

 

   One of my life’s greatest adventures was the coast-to-coast bicycle odyssey I made back in 1976.  To celebrate the Bicentennial, a group calling itself Bikecentennial mapped out a mostly rural cross-country bike route, and organized interested riders into groups to bicycle across the U.S.

     I have so many treasured memories of that summer on the road, and recently my friend De
(who invited me to join her on the trip in the first place) spent some very happy hours reading aloud to each other from the journals we both kept that summer.

     It was wonderful for De and me to relive experiences from our bike trip, some of which we remembered well, and others that, while forgotten, returned vividly to life through our reading aloud. 

     I am posting below an entry I wrote in late June, 1976, in Falls of Rough, Kentucky.  It describes an experience that I’ll never forget, that remains one of my life’s peak experiences.

     ”I just had one of the most thrilling experiences of my entire life!  

     ”We’re camped right next to a waterfall–a giant one.  I put on my bathing suit and waded through the cold, beautiful water to the waterfall.  As I approached, I could feel the power of the falls pushing water toward me.  

     ”The falls itself is like a magic door leading to the other side of the world.  I stepped into its pounding, breathtaking beauty and then out again, into the other world behind the waterfall.  There I was.  Rock on one side, silvery falling water on the other.  The real thrill though, was to look up and see the water pouring out over the ledge and beyond me!  It was so exciting I just couldn’t get my breath.  I stood there and shouted!

     ”Then I passed out through the falls and back into this world.  Orgasmic!  Some people didn’t want to go in because of the cold water.  What a thrill they’re missing.”–April Moore

The Other-Worldly Luna Moth

Friday, July 19th, 2013

luna moth on front door

 

    What an insect is the luna moth.  So big, so softly green, such luxuriant tail streamers.  And it flies only at night.  I generally find butterflies more beautiful, more interesting than moths.  But the luna moth can always get my attention.    

     A few nights ago, I was reading in the living room.  For quite some time, a luna moth buzzed noisily at the front door.  It fluttered all around, but seemed mostly to hover at the top of the door.  I wondered if it was attracted to the light from the living room.

     The next morning, to my surprised delight, the luna moth was still at the door, now clinging silent and motionless to the middle of the door frame.  At first, I took great care when opening and closing the door, so as not to disturb the moth.  But I didn’t need to be so careful.  It soon became clear that the moth was ‘frozen’ in place, unaffected by comings and goings at the door.

     Hours passed, and still the moth remained, not moving, attached to the door.  As nighttime approached, I wondered if the moth would come to life in the darkness.   Sure enough.  As I sat reading in the living room that night, the moth was again buzzing about outside, only this time  hovering at the top of the window near the door.  Like the night before, this noisy activity went on for quite awhile.

     The next morning I found the moth again still, only this time clinging to the top of the window frame, where it had been buzzing the night before.  The moth remained there all day, but I did not see it again that night.  Did it fly off to find a mate?

     My experience with the luna moth got me wondering.  If the luna moth is nocturnal, then why is it attracted to light?  Wouldn’t nocturnal insects avoid light if darkness is what activates them?  Then I wondered about the many times I have seen moths fluttering about an outdoor light bulb on a summer night.  Doesn’t that mean that many nocturnal insects are attracted to light?

     I did a little research, and what I found is not a happy story.  The luna moth, and other nocturnal moths, rely on the moon to orient themselves during night flight.  The moon’s great distance makes it an excellent navigational tool.  With the moon as reference point, moths can sustain linear flight in a given direction.  

     But artificial lights appear brighter than the moon, and moths often try to orient themselves to these lights.  The result is confusion; the moths we see circling outdoor lights on a summer night are actually trying, unsuccessfully, to find their way.  Often, moths wear themselves out in the process.  The luna moth I saw buzzing about in the light emanating from my living room was probably trying again and again to get oriented and continue flying.  But instead, it remained ‘trapped’ by the bright light nearby.

     In my research on the luna moth, I learned a few more interesting facts about these amazing creatures:

     The luna moth lives only in North America, in the eastern half of the continent, from Canada to Mexico.  In their adult form, luna moths live only about a week.  And they live solely to mate.  They eat nothing;  in fact, they don’t even have mouths in their adult, moth stage.

     The male luna moth responds to a female pheromone and may fly a long distance to mate with a female.  A pair usually mate in the first hour or two after midnight.  The following evening, the female begins laying eggs.  She may lay eggs on the undersides of leaves of deciduous trees for several evenings until she dies.

