Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we’ll do a cleanup of those photos I have as singletons or pairs. I have a decent backlog, especially since I’m leaving on Friday for two weeks, but keep sending your photos in.

First, Stephen Barnard reports that his two American kestrels (Falco sparverius) seem to have adopted the nest box he built for them, and they’re hanging out around it. He’s also named them, and you’ll recognize the names if you’re of a certain age.

It looks like Boris and Natasha are setting up housekeeping in the nest box. I’m giving them space.

Reader Lorraine Brevig sent her friend’s photos:

These are photos by Doug Hayes. They were taken at Forest Hill Park, Richmond, VA, which is a block from our house. Doug has given me permission to forward these to you. We both hope you enjoy them–especially the squirrel.

Canada geese (see below):

A while back, reader Robert Jase sent photos of a striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) that had invaded his property in the evening. They were too dark to post, so I urged him to leave food out for the animal (I love skunks and had a pet one for six years), and to try using a flash—with CARE!  It worked. His notes:

I live in New Britain, CT, right on the town line with Plainville.  When I moved back into the house after my mother died I somehow got into cat rescuing, and cats like to stay out all night so I started leaving food outside for them  That started attracting the local wildlife.

Now I’ve got 2nd generation raccoons, possums and skunks as regulars – they all get along with the cats though not always with one another.  The non-cat species are the biggest problem.  I make it a point to always make noise before I open the back door and I talk a lot to whatever is there, figure the critters don’t recognize humans well by sight as our appearance changes too often, but they do recognize our smell & our voices.

Little by little the regulars have gotten to know me.  The skunk in those pictures has been coming around for a fairly short time but it’s gone from running away to letting me take flash pictures while sitting two feet away.  The little critter doesn’t mind me sitting on the threshold of the porch while it eats, nor does the light bother it.

This is a skunk in good nick!

Reader sedgequeen sent a shell photo:

Tiger Cowries (Cypraea tigris) from the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, acquired 1975-1976, when I was teaching biology there through the Peace Corps.  What I loved most about this species was the tremendous diversity of color, pattern, and even size. I’d like to tel you how I dove in the reefs and lagoons to see these molluscs, but it wouldn’t be true.  I bought them in the little market that set up each time a tour ship came in.

And look! I got a certificate of appreciation for reporting the dreaded Canada goose “88K” that I spotted just the other day. First, the beast herself (Branta canadensis) with Norton looking on; she was HUGE!:

I reported it to the Canadian site (which partners with the U.S. Geological Survey), and just received this by email.  It’s a female (I don’t know how to tell), and I was amused at the species designation: “Large Canada Goose”. They may be referring, though, to one of the subspecies, the Giant Canada gooseB. c. maxima. Birders, please weigh in (that’s a pun). She was banded in August two years ago, and all the information is on the certificate below.

I was afraid I wouldn’t get my certificate because the 88K identifies just the bander, not the bird, whose ID is on the leg band. But you can see that they got this one right, as you can make out “028” on the metal band. Without that ID, I wouldn’t get my Goose Appreciation Certificate.

The lifespan of individuals who survive to adulthood is 10-24 years. And although I was fond of 88K, she really shouldn’t be in a pond with Honey and her yet-unnamed husband.





  1. Posted April 7, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I’ve only seen one Giant Canada Goose. It was some years ago, on Alturas Lake in Idaho. My Golden Retriever ran after it, and instead of fleeing the goose turned the tables and chased the dog back to me. I was shocked by how big it was compared to an ordinary Canada Goose. It looked like one of those oversize decoys that hunters use.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 7, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I had to look up Boris & Natasha – that show it came from did’t air in the UK that I know of
    Boris makes America stupid with goof gas:

    • GBJames
      Posted April 7, 2018 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      The golden age of TV cartoons.

    • Posted April 7, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      One of my very favorite puns from that series which was replete with puns:

      • GBJames
        Posted April 7, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        The guys who wrote Rocky and Bullwinkle were brilliant! Like the gems!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 7, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Is this event on the list of crimes Mueller is investigating?

  3. Posted April 7, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on the bird banding certificate.

  4. Christopher
    Posted April 7, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I would be interested in seeing a photo of said nest box, as I’ve never heard of or seen on built for kestrels. My woodworking skills are, on a scale of 1-10, about 0.5, but I would mind attempting to learn how to build such things for wildlife as a hobby.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 7, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      My woodworking skills are, on a scale of 1-10, about 0.5,

      Similar to mine. As granny said, when life gives you chipboard, make chips.

  5. Posted April 7, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It seems odd to me that the USGS (United States Geological Service) is banding and tracking birds. Wouldn’t that be more in line with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service? The association of bird banding and geology seems tenuous at best. 🙂

    • Posted April 7, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      “Survey”, not “service”.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 7, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      It is very strange – I suspected a historical reason to do with the 100 year old migratory bird act [USA/Canada], but that was a dead end. It is the USFWS who handles the legal side such as banding permits, game birds etc, so why not the whole job?

      • Posted April 7, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        The USGS has an entire biological research center, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. They may do great work. I don’t know. It just seems odd, like a textbook example of sclerotic bureaucracy or funding technicalities. I WANT the government to study migratory birds. I just want to know about the geology part.

  6. Posted April 7, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the photo of two gentle birds in a pond, I’d never guess that they are as large as 88K.

  7. Posted April 7, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to all the photographers submitting these wonderful wildlife captures, day after day.

  8. James Walker
    Posted April 7, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Minor bit of French pedantry: the accent on the final vowel of voilà is grave, not acute 🙂

%d bloggers like this: