Earlier this week, I happened to be checking my Martin House poles when I thought I saw something in the netting around the poles. I looked closer and there was a female Mantid (Praying Mantis) who had gotten tangled in the netting.
It took me an hour to get her out unharmed. As soon as she was free she flew onto my arm and proceeded to climb up till she was on my shoulder. She looked at me with her triangular shaped head and turned her head back and forth. Kinda neat and creepy at the same time. I guess we were bonding…
Mantids are a sit-and-wait predator. The females are larger than the males. It is rumored that sometimes if a second male comes near her during mating, well, she just eats the first guy by biting his head off. Maybe that’s where that saying comes from?
They mostly eat other insects or small lizards. They do call to attract a mate, but otherwise are silent.
She was interesting to say the least, and I guess she was thanking me for saving her, because when she finally flew down to the grass, she started following me.
I finally out-distanced her and everyone went home.
Just the other day, I was in my garden and leaned against an oak tree with my hand. Something heavy and wet then scooted across my hand. Boy, I pulled my hand back just in time to see the biggest lizard looking thing I ever saw in my garden!
After I composed myself, I looked a little closer to the beast. It was the biggest skink I ever came across. It climbed up to the higher parts of the tree and ducked inside a hole.
It turned out to be a Broad-headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps). This fellow likes dead trees usually near a forest environment. That makes another good use for a snag (dead tree).
This skink eats insects and other small lizards. I was glad to discover that humans were not on the list.
It was pretty neat seeing it. Keep your eyes open, and maybe you’ll see one, too.
Nature has amazing creatures everywhere. You just need to look.
Recently I had several clutches of Purple Martins fledge out into the world. There are more to come soon.
When they fledge, they make their first flight and leave the nest. A big step that must be successful the first time. Talk about pressure.
Right now they still perch on the gourd rack, but are out in the new world learning to fly, hunt, and socialize with their friends. They sing so loud and often; I know they must be laughing at the pure joy of it all.
How I have dreamed of flying and looking at the earth from above. I think many of us have that dream.
The Martins will be here in the US for about another eight weeks or so. Then they start to gather in huge roosts, waiting till their instincts tell them it is time to fly to their winter home in Brazil. They have dual citizenship.
In Brazil, they live in the trees until winter is over, and once again they return here to have their babies. It will be the only time they live in gourds or other man-made houses.
Their song is beautiful and one of the reasons they are so loved. It is so silent after they leave. I count the weeks till they return.