My goodness! How the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project continues grow! After passing the milestone of 10,000 observations near the end of last year, we are now rapidly approaching 12,000 unique observations! This amazing achievement is the result of 186 enthusiastic and dedicated members. Together they have documented a total of 579 different species living right here with us in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. That is really an extraordinary accomplishment, plain and simple.
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! It’s an achievement everyone involved should feel 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 Checklist. This page a contains 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.
There were some really amazing submissions over the last thirty days, and once again picking just three favorites was extremely difficult. I finally settled on a few great observations that I felt represented really rare and special occurrences in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Enjoy!
River Otter by obidaddy
River Otters are some of my favorite animals, and I am always excited to get information about otter sightings here in the metroplex. This great sighting by obidaddy is not of just one animal, but a whole family of River Otters living in a marshy area near Lewisville Lake. Really fantastic!
And, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the interesting River Otter:
The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur.
The river otter, a member of the weasel family, is equally versatile in the water and on land. It establishes a burrow close to the water’s edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young.
North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians (such as frogs), turtles, and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported as well.
Nice work, obidaddy! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by obidaddy.
Bald Eagle by phlank
This has been a good year for Bald Eagles in the Dallas/Fort Worth area! I have gotten word of multiple sighting from all around the metroplex. Several have been seen at Lewisille Lake, Lake Worth, and Lake Ray Hubbard. A few sightings have been reported along the West Fork in Arlington, and there are at least two Bald Eagles frequenting White Rock Lake in Dallas. Then there are a pair of nesting Bald Eagles in Seagoville and another set near the Trinity River in south Dallas County.
The picture below is of one of several eagles seen in the air over the excellent habitat at Grapevine Lake. There have only been a few recorded Bald Eagle sightings in this area over the last several years—making this photograph by phlank especially nice to have!
And, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the interesting Bald Eagle:
The bald eagle occurs during its breeding season in virtually any kind of American wetland habitat such as seacoasts, rivers, large lakes or marshes or other large bodies of open water with an abundance of fish. Studies have shown a preference for bodies of water with a circumference greater than 11 km (7 mi), and lakes with an area greater than 10 km2 (4 sq mi) are optimal for breeding bald eagles.
The bald eagle typically requires old-growth and mature stands of coniferous or hardwood trees for perching, roosting, and nesting. Tree species reportedly is less important to the eagle pair than the tree’s height, composition and location. Perhaps of paramount importance for this species is an abundance of comparatively large trees surrounding the body of water. Selected trees must have good visibility, be over 20 m (66 ft) tall, an open structure, and proximity to prey. If nesting trees are in standing water such as in a mangrove swamp, the nest can be located fairly low, at as low 6 m (20 ft) above the ground. In a more typical tree standing on dry ground, nests may be located from 16 to 38 m (52 to 125 ft) in height. In Chesapeake Bay, nesting trees averaged 82 cm (32 in) in diameter and 28 m (92 ft) in total height, while in Florida, the average nesting tree stands 23 m (75 ft) high and is 23 cm (9.1 in) in diameter. Trees used for nesting in the Greater Yellowstone area average 27 m (89 ft) high. Trees or forest used for nesting should have a canopy cover of no more than 60%, and no less than 20%, and be in close proximity to water. Most nests have been found within 200 m (660 ft) of open water. The greatest distance from open water recorded for a bald eagle nest was over 3 km (1.9 mi), in Florida.
Bald eagle nests are often very large in order to compensate for size of the birds. The largest recorded nest was found in Florida in 1963, and was measured at nearly 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep.
Another great find, phlank! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by phlank.
Snowy Owl by annikaml
This fantastic sighting is actually from a couple of years ago. Observer annikaml went back to her archives and found this great picture to share with us. Snowy Owl are typically Arctic birds. They rarely range south of the US-Canada border. But every so often, for reasons that are not entirely clear, some Snowy Owls will wander far from their normal haunts.
The winter of 2012 was one such year. Not only did some Snowy Owls roam far to the south of their normal distribution, but many also ranged much further to the south than they have during past similar events. Several showed up in Texas, and annikaml was lucky enough to get this picture of one at Lake Ray Hubbard. A few days later a sighting of what was likely the same bird was reported at an apartment complex just south of downtown Dallas.
And, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the interesting Snowy Owl:
The snowy owl is typically found in the northern circumpolar region, where it makes its summer home north of latitude 60º north. However, it is a particularly nomadic bird, and because population fluctuations in its prey species can force it to relocate, it has been known to breed at more southerly latitudes. During the last glacial, there was a Central Europe Bubo scandiacus gallicus, but no modern subspecies are recognized.
This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility is chosen, such as the top of a mound with ready access to hunting areas and a lack of snow. Gravel bars and abandoned eagle nests may be used. The female scrapes a small hollow before laying the eggs. Breeding occurs in May to June, and depending on the amount of prey available, clutch sizes range from 3 to 11 eggs, which are laid singly, approximately every other day over the course of several days. Hatching takes place approximately five weeks after laying, and the pure white young are cared for by both parents. Although the young hatch asynchronously, with the largest in the brood sometimes 10 to 15 times as heavy as the smallest, there is little sibling conflict and no evidence of siblicide. Both the male and the female defend the nest and their young from predators, sometimes by distraction displays. Males may mate with two females which may nest about a kilometer apart. Some individuals stay on the breeding grounds while others migrate.
Thanks for sharing this with us, annikaml. We are very happy to have this observation! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by annikaml.
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!