Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brown Thrasher



Brown Thrasher returns for the winter 2014-15. This may be my buddy that I was able to hand-feed from last season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uloShH5idls
It will take awhile to reestablish the relationship regardless.
Theoretically Brown Thrashers are year round residents of Florida, but I never see one from late May to mid-October and I only get one or two of them at most during the winter. Very handsome and striking birds with some of the wildest eyes in the Backyard.

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Brown Thrasher
Brown Thrasher


Eastern Screech Owl



Male Eastern Screech Owl sitting in tree hidden among the branches, but his big eyes give him away.

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Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Screech Owl

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mourning Dove Preening




Mourning Dove Preening in an Oak Tree as it prepares to bed down for the night. Mourning Doves have some of the most attractive eyes of the backyard birds and, as in this case, they tend to make strong eye contact.

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Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
Video: Mourning Dove Preening

Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina

Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina
Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina
Looking Glass Rock - about 25 miles southwest of Asheville, North Carolina in mid-October, 2014.  Picture taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Anole Lizards Eating Deadly Fire Ants



Anole Lizards Eating Deadly Fire Ants

 Five Brown Anole Lizards feeding voraciously on venomous Fire Ants in the backyard. I'm not sure this phenomena has ever been filmed before. Amazingly the common, but invasive, Brown Anole Lizards living in the backyard have evolved to enjoy a treat of invasive fire ants, probably because they have been around together for many years now. The YT videos of fire ants eating lizards are all staged for shock value with dead lizards that people have probably killed and thrown on the ants, and of course the ants eat all the lizards. But lizards can take care of themselves if left alone. I  Recently treated for fire ants which causes the colony to break up into little ones from the survivors - I picked up a palmetto branch and a small colony of fire ants with eggs and winged adults was hiding under the branch. I went to get some bug spray and by the time I came back a group of lizards were literally feasting on the eggs. I got my camera set up and they continued to feast on mostly the winged fire ants and stood right among them. This would normally be hard to see as the lizards almost blend in with the ground and this kind of action probably goes unnoticed. "Adventure is as near as the backyard"

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Anole Lizards Eating Deadly Fire Ants


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Corn Snake (Red Rat Snake) Tongue Flicking



Corn Snake or Red Rat Snake surprise behind a piece of lumber stored along the back fence in Florida. Spend a few minutes with this gentle sweet snake and then leave it be till it warms up. Beautiful and beneficial constrictor snakes - the ones that inhabit the backyard have very unusual color patterns and are quite pretty. See this snake or its sibling at:

And probably its Mom at:

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Corn Snake (Red Rat Snake) Tongue Flicking

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Brown Anole Lizard

Brown Anole Lizard
Brown Anole Lizard
Brown Anole Lizard, sometimes called Cuban Anole Lizard has spread across much of Florida and competes with native Green Anole Lizards. The more aggressive Brown Anoles typically rule the ground and lower levels and the Green Anoles move higher.

Cute Baby Red Squirrels (Kittens)



Cute interactions between baby Red Squirrels or Kittens just a few days out of the nest show how important touch and smell are to communication. These are two of the six baby squirrels this year. Anthropomorphism is the literary term for giving human attributes to animals, when you watch this little squirrel slice of life you can imagine a human context between these two sibling squirrels.

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Cute Baby Red Squirrels (Kittens)

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit - Great Smoky Mountains

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Wild Cottontail Rabbit - Great Smoky Mountains

This friendly wild Eastern Cottontail Rabbit has taken a liking to birdseed. Back-lighting from the sun highlights those big ears!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dark Eyed Junco

Dark Eyed Junco
Dark Eyed Junco


Dark Eyed Junco Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina in early October.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse in heavy forest/Wild Grape Vine cover Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina.

Alpaca Humming Call



Alpaca Humming Call - couldn't resist this cute little Alpaca off by itself "humming" to communicate with another Alpaca in a nearby pen at a Farmer's Market. Background noise is a bit much - filmed with a Smartphone.

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Alpaca Humming Call

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cute Baby Red Squirrel

Cute  Red Squirrel Kitten
Cute  Red Squirrel Kitten
The youngest of six Red Squirrel Kittens first "steps" out of the nest.  A video of it and its five brothers and sisters is at:
Six Cute Baby Red Squirrels

White Winged Dove




White Winged Dove - an attractive but infrequent visitor to the Florida backyard - this one is watching me as closely as I'm watching it. On rare occasions a small flock of these Doves will appear in the cool season - more often they are isolated as in this case or in pairs like the Eurasian Collared Doves that are a bit larger. All the big Doves mix easily with the common Mourning Doves.

