Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winter casualty

It's been suddenly cold these last two days. There was ice on the birdbaths this morning, and the bushtits are swarming around the suet feeder. On the wall outside the front door, three little brown moths seemed to be sleeping, but when I touched one, it fell free and floated to the ground. Frozen and dead, or dying.

I nudged a second one into a bottle. It was moving, barely, then revived as it came inside to the warmth. But not for long; before I got around to taking its photo, it was lying inert. It's time; the moths have lived out their lifespan, fed, played, hopefully found mates and started the next generation; now it's time to leave. I just felt sorry that I had awakened this one and prolonged its dying. 

Such big eyes you have!

The moths are about an inch across the wingspan. They lay flat on the wall, wings opened completely. This one, when it died, was holding his wings together, and they seemed locked in place; I couldn't lay it flat without tearing the wings.

So tiny, so fragile they seem! And yet, so sturdy, so patient, so amazingly tough. To sleep out in the cold, night after night, until their blood freezes; imagine it!

(Sure, they're cold-blooded, but think of the merry bushtits; slightly bigger than a dragonfly, hot-blooded, huddled in a tree while the sap freezes, fueled by a smidgen of suet and a bug or three. I am continually humbled by these creatures.)

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