Ring Around the Moon!

I normally write and display nothing but wildlife photos on this site. But last night as I took my dog out for a walk I could not help but notice this astonishing sight of the moon  surrounded by an enormous perfect circle. I had to share it. This occurs on rare occasions when  the moon glow shines through a high layer of ice crystals. Yes, I had to enhance the photo to make it better.

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Porcupine Time!

These examples of beautiful North American Porcupines were photographed inside Fort Lewis, WA. You can see how well they blend into the vegetation they are feasting on in the first picture. Then one guy shows off his prehensile tree climbing foot. The last picture is a porcupine in its rear defensive posture. They will snap that quill covered tail if you get too close.

The North American Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum, is our only representative of the 12 different species found in the “New World”. This very interesting animal is visitor from South America which has managed to extend its range almost throughout the United States and Canada and has achieved the title of our second largest rodent according to some sources. (I suspect the introduced nutria may be competing for that title, though.) Despite its origin, however, the one area of our country it has avoided is the Southeast. Our North American Porcupines seem to prefer cooler and drier environments. Mmm…maybe that’s why it migrated. Anyway, the periodic instances of warm weather we have in the Northwest are great times for observing these very interesting mammals. They are strict vegetarians and will gobble up just about anything from acorns to tree bark depending on what is available. They are active year round and do not hibernate but are seldom seen during winter months as they often feed on evergreen needles and tree bark during that time of year and are consequently up over our heads, an appetite that has proven to be pretty harmful to a number of trees in the eastern part of America. They have other preferences. Porcupines are known to be especially fond of salt and eagerly crunch down on bones and shed antlers in order to gain needed mineral content. In the spring and during bouts of warm winter weather they fond of the vegetation found along roadways. So if you happen to be driving along a road bordered by a bushy landscape outside of a wooded area be on the lookout. They blend in pretty well, however, so you could very well miss one.

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Hidden Wildlife – What’s Under There!?

LET’S SEE WHAT’S UNDER THERE!

Ever wondered about the myriad creatures of the wildlife world living just out of your sight, and often in your backyard? Then check out my new book “Let’s See What’s Under There!” Loaded with high quality, often macro, photos this book will take you on a hidden wildlife adventure from the mammalian world down to the creatures you have never seen; unless of course you spend time as I do turning over logs, rocks, rotted bark, old chunks of wood, etc. Younger folks will love this unique zoological journey filled with eye catching photographs. Parents and grandparents will enjoy page after page of educational material for their children that displays the fascinating animals so very close to home. No need to travel to some exotic location – these things are within arm’s reach!

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Ancient Unknown Insect Species

Diplurans – an ancient, mostly unknown insect

There is a small, unusually shaped, and very common insect that most people do not even know exists. They are called diplurans. About a 1000 different types of these insects inhabit the world and over one hundred species here in America. At first glance a dipluran might be mistaken for a small centipede or a beetle larvae. They certainly look similar; I’ve made that mistake myself. But a closer look reveals that the animal has just six legs – way too little for a centipede. And unlike beetle larvae diplurans spend their entire life in this shape. Diplurans are among the most primitive insects in the world. The name Dipluran comes from the pair of appendages at the rear of the animal which some species actually use to catch and hold prey. I usually find them under wet rotted bark of downed trees. They prefer moist habitats and are found across the U.S.

Wiley “Sickly” Coyote

Happy New Year, all. As 2019 ends and 2020 begins there have been a lot more sightings of coyotes around my neighborhood, and the rest of the country as well. Be careful when you see these animals; they can be dangerous when healthy or when diseased as this one found on my property New Years Day probably is. Coyotes sometimes tend to be curious and do not instantly run away when discovered. But if they hang around for an extended time don’t approach. That could be a rabid animal. Protect yourself and your pets. These guys are out 24/7.

Coots are cute

Interesting birds these coots. They turn up quite a bit out on American Lake at Fort Lewis, but every now and then I find them swimming around in enormous numbers. And despite those webless feet they seem to do pretty well.

Shrew versus Mole

I just wanted to share a couple of views of these interesting animals that are seldom seen. The creatures themselves are seldom seen due to their secretive lives but here are some close ups even more rarely seen that highlight the differences of these animals. Moles have large muscular feet designed for the tunnels they dig; shrews have smaller digits designed for the small prey they catch and their above ground movement. Moles have rows of sharp teeth great for holding and crunching down on worms; shrews have a sharp pair of upper and lower incisor great for catching and killing their small prey. Shrew teeth by the way are known for their red to orange color. This kind of thing and a lot more intriguing close ups will soon be seen in my latest book “Let’s See What’s Under There!”

Comments? Critiques? reganjm@northwestwildlifeonline.com

Wildlife Nearby – Take a Closer Look

From time to time around your home you see something and wonder what it is. Stop wondering – get out the camera or binoculars and find out. Like I always say, “If you see something take something!” With a camera, of course. Don’t misunderstand me.

Critique, comment, suggestion? reganjm@northwestwildlifeonline.com

Wildlife Of Afghanistan – Special Alert!

HERPETOZOA, a science journal of the Austrian Herpetological Society has just published “Additional Data to the Herpetofauna of Afghanistan” by zoologist Daniel Jablonski. I am proud to say that I am a co-author of this book along with several other contributors. In this manuscript Mr. Jablonski has done extensive research to correctly identify the reptiles and amphibians of Afghanistan. Although my book Reptiles and Amphibians of Afghanistan was one of the primary resources for the manuscript I got a few species incorrectly labeled based on the limited research I was able to conduct. Mr. Jablonski, however, is a trained zoological scientist with extensive expertise in the subject and has corrected these issues. You will also be treated to a number of additional photographs as well. Please go to the sites listed below and check out this wonderful contribution to the wildlife and people of Afghanistan:

ADDITIONAL DATA TO THE HERPETOFAUNA OF AFGHANISTAN        HERPETOZOA

Book Review – For the Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner

Bug lover that I am I have read numerous books on insects but none have impressed me as much as “For Love of Insects” by Thomas Eisner. It is hard to exaggerate the admiration I have for this man and his work. All of the books I have read about these fascinating animals are normally loaded with excellent photographs and information about selected species detailing their range, habitat, and behaviors. And most of them are quite good, too. None, however, come as close to conveying the true complexity of insects as Thomas Eisner. Dr. Eisner does more than simply describe the arthropod he takes you into the internal organs of the animal, provides detailed drawings, pictures, and thanks to the thanks to the talents of his wife, Maria, some astonishing scanning electron microscopy. This entomology wizard does not stop there, of course. He articulates visually and in word how the insect employs it particular abilities. For example, we all know the peculiar behavior of the bombardier beetle and its explosive defense mechanism. But did you know that the compound blasted out is first held inside the beetle in separate chambers and then loaded into another chamber where a specific enzyme then initiates the chemical reaction necessary for the blast? This is just one example in this amazing work. In this book you will learn and see how some insects can accurately aim their spray in different directions, the chemical composition of it, the defensive mechanisms of millipedes, how microscopic fibers assist some insects, detailed examinations of how some avoid spider webs, and how some insects and spiders overcome these obstacles. And listen up insect lovers – in this book you’ll also learn experimental techniques, methods to capture, keep, and hold insects for observation, plus much, much more. Above all you will come away with an amazement for the anatomical and behavioral complexity of insects that you have never felt before. I cannot adequately express my admiration of the work. This wonderful Thomas Eisner passed away in 2011 but his book lives on as one of the best ever in its subject. For Love of Insectsis available on Amazon.