Wildlife



Wildlife that regularly visit our backyard

Photos by Kenneth McMillan   Text by Sharron McMillan
Photos may be freely used but please give proper credit 

Hummingbird-babies

Rufous Hummingbirds 
Selasphorus rufus

One of the few birds that are able to fly vertically and in reverse.  In forward flight they beat their wings up to 80 times a second and their hearts can beat up to 1200 times a minute. They weigh about as much as a nickel and are capable of flying at speeds up to 60 miles an hour. Males return to set up territories in early April. Females appear a few weeks later.

Food: nectar from blossoms of berries, fruit, flowers

Nest: After the noisy aerial courtship of the male, a tiny cup nest is built of plant down, lichens and mosses bound together by cobwebs in a tree or shrub.  

ID: Male - Coppery brown backs (sometimes green), brown tail and flanks, white            underparts and shiny red throats. 

Female - Greenish coloured with red spotted throat. 

Voice: low chewp chewp.  Also utters a rapid confrontation call ZEE chuppity-chup! 

Egg: Two tiny white eggs are laid. Females incubate the eggs for 15 to 17 days.  

The young fledge at 21 days.


Black-Bear-4

Black Bear
Ursus americanus

Black bears travel widely and are good tree climbers, often active all winter.  They have acute hearing  but poor sight. Unusual flat-footed walk.  Rarely dangerous to humans except when with cubs or cornered.  It is best to leave bears alone.

Food: Omnivorous. Diet includes marine creatures, fish and berries, small mammals.  Attracted to food offered or discarded by man and soon becomes unafraid of him. 

Females begin to reproduce at about four years of age and then have one or two cubs every second year.  The cubs are born during the winter when the mother is dormant and remain with her until the following Fall. 

ID: Large, bulky, powerful animal with small eyes and ears.  Its colour can vary from black to brown, some with white on the chest.  1” to 2” long front claws.  Size: To 6’ long, 3’ height, up to 300 lb. weight. 

Can be heard crashing through the woods in search of berries or bugs. Can hit 50 km/hr for short bursts, are good swimmers and can climb trees.  Scat is usually large and dark in colour from berries eaten.



Barred Owl (Fledgling)
Strix varia

Common year round resident.  Remarkably adaptable owl found in woodland habitats across the southern province.  Eyesight 100 times that of humans in the dark and is able to locate and follow prey using sound alone.  All the feathers, even stiffer wing feathers, have soft edges so it can fly silently at night. Keen sense of hearing as well. Crows worst enemies. 

Food: small animals, birds and eggs. Undigestible bones and fur are coughed up in the form of a pellet. 

Nest: in a natural tree cavity or abandoned stick nest, adds very little material. Mating season is late winter or early spring and they call more frequently then.  

ID:  Horizontal barring around neck and upper breast, vertical streaking on belly, dark eyes, no ear tufts, light coloured bill. 20” tall.  Have two toes forward and two toes backward. One rear toe on each foot can pivot forward. 

Voice: In spring the escalating laughs, hoots and gargling howls reinforce pair bonds.   Loud, hooting, rhythmic  "who cooks for you? who cooks for you all?"  Tend to be more vocal in early morning and late evening when the moon is full, the air is calm and the sky is clear. 

Egg: female incubates 2 to 3 white eggs for 28 to 33 days.  Male feeds the incubating female. Both parents feed the babies by regurgitating food into their mouths. Babies are big enough to fly at six weeks of age.


Elk-(1)

Roosevelt Elk
Cervus canadensis roosevelti

The largest of the 4 surviving subspecies of elk in North America.  The species was shot out around 1900 for subsistence hunting and reintroduced recently.

ID: Colour from tawny to reddish brown. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. 

Adults are 6’–10’ in length and stand 2.5’–5’ tall at the shoulder. Bulls generally weigh between 700 and 1100 lb. while cows weigh 575–625 lb.

Autumn mating season - Rival males fight for a harem of females in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.  After the rut they put on weight to last them through the winter months. In late fall they shed their antlers. 

Antlers are made of bone which can grow at a rate of 0.98" per day. While growing, the antlers are protected by a soft layer known as velvet. This is shed in summer when the antlers have fully developed. Bull elk may have 8 or more tines on each antler, however, the number of tines has little to do with the age or maturity of a particular animal.

