Great blue herons like to hang out anywhere there is water, which may include backyard ponds and random places like roadside ditches. They enjoy hunting in freshwater and saltwater because I'm certain they have stomachs made from steel. If you see these birds you may think it is just hunting for fish and tadpoles, but it's likely eyeballing juvenile Godzilla because based on what I've seen herons will eat anything.
Here's a short list and by no means a complete of the delicacies that Great blues enjoy:
baby alligators (baby alligators are at high risk of all kinds of predators)
fish the size of a puppy
probably a puppy if small enough and in the wrong place at the wrong time
small mammals (marsh bunny babies beware)
anything in your goldfish pond that is alive
Once paired up a couple will remain monogamous until the next breeding season (perhaps not the fairy tale ending expected, but that's nature). These birds are protected by state and federal laws because there was time in our not-so-long ago history that people preferred bird feathers as an accessory for hats rather than just appreciating the feathers on the bird.
There is a white form of the Great blue heron, which I'm still struggling with identifying since it looks like the White egret (so tips are welcome here).
Snapshots of our local love birds - Happy Valentine's Day
A simple rule of math states that for multicellular organisms: more cells equals more chances for a cell to become cancerous. An organism with 200 cells has twice the number of cells that could become cancerous as an organism with 100 cells, etc. Based on this fact alone, large animals should have higher rates of cancer formation than smaller animals, and animals like elephants and whales should have significantly shorter lifespans than smaller animals like humans.
If I told you there is an owl that spends most of its time on the ground and lives in a burrow, would you believe me? . . . Well, you should. Meet the burrowing owl:
These guys live in underground burrows that they dig themselves or hijack from another burrowing animal, such as a tortoise or prairie-dog. On top of that, they hunt during the day and spend most of their time on the ground, or on a low to the ground perch. I must admit, they are not what I usually think of when it comes to owls!
Unfortunately, the population of these beautiful birds has declined significantly in the last 30 years, largely due to habitat loss and the decline of other burrowing animals. Fortunately, these birds will hijack just about any burrow that is of suitable size – and conservationists take advantage of this! In many areas, the use of man-made artificial burrows has really helped to stabilize populations of these lovely birds. See below . . .
I will leave you with two fun facts:
Cowboys used to refer to burrowing owls as “howdy birds” since they often could be seen sitting at the entrance of there burrow bobbing their head at the cowboys, as if to say “howdy”
Females will often line the entrance of the burrow with animal manure. This draws in dung beetles and other bugs so she can catch a meal without even leaving the burrow while incubating the eggs. That is pretty crafty, if you ask me.
You used to could find this subspecies from south Florida to Lake Okeechobee, but hunting, chemical runoff, and habitat destruction dwindled that range to southwest Florida. If you're lucky you may see them in freshwater swamps including Fakahatchee Strand, Big Cypress Swamp, and southern portions of the Everglades, but don't hold your breath because they're not an easy critter to catch a glimpse of.
Like many species of mink, they can be quite aggressive and have the ability to take down larger prey, but they are also vulnerable to predators. Some very disturbing predators are the invasive pythons that are taking a toll on all wildlife in South Florida.
Everglades mink are reclusive and tough to study, so even though they are classified as threatened and protected many people think that they should be listed as endangered. The truth is that there's just not much known about this species or their population size.
So, Diploscapter pachys, a tiny worm found in soil decided about 18 million years ago that sex was fun and all, but it was absolutely too much work and who can really argue that?
This little species of roundworm reproduces solely by cloning itself. A life of abstinence wasn't always how this worm would roll, you see there was a time that D. pachys reproduced sexually, but that was around 18 million years ago.
Is this very important? Well, if you're like me then you learned that genetics is pretty darned important for survival. Sex allows species to mix up their genetics and hopefully make offspring that adapt well to their surroundings without accumulating an enormous amount of mutations that result in extinction.