Another month and another set of great, too-hard-to-choose-from iNaturalist observations. The winter weather has passed, the temperature has moderated, and folks are starting to spend more time outdoors. The result is a distinct uptick in the number of iNaturalist observations being added every day.
The DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist project has continued its steady growth over the last month. As of this writing we now have at total of 14,659 unique observations. That’s up from the just around 13,771 at this same time the month before. This amazing achievement is the result of 243 enthusiastic and dedicated members (up from 228 in February). Together they have documented a total of 654 (up from 621) 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.
American Crow by zooga1961 – Dallas, Texas
I really love this picture of an American Crow by zooga1961. Favorable lighting conditions are required in order to photograph these bird in a way that reveals more than just a dark silhouette. This photograph show the crow in amazing detail. The stark black of the bird is framed perfectly by the light gray of the wintery sky. The cunning and intelligence these birds are known for are easy to see in the bird’s expression as he peers through a gap in the branches.
Here is how Wikipedia describes the very intriguing American Crow:
The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a large passerine bird species of the family Corvidae. It is a common bird found throughout much of North America. In the interior of the continent south of the Arctic, it is referred to as simply the “crow”.
It is one of several species of corvid that are entirely black, though it can be distinguished from the other two such birds in its range—from the common raven (C. corax) by size and behavior and from the fish crow (C. ossifragus) by call (but see below). It is also distinguished from the raven by its smaller bill.
American crows are common, widespread and adaptable, but they are highly susceptible to the West Nile virus. They are monitored as a bioindicator. Direct transmission of the virus from American crows to humans is not recorded to date, and in any case not considered likely.
Although the American crow and the Hooded crow are very similar in size, structure and behavior, their calls are different. The American crow nevertheless occupies the same role the Hooded crow does in Eurasia.
Small-mouthed Salamander by sambiology – Arlington, Texas
This, I think, is a really exciting observation—the first of its kind ever added to iNaturalist. It is not easy to find salamanders in North Texas, and sambiology’s account of the discovery (and the accompanying comments) are worth a read.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Small-mouthed Salamander:
The small-mouth salamander (Ambystoma texanum) is a species of mole salamander found in the central United States, from the Great Lakes region in Michigan to Nebraska, south to Texas, and east to Tennessee, with a population in Canada, in Pelee, Ontario. It is sometimes referred to as the Texas salamander, porphyry salamander, or the narrow-mouthed salamander.
Small-mouth salamanders are nocturnal, often subterranean, preferring moist habitats near permanent bodies of water. Breeding occurs in the spring, with groups of salamanders congregating near the water. Females can lay up to 700 eggs, which they attach in small clumps of up to 30 eggs at a time, to rocks or vegetation under the water. Their diets include insects, slugs, and earthworms. Larvae hatch at 0.5 in (13 mm); they metamorphisize in May to June at about 1.6 in (40 mm). When disturbed, the small-mouth salamander raises its tail and waves it back and forth. Being shy and sensitive, it shares breeding pools with larger spotted salamanders and marbled salamanders.
Another great find! Click here to see all iNaturalist submissions by sambiology.
Sandhill Crane by naturenut – Fort Worth, Texas
This great observation is of dozens of Sandhill Cranes photographed while soaring high above Fort Worth, Texas. At this time of the year it is possible for lucky individuals to get a look at flocks like this one as Sandhill Cranes migrate back to their breeding grounds in the north.
Wikipedia describes the behavior of Sandhill cranes in this way:
Sandhill cranes are fairly social birds that usually live in pairs or family groups through the year. During migration and winter, non-related cranes come together to form “survival groups” which forage and roost together. Such groups often congregate at migration and winter sites, sometimes in the thousands.
Sandhill cranes are mainly herbivorous, but eat various types of food, depending on availability. They often feed with their bills down to the ground as they root around for seeds and other foods, in shallow wetlands with vegetation or various upland habitats. Cranes readily eat cultivated foods such as corn, wheat and sorghum. Waste corn is useful to cranes preparing for migration, providing them with nutrients for the long journey. Among northern races of sandhill cranes, the diet is most varied, especially among breeding birds. They variously feed on berries, small mammals, insects, snails, reptiles and amphibians.
Sandhill cranes raise one brood per year. In non-migratory populations, laying begins between December and August. In migratory populations, laying usually begins in April or May. Both members of a breeding pair build the nest using plant material from the surrounding area. Nest sites are usually marshes, bogs or swales, though occasionally on dry land. Females lay one to three (usually two) oval, dull brown eggs with reddish markings. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 30 days. The chicks are precocial; they hatch covered in down, with their eyes open and able to leave the nest within a day. The parents brood the chicks for up to three weeks after hatching, feeding them intensively for the first few weeks, then gradually less frequently until they reach independence at nine or ten months old.
The chicks remain with their parents until one or two months before the parents lay the next clutch of eggs. After leaving their parents, the chicks form nomadic flocks with other juveniles and non-breeders. They remain in these flocks until they form breeding pairs at between two and seven years old.
As a conspicuous ground-dwelling species, sandhill cranes are at risk from predators. Mammals like foxes, raccoons, coyotes, wolves, bobcats and lynx often hunt them. Corvids, such as ravens and crows, and smaller raptors like hawks feed on young cranes and eggs. Cranes of all ages are hunted by eagles, large owls and Peregrine falcons. Sandhill cranes defend themselves and their young from aerial predators by jumping and kicking. For land predators, they move forward, often hissing, with their wings open and bill pointed. If the predator persists, the crane stabs with its bill (which is powerful enough to pierce the skull of a small carnivore) and kicks.
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!