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 and videos

May 14, 2021 • 8:00 am

I am running worryingly low on readers’ photos, so PLEASE send in your good ones. I don’t want to have to cancel this feature or put it up sporadically. Thanks!

We have a potpourri of photos and movies today. Readers’ captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

The first two photos are by Andrea Kenner.

Here’s a photo of my first sighting of a Brood X cicada. The baby is sitting on the sidewalk in Hyattsville, Maryland. I’m not sure which species he is (there are three). Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page.

I took this photo in my front yard in Prince George’s County, MD, and posted it on Facebook. The tree is an Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis). An entomologist in my neighborhood identified the bee as a Hairy Footed Flower Bee (Anthophora villosula), a recently introduced species in the Mid-Atlantic region.

From Linda Mercer:

It is hard to see the tiny fawn hiding behind my air conditioner.

A duck video from Brian Tarr:

I’ve been an avid lurker on your excellent website for several years, and have finally plucked up the courage to share a bit of wildlife with you. This is a sord of mallards which I filmed this last winter in Łuków, Poland, by the Southern Krzna River in the central park. I thought it a bit unusual to see so many, because I figured they would have flown south by then. As you can see, they are quite accustomed to humans, as people often come with their children to toss them bread (not the ideal diet, as I learned from you).

Please feel free to share this with your readers, if you so choose. I would love to get some feedback about migratory patterns. (Possible aberration due to climate change?)


And a parasitized grasshopper from Jonathan Storm:

I found this dead grasshopper on an eastern hemlock in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina. It was killed by an entomopathogenic fungus last summer or fall. These fungi are parasites that infect and eventually kill their insect host. Last summer, a fungal spore landed on this grasshopper and worked its way into the body cavity. The fungus then grew and spread until it killed the grasshopper. Several fruiting bodies of the fungus later grew out of the grasshopper and released their spores into the breeze. Some of these spores will then infect a new insect host and the cycle continues.

And a video from Jonathan:

This female Ruby-throated Hummingbird [Archilochus colubris] was collecting spider silk from a window on my house in South Carolina. The sticky and stretchy nature of the silk help hold the nest together and anchor it on top of a tree branch. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds often construct their nest from dandelion seeds, moss, and lichens and place it high up in a hardwood tree.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 13, 2021 • 8:00 am

Please send in your photos; I always have need of more!

Joe Routon sends some travel photos from Peru; his captions are indented, and you can click on his photos to enlarge them. I visited Machu Picchu once, and consider it one of the three or four most beautiful places I’ve visited.

Here are some photos that I made in Peru at Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. It was built around 1450 AD by the Incas.

We arrived early in the morning to watch the clouds lift.

Here’s one of Machu Picchu’s ubiquitous llamas.

Machu Picchu, 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, is the most visited tourist attraction in Peru. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

The Urubamba River near Machu Picchu.

A Peruvian mother and child.

This is a Peruvian shaman. The shamans are healers who have passed along ancient knowledge dating back before the Incas.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 11, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from regular Mark Sturtevant, whose captions are indented (the links are also his). You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

First up is our largest skipper butterfly, the silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), named after the large silvery spots under its wings. These tend to perch with their wings up, but this one wanted to be different.

Next is a super common late season caterpillar, the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea). They are everywhere late in the summer, feeding on a wide range of host plants. Fall webworms are in the tiger moth family.

The gnarly looking inchworm caterpillar in the next picture was found doing its “nobody here but us twigs” pose.. This looks to be the larva of Anavitrinella pampinaria, or ‘common grey’ moth. Once again BugGuide makes me look like someone who really knows their caterpillars (no, I don’t). Since I recalled the plant it was on (goldenrod), a simple search in BugGuide for ‘caterpillar on goldenrod’ yielded a probable ID in seconds.

The reason why I even noticed the above caterpillar is shown in the next picture. The boldly colored yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) looked obviously “wrong”, and closer inspection showed it had a terminal encounter with a crab spider. Probably one of the running crab spiders, and I don’t know the ID other than that.

