Readers’ wildlife photos

June 25, 2021 • 8:15 am

Thanks to a slew of readers, we have enough photos for several potpourri features, but do send in your long-form contributions when you can. Thanks!

We’ll have two contributors today, the first being physicist and origami master Robert Lang from Altadena, California.  Like all photos below, the captions are indented and you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them:

I saw today you asked for a few topping-off photos, so I thought I’d send the below, from recent mornings’ hikes.

First, we have the common American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). A group of these started hanging around my place for a few days; I suspect, coincidentally (and sadly) with the disappearance of the contents of a mourning dove nest I’d been monitoring in a nook above the back porch.

And now for a few hiking photos. The Whipple Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) blooms in June, studding the mountains with cream-colored candlesticks. They bloom only once, then die, but there’s plenty of slightly younger ones to fill in each year.

Darkling Beetles (Eleodes sp., possibly armata) are fairly common around here. When disturbed, they stick their butt up in the air. This one was just going about its business.

And last, a new and uncommon critter: the Southern California legless lizard (Anniella stebbinsi). At first glance I thought it was an earthworm from its size and shape and the way it was twitching from side to side, but given the heat and dryness, any earthworm wouldn’t have been long for the world! A closer look revealed its reptilian scales, and then its stumpy tail and lizard-like head helped narrow it down.

Here are two photos by regular Joe Dickinson. He didn’t supply the IDs, but it’s clear that one is a flying fox and the other a primate. I’ll add the IDs when he responds to my query. In the meantime, you can guess!

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. The Cochiti have an explanation for the behavior of Eleodes. The Great Spirit had assigned Eleodes the job of hanging the stars in the sky. The beetle had one job to do but spilled the stars, which created the Milky Way. He was so ashamed he hangs his head down. This is a nice explanation of the origin of the Milky Way and the beetle’s behavior of raising its abdomen and releasing a foul defensive chemical.

  2. The primate looks to be a spider monkey (Ateles sp.) of some sort. There are a number of named geographically replacing forms; I’m not sure if there are any sympatric forms. Knowing where the picture was taken would thus go a long way toward figuring out the species.


    1. Agreed, it is either the black-faced spider monkey (when young their face is pinkish) Ateles fusciceps fusciceps, or the Columbian spider monkey Ateles fusciceps rufiventris.
      Spider monkey females are reputed to have (like spotted hyenas) a giant clitoris, difficult to distinguish from a penis. Attributing sex is done by looking for a scrotum. I’m not sure whether spider monkey females are dominant (like in spotted hyenas), but I would bet a bottle of Chateuneuf du Pape they are.

      1. A fun little detail that I had read somewhere is that new-world monkeys are described as having nostrils that open out to the side, while old-world monkeys have nostrils that open downward. So one can see which side of the world this one came from (and that we humans for that matter are from the old-world).

  3. All great photos but I’m various shades of green with envy over the legless lizard! They captured my imagination as a small child leafing through my Audubon Society field guid to reptiles but I’ve yet to see one in person. We have the slender glass lizard ‘round these parts, but no such luck on my part. How fantastic!

  4. Never heard of a Whipple yucca- a beautiful plant/tree/succulent thing. Are the flying foxes and spider monkey from the same locale? Thanks for this nice set of photos.

  5. I know that crows are generally not loved, but I can’t help it–they make me laugh. They’re like the tough guys of the bird groups around here, strutting around looking for trouble, which is why I smile at them frequently. Apparently they remember human faces, particularly those they don’t like!

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