August 16, 2007

Gila, Hummers, and a Spider or Two.

I recently got back from a short business trip to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in southwestern New Mexico. It was a long drive (8 1/2 hours) but we got a lot accomplished and I got to see a park I've been wanting to visit for a while now. The park is particularly interesting since it maintains its policy of allowing visitors to enter the ruins. This gives people a unique opportunity to have some very meaningful experiences here. It's really very cool.

They have almost as many hummers buzzing around the visitor center there as we do in our backyard, so that was neat to see, too. Unfortunately, one young Broad-tailed Hummingbird decided to take a head-first dive into the plate glass window, knocking himself silly. I checked him over carefully, though, and it didn't seem like there was any significant damage done.

So I let him perch on my finger for 30 minutes or so while he recovered. When he seemed strong enough I moved him to a branch in the shadow of a large pine, where he stayed for another 15 minutes before flying off.

I'm not convinced that he'll be completely fine, since many "window casualties" often fly off initially only to die from their head injury later. There is something we all can do, though, to minimize bird strikes on your windows, particularly if you have feeders nearby and experience them regularly. You can make construction-paper cutouts of raptor silhouettes and stick them on the window. This has been shown to be particularly effective at reducing the frequency of birds flying into windows.

Finally, last week was an interesting spider week. First off, Sonja found a spider crawling around in our bathtub. She wanted me to move it outside, but upon close inspection I had a suspicion that it might actually be a brown recluse spider, and that I probably didn't want to try to pick it up. So, rather than risk getting bit by the most dangerous North American spider around, I squished it. In my defense, however, I did want a closer look at it to determine if it really was a brown recluse.

I'm convinced. Sonja, not so much. But that certainly looks like a "fiddle shape" on the cephalothorax to me.

Anyway, I got to see a much less dangerous cousin to the recluse hanging out on our window screen outside the house later that afternoon.

I think you'll agree that this Green Lynx Spider is much prettier.


kippur said...

Yes that IS a Recluse. We had many many many of them at our old country house so we are quite familiar.

Hey at least all the poisionous fellas are keepin you on your toes.

Patrick Belardo said...

A not very reclusive, recluse indeed. Note to self: Wear shoes at Paul's house if I ever visit.

P. Ollig said...

Actually, the only ones we've found have been in the bathtub, so shoes wouldn't be that comfortable.

P. Ollig said...

Oh, and I actually had the picture analyzed by Dr. Cramer from The Brown Recluse Spider Project. He also confirms that it is a recluse. However, it is not of the brown recluse species (Loxosceles reclusa). Instead, he beleives it's either a desert (L. deserta) or Arizona (L. arizonica) recluse. He asked me to catch the next one and send it to him for positive identification.

I think I'll let Sonja do that.

Anonymous said...

Great images--now I have to go check the closets to see if that's what our spiders look like, too.
The hummingbird is actually an Allen's or Rufous, not a Broad-tail; note the extensive rufous below and on the rump.

P. Ollig said...

I was wondering about that hummer since it was pretty rufous-looking, but considering the shear number of broadtails they had there I just assumed that was what it was. I'll admit my knowledge of juvi hummer identification is sorely lacking.

Thanks for the tip!