Readers’ wildlife photos

July 6, 2014 • 6:06 am
We have photos from four readers today, including me. The first is from regular Diana MacPherson, who’s photographing the young Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) that frequent her yard. She sent a series of three photos of a juvenile nomming a seed. As always, Diana is concerned about the animal’s facial expression and what emotions it conveys:
I believe this chipmunk is one of the babies. He was happily hoovering up sunflower seeds left on the deck for him when the mangy guy came and he hid then chased the mangy guy but must’ve lost because mangy guy returned.
Here he eats and opens the seeds. You can see how he peels back the seed in the second photo. The last photo is cute because you can see how his little hands appear and how he knits them together. Chipmunks always seem worried to me and the way they hold their hands is cute and almost human.
Reader Peter Uimonen sent a beautiful poison dart frog he photographed in Costa Rica. Having never been to the Osa Peninsula despite spending two months in the country, I’ve never seen this lovely creature:
This little guy is a specimen of the Golfo Dulce poison dart frog (Phyllobates vittatus).  The species is endemic to the Golfo Dulce region of Costa Rica that includes the Osa Peninsula. While limited to the area, they are relatively common along lowland tropical forest streams along with Green and Black poison dart frogs (Dendrobates auratus). My wife and I got especially lucky when we came across this male because it is exhibiting brood caring behavior typical for this species. It is carrying its tadpoles on its back to deposit them in small pools.
Captive specimens aren’t poisonous, so it’s thought that they acquire the poison from their diet: a neat evolutionary trick. AmphibiaWeb (link above) says this:
Like other dendrobatid frogs, Phyllobates species are thought to acquire their toxins from dietary sources. One source for batrachotoxin may be melyrid beetles, which have been shown to contain high levels of this toxin. Melyrid beetles may also be the dietary source for batrachotoxin in the toxic New Guinea passerine bird genera Pitohui and Ifrita (Dumbacher et al. 2004).
Reader Stephen Barnard from Idaho sends a lovely photo of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in flight:

Finally, I checked on the mallards in our departmental pond (“Botany Pond”) on my way to work. More often than not, a female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) produces a brood in the pond and then all the young are killed before they fledge. This year, however, all five chicks survived, and they look nearly ready to fledge. I took this photo a few minutes ago. The mother (right) still watches attentively.

Our ducks


12 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. Agree. Stephen’s photography is excellent, and I especially appreciate the subject of the above photo.

  1. The Golfo Dulce region of Costa Rica is not only an area of high endemicity, but also unusual in that a number of populations (at least of herps) are found there that otherwise occur only on the Caribbean side, or reach their northernmost range limit on the Pacific versant of the country. The area also serves as the southern terminus of a number of distributions coming in from the north. It is, biogeographically, an area of considerable interest, at least from a herpetological perspective.

  2. Interesting that melyrid beetles’ protective adaptation is not only useless against the frogs but transferred *to* the frogs!

    1. If you can beat them, then eat them and cheat them!?

      Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only crueler than we suppose, but crueler than we can suppose. [Haldane, slightly modified]

  3. I wondered why the poison dart frog had strange skin on his back (as I imagined myself patting it and then wondered if I could do that if I put latex gloves on). I didn’t know the males deposited their tadpoles in the a pond like that. I thought about collecting these cute frogs but it would be a lot of work to care for their terrarium and I already have a demanding fish tank.

    1. Having kept poison dart frogs and having a son who raises them successfully, I can say that they’re much easier than fish tanks–but I hate having to keep the fly cultures going (not to mention, confined).

  4. I just hope that the success of this clutch of ducks isn’t because of the extinction of predators. It’s great that all the chicks survived, but I hope not at the expense of, say, all the falcon chicks.


  5. Some years ago, I visited the National Aquarium. They were raising several dendrobatid frogs, particularly a blue one from Surinam (as I recall). They have a walk through rainforest exhibit with tropical birds. They told me they had introduced poison arrow frogs, with the assumption the birds would leave them alone. The birds immediately ate the introduced frogs.

  6. Great Plyllobatid capture. Stunning BIF shot–as usual–Stephen.

    And hooray for ducklings! 🙂

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