There are thought to be seven distinct subspecies of Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii). The map below shows distribution and examples of the wide variety of colorations for this single species in its genus. The ensatina is a lungless salamander who breathes through its skin and therefore must remain in moist habitat. When times get a bit dry, they can burrow down under logs and leaf litter until the above ground habitat becomes more moist once again.
Click the links below the map to find out more about this amazing species, and to see more pics of its variety! Scroll down on the first linked-to page to see entire pages of pics and videos for each of the seven subspecies! 😀

ensatina salamander species subspecies map california oregon washington canada spotten red black yellow brown tan

California Herps
Ensatina Natural History
Wild Herps

The Hooded Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia minor, is a carnivorous plant native to SE USA.

sarracenia minor hooded pitcher plant

Botanical Society: Hooded Pitcher Plant
Wildflower Center: Sarracenia minor
Carnivorous Plant FAQs

The American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis, is one of North America’s last birds to get started building a family. In July, when other bird families include fledglings aplenty, the thistles are just starting to bloom. This signals the conspicuous bright yellow male goldfinch and his olive colored mate to start building a nest, constructed mostly of thistle down. When the eggs finally hatch, the thistles have gone to seed — the perfect time to start feeding chicks! Parent goldfinches serve their nestlings a milky cereal-like substance made of thistle seed — the bird world’s closest thing to mammal milk!

Spinus tristis male american goldfinch on thistles birds north america backyard yellow black white

eNatureBlog
Audubon
All About Birds
BirdNote
ARKive

Most red-eyed vireos (Vireo olivaceus) breed in North America and overwinter in the Amazon basin of South America. During the breeding season, a single male may sing constantly, up to 10,000 times each day! Because of this and their canopy-feeding lifestyle, these little birds are often heard rather than seen, and their song is part of most forest soundtracks. If you can zoom in on an adult, you may be able to see its bright red eyes, but most commonly you will have to settle for its song and its olive green body with grey, black, and white head pattern for identification.

Vireo olivaceus red eyed vireo neotropical migration bird songbird forest

Find out more!
All About Birds
Encyclopedia of Life
BioKIDS
Audubon Field Guide

Can you spot the quarter? Underwater Viewer

Here’s something for all ages: Make your own underwater viewer!

make your own underwater viewer can you find the quarter

Continue reading

Teals are part of the genus of dabbling ducks, Anas, which also includes the familiar mallards and pintails. This small species of dabbler, the Baikal Teal or Anas formosa, breeds in Siberia and overwinters in China and Japan. Individuals are also kept in private waterfowl collections in the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere — and sometimes escape into the wild to join flocks of Common Teal. However, the striking head pattern and decorative feathers dangling from the male’s shoulders distinguish this species from other look-alikes. Browse the sites below for more on this beautiful duck!

Anas formosa Baikal teal duck waterfowl bird dabbling species

ARKive
BirdWeb
Oiseaux Birds
Planet of Birds

Foraging behavior of Dwarf Mongooses

Dwarf Mongoose Foraging

Don’t blink! You’ll miss this pet Horned Frog gobbling its prey!

Pet Horned Frog

The stickpins or stubble lichens are 30 species in the genus Calicium, which often grow on live branches of trees such as giant redwoods. Below is a closeup of the fruiting body of Calicium adaequatum, sometimes called the “tiny daisy” lichen. Click the links below the pic to see just how minute these bodies really are…! Our Creator sure likes to put a lot of detail into tiny structures! 😀

Calicium adaequatum tiny daisy stickpins stubble lichen fruiting body miniature redwood forests boreal

Encyclopedia of Life
Ways of EnLICHENment
United States Forest Service

Two days in a row, when I went to my mailbox there was a Zelus nymph — a young assassin bug — on the handle. Each time, I gently lowered the door on the box, trying not to disturb the unique creature that graced my front yard. Each day, it was a different species, too! One day it was the red one shown below, Zelus longipes. The other day it was a smaller, little green guy, Zelus luridus. While some say they look like their adult forms (due to incomplete metamorphosis), I could not find these nymphs in any of my insect books because there is no ADULT insect that has this body shape. My research began by googling “skinny bug”! 😀

assassin bug nymph young zelus longipes milkweed longlegged skinny red black hunter

