Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Nilou visited the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve to see the breeding Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), which I also saw when I was in Oahu. Here are three pictures of these gorgeous beasts in situ.

A downy chick inspected by adults:

Reader Kevin Elskin sent some photos from Arkansas; his notes are indented:

First, the Nine Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is a new world placental mammal known best for being born on the side of the highway, stone dead. In all seriousness, they seem to be thriving. I grew up and spent the first 30 years of my life in northwest Arkansas, and during that time I recall seeing exactly one alive. After a 27-year absence I have returned and seen at least a half dozen in the last 18 months.

Speaking of Arkansas, perhaps you would not expect to see Elk (Cervus canadensis), but there is a large herd that roams the Buffalo River valley. It is some beautiful country if you ever have the chance to visit.

I think the Yellow Garden Spider or Argiope aurantia has made an appearance in your web pages before. I have to say I really like this photo I captured, which shows off the zig zag of spider silk known as a stabilimentum.  According to Wikipedia, the purpose of this web decoration has not been definitively explained.

And a few birds. First a Red Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). Raptors are everywhere and are magnificent birds.

Next is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus). These cool birds use their long tails to help them maneuver and catch insects. But I also love the splash of orange under their wings and down their sides. Another animal which I rarely saw as a youngster, but are quite common today.

And last the humble Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). I caught this one preparing a nest. Hopefully this is everyone’s bluebird of happiness.




  1. Simon Hayward
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I was once told by a native that armadillo is served in Arkansas as “possum on the half shell”. Saw a couple dead and unclaimed by the road in middle TN when I lived there. They do appear to be moving north and east in that part of the country.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Delightful set!

    I wish the albatross eye area could be better illuminated – for the record this is not a complaint about the photographer – it appears to have a deep eyewell. it appears to have a strong personality in its complexion but it is frustrating to see it precisely. I guess the easiest thing is to go to the site when it is overcast.

    Or maybe I’ll look at them pic in different light.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted March 19, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I am compelled to add to my comment:

      After thinking it over, I noticed that my comment could be essentially sounding like .. well, not how I intended. There are a few things going on :

      1. Im a low- effort photographer. A common problem in bright light is very dark spots surrounded by very bright spots. Im usually frustrated if the HDR doesn’t work. So I’m interested by subjects in such light.

      2. The albatross in this light is beautiful. It seems like a similar problem. And this particular albatross’ eyewell shape seems to be a challenge in this regard.

      Apologies if anything, for instance my choice of words – “frustrated” I think – was rude. Which brings me to my #3

      3. I will always check if I’m being manipulated by an overcommenting demon – not easy but it would’ve helped here. IOW Keep it simple – or step away from the keyboard until I can take the time to clearly express myself.


  3. Charlie Jones
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I was extra happy to see some wildlife photos from Arkansas. We could use more from non-Florida parts of the south!

    (Which is not to insult Florida. I’d just like to see more from outside of Florida.)

  4. GregZ
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I moved from Texas to northern Kansas in 1999, and would never see a dead armadillo along the road north of Oklahoma City. Now we have them up in northern Kansas, they definitely seem to be expanding their range.

    • Posted March 19, 2019 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      It is said that they turn up as road kill in part b/c of how they reflexively spring into the air when a predator bears down on them. When the ‘predator’ is a car, that means they hit the grill.

    • Christopher
      Posted March 19, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      As a kid (in the mid 1980’s) I first heard about them when visiting family near the Missouri/Arkansas border but now I have them in my own yard, about an hour south of Kc. People keep saying that cold winter weather puts a limitation on their northerly migration but the armadillos don’t seem to be listening.

  5. John Harshman
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    These cool birds use their long tails to help them maneuver and catch insects.
    Probably not, as most of their congeners have much shorter tails yet maneuver at least as well. I suggest that sexual selection is at work here, as with other unusual tails in other bird species. Both sexes have the long tails, though females’ tails aren’t quite as long as males’, so one might invoke either mutual sexual selection or the male nipple effect, as preferred. They’re socially monogamous, but I don’t know the results of any paternity studies.

  6. Posted March 19, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Very nice! Thanks for sharing all these.

    I used to work for the FAA and had training in Oklahoma City several times. Once, in spring, the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were nesting are very abundant. What a spectacular bird!

  7. Posted March 19, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Nice pictures! One of many reasons why WEIT is so awesome.
    I like the interesting perspective on the garden spider too.

  8. rickflick
    Posted March 19, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I was in Oahu several times and did not know about the albatross. Darn. Now I have to go back!
    I’d guess the bluebird is a female. The males are much brighter blue. Here in Idaho, we see both the mountain bluebird and the western bluebird. Wonderful bird group.

  9. Posted March 19, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Great photos; bluebird is my favorite.

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