Readers’ wildlife photos

May 15, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s bird photos were sent in by Vanderbilt Law Professor Suzanna Sherry, but were taken by her husband, Paul Edelman. She adds this note:

Because it’s migration time, we’re getting a lot of birds we don’t often see in Tennessee. I especially like the Chestnut-sided warblers (Setophaga pensylvanica). These were all taken in Radnor State Park, which is a lovely oasis in the middle of Nashville. All were taken with a Nikon D-500 camera and a Nikkor 500 mm f5.6 lens.

Captions are indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens):

American redstart (female – the males have bright orange wings) (Setophaga ruticilla):

Black-throated green warbler (Setophaga virens):

Chestnut-sided warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica):

Eastern wood-peewee (Contopus virens):

Magnolia warbler (Setophaga magnolia):

Summer tanager (Piranga rubra):

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 9, 2021 • 8:00 am

It’s Sunday, and that means we have a themed batch of bird photos from John Avise. John’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Eponymous Birds, Part 1: Non-Passerines

Eponymous species are those named after a particular person, typically the scientist or explorer who discovered and described that species.  Dozens of North American birds are eponymous.  Today’s post provides several examples that involve non-Passeriforme species (next week’s post will show some eponymous members of the Passeriformes).  To learn much more about each person after which a bird was named, you can do a Google search (such as “Buller, ornithologist”; or “Buller’s Shearwater”) and read the relevant Wikipedia link.  Because nobody is faultless, I wonder how many of today’s eponymous names will ultimately survive the ruthless scrutiny of Critical Race Theory!  All of these pictures were taken in Southern California.

JAC note: Do notice that the majority of the birds contain the eponym in their Latin binomial as well as in their common name. If you’re going to eliminate the eponyms, you nevertheless still must keep the Latin name, which cannot be erased.

Buller’s Shearwater, Puffinus bulleri:

Brandt’s Cormorant, Phalacrocorax penicillatus:

Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni (light phase):

Swainson’s Hawk, dark phase:

Cooper’s Hawk, adult, Accipiter cooperii:

Baird’s Sandpiper, Calidris bairdii:

Bonaparte’s Gull, Larus philadelphia:

Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri:

Heermann’s Gull, Larus heermanni:

Costa’s Hummingbird, Calypte costae:

Gambel’s Quail, Callipepla gambelii:

Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii:

Ross’s Goose, Chen rossii:

Vaux’s Swift, Chaetura vauxi:

Wilson’s Phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor:

Wilson’s Plover, Charadrius wilsonia:

More on Botany Pond

May 8, 2021 • 2:00 pm

Things seem to have improved since the tragedy yesterday on Botany Pond. Honey has gotten a lot more aggressive, and will chase Dorothy and her babies away. The babies seem to be staying closes to the appropriate mothers, and everybody is eating well. I am more determined than ever to save the remaining babies, though I will be mourning the dead one for some time to come. And I’ve recovered a little bit of hope.

Here’s the duckling who, attacked by Dorothy, swam underwater a long distance and I found her surfaced, sodden, and still being pecked. I jumped in the pont, rescued her (I don’t know the sex of this duckling), dried her, warmed her, fed her, and took her home to sleep with me. Here she is the morning I took her to the rehabber. She was much improved.

Although I didn’t get any sleep when she shared my bed (she slept in my armpit), I really do miss her. There’s something about sleeping with a newborn duckling that’s incomparably sweet. I don’t think one can ever forget it.

On my way to rehab!

Honey, alert and aggressive, standing guard over her six remaining offspring.

Dorothy with her babies (she still has ten):

A lovely little girl was engrossed in drawing the pond and the ducks. I asked her if I could photograph her drawing, and she said “yes.” Here it is with Dorothy (left), Honey and her ducklings (right), and one of the Duck Islands with the tree on it:

A bird at the pond. I’m absolutely sure many readers will know what it is, but I don’t.  Let us know!

The same bird. I love its yellow breast and yellow pate.


Readers’ wildlife photos

May 7, 2021 • 9:06 am

By Greg Mayer

The following photos were sent to me by a colleague, and were taken during a trip to Costa Rica during December, 2011- January, 2012. We’ll start with the crocodiles of Rio Grande de Tarcoles, which are an attraction for both Costa Rican and foreign tourists, who gather at the highway bridge to see the many large crocodiles gathered there. I was told on one of my visits there that there used to be some sort of slaughterhouse or rendering plant, and that the offal was dumped in the river, which initially attracted the crocodiles. People now feed them, although I think this is officially discouraged.

American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, Rio Grande de Tarcoles, Costa Rica, January 2012.
American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, Rio Grande de Tarcoles, Costa Rica, January 2012.
American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, Rio Grande de Tarcoles, Costa Rica, January 2012.

