Tag Archives: Chokecherry

UPDATE ON CECROPIA MOTH EGGS AND CATERPILLARS

Good morning friends!

From the over one hundred Cecropia Moth eggs that hatched, only a handful survived. Unfortunately, an earwig ate the caterpillars in their tiny first instar. I keep the tanks on the front porch and even though we use a layer of cheesecloth underneath the screening to help keep pests out, I found an earwig inside the tank.

Because many of the eggs are laid on the side of the tank, there is no safe way to remove and give the eggs away without damaging the eggs.  Next year, if we have a good batch of eggs again, I am going to keep the tanks inside until the caterpillars reach their second instar. At that point I’ll be able to safely give the caterpillars away.

So very sorry to disappoint anyone who was interested in raising these beautiful creatures. Hopefully, the few caterpillars remaining will reach maturity and we’ll try again next year 🙂

Cecropia Moths mating, male left, female right

FREE EGGS OF GIANT SILK MOTH BEAUTIES!

Over the past week, we have released thirty-one Cecropia Moths. A neighbor over on Harriet Ave photographed a Cecropia Moth and I am wondering if it is one of ours 🙂

To clarify for anyone who may be wondering, Cecropia Moth caterpillars are not like the invasive, non-native Gypsy Moths and Winter Moths, which defoliate trees. Cecropia caterpillars cause very little harm to trees.

Cecropia Moth eggs

We had approximately nine pairs mating and the females deposited a treasure trove of eggs. I have the names of several people who have expressed interest in raising the moths and will contact everyone as soon as all eggs are deposited. Please let me know if you would like to nurture the funniest looking caterpillars that turn into the grandest beauties.

Raising Cecropias is not quite as simple as rearing Monarchs, but it’s not challenging either and is just as interesting and as much fun. This is a fantastic project to do with children. Kids love giant silk moths. The creatures are so large you can easily observe every stage of their life cycle, from egg to caterpillar to pupation to cocoon to adult.  Our Charlotte is crazy about Cecropias and looks after them throughout the day. The caterpillars live for about two months. You will need to constantly replenish the leaves as they mature because the later instars are voracious eaters.

After the caterpillar pupates and becomes a cocoon, you’ll need a safe place to keep them where they will experience ambient winter temperatures. We keep ours on our front porch, which is not enclosed, in large glass terrariums (fish tanks) during all four seasons.

Cecropia caterpillars eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs, including alder, ash, birch, box elder, chokecherry, elm, lilac, maple, poplar, Prunus and Ribes species, and willow. Cecropia Moth caterpillars are not like invasive non-native Gypsy Moths and People are always a bit dismayed when I tell them that the adult moth ecloses without mouthparts and cannot eat during its brief lifespan. The adult’s only purpose in life is to mate and lay eggs of the next generation. The males and females only live for about a week or so.

If you are interested in rearing cecropia Moth caterpillars, please read the following two articles to better understand the moth’s life cycle. Contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com if you are still interested after reading the articles.

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART ONE

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART TWO

Cecropia moths mating

STUNNING CECROPIA MOTHS MATING! AND EGGS!!

For readers interested in raising Cecropia Moths, I have some eggs. Raising Cecropias is not quite as simple as rearing Monarchs, but it’s not challenging either and is just as interesting and as much fun. The caterpillars live for about a month and you need to constantly replenish the leaves as they mature because the later instars are voracious eaters.

Cecropia Moths Mating – the pair stay coupled together for about a day; the female is on the left, the male, right

After the caterpillar pupates and becomes a cocoon, you’ll need a safe place to keep them where they will experience ambient winter temperatures. We keep ours on our front porch, which is not enclosed, in large glass terrariums (fish tanks) during all four seasons.

Cecropia caterpillars eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs, including alder, ash, birch, box elder, chokecherry, elm, lilac, maple, poplar, Prunus and Ribes species, and willow. People are always a bit dismayed when I tell them that the adult moth ecloses without mouthparts and cannot eat during its brief lifespan. The adult’s only purpose in life is to mate and lay eggs of the next generation. The males and females only live for about a week or so.

