Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
... so, two days ago I was writing about my spider study at Mugu when I thought I heard a parrot 'gacking' outside my window. In Pasadena parrots fly in flocks east and west a couple of times a day. Some times I find a few flocks in trees near Old town Pasadena. And, I have heard that some flocks find the fruit of kaypoc trees


I have had some sort of animal eat large holes in my oranges last year, and my pomegranates this year.... I thought it might be rats or birds like the blue jays.... but perhaps not. A flock of parrots flew by on Monday and then I heard a lone parrot next door.

The mocking birds were not too happy. You see, they "own" the tea tree"

and will follow me about as close as five feet away. When the parrot decided that the tea tree was a nice place to sit they chased it up into the liquidamber.

Well, it squaked and carried on until I hung my head outside (it was 92 degrees one Monday!!!!). "Yack!"I yelled, and then it listened. Back and forth I would make some horrible noise and the bird would return a scream. My neighbors already think I am nuts so I have no qualms about hanging out my window and acting like a fool.

Well, it is much cooler today and tonight, so, tomorrow I will put some seeds on the roof and see if it will come to the window.

It looks like a canary parrot, Brotogeris versicolurus chiriri

I had one that I bought from Sears long ago. I felt particularly alone one day and decided to visit the local pet store. Out in the back, with the potted plants, people were yelling and screaming, "It's over here!" "NO! NO! OUCH!!!" and then "DAM BIRD!" and"Can we kill it?!" Three adults with nets and ladders could not catch this feisty bird. For some reason I liked it. "I called up to them, "I'll take it!"

Well, that rallied the troops and they finally caught it after another half an hour. They were very happy to sell the monster to me at a greatly reduced price. He came home with me and was called, ''L'oiseau"

I found my new friend to like grapes. L'oiseau was not very big for a parrot, he was about 8 inches. I have seen large parrots consume grapes and I found that birds have a special capacity for eating them. The large parrots can eat up to 12 grapes before one of them is dejected out the other end. I found L'oiseau was a four grape parrot; one, two, three, four, five/poop, six/poop, seven/poop.... etc.

L'oiseau lived with me for 8 years. It was an adult when I bought him so I really don't know how old he was when I got him. I had a friend take care of him when I went on trips. He would try to be nice to him and L'oiseau would lure my friend to put his fingers in the cage just a bit too close and, "OUCH! IT'S PARROT POT PIE IF YOU ARE NOT CAREFUL!"

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
In the dead of winter, it was 82 degrees F... the sky was a beautiful blue without a cloud in sight. There was a soft off shore breeze perhaps 2-3 knots... if that... just to get the few tigers (who were out today) to fly more then five feet.

Up in the upper marsh of Mugu the pans were fairly slicked down from the rains from a month ago... was it a month? No! Strange weather!... The Halictidae burrows were mostly covered over by a thin crust of salt. This allowed the few tigers that were adults to come out to play. A few ladybird beetles flew here and there.

The Lycosidae snuck out from the safety of the Salicornia sp. and Frankenia sp. on the pannes and tried to blend with the back ground - they stood over cracks in the soil - to hide from the Pompilidae who were out hunting for fat spiders for their rookeries. My large (body 2 cm, legs 1.5 cm each) female, caught in September, lets me pet her legs - softly with a toothpick (their bite can become necrotic) and has not taken much food lately. She may be ready to mate.... in which case her wolf spider brothers and sisters in Mugu are in the same condition. A scary time for these creatures - ready do mating displays but, also a special time for the spider wasps, too.

The sun is very important to animals that cannot create the warmth they need for high energy tasks like foraging for food, hunting, mating, running from danger. Tigers bask in the sun so that they can become the fierce hunters we know and love. It is also a way to be able to escape their predators... like me or birds or spiders. Warming in the sun may also play a part in how well they out maneuver the fast flies that they eat, and may determine their rank the inter and intra species hierarchy, too.

The salt pannes are warm in the sun and the tigers find this very enjoyable. I found this Cicindela senilis frosti basking, turning this side and then the other side to the sun... then again turning its backside to the sun... a full rotation.

Most C. s. frosti caught and pinned in the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the Santa Barbara Museum are grey with off white markings. The C. s. frosti that I have caught at Mugu come in grey, green, blue, and reddish colors. this one has it all. green, red here and there, and grey. Beautiful.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
Here is the C.s.frosti that I caught at Mugu in August of last year. He was never a great hunter and with his flight wings mangled, he would never have survived. I feed him tiny crickets, flies, and occasional meal worm and cat food. He digs in the sand when it is cold and runs about when warm. He has a few hypopyl mites, one on his left eye.