29-31 May 2000

Installment #---Visitor #

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Hilton Pond Center's hummingbird banding research will be featured on "Carolina Outdoor Journal" on Thursday, 15 June, at 8 pm.
Tune in to North Carolina ETV and wait for the last segment in
the show. (Most of the program is about bass fishing.)

Photo © Hilton Pond Center

  • By late May, walks around Hilton Pond Center become a bit less pleasant as various biting arthropods intensify their attacks on passers-by. Chiggers, ticks, and mosquitos all seem to be out after blood, but one of the most pestiferous insects is the Deer Fly . Normally, field workers at Hilton Pond Center believe in the sanctity of all living things, but we make exceptions of these fast-moving predators that zoom in like attack planes, buzzing and dive-bombing a person's head and delivering a painful bite. If one is lucky, a quick slap to one's face will smash the Deer Fly--providing a great deal of personal satisfaction--but more often one misses the fly and receives instead a blow to the head and a ringing in one's ears, and sometimes one's eyeglasses are knocked into nearby shrubbery. The more successful Deer Flies act like stealth aircraft, approaching slowly and landing gently; they then plunge their over-sized stilletto-like mouthparts (above) into the sensitive skin of the host, inflicting no small amount of discomfort. In folks who are hypersensitive, Deer Fly bites can cause anaphylaxis and even death; several species also carry diseases such as tularemia and anthrax. Some people claim a wide-brimmed hat deters Deer Flies from landing on one's face or neck, and specatcles help keep them out of one's eyes. Another way to avoid Deer Flies is to stand still, since they are attracted to movement. Unfortunately, being immobile then makes a person fair game for slow-moving but equally irritating mosquitos--but that's another story. (Obviously, insects rule!)
  • Deer Flies (usually Chrysops spp.) are classified in the same family (Tabanidae) as Horse Flies; they typically have black spots on their otherwise transparent wings. The Deer Fly's wings are delta-shaped; from the top, the insect looks almost triangular. As in mosquitos, only female Deer Flies suck blood; males are content to feed on pollen and flower nectar. Deer Fly eggs are laid near or over ponds and swamps in summer; larvae hatch out, drop to the water, and then overwinter as predators on aquatic insects.
All photos © Hilton Pond Center

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
(females are becoming more active now)

House Finch (fledgling)
(juveniles of both sexes are brown;
males don't turn red until fall)

Carolina Chickadee (fledgling)
(frequently occupies bluebird boxes)

Tufted Titmouse (fledgling)
(young birds have soft, yellow gape)

Northern Cardinal (fledgling)
(beak is dark in young birds)

Acadian Flycatcher
(has white eyering and whitish throat)

Plus the following species not pictured
(or pictured on other weekly pages):

Swainson's Warbler (2nd local record; adult male in breeding condition with cloacal protuberance)
Gray Catbird
Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhee
Carolina Wren
Brown Thrasher

All photos © Hilton Pond Center

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.