The gestation period is 240 to 262 days and the offspring weigh between 33 and 35 lb. When the females are near to giving birth, they tend to isolate themselves from the main herd, and will remain isolated until the calf is large enough to escape predators. Calves are born spotted and lose their spots by the end of summer.

Food: herbaceous plants, such as grasses and sedges, consuming between 8.8 and 15.4 lb. daily.  In winter months they feed on woody plants, including high bush cranberry, elderberry and devil’s club and are also known to eat blueberries, mushrooms, lichens, and salmonberries. 

Wolf and coyote packs and the solitary cougar are the most likely predators, although black bears also prey on elk.

Roosevelt elk rarely live beyond 12 to 15 years

Also known as "wapiti" meaning white rump.


Deer
Odocoileus hemionus

Small cloven-foot animal. We have both Mule Deer and Black Tail Deer.  

Mule Deer: large white rump patch of narrow black-tipped tail, and large ears (about two-thirds length of the head) are very distinctive. Reddish brown coat that changes from tawny brown in summer to dark or grizzled brown in winter. They have a dark brown forehead, a whitish face with a black muzzle, and a white throat patch.

Black Tail Deer are slightly smaller and slightly darker in color, with a small rump patch and a tail that is dark brown or black for most of its length, rather than just at the tip.

During most of the year Black-tailed and Mule deer travel alone or in small groups, but Mule Deer sometimes form larger groups. The social system consists of clans of females that are related to each other by maternal descent and bucks that are not related.

Bucks assert their dominance by taking various threat postures and flailing their front hooves. Also, bucks of unequal size often engage in protracted sparring matches during which they push their antlers together and twist their heads. 

They communicate with the aid of scent and pheromones from several glands located on the lower legs. The outside of lower leg produces an alarm scent, the inside of hock serves for recognition and the between the toes leave a scent trail. Deer have excellent sight and smell. Their large ears can move independently of each other and pick up any unusual sounds that may signal danger. Most active at dawn and dusk or moonlit nights.

Cougars are their natural enemy. A full grown deer can run 36 miles per hour and leap obstacles 8’ high. 

Food: ranges seasonally in search of food. It is a twig eater, browsing on Douglas fir, salal, blackberries, western red cedar,  yew, huckleberries, leafy ferns and grasses and most things we don’t want them to browse on in our yard. A full grown deer can nip off and quickly swallow up to 8 quarts of un-chewed vegetation each feeding and then chews and digests it later. When you see a deer chewing its cud you know it is feeling safe and secure. 

Mating or 'rutting' season - November and early December. After the rut, the bucks tend to hide and rest, often nursing wounds. They suffer broken antlers, and have lost weight. They drop their antlers between January and March. Bucks regrow their antlers beginning in April through to August.

Gestation - 6 to 7 months, fawns are born in late May and into June. Twins are the rule, although young does often have only single fawns. Triplets can also occur. Fawns weigh 6 to 8.8 lb. and have no scent for the first week or so. This enables the mother to leave the fawn hidden while she goes off to browse and replenish her body to produce enough milk to feed her fawns. Does are excellent mothers and are very protective of their young. 


Coyote
Canis latrans

Dog-like mammal. Small, thin muzzle. It’s black-tipped tail drags behind its legs when running. The ears are proportionately large in relation to the head, while the feet are relatively small. Tracks tend to be more oval-shaped and compact than those of domestic dogs, and their claw marks are less prominent. Tracks tend to follow a straight line more closely than those of dogs. Clever and versatile hunters/scavengers. 

Groups are called a band, a pack or a rout. Packs of coyotes can bring down prey as large as adult elk.  The average distance covered in a night's hunting is 2.5 miles.  

During pursuit, a coyote may reach speeds up to 43 mph. They usually hunt in pairs.  Primarily nocturnal but can often be seen during the day. Territorial ranges can be as much as 11½ miles in diameter around the den, and travel occurs along fixed trails. Coyotes mark their territories with urine.  Their tail has a scent gland located on its dorsal base.

The maximum longevity in the wild is 14½ years. 

