Readers’ wildlife photos

July 20, 2018 • 8:00 am

Reader James Petts sent photos of deer, young and mature. His notes are indented. “Whitey” refers to a leucistic deer that has, mirabile dictu, survived being hunted for several years.

The location is Freeland, WA, on the west coast of Whidbey Island. It is adjacent to Admiralty Inlet, the main N/S body of Puget Sound. Columbian Black-Tailed Deer [Odocoileus hemionus columbianus] are common in this area.  The house is part of a community HOA, and everyone appreciates having the deer around. I have also attached a picture of a young buck in velvet.

I love the expressions and determination of these little guys.

There is a short video of them playing around on Ripley’s FB page.You can see a couple of bunbuns in the background, so this is like a double Bambi/Thumper clip…[JAC: Click on screenshot to see the video of gamboling fawns. I believe Ripley is the contributor’s cat.]

Whitey was born in May 2016 and has been a constant visitor to our yard since then. [JAC: James says that Whitey appears pregnant in this photo but the fawns above are not hers.]

I’m not sure how old the buck is – I think he is two, but can’t say for sure. The picture was taken through a window screen and was a little blurred, but I have sharpened it up a touch.

Reader Bob Felton sent a lovely amphibian, but I lost the email with the species ID. Readers: can you tell us what this is?

20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. It looks like a bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana); there are a couple of rather similar species with restricted ranges in the southern U.S. that I can’t rule out without further checking.

    1. Hi Greg, I looked up pics of the American Bullfrog & they all have that circle behind the eye we see here in the pic. Is that the eardrum or just a skin marking? What’s the fold of skin for behind the circle?

      1. The circle is indeed the tympanum. The fact that it is about the same size as the eye means it’s a female (male eardrums are noticeably larger than the eye). The skin fold is the dorsolateral fold, which in bullfrogs is short and curls round the ear. In green frogs, as Christopher hints below, the fold extends well down the back; the two species often co-occur, and the fold is the easiest way to tell them apart. Dorsolateral folds (sometimes with additional folds on the back) occur in many frogs. I’m not sure what function they may have.


    2. With the rounded snout and a dorsolateral fold going around the tympanum rather than down the side of the back, bullfrog is the safe bet.
      I wonder if there has been any taxonomic revisions with the bullfrog lately. There have been a few new leopard frog species in the last couple of years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we have cryptic bullfrog species hidding in plain sight as well.

  2. Very fluffy deers! No fb & no vid that I can see.

    Bob Felton lives in North Carolina – might help ID that amphibian beast

      1. Michael – even though they are so close, the video was taken through a window. The deer are unafraid and we sometimes get nose prints on the windows.

  3. To fix the vid link, just add /RipleyInRedmond/videos/2103602993018433/ after the facebook – dot – com.

    Also, Ripley is the cat that we adopted after Jerry featured her here on 5 January 2013. She changed our lives after we adopted her, and I started serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the shelter we adopted her from – Purrfect Pals.

    1. I just clicked on the ‘videos’ link from the menu on the left side of his facebook page.

      Serious gamboling going on there.

  4. It might just be me and my perspective, (all I see around here are white tails) but the black tails appear to resemble mule deer. The ears in particular. Btw, if he hadn’t mentioned the image having been shot through a screen, I for one would not had a clue.Amazing stuff!

  5. Great pics! Often, I encounter deer on the long gravel drive into the forest on my way home. I always feel bad when they are in the road and zig-zag their way in front of me, thinking I’m sure that a terrible monster is chasing them. If I stop, they stop. If I go, they scamper in front. Poor dears.

  6. I have a question about reindeer: why do they have fur on their antlers? What purpose does this serve, aside from making them cuter?

    1. The fuzzy casing to the antlers is called the velvet. It’s an adapted form of skin that acts as the substrate for a very high concentration of blood vessels & nerves. The vessels & nerves are the high speed transport system that rushes building materials to the growing parts of the antler.

      Velvet helps make antlers the fastest growing tissue of any mammal – antlers grow a half inch to more than one inch every day.

      As daylight increases in the spring, testosterone production increases and triggers antler growth and neck muscle growth. A substantial amount of protein and minerals are necessary for antler growth, so spring and summer nutrition are important factors in antler size.

      By fall, antlers are fully grown and the bone cells die. Velvet dries up and falls off. Although bucks rub their antlers on trees, this is not because the shedding is itchy. At this point, no living tissue is present so it can’t itch. Bucks rub their antlers to strengthen their neck muscles and mark trees with their scent.


  7. ‘”Whitey” refers to a leucistic deer that has, mirabile dictu, survived being hunted for several years.’

    Right. Obsessive, fetish-prone, gun-worshipping hunters simply can’t be satisfied to be grateful seeing and photographing such an unusually-marked creature. They have to shoot it and kill it. Methinks that they should rather go on a hunt with Dick Cheney and take a knife to their own precious foreskins.

    Sorry, it’s the gin on a weekend. (Is that an okay excuse/rationalization/justification? But then, despite the gin, I’m sitting here, thinking about it for a few minutes – or more – before I [do not?] click “Post Comment,” contemplating whether I have free will to [not] so click. Well, one more quaff of gin, and I decide to click, as there are other things that need done.)

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