Readers’ wildlife photographs

August 31, 2014 • 4:06 am

We have pictures from several readers today.  First, a plea for ID from reader Jeremy, who isn’t quite sure about this insect:

I was hiking around Pelee Island on Lake Erie when I came across this little fella.  I think it might be a black-legged meadow katydid (Orchelimum nigripes) but I’m not quite sure.  He was producing a loud chirp which helped me find him.

The Missouri Dept. of Conservation website calls this—if it is O. nigripes—”one of our most beautiful katydids.”

Black-legged Meadow Katydid

From California, reader Joe Dickinson sends a bird:

In full sun, at the right angle, the crown and gorget of the male Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) are an iridescent red/pink “structural color”, as in the hovering photo from January last year.  In the shade, or at the “wrong” angle, they can appear jet black.  So I was intrigued yesterday afternoon to see diverse, fluctuating colors  in light filtered through the foliage of a shrub in which this fellow was perched.  In my back yard at Aptos, CA.



Reader Peter sends photos of an unappreciated bird: the wild turkey.

I live and work in Southwestern Manitoba Canada – my adopted home, and I often encounter interesting wildlife on the edges of town. These photographs are of Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) that I photographed just eight blocks from my house this morning, and very much in town.
According to my limited research, the wild turkey is not native to Manitoba, but was introduced to the province in 1958. The most recent estimate is that the population now exceeds 10,000, surprising considering the extreme winter temperatures we experience.
This was a group consisting of eight juveniles and one adult female (hen). They seemed wary, but relatively unperturbed by my presence.
. . . Adult female and juvenile:

Juveniles on the road (why did these turkeys cross the road?):


Benjamin Franklin, as I recall, proposed that the U.S. adopt the turkey as the national bird. I think the bald eagle was a better choice, though turkeys make better eating!

Finally, diverse species from reader Sarah Crews:

The bunny and the jellyfish are from Pescadero, CA. The bunny is Sylvilagus bachmani, a brush rabbit, and the jellyfish is Velella velella, the By The Wind Sailor. There has been a large wash up of them this year on the Pac. Coast of the US that has received some media attention. 

I didn’t know of brush rabbits, but, with their roundish heads, they’re really cute.



15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. The black legged meadow katydid seems most probable. There is also the similar ‘handsome meadow katydid’ (O. pulchellum). Both can be seen here.

  2. Love the tukeys! Mt town has an honorary flock of them, sort of our mascots. They roam around wherever they want and do whatever they want, they’re the town pets. (I suppose that they originally adopted us, I hardly think the town went out and bought a flock of wild turkeys.)

    When they cross roads, they’ve learned to all squawk in unison. It sounds like they’re about to strafe the town, but no one minds.

  3. I did some perusing of the web to learn more about rabbits, and have learned that the brush rabbit is one of ~ 17 species of ‘cottontail’ rabbits that are given species names based on geographic region and some minor physical traits. The eastern cottontail (which is considered a species) had been introduced into the western US, where they had bred like rabbits with the brush rabbit species. So, hmmm, as we have learned here from Jerry not all species are as ‘good’ as other species.

  4. What a pretty katydid. Even the all green ones are a really pretty green. I have a lot of conehead grasshoppers here too that are the same pretty green.

    Love the cute hummingbirds – it is amazing how with a turn of their head their iridescent feathers seem to change colour as they reflect the light.

    I often see turkeys here and they are funny in that they will walk in front of my car as if they know I will stop. A bunch of hens did that once and they seemed so posh as the strode across the road.

    I love that the bunny has the feet showing like that. I find bunny feet very cute; when I picked up a baby bunny to put him/her back in her nest, she/he moved his/her cute little feet in such an adorable way.

    Jellyfish are something I’ve only encountered dead. Maybe that’s a good thing since I’ve swam where a sting is very dangerous.

  5. The picture of the V. velella immediately caught my attention because while visiting the Cannon Beach, Oregon coast a couple of weeks ago, I shot almost the exact same picture of one! I had posted it on facebook and my first thought of course is that’s where it came from. But I checked and it’s not the same. I hope it’s not “racist” to say that all velellas look alike to me! lol

    1. I saw thousands of these washed up on the beach near San Simeon last week. Couldn’t get a decent photo with my phone camera, though.

      Once the blue flesh has been eaten away by birds, the transparent skeletons look like scraps of plastic strewn along the beach in a continuous line along the tide mark.

        1. No, they’re much like what you see here, i.e. an oval base with a sort of triangular sail sticking up from it.

        2. The squid’s skeleton looks a bit like the Vellela’s sail, but the gladius of the squid (I think that’s what it’s called) is actually an internal remnant of the shell, much reduced – after all, squids are molluscs. The cuttle-bone that used to be sold for cage birds to use as a calcium source is the same thing, although cuttlefish store a lot more calcium in it that squid do in their gladius.

          Vellela’s a cnidarian – related to jellyfish and sea anemones – and that bit that looks like a squid’s skeleton is part of the flotation structure that keeps the Vellela at the surface. Vellela belongs to the siphonophores – it’s a a colonial organism, rather than a single individual – and the different individuals that make it up are specialized in different ways to carry out different functions, but I’m not sure if the float (and its sail) is a single highly-modified individual or something produced by the colony as a whole but not an individual itself.

  6. One curious thing about the Velella skeletons I saw is that they’re not bilaterally symmetric. The sail is offset by a small angle from the creature’s long axis. (You can see this in Sarah’s photo above.)

    Any hypotheses about this? I’m guessing it confers some aerodynamic advantage but I’m stumped as to what that might be.

  7. I saw turkeys in my son’s school yard this morning. Suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have recovered amazingly in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are commonplace now and were vanishingly rare when I was a child in the 1960’s and 70s in MN.

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