Gestation: 60 to 63 days. Litter size 1 to 19 pups, usually 6. About 50–70% of pups do not survive to adulthood. Pups weigh approximately ½ pound at birth, and are blind and limp-eared. The eyes open and ears become erect after 10 days. Around 21–28 days old, they begin to emerge from the den, and by 35 days, they are fully weaned. Both parents feed the weaned pups with regurgitated food. Male pups disperse from their dens between 6 and 9 months, while females usually remain with the parents and form the basis of the pack. Pups attain full growth between 9 and 12 months old. Sexual maturity is reached by 12 months.

Grey wolf is its natural predator.

Calls: high-pitched howls, yips, yelps, and barks. Occasionally they join loose packs in spirited yipping choruses, most often heard at dusk or night, but sometimes in the middle of the day. Most commonly heard during spring mating season and in the fall when the pups leave their families to establish new territories. When a coyote calls its pack together, it howls at one high note. When the pack is together, it howls higher and higher, and then yip and yelp and a yi-yi sound, very shrill, with the howl. 


Bobcat
Lynx rufus

Nocturnal hunters. A feline speedster, can hit 48 km hour for short bursts. An adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas and is vital for controlling pest populations.

ID: All bobcats have dark streaks or spots but coat varies from yellowish to rusty brown or grey. Whiskered face and black-tufted ears, resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx. It is smaller than the Lynx but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name. Eyes are yellow with black pupils. The nose is pinkish-red, and it has a base color of gray or yellow or brownish-red on its face, sides, and back.  The pupils are round, black circles and will widen during nocturnal activity to maximize light reception.

Tracks show four toes without claw marks, due to their retractable claws. Range in size from 1” to 3.” When walking or trotting, the tracks are spaced roughly 8” to 18” apart. It can make great strides when running, often from 4’ to 8.’ Like all cats, the bobcat 'directly registers', meaning its hind prints usually fall exactly on top of its fore prints. Bobcat tracks can generally be distinguished from feral or house cat tracks by their larger size.

It remains in some of its original range, but local populations are vulnerable to extirpation by coyotes and domestic animals.

Food: Prefers rabbits but will hunt anything from insects, chickens, and small rodents to deer. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary. It marks its territorial boundaries with claw marks and deposits of urine or feces. Has sharp hearing and vision, and a good sense of smell. It is an excellent climber, and will swim when it needs to, but will normally avoid water.

Typically live to six or eight years.

Breeds from winter into spring. The female raises 1 to 6 young alone. Usually 2 to 4 kittens are born in April or May, after 60 to 70 days gestation. Sometimes a second litter is born as late as September. She generally gives birth in an enclosed space, usually a small cave or hollow log. The young open their eyes by the ninth or tenth day. They start exploring their surroundings at four weeks and are weaned at about two months. Within three to five months they begin to travel with their mother. They will be hunting by themselves by Fall of their first year and usually disperse shortly thereafter.


Steller's Jay
Cyanocitta stelleri  

Resident jewel. B.C. provincial bird since 1987.  Generally noisy and pugnacious. Suddenly become silent and cleverly illusive when nesting in April.  Very intelligent and bold. Watchers of the forest, alerting wild creatures to the approach of a raccoon, owl or human visitor.  

Named for a German, Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709 – 1746), botanist, zoologist, physician and explorer who worked in Russia and Alaska. 

Food: Fond of peanuts and seeds. 

Nesting: bulky stick and twig nest lined with mud, grass and conifer needles in the fork of a conifer. 

ID: black head, nape and back, bluish forehead streaks. Grayish underwings with blue linings seen when flying. Prominent shaggy crest.  Glossy deep velvet blue plumage, round- tipped blue tail. Wings and tail are barred.  Makes short glides and upward lift. 

Voice: Harsh, far carrying shack-shack-shack, grating kresh kresh. 

Egg: Female incubates 4 brown-marked, pale greenish blue eggs for 16 days


Raccoon
Procyon lotor

Lives in forests or shrubbery and, like its relative the black bear, is a good tree climber.  Nocturnal and seldom seen.  When light is shone into its eyes, they glow with a green fluorescence.  

