Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Damon Williford favored me with four pictures of reptiles and about twenty of birds. Today I’ll put up four reptiles and four birds, saving the rest for later. And don’t forget to keep those photos coming in! Damon’s notes:

I’ve got some wildlife photos from South Texas for you. This batch includes reptiles.
The first photo is a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). I encountered this individual at nature preserve in Port Aransas, TX. This snake didn’t rattle or assume a strike posture. I had the wrong lens on the camera so I couldn’t get the snake’s whole body in the picture. Once I tried to position my self to get a better shot, the snake retreated into the grass.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)_Port Aransas_2015-08-09
The second photo is the local bull alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) that inhabits a large cattail marsh in Port Aransas. Every spring he puts on impressive territorial and courtship displays. The third photo is head shot of a smaller individual that inhabits the same marsh.
American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)_Port Aransas_2015-05-02
American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)_Port Aransas_2015-08-09
The fourth is of a Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei). These lizards are now established in many parts of coastal Texas. Most of that is probably due to them hitchhiking on ornamental plants.
Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)_Port Aransas_2015-07-17

And the birdies:

Attached are photos I’ve taken over the past 5 years of the raptors and cuckoos of South Texas. Texas may be the land of the theocrats but there is some interesting wildlife in the state. The first four photos are of some of breeding raptors, including the Crested Caracara, Harris’s Hawk, and the White-tailed Hawk. Caracaras and White-tailed Hawks are fairly nervous, making it difficult to even get cruddy photos, but its fairly easy to get good shots of Harris’s Hawks, Considering that Harris’s Hawks will nest in suburban and urban areas, that’s not too surprising. The preening Harris’s Hawk in the second photograph was sitting on top of security lamp in a parking lot at a state park. I was within 25 feet of the bird and it ignored me completely. The Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus) breeds further west but shows up occasionally in South Texas during the fall and winter.

Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway):

Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway)_Kleberg Co_2014-11-23

Harris’s hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus):

Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)_Choke Canyon SP_2014-11-28

White-tailed hawk (Buteo albicaudatus):

White-tailed Hawk (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)_Jim Wells Co,TX_2011-03-14

Zone-tailed hawk (Buteo albonotatus):

Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus) Mission 2014-11-09


  1. Merilee
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Great shots, Damon. I especially like the caracara.

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Beautifully done. We hear that rattlesnake hunting has resulted in selection for snakes that do not rattle so much. So maybe the one you encountered was one of those.

    • Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      The idea that non-rattling rattlesnakes are becoming more common because those that do rattle are killed has been around for a while. The chair of my Masters thesis committee subscribed to that hypothesis. You can find lots of new stories about non-rattling rattlesnakes on Google but I haven’t found a single peer-reviewed study on Google Scholar.

  3. Mark R.
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Zone-tailed hawk? What a strange name; I’ve never heard of that hawk, but I love its dark plumage.

    That rattlesnake is well camouflaged. Can’t get enough of wild alligators. I saw some in the wild in Florida once- they are a thrill to witness in person.

    Thanks for the great photos!

  4. Raskos
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Note the water shivering above the alligator’s ribcage – he’s producing a very loud infrasound bellow to attract females and signal what a large strong fellow he is, to deter smaller males.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 12:08 am | Permalink

      Cool input, thanks!

  5. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of snakes, it seems that Sanofi Pasteur are ceasing production of very important snake antivenom.
    I do understand that they are a private company, and the patents have expired on the antivenom. But people will die because of this. Unimportant, poor and mostly black people. But people nonetheless.

  6. Diane G.
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Very cool photos, Damon–reptiles and dinosaurs! 😀

    Spent a couple of weeks in the LRGV winter before last–south TX does have the coolest wildlife!

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