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White Winged Dove

Thursday, November 6, 2014

White Breasted Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker Feeding Techniques



White Breasted Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker Feeding Techniques
White Breasted Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker Feeding Techniques
Video: White Breasted Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker Feeding Techniques


White Breasted NuthatchWhite Breasted Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker Feeding Techniques

Nice example of the foraging differences between Downy Woodpeckers and White Breasted Nuthatches filmed at the same time. The Downy Woodpecker works the heavily barked Black Cherry Tree head-up using its stiff tail for a brace. The White Breasted Nuthatch works the bark head-down relying not on its tail for support - (obviously as it is upside down) - but rather its strong grip on the bark. The Nuthatch has a different perspective and easier access to bugs that the woodpecker might miss. In this case I have smeared suet into the deep bark and the Nuthatch then proceeds to land on the camera and wipe its greasy beak on it. Two great birds often seen together in hardwood forest.
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Six Cute Baby Red Squirrel Kittens !



Six Red Squirrel Kittens came out of the nest in early October. It is always a wild scene when they first start leaving the nest. It does not take long before they are running all over getting into trouble despite Mom's best advice. I believe I have individual videos of each of the six as well as the group in the video. 
There were five baby squirrels in October 2013 living in my Screech Owl Nest box:
This year they stayed back in the forest in a nest that I never found. Nuts are in great supply this fall making for a bonanza for squirrels and bears etc. Perhaps a bumper crop of bear cubs next spring!

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Six Cute Baby Red Squirrel Kittens

Cute Baby Red Squirrel Kittens


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cute Red Squirrel Kitten

Red Squirrel Kitten
Red Squirrel Kitten

One of the six Red Squirrel kitten's first day out of the nest. Still totally dependent on Mother's milk with "baby teeth". I love how their paws are so hugely out of proportion to their body.....

Marbled Orb Weaver Spider - Nature's Art Canvas



This is the second Marbled Orb Weaver Spider I have encountered in two weeks. This one has very unusual marbling that looks like a work of art on its back. In fact the "painting" looks a bit like Beelzebub befitting it's nickname as the Pumpkin Spider, perfect for Halloween.  Its "head" is not as orange as the other Marble Orb Weaver seen two weeks ago in this video:

These spiders appeared to be in the process of dying as near freezing weather settled in. They have lain their eggs which will hatch next spring. I can hardly wait!

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Marbled Orb Weaver Spider




Marbled Orb Weaver Spider




Monday, November 3, 2014

Red Squirrel Eating Hemlock Nuts


Young Red Squirrel eating the bounty of small Eastern Hemlock Tsuga Canadensis "pine cone" seeds in October as they pop open on the tree. This is one of the six squirrels that left the nest in early October
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTV6w2L7z9Y  it is learning fast which is good because it will have to survive on its own in the woods as they are not fed from October til spring. The Eastern Hemlock grows to a very large size but it has some of the smallest seed cones of all large conifers.

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Red Squirrel Eating Hemlock Nuts



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Feral Cat Documentary Part Two - Ghost Cat?





Feral Cat Documentary - In the first part I successfully socialized and found a home for a wild feral cat:  http://screech-owls.blogspot.com/2014/09/feral-cat-documentary.html
This is part two:
Am I seeing a ghost?

Almost a exactly a year ago I befriended, captured and successfully found a home for a feral Bengal Spotted Tabby mix that looked exactly like this Cat! It hung out around the fire pit in the backyard and even sat in the same place on the same bench! But this is no ghost cat – this big cat – very obviously a Tom – is even wilder and more exotic than last year's cat.

I had been gone filming in the field for 30 days leaving the Backyard empty – this beast has moved into the void - prowling near dusk! Squirrels missing - or moved to safer territory. Piles of Dove feathers here and there. Now that I'm back that will have to stop!

This can be no coincidence, this handsome wild Creature might be the brother of last year's feral cat. But it looks older, perhaps it could even be its father. Two feral cats with such unusual and impressive genetic characteristics - perhaps a littler of them was abandoned and they are somehow reproducing in the impenetrable brush of the conservation area behind the backyard without mixing with other cats and surviving on the fringes of society. Feral cats are uncommon around here – Although suburban now - Raccoons, foxes, and rarely coyotes and native Bobcats live in the wild places like conservation areas. These feral cats are perfectly suited to blend into the dense dark scrub oak and Palmetto brush – once over the fence they disappear as if by magic.

This cat is not afraid – and I don't think he likes me in “his backyard” – watch closely at the end of the video – He's rubbing the bench to mark territory while I'm watching. Socialization is going to be a greater challenge than last year!!!  

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Feral Bengal Spotted Tabby Cat




Feral Bengal Spotted Tabby Cat


White Breasted Nuthatch

White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch works upside down on a Black Cherry Tree.
White Breasted Nuthatch working the bark of a Black Cherry Tree in characteristic upside down fashion. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina. 10/17/14