Food: Omnivorous, feeding on almost anything.  Snakes, birds and fruit as well as fresh garbage.  Dip their food in water, not because of an inclination towards cleanliness but probably because they have poorly developed salivary glands. Agile climbers.

Den: a cavity which may be anything from a burrow in the forest floor to a chimney in a vacant house. 

ID: An attractive animal about 30” in length.  Has a chunky body covered with long grayish fur, a bushy tail distinctively marked with four to six black rings.  A sharp-pointed face with black mask outlined in white around the eyes.  Paws and forelimbs are dextrous.  Walk with a hunch-backed gait and run with a comical mincing gait. 

Litter of one to six young born in the spring are blind for about three weeks.  They remain in the den for two months and with parents until the following spring. 

Have been hunted for fur as it is handsome and durable.   


Spotted Towhee
Pipilo maculatus

Common resident. Especially likes thickets and overgrown gardens with berries and small fruit.

Makes quite a ruckus foraging through leaf litter, scraping with both feet.

Nest: low in a shrub or in a depression in the ground.  Cup of leaves, bark and rootlets lined with fine grasses and hair. 

ID:  black wings and tail, white spotting on wings and back, white outer tail corners, white breast and belly, buff under-tail.  Dark rufous sides and flanks, black hood and back, red eyes, dark conical bill.  

Voice: Song - "here, here PLEASE".  Call - distinctive, a buzzy trill

Egg: Pair incubates 3 to 4 brown-spotted white eggs for 12 to 13 days.


Douglas Squirrel 
Tamiasciurus douglasi 

ID: dull olive brown on the back and buff underneath, the two colours being separated by a black line. They have a white eye ring. The bushy tail is also darker above. It is a small, lively, bushy-tailed tree squirrel, enchanting to watch.

Nest: either in a tree or underground.  Mating can occur as early as February. Gestation is about four weeks and the young are weaned at about eight weeks of age and by fall are ready to leave home. There may be up to six kits in a litter, though four is more usual. In the southern and lower parts of their range they produce two litters each year.  

Food: Coniferous seeds form the main part of their diet, supplemented by mushrooms, the eggs of birds, and some fruit including strawberries and plums and our hazel nuts. They will raid in birdnests the Spring and kill the nestlings. 

They are territorial.  In winter each squirrel occupies a territory of about 2½ acres, but during the breeding season a mated pair will defend a single territory together. Douglas Squirrels are active by day throughout the year, often chattering noisily at intruders. In summer nights, they sleep in ball-shaped nests that they make in the trees, but in the winter they use holes in trees as nests. Groups of squirrels seen together during the summer are likely to be juveniles from a single litter.

Since it does not hibernate, it cuts down and stores large quantities of cones for winter use, scolding and chattering as it tries to chase other animals from its home territory. Unlike many other types of tree squirrel, they lack cheek pouches in which to hold food. They are scatter hoarders, burying pine cones (which they cut from the trees while green) during the autumn. They often use a single place, called a midden, for peeling the scales off cones to get at the seeds. The discarded scales may accumulate for years into piles more than a meter across as the same site is used by generations of squirrels.

Their predators include bobcats, coyotes, domestic cats, Northern Goshawks and owls.


Raven
Corvus corvax

Crafty, clever bird.  Adaptable, widespread. Uses its wits to survive in most habitats and exhibits problem-solving skills.  Form groups as juveniles, pairing off into lifelong monogamous and extremely territorial relationships at around the age of three. 

Their courtship behaviour sends them tumbling through space together, talons locked.  

Can live up to 40 years.  

Food: carrion left by other animals, most anything available.  They work in teams to confiscate a meal, one acting as the decoy, the other steals the food. 

Nest: on a rock ledge, bluff, bridge or tall tree.  Large stick and branch nest lined with fur and soft plant material. 

ID: heavy black bill, shaggy throat, all black plumage, rounded wings, wedge-shaped tail. Reach as much as 3' from beak to tail,

Voice: deep, guttural, far carrying, repetitive "craww, craww" or "quork, quork" and other vocalizations.  The most commonly heard is the classic gurgling croak, rising in pitch and seeming to come from the back of the throat. They make this call often. It’s audible for more than a mile, and ravens often give it in response to other ravens they hear in the distance. Among their other calls, ravens make short, repeated, shrill calls when chasing predators or trespassers, and deep, rasping calls when their nests are disturbed. Dominant females sometimes make a rapid series of 12 or so loud knocking sounds that lasts about a second

 Egg: Variably marked greenish. Female incubates 4 to 6 for 18 to 21 days.


