Friday, February 25, 2011

Growing Up Butterfly

Have you ever wondered how a squirmy caterpillar becomes a fluttering butterfly? Watch this beautiful video produced by Natural Geographic and follow the life of a Monarch Butterfly from egg to larva (caterpillar) to pupa (chrysalis) and finally adulthood.

Take care!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wildlife in the Snow

New York was hit with yet another snow storm on Monday. I woke up to a blizzard caking my window with snow. I bravely hit the streets and caught some Winter Wildlife on camera (yeah!).

Don't you just love this Grey Squirrel? I particularly enjoyed his crossed  front paws as if to say "Seriously, snow again?" Spring is a hard time for Squirrels, their stashed nut have sprouted and trees aren't bearing any new ones. They survive by snaking on leaf buds. 

This sorry bunch of House Sparrows where hanging on for dear life huddled together for warmth on this low tree branch. I watched as people walked by oblivious to these birds close enough to touch. Although they are voracious seed eaters, they are also brilliantly opportunistic; it is reported that some have figured out the automatic sliding doors of supermarkets. These little buggers aren't shy either, I've seen them snatch fries from unsuspecting tourists many a time.

Surprise! Wildlife also includes plants. Wildlife is defined by Merriam Webster as "living things and especially mammals, birds, and fishes that are neither human nor domesticated". Without plants the world would be a very different place and life as we know it wouldn't exist. They are the base of all ecosystems, a very important position considering everything else is built upon it. 

These are oak leaves. Although no longer active, they linger or persist on the tree much longer than other deciduous species, species that loose their leaves seasonally. I love oak trees. They are a symbol of strength and endurance. They play an important role in mythology often associated with the God of Thunder and the doorway to the other world. They are also prized for their wood; oaks tend to have very straight trunks and large straight low bearing branches. 

The snow has already begun to melt on this sunny Tuesday afternoon. I'm really looking forward to spring and a change of coat. 

Take care!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Saw a Hawk!

Happy Monday!

Wow, what I whirlwind I've been through the past couple weeks. It's calmed down now so I can finally get back to blogging. If you want to see what I've been up to, go check out Love Garden Design (my modest fashion blog), I've posted pictures of the Runway Show I helped out with. Very exciting stuff!

As for today, I just wanted to share some pictures of Pale Male's new Mate, Ginger. Don't know Pale Male? That's ok, he's New York City's resident celebrity Red-Tailed Hawk. Click here and here to catch up with the news.
Hubby and I spotted her (and stalked her for about 30 minutes) on a walk around the Reservoir a couple weeks ago, on the West Side no less (around 90th st). She was a wee whiles from home. Oh how wonderful it was, I only wish I had a better camera. She is beautiful.

 Our first view. 
I looked up because it was just too quiet. Many had walk by unknowingly, but not after we spotted her, oh no. We told everyone who walked by. Where you there?

She was pretty high up in the tree. I thought you might like a different perspective. She's a big bird.

Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) is one of the largest birds in North America and the female is about 25% bigger than the male. The average length for a female is between 19.7 and 26.7 inches (50-65 cm) with a wingspan between 44.9 and 52.4 inches (114-133cm). Considering I measure 65 inches, this bird is impressive.


She was ever so kind as to display her tell-tale tail. The reddish colouration visible when in flight is what gave this bird it's name. 

The Red-tailed Hawk is a common sight outside large cities, having a nest on 5th avenue is what makes this bird something to talk about. I wonder if it could become a threat to Chihuahuas, they certainly are the right size for a good meal.

She flew back and forth between two trees 3 times, trying to shake us. Eventually she got sick of our starring and picture taking so with one last cry, she took flight and headed North East. Who knows where she went next. 
Fun fact, Hollywood loves the cry of the Red-tail Hawk, I don't blame them it sounds exactly like what a aerial predator should sound like, however, they use it for all raptor species. The Red-tailed hawk is the most underpaid Voice Over Actor in North America. Intrigued? Click on over to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Take Care!

Powell, Hugh. "Red-Tailed Hawk." All About Birds. . Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 20 Feb. 2011 <>.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Sunny Sunday in Central Park

Hello and welcome to Monday Wednesday,
Sunday was an incredible winter day, it was sunny, the temperature was clement and well, overall a glorious day. On days such as these, Central park is a must.
Happiness is contagious and it was everywhere: happy dogs, happy (shirtless) runners, happy toddlers stumbling about, happy walkers and happy ducks.

Spring was in the air as I walked past the pond. The air was full of quacks, flaps and splashes. A group of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) had taken up a small opening in the ice and were joyfully splashing and foraging about in what I imagine to be very cool water. The males were in full mating plumage looking dashing with their shimmering green heads and surprising iridescent blue speculum feathers on its wing. Mallards weren't the only birds filling the air with their song. I saw Black-eyed Juncos,White-throated sparrow chirping in the bushes and a red headed woodpecker silently flying over the heads of unsuspecting park bench readers.

Prancing dogs weren't the only ones showing off their fury coats, pussy willows proudly displayed their fuzzy buds and  fluffy tailed squirrels chased each other up, down and across slumbering trees.

Birds singing, dogs barking, squirrels chirping ,ice cracking and children laughing, the sounds of spring are all over the place itching to be noticed. Just another reason the be happy.

What are things looking like near you?

Take care!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy February! Go Play in the Snow!

 Building a Snowman by Emilie D. Wolf

We have made it through half the winter! Yeah! I know some of us are getting tired of the layers, the cold and the brown slush but that's not reason to stay inside. Self magazine published this great article about the benefits of dawning your winter gear and heading outside for some winter fun. Heading outside even for 5 min can reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a.k.a winter blues.
Here are some things to can do while your out there courtesy of Jennifer Matlack or Self Magazine.

If you have 5 min... do something fun. Start a snowball fight, push someone into (a clean) snowbank, kick an ice block around, build a snowman. Just 5 minutes will Lift your mood and increase your feeling of self-worth.

If you have 8-10 min... connect with your environment. Look for birds, squirrels, animal tracks your not the only one coping with the weather or even help your neighbor clean off their car. Netta Weinstein Ph.D. - psychologist at the University of Essex noted that being in contact with nature makes you feel bonded, it triggers caring feelings for others.

If you have 15 min... restore your brain power. David Strayer Ph.D - psychologist at the University of Uttah tells us taking a step outside will help restore your mind, it's ability to concentrate, solve problems and be creative.
If you have 20 min... recharge your batteries with walk through a park. Take the time to notice what is going on around you, not everything is sleeping. Being surrounded by nature and taking the time to silently watch the peacefulness is energizing.  I'll be posting pictures of my latest nature walks before the end of this week, I saw some great things.

So go ahead, go play outside!

Take care!

Matlack, Jennifer. "Go On, Take it Outside." Self Feb. 2011: 29.

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