It you are interested in rearing cecropia Moth caterpillars, please read the following two articles to better understand the moth’s life cycle. Contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com if you are still interested after reading the articles.

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART ONE

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART TWO

CEDAR WAXWING LOVEBIRDS

Here my love, have a yummy bug for breakfast – (notice the bug poised on the tip of the Waxwing’s bill).

Within a recent flock of visiting Cedar Waxwings one pair was courting. Touching bill to bill and animatedly sharing insects and torn off bits of budding trees, we observed the same behavior last spring. It’s very sweet to see. I wish it hadn’t been so hazy but still lovely.

Here is this spring’s pair of lovebirds –

 

Cedar Waxwings are frugivores (fruit-eaters) and they subsist mainly on fruit, although they eat plenty of insects, too. Reportedly, they are becoming increasingly more prevalent in backyards because people are planting more ornamental flowering and fruiting trees.

A courting pair in 2020 –

A beautiful thing to see – Cedar Waxwing male and female pair courting. They were feeding each other, hopping through the branches and passing insects and fruits back and forth.

If you would like to attract Cedar Waxwings  to your garden below is a handy list that I compiled of some of their most favorite fruits and berries –

What to plant to attract Cedar Waxwings to your landscape

Dogwood (Cornus florida, C. alternifolia)
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontals)
Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Holy (Ilex opaca)
Crabapple (Malus sp.)
Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)
Tall Shadblow (Amelanchier arborea)
Smooth Shadbush (Amelanchier laevis)
Canadian Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Winterberry (Ilex verticilata)
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Raspberry
Blackberry
Wild Grape
Strawberry

AN EAR-FULL OF CEDAR WAXWINGS! ALONG WITH MERLINS AND HAWKS ON THE HUNT

During the last weeks of summer, I was blessed with the great good fortune to come across a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Everyday I followed their morning antics as they socialized, foraged, preened, and was even “buzzed” several times when making too quick a movement or crunched on a twig too loudly for their liking. They were actually remarkably tolerant of my presence but as soon as another person or two appeared on the path, they quickly departed. I think that is often the case with wildlife; one human is tolerable, but two of us is two too many. 

The Cedar Waxwings were seen foraging on wildflower seeds and the insects attracted, making them harder to spot as compared to when seen foraging at berries on trees branches. A flock of Cedar Waxwings is called a “museum” or an “ear-full.” The nickname ear-full is apt as they were readily found each morning by their wonderfully soft social trilling.  When you learn to recognize their vocalizations, you will find they are much easier to locate.

These sweet songbirds are strikingly beautiful. Dressed in a black mask that wraps around the eyes, with blue, yellow, and Mourning Dove buffy gray-brown feathers, a cardinal-like crest atop the head, and brilliant red wing tips, Cedar Waxwings are equally as beautiful from the front and rear views.

Cedar Waxwings really do have wax wings; the red wing tips are a waxy secretion. At first biologist thought the red tips functioned to protect the wings from wear and tear, but there really is no evidence of that. Instead, the red secondary tips appear to be status signals that function in mate selection. The older the Waxwing, the greater the number of waxy tips. Birds with zero to five are immature birds, while those with more than nine are thought to be older.

Waxwings tend to associate with other waxwings within these two age groups. Pairs of older birds nest earlier and raise more fledglings than do pairs of younger birds. The characteristic plumage is important in choosing a mate within the social order of the flock.

By mid-September there were still seeds and insects aplenty in the wildflower patch that I was filming at when the beautiful Waxwings abruptly departed for the safety of neighboring treetops. Why do I write “safety?” I believe they skeedaddled because a dangerous new raptor appeared on the scene. More falcon-like than hawk, the mystifying bird sped like a torpedo through the wildflower patch and swooped into the adjacent birch tree where all the raptors like to perch. It was a Merlin! And the songbird’s mortal enemy. Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, too, had been hunting the area, but the other hawks did not elicit the same terror as did the Merlin.

