As an older person who grew up with black and white TV, in my youth I could always look outside to find bright colors and bizarre shapes. Nature/evolution seems to have unlimited imagination in designing life. We are fortunate that unlike most mammals we primates have color vision so that we can appreciate this riot of color. Of course we lack the wider spectrum of vision that extends into the ultraviolet for some insects (such as honeybees) and birds (kestrel) and even infrared (some snakes).
The most spectacular sunrises are of course not only ephemeral but rarely if ever repeated. This makes them doubly beautiful. An even rarer event in my experience is a rainbow, seen here from the same family dock on Lemon Bay as the sunrise. We tend to think that reality is just as we perceive it, but the refraction of light by water droplets that creates the rainbow shows that “white light” is actually made up of a spectrum of colors. Remember “ROY G BIV” the ditty that helps you to recall the order of the colors?
One of the most spectacular fungi is the cinnabar polypore, which can be a fairly common decomposer on dead branches, especially oak. It is not edible but has anti-bacterial properties which might be useful if you are lost in the woods. The red portion above ground is the fruiting body and I have found no explanation for its electric bright color. I could speculate that distribution of the spores might be enhanced by a bird or turtle that eats the cap. Alternately a bright color can indicate toxicity and discourage consumption. Another of nature’s many mysteries?
While biking in Rotonda I came across this strange caterpillar crossing the road. It is a Tersa sphinx moth caterpillar and is remarkable for its mimicry of a snake. If a bird were interested in eating this plump green caterpillar it might well be discouraged by the apparent large “eye spots” which might mean this is a dangerous snake. Actually it is delicious, if you like caterpillars, and this is an excellent example of how mimicry in pattern/shape can be selected to make an insect resemble a snake. But only a dim witted bird would be fooled?
Insect coloration can warn a predator that it is toxic and this spotted oleander caterpillar moth nectaring on lantana flowers in our yard is toxic due to its larval food of oleander. It is less distinctive and rarer than the brighter polka dot oleander moth. Both species are day flying moths that are likely both toxic and use a resemblance to wasps to provide a double whammy against predatory birds.
The oyster catcher is a spectacular large shorebird that feeds on oysters as its name suggests. Males and females are identical and the huge bill is well designed to crack open the oyster shells. The red color is likely related to species recognition and displays. Another even more peculiar bill is that of the whimbrel which feeds in soft mud and sand; the entire bird is well camouflaged. This whimbrel photographed in Chadwick Cove is off course since it usually migrates directly to S America from the east coast of N America.
One of the most spectacular bird colors is that of the roseate spoonbill. This bird was feeding in tidal Lemon Lake where it may consume small shrimp containing carotenoids that are deposited in the feathers to result in such spectacular colors. The lake depth varies not only with the tides but with runoff from rainfall so that spoonbills may only feed when the depth is appropriate.
This young bald eagle seen at Cedar Pt. is not off course since it probably grew up in this area. I can tell from its color, or rather lack of color, that it is a young bird likely about 2.5 years old. The smooth trailing edge of the wing and the whitish belly confirm this. The true adult plumage will not be attained until an age of about five years.
So enjoy the riotous variations in color and form found in nature. Try figuring out what the specific colors might mean to each species. Much remains to be discovered so your observations may provide a clue to an unknown behavior.