Crow
Corvus caurinus

Common resident. Restricted to the Pacific Northwest and considered a separate species.  

A remarkably clever bird.  They are family oriented and the young from the previous year help to raise the next year’s nestlings. 

Food: stranded fish, shellfish, crab and mussels,  searches through refuse containers for suitable food items. It has been seen to fly into the air with mussels and drop them onto hard surfaces to break them open. It also regularly eats insects, other invertebrates and various fruits (especially berries). It raids other birds' nests to eat eggs and hatchlings.

Nest: in deciduous or coniferous trees or on a utility pole.  Nest is stick and branch lined with fur and soft plant material.   

ID:  slim, sleek head and throat.  Square tail and slim beak.  Black legs and bill.  Glossy purple black plumage. Slightly smaller with proportionately smaller feet and a slightly more slender bill than the common crow.

Voice: Distinctive, far carrying, repetitive caw-caw-caw.  A "wok-wok-wok" is given by a bird in flight if straggling behind the group, and various clicks and mechanical sounding rattles are also heard.

Egg: darkly blotched gray green to blue green. Female incubates 4 to 6 eggs for about 18 days.


Shrew
Sorex vagrans

A burrower and may be found in moist places such as under leaf litter. Reputed to be bad-tempered and a fierce fighter. Its name is rather misleading for it does not move about much.

Food: Mainly insectivorous, equipped with sharp pointed teeth, ideal for catching and crushing insects, small salamanders and earthworms.  devours more than its own weight in food every day, therefore eating a number of harmful insects to man’s benefit.   

Nest: Ball-shaped nest usually made of grass and leaves is often hidden underground.  The litter, arriving from spring to early fall numbers 3 to 8 young.

ID: Small mouse-like, less than 4" long with long pointed nose, tiny eyes and short pointed tail.  In summer its colour is pale brown above and pale gray beneath.  In winter it is black above and pale gray beneath. 


Black Slug 
Arion ater

Completely black though juveniles are ivory whitish with black head, but soon become black. When picked up or touched, the black slug will contract to a hemispherical shape and begin to rock from side to side. This defensive behaviour confuses predators. Their slime was used to lubricate wooden axle-trees or carts in Sweden. They are edible but unappetizing.


Pacific Banana Slug 
Ariolimax columbianus

The second largest slug in the world. It can reach up to a length of 9.8” long. Individuals can move at 6½" per minute. Resemblance to a banana - yellow bodies with brown spots. Some can be found with green, brown, or white bodies, according to diet and the amount of moisture in their environment.


Slugs
Arionidae

Slugs have lungs that open to the outside through a pneumostone for respiration located on the right side of their mantle. Because they respire through their skin, they require a moist environment to live. They are covered with a slime that prevents dehydration and contains pheromones to attract other slugs for mating. They have two pairs of tentacles, the larger are used to sense the brightness of light, the second are used to sense smells. It is able to retract both pairs of tentacles to protect them.  They have a muscular foot for locomotion.

Food: Herbivores. They eat leaves, dead plant materials, fungi and animal droppings. They favor mushrooms over other foods. Eat their food using their radula, many rows of teeth used for grinding up food particles

Slugs are hermaphroditic, each slug has both male and female reproductive organs. They produce up to 75 translucent eggs, which are laid in a log or on leaves.

The adults provide no further care for their eggs beyond finding a suitable hiding spot. 

Though seen as garden pests they do serve as decomposers in forests, breaking down plant materials. They also spread seeds and spores while eating. They spend much of their time during the day in moist, dark areas under logs or other forest debris.

Raccoons, garter snakes, ducks, geese and salamanders sometimes eat banana slugs; they roll the slugs in soil to bind the slime. They are sometimes eaten by shrews or moles.


