Browsed by
Month: June 2010

Great Blue Heron in a Tree

Great Blue Heron in a Tree

The family and I hiked the short distance down to the Willamette River from our house and saw this great blue heron fly into a tree.  We are used to seeing them standing still in water looking for fish, but it seems strange to see them roost in a tree.  They actually nest in the tops of tall trees in standing water, which according to The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior prevents raccoons and other predators from reaching…

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Big Hairy Spider

Big Hairy Spider

My son spotted this big, hairy spider on our wheelbarrow in the backyard.  See its three big eyes staring at you?  I’m sure there are more eyes that we can’t see. My son thought it was a tarantula!  It isn’t, but I do not know what kind of spider it is. Anyone have a guess?

Jumping Spider Searching for a Meal

Jumping Spider Searching for a Meal

This is a Zebra Jumping Spider.  According to Insects of the Pacific Northwest by Peter and Judy Haggard, they are small but they have the best eyesight of all spiders (two big eyes are easy to see in this photo- they actually have 8!).  Why are they called “Jumping” spiders?  Because that’s exactly what they do- when they get close to their prey, they jump on them.  If you can find one in your yard, watch it for a while….

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Are Scrub-Jays Brilliant?

Are Scrub-Jays Brilliant?

For those of us who live in the West, this is our blue jay- the Western Scrub-Jay.  They are very common with a harsh shrieking call.  As a reader (Chuck) pointed out to me, there is an article just published in Discover Magazine online that talks about how smart these birds are.  Scientists believe that they can remember the past and even plan ahead for the future.  Check it out.  Jays are actually related to crows (together they are called…

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One of the Biggest Flies in the World

One of the Biggest Flies in the World

These crane flies are very, very big- but don’t worry, they don’t bite.  This is a European Crane Fly which, according to Insects of the Pacific Northwest by Peter and Judy Haggard, was introduced into British Columbia, Canada in the 1960’s.  It is a little bit smaller than the native Giant Crane Fly. I know it is hard to think of this as a fly, but it has the typical large fly eyes and also just one pair of normal…

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These guys stink!

These guys stink!

My neighbor Andy photographed these Striped Skunk young last week in our neighborhood.  They need to be careful because great horned owls love to eat them and we can hear the owls calling at night (we also once saw one in our backyard!).  We all know that skunks can emit a terrible smell.  They try not to though since they need it to defend themselves and it takes a while for them to make more. According to An Uncommon Field…

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Spotted Leopard Slug

Spotted Leopard Slug

This Spotted Leopard Slug is not from the U.S., but since it was introduced it has spread.  According to Oregon State University, it moves a lot faster than the native banana slug (the picture in the banner above on Slugyard).  This speed helps it catch other slugs for a tasty (ugh) meal. See the hole in its side?  This is called a pneumostome, and it is used by slugs to breathe.  For more information on slug anatomy, click this link…

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Name this Caterpillar

Name this Caterpillar

OK- one reader (Kim) did such a great job quickly identifying our unknown bug, let’s try this caterpillar.  I have learned that it is difficult to identify caterpillars because there are so many different kinds of them. Click on the photo for a closeup- do you see the yellow spots along the side of its body? Any ideas?