She also saw crocodiles on a trip to Tortuguero.

American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, on boat trip to Tortuguero, Costa Rica, January 2012.

Also at Tortuguero was this heron, a widespread species which is also found in the southeastern US, breeding at least as far north as New York.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Nyctanassa violacea, Tortuguero, Costa Rica, January 2012.

A visit to the area of Fortuna revealed a couple of species of mammals. This is a normally colored Mantled Howler Monkey,

Non-blonde Mantled Howler Monkey, Alouatta palliata, N of Fortuna, Costa Rica, January 2012.

while this one is “blonde”; I’ve never seen a howler of this color myself.

Blonde Mantled Howler Monkey, Alouatta palliata, N of Fortuna, Costa Rica, January 2012.

There were also bats.

Proboscis Bats, Rhynchonycteris naso, N of Fortuna, Costa Rica, January 2012.

And last but not least, because they are practically honorary cats, a squirrel from Volcan Poas.

Variegated Squirrel, Sciurus variegatoides, Volcan Poas, Costa Rica, December, 2011.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 4, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your good wildlife photos. Thanks!

Today we have another installment of photos from Stephen Barnard in Idaho, titled “Fowl That Aren’t Ducks.” His captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). Very tame.

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). Also tame.

Male and female Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus). An example of sexual dimorphism.

Male American Kestrel (Falco sparverius).

Mated pair of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis), singing a duet across the creek. An example of sexual monomorphism.

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 3, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s diverse photos come from reader, anthropologist, and photographer Tony Eales from Queensland. You can enlarge his photos by clicking on them, and his captions are indented.

To answer the call for the readers’ wildlife segment and boost the tank I present some of the other critters and one plant that I photographed on my road trip to the tropical north of my state of Queensland.

First is Cosmophasis micarioides, a small jumping spider found throughout eastern Queensland, and highly variable. The mature males all look the same, with stripes of iridescent aquamarine, white and black; indeed all the male Cosmophasis in Australia are variations on that theme. The females are more colourful with patches of red, green, sometimes purple and golden brown. This one is a juvenile, which in the tropical north are the most colourful of all. In South East Asian species these spiders are often colourful wasp mimics. That may be what the juveniles are going for here, but I can’t think of a wasp model offhand.

Ethmostigmus rubripes is the Australian giant centipede. It’s not as big as the giant centipedes I encountered in Borneo, but they’re still very impressive beasts. This one was probably a shade over 160mm. It was very fast and darted about looking to hide from my light. I can imagine it would deliver a very painful bite if one attempted to handle it.

The Peppermint Stick insect (Megacrania batesii) likes to eat the leaves of the many Pandanus trees in north Qeensland. I had seen pictures of them and have always been struck by their odd colouration. They look more like a plastic toy version of green than one that would really help with camouflage.

I’m sad that I didn’t get a good shot of these prehistoric looking Orange-footed Scrub Fowl (Megapodius reinwardt). They were common enough around the gardens of Port Douglas where we were staying. From a distance you could watch them scratching the leaf litter, but they would slip off into the dense plants when approached.

It was great to see these relatively large Southern Spotted Velvet-Geckos (Oedura tryoni) around Eungella National Park. During my lifetime, my home town of Brisbane has been overrun by introduced Asian House Geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus,) displacing the shyer natives and patrolling every outdoor light. It’s hard to describe the happiness of seeing a gecko running around the walls and noticing that it wasn’t one of those intruders.

Real treat for me was to see my first Emperor Gum Moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti). Technically, I have seen the caterpillars, which are spectacular in their own way, but this was my first adult attracted to the lights at a lonely highway rest stop.

I kind of bombed out on my bucket list spiders for this trip, but one long-desired species that I did photograph was the Australian Lichen Huntsman (Pandercetes gracilis). The camouflage is so good I was only able to see it because of the eyeshine. Night hunting Wolf Spiders and Huntsmans have very strong reflective eyeshine, making them easy to find at light with a torch.

It was only because I had stopped to look at the Huntsman that I noticed this other master of camouflage nearby. This is the Northern Spiny Rainforest Katydid (Phricta spinosa). I was on a night walk with my wife and a friend, and this friend and I were exclaiming about how crazy this Katydid looked and my wife, who was standing with her face only a foot or so away from it, was saying “Where? What are you looking at?” When I pointed it out, she yelped and literally jumped back as it was hidden right under her nose.

I also found several of these strange Theridula sp., one of the comb-footed spiders. The photo suffered from my inability to see what I was focussed on because the humidity of the rainforest fogged up my camera viewfinder and my glasses all the time. I didn’t get a single shot that wasn’t focused on the leaf background instead of the spider.