Pacific Tree Frog
Hyla regilla

ID: Conspicuous round suction disks on tips of fingers and toes.  Small, rather delicate appearing.  Highly variable in colour, from almost uniform brilliant green to combinations of green, brown, gray, reddish and bronze to almost uniform gray or brown.  

Most have a pattern of dark green or black elongated blotches on the head, back and limbs and a black blotch extending from the nose through the eyes to a point over the shoulder.  Under-parts are white or very pale pink. They can vary their colour to some extent and appear to use this ability for camouflage. Terrestrial except in the spring. 

Food: are often found some distance from water, climbing around in shrubs and low trees, or on our sky light, hunting insects.  

Voice: Most evident in the spring when their choruses of loud croaking are a familiar sound.  Very loud as it is amplified by a resonating sac which is formed by expanding the throat into a balloon several times as large as the head.  

Egg: Lay their eggs in small ponds very early in the spring.  

Baby tree frogs leave the water by mid-July to take up a largely terrestrial existence.


Red-Legged Frog
Rana aurora

True frog, much more aquatic than toads or tree frogs, spending most of its time close to streams or water into which it dives when disturbed.  Most often found in moist forests. 

ID: light brown with a reddish tinge to its sides.  Small dark irregularly spaced spots scattered over the head and body and a dark patch extends from the eye to the corner of the jaw.  As it matures, the under surface of fore and hind legs become brilliant red. Grows to 4”

Eggs: laid in masses in quiet stretches of streams and less often in lakes. 


Turkey Vulture
Cathartes aura

Common migrant and breeder.  Intelligent and social. Groups live and sleep together in large trees or roosts.  Some roost sites are over a century old and have been used by the same family of vultures for several generations. 

Food: carrion because their bills and feet are not as powerful for killing live prey.  Hunts over open countryside, transmission corridors, shorelines. 

Nest: in a cave, crevice, on a log or among boulders.  No nest material used.  

ID:  Red featherless head is a an adaptation that allows the bird to stay relatively clean while feeding on messy carcasses.  Immature has grey head. Pale hooked bill.  In flight head appears small.  Grey flight feathers, black wing linings. Wings are held in a shallow “V” tips from side-to-side when soaring.  All black plumage. 

Voice:  generally silent, occasionally produces a hiss or grunt if threatened.  

Egg: 2 dull white eggs.  Pair incubates for up to 41 days.  

A threatened vulture will either play dead or throw up, repulsing the attacker with the odor.

Flock is called a “Kettle” 

They have mastered the use of updrafts and thermals in flight.


Northern Alligator Lizard
Elgaria coerulea

Skinny fast-footed looks like a miniature alligator but prefers dry land in cool, shady forests. Wary of the open, usually hides under rocks, logs or bark, occasionally emerging to bask in the sun. 

Feeds on invertebrates.

Females give birth of up to 8 live young.


Long-toed-Salamander-(3)

Long-toed Salmander 
Ambystoma macrodactylum

Secretive creatures hide under rocks or decomposing logs, active primarily at night. More easily seen during rainy months when they migrate to silt free ponds. 

Feed on invertebrates. 

Eggs laid singly or in clumps on rocks or vegetation. Hatch in about 3 weeks.  

Length: 4" to 6.6"


Red Salamander 
Ensatina eschscholtzii 

Pinkish or reddish brown with very pale pink or orange limbs and pale gray underparts. Marked translucent appearance. 

Length: 4" to 5”  


Northern-Flicker-(1)

Red Shafted Northern Flicker
Colaptes auratus cafer

Common year-round resident. Woodpeckers have zygodactyl feet - two toes face forward and two backward - facilitating vertical movement up and down tree trunks.  Use their still tail feathers to prop up their bodies while they scale trees and excavate cavities.  

Food: Instead of boring holes in trees in search of a meal, the Flicker, with its robin-like hops, scours farmland, grassy meadows and forest clearings for invertebrates, particularly ants, with its long sticky tongue.  

Nest: pair excavate a cavity in a drying or decaying trunk, lined with wood chips.  May also use a nest box. 

ID:  brownish with white rump and red underlinings to wings and tail.  Long bill, brown crown, grey face, spotted buff underparts.  Red mustache on female, black bib, barred brown and black wings. The shaft of the feather is red. 