     Caterpillars emerge in about 13 days and begin eating hickory, oak, sweet gum, walnut or other leaves.  Considered wild silkworms, the luna caterpillars then weave a thin, silken cocoon, attached to the vein of a leaf.

     Depending on climate, there may be one to three generations of luna moths per year.  In Canada, there is typically only one per year, farther south there are two, and as far south as Florida, there may be three luna moth generations per year.–April Moore 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help for Love-Starved Cicadas

Friday, July 12th, 2013

     Some areas along the east coast have recently experienced the emergence from underground of hundreds of thousands of cicadas, ready to mate.  Fortunately, dating help is available for them, provided here by my friend Hirsh Goldberg.  

HELP FOR LOVE-STARVED CICADAS
     by M. Hirsh Goldberg

The cicadas are back and buzzing furiously to find a mate. After 17 years in the dark, they obviously need help on the dating scene. And the faster they find their special bug the better if we humans are to be relieved of their screeching mating calls. The solution: a dating website where male and female cicadas can register their profiles and interests. Thankfully, such a website exits — www.CicadaHarmony.com. Some cicadas have begun using the site. Here is a sampling of their listings:

FEMALES SEEKING MALES

* I love dining out, especially on international cuisine like Japanese cherry, Norway maple, and Austrian pine. Call if you like a full-figured cicada.

* After 17 years underground, I like the outdoors and traveling to far off trees. You should be interested in being active and taking long walks. After all, what are six legs for?

* I love to read. My favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Roots by Alex Haley. My favorite poem is, of course, Joyce Kilmer’s Trees. If you are into reading while breeding, we could accomplish volumes. :-)

* Seeking a mate with a strong faith. To me, wings and a prayer are what life is about. I pray you will fly to me and take me in all your arms. Otherwise, don’t bug me.

* I am a recovering claustrophobic cicada who after 17 years underground is still afraid of the light. Looking to meet understanding insect. Our relationship has to be above board as well as above ground. LOL

* In search of a mate who likes philosophical talks. Why is our cicada life so cyclical? Do we come out of the ground just to lay eggs? Shouldn’t there be more? My wings beat for an answer. Let’s explore together the meaning of our existence on — and in — the earth. Give me a screech.

* I am a 13-year cicada who finds herself out of place with 17-year cicadas. Do you also have difficulty telling time and keeping appointments? If so, we may have a lot in common. After all, being a cicada must be about more than just eating and sleeping around. Your tree or mine?

MALES SEEKING FEMALES

* I am a one-in-a-billion cicada with big plans. I want to start a magazine for future generations of cicadas entitled “Seventeen.” Looking for business-minded female who can help me spread the word along with her eggs.

* Looking for a cute cicada who is interested in politics. Can you see the forest for the trees? What do you think of the Bushes?

* I am a rarity — a cicada with only 1,000 brothers and sisters. Do you, too, have feelings of loneliness? If you want companionship and don’t need those long two-day courtships, let’s meet and mate immediately.

* There’s a song on my lips. My wings are quivering with excitement. My legs are rubbing together with joy. Are you a basically happy insect as I am? Then let’s enjoy the noise while we make it. Some say I am too optimistic, but I refuse to think only of dining on weeping willow trees. If you feel the same, give me a buzz.

* My bite loves bark. Do you? Or are you just into leaves? I think bark and eggs is a great combo. If you agree, we could click together.

* Young male seeking female for casual encounters. No strings attached. No eggs involved. Just a lot of sounds and fury.

* Looking for long-lost love from first day of this cycle. Remember me? We met under an old oak tree. It was so romantic. When I first saw your beautiful bulging red eyes, I screamed.

_______

M. Hirsh Goldberg is the author of five books, including “The Blunder Book” (Morrow). Born in Maryland, he has lived through several cicada love fests.

 

 

As We Celebrate Our Nation. . . .

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

As we Americans celebrate the 237th birthday of our nation, I am reminded of something I read many years ago about some other nations we generally do not regard as nations. . . . . 

This statement was written by the American writer/naturalist Henry Beston.  It has stayed with me for more than 30 years.  I highly recommend it:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.

Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.

We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.  And therein, we err, and greatly err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man.

In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”–Henry Beston

 

 

 

 

 

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