Readers’ wildlife photographs

May 15, 2015 • 7:15 am

Reader John Harshman sent these photos of a kildeer and eggs on April 20:

Yesterday I went out to Charleston Slough on San Francisco Bay, and this very brave killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) began doing threat displays at me. Eventually I figured out why, but I nearly stepped on the nest before I saw it. Sorry, no nightjars in these photos, but aren’t the eggs hard enough to see even in closeup? And that little scrape in the ground is the extent of a killdeer nest.




And from the Blessed Plot, reader pyers sent two photos:

Just been out for a wlk in the local woods. . . Weather in England is glorious at the moment and the bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are out in force.

Check out the link to see the source of the unusual species name “non-scripta”:


. . . and a Eurasian magpie (Pica pica) taking flight:


Reader Randy Schenk sent a gorgeous bird at his feeder:

Finally back from winter in Mexico or Central America the Indigo Bunting, Passerina cyanea, is one of the favorites anytime around here.

Randy Schenck indigo bunting

And of course what is a day without Squirrels, the Honorary Website Rodent™? These photos, including a mutant, were sent by reader Bob Lundgren:

In lieu of cats I’ve enclosed photos of some of our backyard squirrels. The first photo is of our lovely neighborhood albino squirrel. Based on its interactions with the other neighborhood squirrels we think its a female. She is petite and a bit skittish compared to the other squirrels. I’m not sure how long squirrels live but we think she’s been around for several years – successfully avoiding the neighborhood raptors.  The second photo shows the albino along with one of her normally colored compatriots. The third photo is a squirrel with a nice golden tail. when the sun catches it just right it glows beautifully. 

And from the Facebook page of Dr. Piotr Naskrecki, one of our Official Website Entomologists™:

One of the highlights of our recent biodiversity survey of Gorongosa National Park was the re-discovery of the Hooded praying mantis Rhomboderella thorectes. This species has not been seen since its original description in 1949.


16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

    1. I second that emotion. We have been spoiled with photos of impossibly wonderful mantids over the past few months. And just in case you think you’ve seen it all, here comes another one!

      Urban wretch that I am, I have only ever seen one mantis in the wild, on a bush in West Warwick, Rhode Island, when I was nine years old. For a split second I assumed it was someone’s pet that had gotten away. City kids!

      1. There are usually egg sacs around my property and I’ve seen brown and green ones. I love how they are so calm and will star at you calmly even if you must be annoying them by taking up close pictures of them.

        1. I’ve yet to see an egg that wasn’t calm and hard to annoy!

          Unless you mean the birds, in which case I may have been pretending to take that sentence literally, for comedic effect.

          I worry for wild critters that don’t flee when they see me: they are going to trust the wrong human one of these days.

          1. Ha, ha.

            Diana was, of course, referring to praying mantis egg sacs (ootheca); but your point stands, they are notoriously placid.

  1. Nice photos everyone. I was once attacked by a killdeer when I got too close to its nest on a sandbar in Alaska. I too almost stepped on the eggs when I was trying to get away from it.

    re. the Indigo Bunting. When you say “around here”, whereabouts is that? I can see how this beautiful bird would be a highlight of spring.

    Great news on the re-discovery of that splendid mantis. I clicked on the link and found that a recent herp team in the park also discovered a new gecko. Looks like an amazing place.

  2. Wonderful pictures. Interesting that the magpies name emphasizes that it eats non-food (‘pica’ is the behavior when one habitually eats things like crayons, clay, etc).

    And of course a wonderful preying mantis, and a true albino sqrrl.

    1. I wouldn’t put anything past magpies!

      However, Wikipedia gives its taxonomic etymology thusly:

      “The scientific name Pica is just the Latin word for magpie.[7] When Linnaeus first described this species in 1758, he named it Corvus pica.[8]”

      Of the Latin derivation of pica, my dictionary says, “[from L. pica, magpie–more at PIE],” and when I go to “pie” I find, “[from L pica; akin to L picus woodpecker].”

      Note how closely this is followed by “pie-bald,” or “splotched with black & white,” which not only applies to horses but magpies and many woodpeckers as well.

      Well, back to your point, my dictionary says that the eating-related word pica comes from the name of the magpie, not vice versa. But it doesn’t say why, so your reasoning may be the case. Have you heard about such a connection?

      Doesn’t take much to send me off on a tangent!

  3. Re: the white squirrel, a few weeks back I saw a terrific click-bait gallery of albino animals of different species; always interesting to see.

    I had no idea killdeer eggs were so beautiful, not that I’d ever wondered about it. There are no ordinary creatures.

  4. Readers’ wildlife, always a high part of my day!

    Wonderful Killdeer shots, John! Whenever I see those scraps, often in the middle of gravel driveways or similar, I wonder how Killdeer ever manage to survive. Of course the real story is, how cool that a bird ever “figured out” how to exploit such an environment.

    pyers, what a lovely wildflower! And excellent BIF shot of that magpie!

    Randy, such a beautiful Indigo Bunting. I’m still waiting for my first of the year, though they’ve been turning up quite near me according to the list-servs. When the spring Indigos, Orioles, Cardinals, Bluebirds, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, etc, show up at my feeders, I think, who needs the tropics? 😀

  5. Bob, fascinating albino squirrel! How unusual (or so one hears) that it’s survived for so long.

    Dr. Naskrecki, what a cool story! I guess the Great African Rift Valley is as good a place as one could imagine for such a rediscovery. These biodiversity surveys are turning up some amazing stuff!

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