July 9, 2008
By Susan Benson,
CNHM Director of Education
July is a great time for watching natural phenomena. Fireflies are now active, creating a flashing light that serves as a signal to potential mates. Each species of firefly can be distinguished by the amount of time between its flashes. Much more can be observed in forest, water, air and field.
Bald eagles can be seen fledging in late July, about 70 to 98 days after hatching. Before this even, the young have been practicing flapping for weeks before their first flight. IF one falls from the nest the parents usually feed it on the ground. The parents encourage the babies to fledge by flying around the nest carrying food. After fleding, they usually stay with their parents for six weeks, continually being fed during this time. The young watch their parents fish, but don’t learn to catch fish for quite a while. They begin “catching” carcasses on shoreline and then pick up dead fish floating in the water. The immature eagles won’t get the distinguishing white head until they are three to five years old.
Jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum – this is the call of the bullfrog. In July, bullfrogs can be heard wooing mates or defending territory with their deep, loud call. Male bullfrogs are territorial and defend their territory by calling out to warn intruders. If that doesn't work, a shoving match may commence. Smaller males that cannot compete with large males for territories have evolved a trick of hiding out near the large calling male, intercepting females on their way to the larger male. Females lay eggs in large, jelly-like masses that can measure a yard across.
Wintergreen is one of the last wildflowers to bloom. It features white, waxy flowers that hang like little bells beneath the leaves. The newer, light green leaves have a tasty wintergreen flavor; dried leaves can be steeped to make tea which some consider to be a good headache remedy.
Cattails shed thousands of silky seeds in late July. Cattails can also reproduce vegetatively through their extensive underground stems. Cattails are very important for many animals, providing a place for the red-winged blackbirds to nest and hide their young, a place for fish to hide under the water, and as a food source for muskrats and young ducklings.
Nature Watch is brought to you by the Cable Natural History Museum. For 40 years, the Museum has served as a guide and mentor to generations of visitors and residents interested in learning to better appreciate and care for the extraordinary natural resources of the region. The Museum invites you to visit its facility in Cable at 43570 Kavanaugh Street or on the web at www.cablemuseum.org to learn more about exhibits and programs.