Nov 042014


Every month it gets harder and harder to pick just three observations to highlight in this feature. With now over 140 participating members, we are getting so many special and unique submissions that choosing only three is nearly impossible. Last month I cheated a bit and picked four. I’m going to try to be a little more disciplined from now on, but it will be difficult!

Of course, this is not really a problem I mind having! The incredible growth of the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project has been tremendously exciting. We are rapidly approaching a total of 7000 urban wildlife observations, representing a total of 520 different species.

At this point in our data collection increasing the number of observed species is, by very its nature, going to slow down a bit. All of the low hanging fruit has already been picked. In spite of this, we somehow managed to add 20 new and unique species to the list in just the last month. That is really outstanding!

This is the first time ever that a database of urban wildlife like this has ever been collected. Together we are building a extensive and detailed record of the wide variety of wildlife living in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area! This is an achievement everyone involved should feel extremely very proud of.

There are a couple of ways you can browse through this great collection of urban wildlife data. The first is via the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Observations List. You can view this data in tabular format or as points on a map. Click here to browse all of our recorded observations this way.

The other way to explore our data is to visit the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Checkist. This page contains a categorized list of all species of wildlife recorded in this project. Click here to view the urban wildlife checklist.

Below you will find our three favorite submissions for the past 30 days. Remember that “favorite” in this case can mean a whole host of different things. When selecting featured images we will be looking for examples of rare or unique wildlife, interesting behaviors or situations, and great photography and compositions.

Ringtail by bonniebradshaw9

This is easily one of the most special observations that we have ever received at DFW Urban Wildlife. Ringtails are not commonly seen in the metroplex. In fact, it is not entirely clear if we have a native population here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area or not.

This photograph of a Ringtail observed in the parking garage of a downtown Dallas hotel might convince some of you that the case is closed, and that we definitely DO have Ringtails in DFW. Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. This observation was made over Texas-OU weekend, when we had thousands of visitors from Austin and Oklahoma here in town. Both places are much more likely to support thriving populations of Ringtails than is downtown Dallas. It is very likely that this Ringtail simply hitched a ride for the trip to Dallas under a hood of a car or in the back of pickup truck!

The Ringtail is a unique animal. Related to Raccoons, the Ringtail shares many of their habits—including living solitary and nocturnal lives. The Ringtail is also a shy and retiring animal that is seldom seen by people, even in areas where it is quite common. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the interesting Ringtail:

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal of the raccoon family (thus not actually a cat), native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat, miner’s cat or marv cat, and is also sometimes mistakenly called a “civet cat” (after similar, though unrelated, cat-like omnivores of Asia and Africa).

The ringtail is buff to dark brown in color with white underparts and a flashy black and white striped tail that has 14–16 white and black stripes, which is longer than the rest of its body. The claws are short, straight, and semi-retractable. The eyes are large and black, each surrounded by a patch of light fur. It is smaller than a housecat and is one of the smallest extant procyonids (only the smallest in the olingo species group average smaller). It measures 30–42 cm (12–17 in) long to the base of the tail with the tail adding another 31–44 cm (12–17 in). It can weigh from 0.7 to 1.5 kg (1.5 to 3.3 lb)

I have made an effort on a couple of occasions to try and find Ringtails in North Texas without much luck. If any of you have seen one of these guys in the metroplex I would be very interesting in hearing about it. Feel free to drop me a line!


Ringtail by bonniebradshaw9. Click the image to see the observation details in iNaturalist.

Nice work, bonniebradshaw9! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by bonniebradshaw9.

White-tailed Deer and Coyote by annikaml

I’m including two photos from this great observation by annikaml to better illustrate the sequence of events. This remarkable observation is of an irate White-tailed Deer buck confronting two marauding Coyotes. A big buck like this one is more than a match for any number of Coyotes, and these two quickly sized up the situation and recognized their disadvantage. As the buck came forward in protest, the two Coyotes beat a hasty retreat. What an amazing thing to witness just a few miles from downtown Dallas!


White-tailed Deer and Coyote by annikaml. Click the image to see the observation details in iNaturalist.


White-tailed Deer and Coyote by annikaml. Click the image to see the observation details in iNaturalist.

Thanks for sharing this with us, annikaml! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by annikaml.

Cooper’s Hawk and Fox Squirrel by naturenut

Our last observation for this month is of another potential confrontation between predator and prey. In the photograph below will you see a curious Fox Squirrel cautiously approaching a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. Although the squirrel’s path is blocked by the hawk, he probably has little to fear. Cooper’s Hawk prefer to hunt other birds, and taking on something as large as a Fox Squirrel is probably well beyond this young bird’s skill level. Indeed, it was reported that squirrel and hawk each went their separate ways after this encounter, neither one the worse for wear.


Cooper’s Hawk and Fox Squirrel by naturenut. Click the image to see the observation details in iNaturalist.

Thanks for sharing this with us, naturenut! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by naturenut.

Thanks to everyone for their continued contributions to the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project. We value each and every submission we get! If you would like to contribute, its easy to do. Just follow the link below, create an account and start uploading your observations and photographs. Be sure to add them to the DFW Urban Wildlife project so that everyone will be able to see them. We look forward to seeing what you have to share!


  4 Responses to “DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project – Favorites”

  1. I am much impressed with this project. Today’s photos are excellent contributions.

    One thing I might comment on. I am not sure how submission and selection are handled. I notice that some contributors use internet handles rather than their names. I understand the nature of the internet. However, if the project is intended to document beyond entertaining (and I think it is intended to document), then the identity of the observer is very important. I hope that even though internet handles may be published for the public, project records contain the observers’ identities so that follow up work (for example by scholars attempting to locate species for scientific purposes) is facilitated. This data base as you said is unique and becoming substantial. The data should be accessible and usable by the scientific community. They won’t be if the observers cannot be identified.

    • Yeah, David, the users are identifiable in iNaturalist. One of the great things about iNaturalist is that it provides various and selectable levels of copyright protection for the people who submit observations, which of course requires positive identification. I use the internet handles here because I assume that is the preference of the individuals concerning how they would like to be referenced with regards to iNaturalist.

      • Thanks Chris. I was just wondering about it. I fully understand folks valuing their privacy and using internet handles. Thanks for answering.

  2. Possible Ringtail in Attic, Denton Tx. It was pretty dark but I saw a very agile cat sized animal under the roof line of my house. It pulled the roof vent 1/2 off and got in the attic. My dogs were very excited when the animal began chasing something above us at 5am Too heavy for mice or squirrels Could be a raccoon but it would have to be small and really good at climbing.

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