A favorite grasshopper in my area is in the ‘bird grasshopper’ group, genus Schistocerca. Members of this genus include species that can become swarming locusts, but our species, known as the spotted bird grasshopper (S. lineata), is not like that. Two of them are shown in the next two pictures. These long-legged and energetically flying grasshoppers become common in the Magic Field in the late summer. The name lineata refers to the pale stripe down the middle of the back, although not all individuals have the stripe. The stripe-less one in the second picture is biting me, and I was wincing a bit while snapping the shutter.

An extremely common butterfly is the hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis). I assumed that the butterfly shown in the next two pictures was yet another one but it turns out to be the related tawny emperor species (A. clyton). A small difference in the wing color pattern here and there and it’s a new species for me! I don’t know why these are called ‘emperors’, but perhaps it comes from the impressive headgear worn by the larvae in this group:  I have yet to find one the caterpillars, although they should be common. I must keep looking.

The late summer has its down-side, with its hints that the “bug season” will soon come to a close. But there are insects that suddenly become common late in the season, and that at least is a positive thing. One of these are the large walking sticks that feed on the abundant oaks around here. The last picture shows one of the colorful males of our local species (Diapheromera femorata). The body is easily 3 inches long, but the females are significantly larger. I seldom see those as they tend to stay up in the trees.

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 8, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we finish up the last third of Stephen Barnard’s photos sent from his ranch in Idaho. His captions are indented and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them. The title is “Mammals and lanscapes.”

Moose (Alces alces). A cow and two yearling calves in my back yard.

A trio of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) cruising downstream, making good time, in early morning light. They probably just decimated the rainbow trout spawning upstream.

Some landscapes. The first two are iPhone 12 photos. The last was made with the pano feature and blew my mind.

Readers’ wildlife photos

May 6, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have more  travel photos from Anne-Marie Cournoyer of Montreal, who guided treks all over the world. Her captions are indented, and you can enlarge her photos by clicking on them.

Euskaraz badaizu? Do you speak basque?

Souvenirs from hiking trips I guided in 2004.

I visited the « pays Basque»  a few times, and remember it as always green. Guess why! One must not forget to carry an umbrella!

When I was scouting in May, the skies were mostly clear. On the other hand, September was more moody and gray, creating a mysterious ambiance that delighted my clients hiking under the rain.

The Basque country is situated in the western Pyrenees, in adjacent parts of Southwestern France and Northern Spain. Both sides have been sharing the same language, culture and traditions for centuries.

The Basque language might be one of the oldest language spoken in Europe; it has nothing in common with French and Spanish

Meeting a Pottok on La Rhune, a mountain tied to Basque mythologies. The Pottoks are semi-wild ponies roaming the Pyrenean pastures. Notice the gentleness of my client: presenting himself and letting the horse decide whether or not to make contact.  One should never impose on a horse. A true relationship emerges from a dialogue, not a monologue.

Rain is in the air: a typical old Basque house.


Walking on the GR10 (hiking route) toward Ainhoa. GR is an abbreviation for «  Grande Randonnée » which means « long distance hike » . This hiking trail runs the length of the Pyrenees, parallel to the Spanish border.

The red and white lines found along the trail signal that we are on a GR route and the direction to follow.  The 2 other signs refer to the Camino de Santiago Compostella road.

«  Les Aldudes »  is a French village and a valley situated in Spain. The region’s pastures are administrated by France, which is paying a rent to Spain. Every year, at the end of May, the transhumance begins.


Cattle are marked with a red iron before being led to high pastures for the summer.


Crossing the Pyrenees from St-Jean-Pied de Port to Roncesvalles, one of the most beautiful hikes in the Basque Country.


Entering Spain on the Camino Frances toward Santiago de Compostella.  I took the next two pictures on the way down. Same hour of day, very different weather.

Entering Spain on the Camino Frances toward Santiago de Compostella.

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.