Lastly, the classic shot tourist shot of the Daintree Rainforest includes these beautiful North Queensland Fan Palms (Licuala ramsayi). Sunlight shining through their leaves graces nearly every piece of tourism advertising for world heritage rainforest.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 2, 2021 • 8:00 am

It’s Sunday, which means we have another themed post by John Avise. His captions and IDs are indented, and click on the photos to enlarge them.

These Birds Approve Their Posts

I hope Jerry will post these photos, because the birds have already approved their (wooden) posts.  All pictures were taken in Southern California.

Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis:

American Kestrel, Falco sparvarius:

Belted Kingfisher, Ceryle alcyon:

Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus:

White-tailed Kite, Elanus leucurus:

Wood Duck, Aix sponsa:

Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans:

California Quail, Callipepla californica:

House Wren, Troglodytes aedon:

Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii:

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus:

California Towhee, Pipilo fuscus:

Hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus:

Lesser Goldfinch, Carduelis psaltria:

Oak Titmouse, Bacolophus inornatus:

White-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia leucophrys:

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dendroica coronata:

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 1, 2021 • 8:00 am

These photos were sent in by Suzanne Sherry but were taken by her husband Paul Edelman. Their notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

My husband is still too modest to send in his newest photos himself. But photo credits should go to Paul Edelman, novice bird photographer. These were all taken at Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville Tennessee, about five miles from our home. Except for the Wilson’s snipe—we looked unsuccessfully for that darned snipe all over Southwest Florida and then Paul found one next to a small pond in our own neighborhood! I know how much you love ducks, so I’m including two pairs of wood ducks. All photos were taken with the same Nikon D500 camera and Nikkor 500mm f5.6 lens.

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) in flight :

Northern rough-winged swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis):

Orchard oriole (Icterus spurius) singing:

White-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis):

Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicata):

Wood ducks (Aix sponsa):

White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis):

Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo):

Readers’ wildlife photos

April 30, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your good wildlife photos, please. Thanks!

Today we have a new contributor, Michael Schrank of Boise, Idaho.  Michael’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge them by clicking on them.

Our backyard seems to be a haven for all types of wildlife and occasionally we capture some in photos.  The first are of a wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) that would appear in our yard last fall and loved to sun itself on the back deck.


We often see fawns in the spring. This poor little one was hidden by its mom right by the side door of the house in a garden.

 Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) often rest on the lawn for hours, often the whole day if no one disturbs them.

Reader’s wildlife video

April 29, 2021 • 8:00 am

Our friend Tara Tanaka (Vimeo site here, Flickr site here) lives on a plot of land in Florida that includes wetlands, and she often films the residents. Today she’s sent us another of her videos, this time of red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) raising their young. There’s a scary snake, but it doesn’t get any of the birds.

Tara’s notes are indented, and be sure to enlarge the video when you watch it.

On Feb. 8th we observed this pair mating and their newly excavated cavity in a dead maple tree on the edge of the swamp.  The cavity is very well hidden behind dead branches and Spanish moss, and they even built it right under an overhang of separating bark that keeps the rain out.  I recognize this male’s distinctive face and have been photographing him for years.  I’ve been watching this female for at least two years – she drinks from the hummingbird feeder right in front on my PC.

The first clip was recorded on Mar. 23rd, and at the time we didn’t know if they had hatchlings yet or not, but I’ve since learned that incubation only lasts about 12 days for this species.  From the detailed information I was able to find on, these nestlings are approx. 15-20 days old, and will fledge at around 24-27 days.

On Apr. 26th my husband heard and saw the parents very upset – vocalizing and flying back and forth from the nest tree to the large water oak a few feet away.  After much searching, we found a large gray rat snake in the water oak trying to find a path over to the dead tree where the nestlings sat helpless in their cavity.  As soon as we saw the cavity in the maple tree in February we wrapped the bottom of it with wildlife netting to prevent any rat snakes from reaching the nest.  We have already removed one snake that became entangled in the netting and relocated him far away, so it was not possible for the snake to get up the maple, but his determination had him trying to reach the nestlings from another tree.

I always keep water in a small vase mounted on a tree right in front of my office window that I put up just for the woodpeckers, but other birds use it too. Woodpeckers drink from knot holes in trees, but they have become used to the fresh water and drink from it multiple times a day.  During last year’s nest season we had a severe drought, and I think that the constant (the female is drinking now 😊) supply of fresh water, peanut halves and Bark Butter allowed them to raise three healthy young that they brought to my feeding station as soon as they fledged.  In one video this year I even saw the female feeding Bark Butter to a nestling, however both parents typically arrive with beakfulls of grubs and other insects.

I’m sure I’m seeing at least two nestlings – there may be three.  I’ll be holding my breath until they make it out safely!