Friday, July 08, 2011

Summer Wildlife

For Molly’s birthday in March, she was given a butterfly pavilion and we sent away for her caterpillars a few months ago. They grew and formed their chrysalis's and we hung them up in her pavilion. And then they hatched. So exciting! We got 5 butterflies out of the 6 caterpillars. One didn’t make it out of it’s chrysalis. 

Last week we took a trip to our local nursery and bought some mallow (that’s what we had been told the Painted Lady butterflies like). The plant wasn’t small enough to put into the butterfly cage, so we transplanted it in a big pot out back and brought in snippings for them.

Well, finally this week, we decided that it was time to let them go.  (The bottle in the bottom of the cage is filled with a sugar water formula with a wick sticking out.)

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You can see one of the butterflies here, along with the snippings of mallow. The colored stain on the bottom is actually “dye” from their wet wings as they hatched.

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We opened the lid and encouraged them to fly away. One left very quickly and ended up landing on Molly. She really enjoyed that! (Our little animal lover)

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We then took the snippings of mallow out of the cage and laid them in the soil around the larger plant. Can you see what we found on them? We were hoping we would. Look closely.

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Here is the same picture enlarged. Can you find anything?

Do you see those little blue-green “balls”? Those are butterfly eggs!!

We are watching them to see if they will hatch and to find out if we can continue to perpetuate the process. Very exciting!

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When we went to take down the one that didn’t make it, we discovered that it was tragically still alive. (!) Molly and I examined it and it was severely deformed. We tried to offer it food, but we knew it wouldn’t survive. We put it with the snippings to let nature take it’s course. Neither of us had the strength to end it’s suffering. (sniff . . . )

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THEN . . .

this morning, I looked out my window, and there, sitting right in our grass like she owned it was this duck.

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She did not like us out there to check on her and warned us with her bill and hissing noises.

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We tried to feed her and offer her water, but she wasn’t interested. Hmmm . . .

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Finally, I, being a mother of five, finally clued in to this poor duck. She was looking to make a nest and had chosen our backyard. She was getting ready to lay eggs.

Well, as exciting as that would have been to watch baby ducks hatch, it would not have been safe for our children, nor for our rabbit who desperately needs to get out of his hutch during this heat.

So, we called the wildlife people who confirmed what we were thinking. They said to just shoo her out of our yard. When asked if she could fly, I said I didn’t know because all she would do was waddle around the yard when we came near. They said that if she couldn’t fly, then we could throw a towel over her and bring her in. (At this point, I’m thinking my day could get very exciting!) I secretly prayed that  that wouldn’t be the case. We all went out back and slowly shooed her away from where she was sitting again and lo and behold . . . she flew right out of our backyard. May she find the ideal place to lay her eggs!

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And that is all the critter adventure for the week . . . I think!

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