The Kellet’s Whelk, Kelletia kelletii, is a type of sea snail that is common to the middle and southern coast of California, on down to Baja California. This seemingly harmless shelled creature is both a predator and a scavenger, and it has quite a strange feeding apparatus: a long proboscis twice the length of its shell can dangle down to reach its prey that may be hiding in a rock crevice or on the sea floor. It uses a handy rasp to scrape off tissue, and sucks it up into its shell for digestion. Each whelk has only one of these feeding tubes, and you’d be amazed how many creatures have some type of proboscis!
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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!