Merlin, Eastern Point

Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks

A small falcon, the Merlin’s short wings allow it to fly fast and hard. The Merlin is often referred to as the “thug” of the bird world for its ability to swoop in quickly and snatch a songbird out of the air. The day after the Merlin appeared, I never again found the Waxwings foraging in the wildlflowers, only in the tree tops.

Within the sociable ear-full, Waxwings take turns foraging. Some perch and preen, serving as sentries while flock-mates dine. Cedar Waxwings eat berries and they love a wide variety. The first half of their name is derived from one of their favorite fruits, the waxy berries of cedar trees. During the breeding season, Waxwings add insects to their diets. Hatchlings are fed insects, gradually switching to berries.

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing with adult Waxwings

If you would like to attract Cedar Waxwings  to your garden here is a handy list that I compiled of some of their most favorite fruits and berries –

Dogwood, Juniper, Chokecherry, Cedar, Honeysuckle, Holy, Crabapple, Hawthorn, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Raspberry, Grapes, and Strawberry. Cedar Waxwings are becoming increasingly more prevalent in backyards because people are planting more ornamental flowering and fruiting trees.

MASKED BEAUTIES – CEDAR WAXWINGS ON THE POINT!

A flock of beautiful beautiful Cedar Waxwings graced our shores over the weekend. They  were devouring ripening fruits and seeds found on local native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.Cedar Waxwings eat insects and berries and they love a wide variety. The first half of their name is actually derived from one of their favorite fruits, the waxy berries of cedar trees. If you would like to attract Cedar Waxwings  to your garden here is a handy list that I compiled:

Dogwood, Juniper, Chokecherry, Cedar, Honeysuckle, Holy, Crabapple, Hawthorn, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Raspberry, Grapes, and Strawberry. Cedar Waxwings are becoming increasingly more prevalent in backyards because people are planting more ornamental flowering and fruiting trees.

VIDEO: CEDAR WAXWINGS COURTING! AND WHAT TO PLANT TO ATTRACT THESE BEAUTIFUL CREATURES TO YOUR GARDEN

A beautiful thing to see – Cedar Waxwing male and female pair courting. They were feeding each other, hopping through the branches and passing buds back and forth.

Cedar Waxwings are frugivores (fruit-eaters) and they subsist mainly on fruit, although they do eat insects, too.

What to plant to attract Cedar Waxwings to your landscape

Dogwood (Cornus florida, C. alternifolia)
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontals)
Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Holy (Ilex opaca)
Crabapple (Malus sp.)
Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.)
Tall Shadblow (Amelanchier arborea)
Smooth Shadbush (Amelanchier laevis)
Canadian Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Winterberry (Ilex verticilata)
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Raspberry
Blackberry
Wild Grape
Strawberry

CEDAR WAXWINGS IN THE HOOD!

Running to the window to see from where the high pitched bird songs were coming from, we were more than delighted to see a flock of Cedar Waxwings had descended upon our neighborhood. They were feeding from the buds of our neighbor’s deciduous trees.

The most beautiful thing to see was a male and female pair courting. They were feeding each other, hopping through the branches and passing buds back and forth. I captured a few moments of the Waxwings courting on film and will post Sunday on my “Good News Cape Ann” show.

A pair of love Birds

Cedar Waxwings mostly eat berries and they love a wide variety. Their name is actually derived from one of their favorite fruits, the waxy berries of cedar trees. If you would like to attract Cedar Waxwings  to your garden here is a handy list that I compiled –

Acrobatic feeders

Dogwood, Juniper, Chokecherry, Cedar, Honeysuckle, Holy, Crabapple, Hawthorn, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Raspberry, Grapes, and Strawberry. Cedar Waxwings are becoming increasingly more prevalent in backyards because people are planting more ornamental flowering and fruiting trees.

Cedar Waxwings also eat a variety of insects including beetles and dragonflies, which they will pluck mid air.

The flock that visited our garden was of the paler sort. Some Waxwings are feathered in the same pattern, with the striking black mask and soft buffy colored  breast however, with these more brightly hued fellows, their yellow is brilliant and they sport vivid red wing tips.

Cedar Waxwing Range Map