Often bathe in dusty depressions using dust particles to absorb oils and bacteria. They also squash ants and preen themselves with the remains. Ants contain formic acid which kills small parasites found on the skin or feathers of this bird. 

Voice: loud, laughing, rapid "kick-kick-kick-kick-kick-kick".  During courtship call "woika-woika".

Egg: pair incubate 5 to 8 white eggs for 11 to 16 days. 


Common Garter Snake
Thamnophis sirtalis

Our most common snake. 

Prominently striped with alternating bands of yellow and dark. Some have red markings along its side. The young are born live sometime in July or August. Female can give birth to a litter from 3 to 83 but most typically no more than 18. If captured they will try to escape by releasing a smelly mix of musk and feces from its vent.  By writhing within its captors grip, this potent mix is rubbed all over both the snake and the captor.  If unsuccessful they are known to flatten their heads and strike aggressively.  Common Garter Snakes hunt primarily during the day, but occasionally are seen foraging at night.  Their active period varies with the season.

Adult snakes enjoy slugs, frogs, toads, salamanders, tadpoles, and insects.  Occasionally they also will eat small mammals, birds, fish, and other reptiles. Young snakes seem to exist mainly on earthworms, at least until they are large enough to tackle more challenging prey.

Common Garter Snakes have a fascinating ability to deal with prey that other predators find toxic.  These snakes can eat both the toxic Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) and poisonous Western Toad (Bufo boreas) without getting sick. 


Golden Crowned Sparrow
Zonotrichia atricapilla

Common bird of the Pacific coast in winter, but vanish for the summer to Alaska.

ID: large, handsome, long tailed, small heads. Short, stout, seed-eating bills. Streaked brown above and smooth gray to brown below, with a black crown and bright-yellow forehead. 

Voice: whistle a slow, melancholy song from high perches.

Feed: seeds and insects on the ground and in low vegetation 

Nest: in dense, low vegetation.


Fox Sparrow
Passerella iliaca

Frequent in winter, late September to May.

ID: Dark brown to gray with heavily streaked  breast and rusty tail.  Large for a sparrow. 



Little Brown Bat
Eptesicus myotis

Little brown bat or flying mouse.  Harmless creatures and beneficial to man.  The only flying mammals. 

Food: consume large quantities of insects.  

Nest: No nest is built but one or two naked young are born in late spring.  The young cling to their mother until they can fly, reaching adult size in two months.

ID: sparrow-size, dark brown above and lighter below.  

Live in forests, sleep in trees under loose bark or in a variety of other crevices in rocks and in buildings.  In winter they go into a state of torpor where they roost singly or in small colonies. 

At twilight they fly abroad in search of insects, their staple food. 

The erratic flight of the bat is not due to lack of skill but in order to maneuver to capture insects,  they locate their prey and other objects by emitting high frequency sounds which produce echoes.  Bats are unique among mammals in their ability to fly and in this echo-location ability. 


Bald Eagle
Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Resident of the West Coast. We often see them circling and wind-surfing overhead.  They stop on the tips of fir trees to visit at times.  Lifespan is up to 40 years. 

Food: diet is varied and includes ducks, gulls or spawning fish or road-kill. Soaring hundreds of feet in the air they can spot prey swimming or feeding far below.  They gather at spawning sites each autumn and winter.

Nest: mate for life and return to the same nest each year, adding to it more branches and odds and ends.  Some nests are colossal.  

ID: Adult - white head, yellow bill and feet, white tail. 31" - 43” length. Wingspan 5½’ - 7.8’  Broad wings are held flat in flight. 

Immature - dark brown until four or five years old.  

One year olds are dark overall, dark bill with some white in underwings.  

2 year olds have dark ‘bib’ white in underwings.  

Three year old mostly white plumage, yellow at base of bill, yellow eyes. 

Four year old has light head with dark facial streak, variable pale and dark plumage, yellow bill, paler eyes.  

Voice - thin, weak squeal or gull-like cackle "kleek-klik-klik-klik" or "kah-kah-kah". 

Egg: The pair incubate 1 to 3 white eggs for 34 to 36 days.



© Kenneth McMillan 2017
Contact: Kenneth