American Insects: Zelus longipesZelus luridus
Reduviidae: Assassin Bugs (Austin Bug Collection)
Bug Eric blog — Nature at Close Range blog
Arthropods of Maine (blog page on Z. luridus)
Featured Creatures: Zelus longipes
Beneficials in the Garden (mostly on Zelus longipes)

The Pied Butcherbird, Cracticus nigrogularis, has an AMAZING song! And if that wasn’t enough for this Australian songster, he also copies songs of other birds and even imitates human sounds!

Cracticus nigrogularis pied butcherbird birds australia song melodious copycat black and white feathers

Click play to hear this bird’s amazing song. You may enjoy this duet! 😀

Read more on iNaturalist
Handbook of Birds of the World
Birds in Backyards
Critters of Calamvale Creek

This spikey little amphibian lives in Japan. At one time it also could be found in Taiwan, but has become extinct there due to habitat loss and capture for the pet trade.

Crocodile Newts grow to only about 6 to 7 inches long including their tail, and their ribs actually end in protruding spikes that serve as protection against predators.

echinotriton andersoni alligator crocodile newt andersons japan salamander moss dark spikes amphibians wild

ARKive: Anderson’s crocodile newt
Alligator Newt: St. Louis Zoo
CC: (great pics!)

The hot springs snake (Thermophis baileyi) lives higher up in the mountains than any other snake in the world!

arkive thermophis baileyi high altitude snake reptile tibet china asia hot springs

Click the pic or links above or below to learn more about
this awesome snake!
Arkive
Excellent article by a snake ecologist

The Eurasian harvest mouse, Micromys minutus, is not only Europe’s smallest rodent, but it is also the continent’s only animal with a prehensile (grasping) tail. The nest this tiny one weaves also takes the prize for the most complex of any European mammal. The little harvest mouse splits and bends stalks of grass, eventually forming a spherical structure about 4 or 5 inches wide. These tiny rodents live only about 6 months, and even in captivity 18 months is the record.

More pics & info on Encyclopedia of Life
More pics & video on ARKive

Europe’s Smallest Rodent

Did you know that BLUE mushrooms grow in America?
Click the pic for MORE pics (and click “Detail” at the top of that page for more info on this species!)

blue mushrooms forest floor leaf litter leaves america milky blue edible

In the snowy winter, a beaver must work to keep a hole in the ice. He is cranky and slow-moving. The otter, on the other hand, is having fun sliding down hills and pestering the beaver! Watch this fun little video for a peek into the interaction between these two species in the dead of winter.

Beaver vs. Otter

If they COULD read, dragonflies would do it almost 4 times as fast as we can! Their reaction time is so fast, they can fly out to catch something they see before we would even register any sight. Watch the short video below to learn more about the dragonfly’s super sense.

Dragonflies Speed Read?!

Like other deciduous larches, the subalpine larch, Larix lyallii, sheds its needles each year. The trees make a grand show up there near the treeline, with their yellow needles and often twisted form. Further down the mountains, they tend to be taller and grow straighter. Fresh new twigs have single needles, whereas older twigs have clusters of needles growing from a little raised knot along the twig. Cones are spherical with long bracts extending out past each scale, giving the cones a shaggy appearance. These trees grow along with their very close and very similar relative, Larix occidentalis, in the upper Rocky Mountains and Cascade range in the northwestern United States and nearby regions of Canada.

Larix lyallii subalpine alpine larch northwest canada united states trees treeline mountains deciduous needles

The Gymnosperm Database
The Wild Garden
Burke Museum
Virginia Tech

Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia spp) have flowers that look like cascading fireworks… The shorter, red-petaled object in the pic.

sarracenia flower pitcher plant carnivorous hawaii cultivated

Here’s a little clip from BBC Earth’s hard-to-find series, Wild Caribbean. It features acrobatic and highly intelligent capuchin monkeys in a coastal forest area of Costa Rica.

Caribbean Capuchins