House finch are pretty little birds, but don't get much attention. So here is a photo of a male and female on a feeder in Roanoke, Virginia.
While not planning this, it seems that I have posted animals feeding for my last several posts. Kinda cool.
The plague that is white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the eastern US continues. So many of these things and they cause much trouble.
For people it is mostly the car accidents they cause and the millions of dollars in damages and even lives lost in those accidents. But environmentally, when populations are as high as they are now, they strip forests of wildflowers and most vegetative growth below about 5 feet. Forests have no upcoming generations of trees as they never get very large before the deer strip them of leaves and they die.
But even in the rural but built up areas, where there is enough grass and low vegetation to feed a thundering herd of deer, they manage to find a way to be a bugger. Here is a deer stretching hard to reach that last apple that is within the deer browse zone, right in the back yard of a house, with another house nearby visible in the photo.
I like deer, but here in the eastern US we just have way too darn many of the things.
Tonight I attended a meeting on The Dark Side in Washington, D.C. There was surprisingly little talk about bats...
If you like mulberries, all you need is one tree and you will feast. These trees can produce a prodigious amount of fruit, which looks quite a bit like a blackberry and is a deep purple when fully ripe.
And the eastern gray squirrel certainly likes mulberries, and they are getting quite fat about now as there is a superabundance of food. But they seem to prefer the fruit when it is still not quite fully ripe. The fruit tends to go from white or green, to red (starts to get tasty) to purple (yummy!). This squirrel was just stuffing himself in the late afternoon today, eating one berry after another.
The eastern cottontail (Silvilagus floridanus) is commonly found in gardens, parks and well most places in and around Falls Church, VA. Best times to see them are late evening as they are mostly crepuscular (word of the day! means active in twilight as in around dusk and dawn) but they will also feed at night and sometimes just right out there in the middle of the day.
And no, rabbits are NOT rodents. This is a common misconception but they are rather quite different and are in the order Lagomorpha. This order is pretty much restricted to rabbits, hares and pikas, and just for one more tidbit, Lagomorph pretty much directly translates to "hare-like."
And just for fun, here is my favorite photo that I took today of the rabbit.
An interesting aside, from this last photo you can see that the eyes of a rabbit are so far apart that they are almost on opposite sides of the head. The down side of this is that the animal has extremely limited binocular vision, but the up side is that it can see predators coming even from pretty much right behind it. As a general rule, predators have more narrow, forward-facing eyes and prey animals have wider eyes for greater peripheral vision.
Leaf cutter ants are all over the place here at the FCRE. Here is a shot of them cutting up a banana leaf to haul off to their nest.
Today I came down the trail from the Mudd Pond to the Basilisk pond and instead of wildlife I found Sabrina Wu (recording data) and Gabriela Ochoa (measuring a spider) working on their spider project. They have a really interesting project this year, and looking forward to hearing their results. And yes, we require snake protection on the lower legs (high rubber boots or snake gaiters) as we have a few too many things here to step on that don't like being stepped on.
While this spider probably has some other common name, it is kind of a general thing that all Phoneutria spiders are called Brazilian wandering spiders. Or Brazilian walking spiders in some places. No matter the name, this genus of spiders is considered to have one of the most toxic bites of any spider in the world (if not the most toxic, but such things are hard to measure). They have a neurotoxin that certainly can be fatal and there are numerous deaths attributed to these spiders.
So if you ever wanted to know what the most dangerous spider looks like, here is a photo of one taken 15 feet from the front door of the Program House at the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology in Baru, Costa Rica.
There are a multitude of mantids here, and no easy way to figure them all out as we haven't focused on them (yet). This beautiful animal was on one of the ornamental plants right outside my room this evening.
The gray-necked wood rail is a beautiful bird. When this one saw me it headed for some thick cover to hide in. Usually a good move, but in this case there were scads of army ants in that area and after a very short while it took off flying with a rather alarmed squawking call.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist