Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

In velvet

Little tawny buck in velvet.




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This is an interesting idea, even though doing so is currently illegal:


I don’t know what sort of special care a quoll might require and how that might differ from caring for a ferret or a cat.

And if you want a dog, then you could get a dingo. Some dingoes do tame down quite nicely. A few have even made it as stockdogs, and at least one has made as a guide dog.

Not all dingoes make good pets, but they are closer to a domesticated animal that those marsupial carnivores, which might require some really intense selective breeding to make a safe family pet.

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I never would have thought porcupines would have been that responsive or playful.

This image totally changes the way I view them!

I just thought of them as fisher food, and dogs shouldn’t eff with them.

I believe the porcupine once ranged into West Virginia, but it’s not here now.

I’ve never seen one here.

We have fishers, but no porcupines.

Maybe I’m wrong.

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I spent the holiday weekend at my parents’ house, which lies adjacent to my grandparents’ property. On that property is a farm pond, which is surrounded by tall white pines.

Every year, a pair of wood ducks shows up to see if this pond might be a good place to nest. However, they soon discover that there are no hollow trees or nesting boxes, and they move on. I assume that this is always a different pair of wood ducks, because they have a high mortality in the wild.

Wood ducks, in case you didn’t know, are perching ducks. They require a hollow in a tree or a nest box to nest successfully. Because this pond has a grove of white pines surrounding it, the ducks are beguiled into landing there.

Because they nest in trees,, how do the little ducks get out of the nest and ont the ground? Like all ducks, wood duck chicks are precocial. They can follow their mothers a soon as they’ve hatched.

Well, they jump.



I’m thinking about putting up a nest box in those pines next year to see if the ducks will nest there.

We once had a breeding colony of green herons that nested in those trees, and I’ve seen a few great blues there over the years. When I was about 3 or 4, there was a blue snow goose that landed there, too. There is a photo me looking at the bird from the pond’s edge. That bird probably got lost on his migration route.

I remember the first wood ducks I saw at that pond. My first golden, “Goldie,” flushed them. She had never seen waterfowl before, other than my tame muscovy duck. She thought they were some weird species of water pheasant.

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American black vultures are coming to eat your babies.

American black vultures are coming to eat your babies.

American black vultures are generally creatures of the subtropical South. They are far more widespread in Latin America than they are in the US, and most people who live north of Virginia have never heard of them. That is, until now.

For some reason, perhaps climate change, the black vultures are gradually working their way northward. Some have been spotted a little north of their current range, which is thought to be constricted mainly south of New York state.

In my home state, however, these birds are becoming more and more common.

This would not be such a big deal if they were like the turkey vulture, a related species that nests throughout the Americas, including parts of Canada. The turkey vulture has a wonderful sense of smell and can smell dead things deep within the forest. It is a larger bird than the black, but its habits are essentially benign. Just don’t go near their nests, or they’ll vomit on you. They also defecate on their legs to keep themselves cool in the summer.

But the black vulture is also a predator. It is perhaps best known from nature documentaries where it lands on beach in Costa Rica where rare sea turtles have laid their eggs. As the little turtles hatch, the black vultures (and the dogs, coatis, coyotes, crabs, and villagers catch them for dinner). In my neck of the woods, though, the animal is a threat to livestock. They are much more of a threat to lambs and kids than calves.

But my guess is that people will start shooting both species of vulture, albeit illegally. All vultures in the US, including the endangered California condor, are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. It’s going to be a shame, because the turkey vulture isn’t any kind of threat to anything. The juvenile turkey vulture, though, has a black head, which means it’s in big trouble.

I hate to see any animal persecuted just because it gets in the way of some human enterprise or is thought to be in the way of a human enterprise. But this is how people behave in this day and age. I still hear horry horror tales about what coyotes do– they’ll eat your golden retriever, they say (hasn’t happened in all the years I’ve had golden retrievers running in the woods with coyotes) or they’ll eat someone (definitely hasn’t happened yet).

BTW, I should tell you that New World vultures are not closely related to Old World vultures. There is an Old World black vulture, but it is not the same species we have here. Old World vultures are related to hawks and eagles. New World vultures are far more closley related to storks (and if you ever seen a wood stork, you can see the resemblance). These New World species are derived from scavenging storks that specialized in eating carrion. The black vulture still has the stork’s hunting ability, while the condors and the turkey vultures have lost it.

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These cream-colored American black bears are found only along the central coast of British Columbia.

These cream-colored American black bears are found only along the central coast of British Columbia.

The most numerous bear species in the world is the American black bear. It is found in every province and territory of Canada, except Prince Edward Island, and it continues to recolonize its former range in the United States.  These bears are the only bears native to the eastern part of North America. The vast majority of these bears found in the east are black with brown muzzles. Some have some white on their chests. Because Europeans settled this part of the continent first, the animal was called the black bear.

However, this species comes in several different phases. There is a cinnamon or brown color phase of the black bear, which is more common in the central and western parts of the continent. In Alaska, “blue glacier” black bears occur with a bluish gray tinge to their coats. White black bears have been documented, such as this one killed in Western Pennsylvania.

However, along the central part of British Columbia’s coast, one tenth of the black bears are light cream-colored. These bears are called “Kermode bears,” after Francis Kermode, the Canadian zoologist who first described this color phase. It has recently been designated the provincial animal of British Columbia.

This color phase of black bear is found in the temperate rainforest, which is under threat from wide scale logging. This bear is found right in the heart of an extensive tract of this temperate rainforest, which has been called the Great Bear Rainforest.

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