The Bushtits' quick and constant motion, combined with their diminutive size and the density of the trees and bushes where they forage, make it challenging to get a good look at them. Here, I was able to capture one eating an insect pupa or scale insect while holding it in his foot. They glean all types of bugs from the underside of leaves and branches, often by hanging upside down. (By the way, "tit" comes from Old Icelandic “titr” meaning something small.)
Phidippus johnsoni - I love them. They have such great faces and beautiful colors! It seems like they look right at you with all those eyes.
In 2012, NASA sent a female Red-backed Jumping Spider into space. Her name was Nefertiti. As a "spidernaut" at the International Space Station, she adjusted well to her mission. She returned safely to earth and lived for a total of 10 months.
Normally these spiders have a fairly bright red abdomen. This one, who my friend discovered living in my front porch today, was a little thin and somewhat paler than usual. His abdomen matches the color of the terra cotta saucer he's climbing on. He was animated and, I believe, quite happy to be released outdoors where he would be able to find a much needed meal with ease.
The first time I met one of these spiders was after I threw back the bed sheets to see what had bitten me on the ankle during the night. Aha! There it was - a large black and red male who I recognized immediately as a jumping spider! After capturing him in a little fish net, I put him in a jar for closer observation. It was too much work catching flies to satisfy his voracious appetite; so, after a couple of weeks I released him into my neighbor's garden. (She thanked me.)
The first of the White-crowned Sparrows have begun arriving for the winter. Soon there will be a small flock gracing the yard with their beautiful songs.
The name Selasphorus comes from ancient Greek meaning "light bearing." The throat feathers (or gorget) of this Allen's Hummingbird appear as a dull brown from certain angles. The iridescent colors of the same feathers are caused by refraction when a ray of light strikes the microscopic structure of the feather barbules - just like a prism that splits light into a rainbow of colors. Thank you, Mother Nature, for these amazing little wonders!
Always lively and flamboyant, they are extremely intelligent. University of California Davis reports that these birds mourn the loss of flock members. They call loudly near a dead jay for up to half an hour and will stay close to the body for a day or longer.
A male at the LA Zoo whose expressive face, like so many primates, is uncannily human.
Reaching behind and over the top of his wings, an Allen's Hummingbird scratches with his little foot, first one side and then the other.
And then finally shakes off like an ity-bitty dog.
A mother squirrel removing all of the fluffy lining from an old nest and carrying it, one mouthful at a time, to a new location in a neighboring yard.