Readers’ wildlife photos

July 23, 2021 • 8:00 am

Our tank is running low, and I’m afraid we’re down to readers who sent in one or a few photos. That’s fine, but I must group them together, as I will today. Please send in your batches (10-15 if possible) of good wildlife photos.  This is an urgent call for photos!

Contributors’ captions and IDs are indented; you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

First up is reader Michael Hart, with two photos.

My wife’s stargazer lilies (Lilium sp. hybrid) went wild this year. It has been hot here in Vancouver – I guess lilies must like the heat. This one (photographed at night) is >2 meters tall.

It took a couple weeks, but the flowers have finally been colonized by crab spiders. This may be Misumena vatia, but I’m not sure because it lacks the pink racing stripes on the opisthosoma that I see in some of the field guides. Maybe others will know the ID.

It costs me a lot to look up these spiders because I have a bad phobia. I like these little thomisids and the salticids, but I have to skip over the photos of the big hunting spiders. There is something about the size of my hand that lives in one of the boxes of garden tools (probably one of the Eratigena species), and I’m staying away from it. We found a dead mouse in that box last spring, and I’m concerned that spider has developed a taste for mammals.

From Larry LeClair:

As requested, I send photos of four fledgling Eastern Screech-Owls (Megascops asio) taken last week in a neighbor’s maple tree in Hamilton, NY.

From Robert Placier:

Long-time follower of your website, and finally heeding your call for photos. But I’m not very good at it: all these pics taken with my Android phone. I am, like you, retired from teaching. But for me, I was at a 2-year technical college, Hocking College, in Appalachian southeastern Ohio. Essentially a forest ecologist, I taught Dendrology and Ornithology in my last years to wildlife and interpretive naturalist students. I am a bird bander, so all bird photos are from my operations, mostly at my home, which I call the Palatial Woodland Estate. So here are a few, all from SE Ohio.

A photo from my home area, just outside Chillicothe. This is a view of the Paint Creek gorge, formed during the last glaciation. Ross County is where the glacial advance terminated. The ice blocked drainage of Paint Creek, forming a lake which spilled over a low spot in the hills. Virginia Pines (Pinus virginiana) frame the view, and Eastern Hemlocks are found in the gorge below this cliff.

Because of the heavily forested (>70%) nature of my home area, Vinton County, and my banding birds coming to feeders through the winter, I band more Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) than any other bander in central North America (2-4 per year, nearly 30 since 2009). They are tough to hold with one hand, and I work alone, so this is as good a photo as I can produce. And they often bloody my hands—I think a peck wound is visible in this photo. And I do recapture ones I have banded: the longest span between banding and recapture is about eight years.

I band a lot of Wood Thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina) here, some years over 100, during my Spring and Fall migration banding seasons. The total is over 1,000 since I began banding in 2006. They are regular nesters on my eleven forested acres, and I catch ones each Spring that have returned from their winter (here) sojourn in Central America.

A woodland species that has notably increased on my “estate” since coming here in 2005 is American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). And my understanding is that Wood Thrushes feed on the bright red fruit of this species, and are an important seed disperser. Perhaps some of the other thrushes, common migrants here, also play a part in dispersal.

12 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I would much rather handle the garden box spider described by the first photographer than that woodpecker! It’s a beautiful bird, and I salute the work being done, but that’s a bold undertaking.

    Beautiful pictures in general!

    1. The woodpecker is a vicious-looking thing, indeed — beautiful, but obviously not fond of being picked up. Now you must choose between him and whatever the hell (the size of the poster’s hand!) is lurking in the toolbox.

      1. The thing is, a spider doesn’t really have any interest in biting a person, and would likely just crawl around on your hand, or whatever. Whereas the woodpecker WILL peck you…with a break designed to penetrate wood at speeds that boggle the mind. Spider it is for me.

  2. How do you capture the birds to band? And why/how do you re-capture them? Do they trust that you’ll release them again? Do you entice them with irresistible snacks?

    1. I capture birds via two methods. The majority are captured in what are called mist nets, made of polyester or nylon, strung between poles. It requires a federal permit to use them, and not all banders do. Mesh size varies by the type of bird targeted for capture, for most songbirds a 30mm mesh is used. Most common net size used is 12m long x 2.5m height. Pileated Woodpeckers, at their size, sometimes escape before I can get to the net to remove them by hand. Birds are not harmed, on occasion they tangle themselves enough that I have to cut a few threads with small scissors on my Swiss Army knife to remove them. Bat researchers use the same nets, with an additional problem that bats have teeth, and will chew their way out if not removed in a timely manner.

      The second method is use of walk-in traps, baited with desirable goodies such as peanuts. These I use in winter when temperatures are too low for safety of small birds in the nets. Some birds won’t enter a trap a second time. But I had a Tufted Titmouse here that, over several winters, I recaptured 27 times. Always mad about being in the trap, but the only way to get a peanut, only sunflower seeds were available outside the traps.

      Since each band carries a nine digit code (example: 2810-53127) unique to the bird that receives it, with all data stored digitally at the federal banding lab, recapture of banded birds is our best, almost only, way to know how long birds live in the wild. Plus with recapture by other banders across North America, information about migration routes/destinations. My farthest record is of a Pine Siskin I banded here one January, which was recaptured in western Saskatchewan in April. A 1,700 mile journey for a bird weighing about 13g.

  3. What wonderful contributions! I so enjoyed them all.
    I assume you catch the birds by streaming up a large net?
    Thank you to all for this post.

  4. Sorry, your CeilingCatness, but I don’t tend to take photos of organisms when I’m out in a world full of geology.
    Oh, hang on … no, hardly wild. Well, I’ll send them nonetheless.

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