1-7 June 2000

Installment #20

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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.)


All photos & text © Hilton Pond Center

  • Those female Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) that were sunning on early spring days at Hilton Pond Center have been crawling ashore for the past two weeks (above), driven by the urge to nest on land. Although Painted Turtles are aquatic, they dare not lay their eggs in the pond itself. For a submerged egg, gas exchange would be diminished and too much water would diffuse in, causing the embyos to drown. As an evolutionary alternative, the turtle takes its pond onto land, i.e., the leathery eggshell and shell membrane are filled with just the right amount of water, so the embryo develops in its own tiny pool--a throwback to its fully aquatic forebears. (Fetal mammals reveal similar history as they mature within highly aquatic embryonic sacs.)
  • At laying time, the Painted Turtle female seeks out a relatively unvegetated area near the pond and uses her hind legs to laboriously hollow out a vase-shaped cavity (right); she softens the soil with her urine, creating a muddy slurry that she later uses to fill the hole and cover the nest. If--during nest-digging--a turtle is discovered by predators or even startled by a passing observer, she often abandons before laying her eggs; unfortunately, that's what happened to the female in the top photo, and that's why there aren't any eggs in the hole at right. This particular female is obligated to seek out another laying spot within a few days so she can expel the eggs from the limited space within her shell.

    All photos & text © Hilton Pond Center

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NOTE: Be sure to scroll down for an account of all birds banded or recaptured during the week, as well as some other interesting nature notes.

"This Week at Hilton Pond" is written & photographed
by Bill Hilton Jr., executive director of
Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.

You may wish to consult our Index of all nature topics covered since February 2000. You can also use the on-line Search Engine at the bottom of this page.

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1-7 June 2000

House Finch (adult male)
(adult males come in all shades of "red")

American Goldfinch (adult male)
(in full breeding plumage)

Summer Tanager (second-year male)
(males take two years to turn fully red)

This Week at Hilton Pond
is part of the

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

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Carolina Chickadee
Red-eyed Vireo
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Downy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren

All photos & text © 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.