Category Archives: Air

Raptor! Australia’s Diurnal Birds of Prey Part I

There are 6 main groups of birds that take prey during the day: ospreys, kites, hawks, eagles, harriers and falcons.¬† This post deals with the first three of that list. I’ve tried to find photos of these animals in their wild state whenever possible.

Osprey!, originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon].

 

The osprey or fish-hawk is found everywhere except Antarctica and migrates to south America every year.Note the long arched wing and the dark line through the eye and down the neck. Numbers of these magnificant birds has decreased over the years thanks to pesticides contaminating the environment.

 

 

Black-shouldered kite 3 / Australian Kite, originally uploaded by aaardvaark.

 

The Australian Black-shouldered Kite is one of two hovering kites with the letter-winged kite being the other. They look very similar and you can only make a definite distinction during flight by checking the underwing.

 

 

Crested Hawk or (Pacific Baza) (Aviceda subcristata), originally uploaded by topend.

The Crested Hawk is Australia’s Cuckoo Falcon. It tends to eat insects, invertebrates and frogs despite its name.

 

Milhafre Negro – Black Kite – Milvus migrans, originally uploaded by JulioCaldas.

 

 

Brahminy Kite 3, originally uploaded by The World Through My Eye.

 

 

Whistling Kite, originally uploaded by W & S Roddom.

 

The Soaring Kites are rather longlived birds which are found worldwide except for the Americas They are definite scavengers. Note the long broad fingered wings.

 

Christmas Island Goshawk, originally uploaded by Rob Hughes.

Also known as the Australian Goshawk or Brown Goshawk and unfortunately the Chicken Hawk.

 

COLLARED SPARROWHAWK Accipiter cirrhocephalus, originally uploaded by beeater.

 

Also otherwise known as a chicken hawk. What is it with some people?! These are two of Australia’s three goshawk species. The collared sparrowhawk is a rather small bird which is a little larger than a dove.

 

Blue Morphos Butterfly

DSC_0057, originally uploaded by LJWhitmire.

A Morpho butterfly may be one of over 80 described species of the genus Morpho. They are neotropical butterflies found mostly in South America as well as Mexico and Central America. Morphos range in wingspan from the 7.5 cm (3 inch) M. rhodopteron to the imposing 20 cm (8 inch) Sunset Morpho, M. hecuba. The name Morpho derives from its use as an epithet of Venus.

Many Morpho butterflies are coloured in metallic, shimmering shades of blue and green. These colours are not a result of pigmentation but rather are an example of iridescence: the extremely fine lamellated scales covering the Morpho’s wings reflect incident light repeatedly at successive layers, leading to interference effects that depend on both wavelength and angle of incidence/observance. Thus the colours produced vary with viewing angle, however they are actually surprisingly uniform, perhaps due to the tetrahedral (diamond-like) structural arrangement of the scales or diffraction from overlying cell layers. This structure may be called a photonic crystal. The iridescent lamellae are present on the dorsal side of their wings only, leaving the ventral side a drab brown.

 

 

7th.to13th.Aug.2006.Vancouver Island & Back., originally uploaded by oscarromulus.

Morpho butterflies feed on the juices of fermenting fruit with which they may also be lured. The inebriated butterflies wobble in flight and are easy to catch. Morphos will also feed on the bodily fluids of dead animals and on fungi. Morpho butterflies may be important by their role in dispersing fungal spores.

The hairy brown caterpillars are nocturnal and feed on a variety of leguminous plants. In some species the caterpillars are also cannibalistic, a trait thought to be a population control mechanism. If disturbed, Blue Morpho caterpillars will secrete a fluid smelling of rancid butter. The tufts of hair decorating the caterpillars irritate human skin.

The entire life cycle of the Morpho butterfly, from egg to death, is approximately 115 days. The adults live for about a month. Their predators are few for the adults retain poisonous compounds accumulated by the feeding caterpillar – a process known scientifically as sequestering.

 

 

morphos, originally uploaded by moontrain.