New numbers and more growth over the past month for the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project… As of this writing we now have at total of 13,771 unique observations. That’s up from the just around 12,000 at this same time last month. This amazing achievement is the result of 228 enthusiastic and dedicated members (up from 186 in January). Together they have documented a total of 621 (up from 579) different species of wildlife living right here with us in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. That is really an extraordinary accomplishment, plain and simple.
Take a look at the map below. Each of the points below represents a recent observation posted to the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project. As you can see, participation is abundant and widespread across the metroplex. This project is becoming exactly what I hoped it would be, and many important, unusual, and interesting sightings are being recorded everyday. If you are curious about what the different map symbols mean, you can click here for more information: iNaturalist Map Symbols
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 method for exploring 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. Urban Wildlife Situational Oddities was the shepherding topic for this month’s selections. Enjoy!
Mallard by jblinde – Lewisville, Texas
This observation is a little gruesome, but I hope you will forgive that, as I believe it is also infinitely interesting. Below you will see a picture of a pair of Mallard wings still attached to each other by only the breast bone—the rest of the duck is missing!
The wings were found hanging from branches high in a tree, and the reason why can only be speculated at. The best explanation may be a large bird of prey. A hawk might have carried a portion of of his kill to these high branches in order to feed undisturbed. Once the bulk of the Mallard was consumed, the hawk likely flew away, leaving these two fully feathered wings behind.
Zebra Mussel by fw_tom – Lake Ray Roberts, Texas
Zebra Mussels are an invasive species which no one wants to see get established in Texas lakes and rivers. In spite of our best efforts, though, the Zebra Mussel has recently spread into the Trinity River basin. Lake Ray Roberts has been particularly hard hit. The picture below—which links to the corresponding iNaturalist entry—illustrates well how these small mussels can quickly become a big problem!
And, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the worrisome Zebra Mussel:
The native distribution of the species is in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in Eurasia. Zebra mussels have become an invasive species in North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. They disrupt the ecosystems by monotypic colonization, and damage harbors and waterways, ships and boats, and water treatment and power plants. Water treatment plants are most affected because the water intakes bring the microscopic free-swimming larvae directly into the facilities. The zebra mussels also cling on to pipes under the water and clog them.
They were first detected in Canada in the Great Lakes in 1988, in Lake St. Clair, located east/northeast of Detroit and Windsor. It is believed they were inadvertently introduced into the lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going ships traversing the St. Lawrence Seaway. Another possible often neglected mode of introduction is on anchors and chains, although this has not been proven. Since adult zebra mussels can survive out of water for several days or weeks if the temperature is low and humidity is high, chain lockers provide temporary refuge for clusters of adult mussels that could easily be released when transoceanic ships drop anchor in freshwater ports. They have become an invasive species in North America, and as such they are the target of Federal policy to control them, for instance in the National Invasive Species Act (1996).
Using models based on the genetic algorithm for rule-set production, researchers have predicted that the southeastern United States is moderately to highly likely to be inhabited by zebra mussels. However, the Midwest is otherwise unlikely to experience a zebra mussel invasion of water bodies.
Another great find! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by fw_tom.
Fox Squirrel by naturenut – Fort Worth, Texas
The documentation for this sighting comes to us from naturenut, who observed this interesting animal behavior while visiting Arcadia Trails Park in Fort Worth, Texas. Below you will find a picture and a short video of a Fox Squirrel licking the exposed surface of a rock jutting out of the ground. Likely, the squirrel was sampling the stone as a way to get needed salt or some other important mineral. Stones used in this fashion by wildlife are often referred to as “mineral licks.”
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about mineral licks:
A mineral lick (also known as salt lick or natural lick) is a natural mineral deposit where animals in nutrient-poor ecosystems can obtain essential mineral nutrients. In an ecosystem, salt/mineral licks often occur naturally, providing the sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc required in the springtime for bone, muscle and other growth in deer and other wildlife, such as moose, elephants, tapirs, cattle, woodchucks, domestic sheep, fox squirrels, mountain goats and porcupines. Harsh weather exposes salty mineral deposits that draw animals from miles away for a taste of needed nutrients. It is thought that certain fauna can detect calcium in salt licks.
Thanks for sharing this with us! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by naturenut.
Thanks to everyone for their continued participation in 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!