Wild Turkey

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Wild Turkey typically forage on forest floor in flocks, but they can also be found in grasslands and swamps. They actively search for nuts, berries, seeds, fruit and insects. Acorns, beechnuts, cherries and ash seeds are primary food sources.

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They are chicken-like in appearance, and have short, rounded wings, heavy bills and heavy bodies. They stand three to four feet tall and can weigh up to 24 pounds.

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The Wild Turkey was not present in Ohio for many years. This bird once inhabited forested areas of the entire state, providing food for Native Americans and early Ohio settlers. As the forests were converted into farms, the Wild Turkey’s population dwindled and no birds remained in the state by 1904.

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The body feathers appear drab brown at a distance, but are actually iridescent when the bird appears in good light; this iridescence shows the bird’s true coloration – bronze with hints of red, green, copper and gold. Only male turkey display the ruffled feathers, fanlike tail, red head and “beard” commonly associated with these birds. They also gobble with a distinctive sound.

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Wild Turkey nests are made in the ground. A shallow depression is lined with leaves and covered up with vines and other plants. Ten to fifteen eggs are laid. Here is a hen that I saw on the Fourth of July out with her offspring.


Many kids in the United States learn Wild Turkey identification early, by tracing outlines of their hands to make Thanksgiving cards. These big, spectacular birds are quite adaptable. They have become an increasingly common sight, as flocks stride around woods and clearings like miniature dinosaurs.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Third Eye Herp

Scenes From My 2013 Children’s Wildlife Drawing Class

Animals awaiting the first day of school
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Drawing a Praying Mantis
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Florida Box Turtle
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Alligator Lizard
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Bobwhite Quail
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Day 2 was “creepy-crawly things.” Here are the students observing how scorpions glow under UV Light.
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Emperor Scorpion
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Snapping Turtle
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Gopher Snake
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Getting to know a Corn Snake a little better.
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Day 3 – Underwater Day
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Asian River Turtle
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The teacher drew a Creek Chub
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It takes some keen observation skills to be an artist
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Day 4 – A Celebration of Amphibians
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Leopard Frog
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Spotted Salamander
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Barking Treefrogs
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The End
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Third Eye Herp

Scouring Rush


Scouring Rush is a primitive species that can be found throughout the world. Members of its family are commonly known as “Horsetail.”


It is easily recognized by its slender, jointed stems, which remind me of bamboo. This plant’s stems are vertically ridged and round in cross-section.

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“Back in the day” the stems, which have a high silica content, were used to smooth items made of wood and scour pots and pans. Since they are hollow, they were also used as straws.


The “leaves” of Scouring Rush are fused together forming ashy grey, papery bands at the joints of the plant’s stems.


Its favored habitat includes moist sites such as stream banks, flood plains and wetlands from lowland to mid-elevations.

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The Horsetails are related to the ferns and do not produce flowers, fruit or seeds. They reproduce by spores which are produced in a cone-like structure on the tips of the stems.

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This “old school” plant is the single surviving genus of a class of prehistoric plants that dates back to over 350 million years ago.

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Third Eye Herp

Eastern Forest Snail

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Snails are best known for their shell. The shell is made by the snail by a part of the body called the mantle. Snails secrete an acidic material from the sole of their foot that dissolves calcium in the soil and allows its uptake, so the shell can be created.

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Eastern Forest Snails are our most common land snail. They grow a large shell, sometimes over an inch wide. The shell is fairly flat and tan with darker blotches. There is a flared opening leading into the shell.

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They are herbivores, eating living or dead plant material. They are very important for controlling plant populations and breaking down plant materials.

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These snails can move several inches in a minute. They release an orange slime as they crawl. The slime gives them a “cushion” to crawl over. This cushion protects their soft bodies from sharp things. Snails can also use old slime trails as paths back to food or shelter.

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Land snails can be considered one of the many building blocks for the ecosystems in which they reside; providing not only a food source but accessibility to calcium. I enjoy looking at the unique, interesting patterns on their shells.

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Third Eye Herp



This is a tree with a few different common names. One is Blue Beech, in reference to the blue-gray, smooth bark that looks similar to American Beech. It is also known as American Hornbeam; “horn” means “tough” and “beam” means “tree” in Old English.


It is noted for both its interesting bark and interesting mature fruits, as well as its Fall leaf colors. When found in the open, it may reach 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Though I’ve seen it more frequently as understory tree in mature forests.

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The smooth gray bark is one of the most distinguishing features of this tree. It has a sinewy surface resembling a muscled arm.


Ironwood has separate male and female flowers that emerge in early May. The resulting fruit, known as a nutlet, begins to form in late May, and is surrounded by bracts. These clusters hang downwards and are another attractive aspect of this tree.

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An additional appealing feature of Ironwood is its fall color. It turns from green to yellow to a brilliant orange in late October. After finally turning brown, the leaves tend to stay on the tree well into Winter.

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Ironwood is strong and hard, but because the tree is so small, it is rarely harvested for the manufacturing of wood products. Nevertheless, it is useful for tool handles, levers, and mallets.

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This tree provides an important food source for Gray Squirrels in bottomland hardwood forests.

Third Eye Herp

Song Sparrow

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The Song Sparrow is one of the most successful and widely distributed sparrows. This well-named bird is among our greatest songsters for the complexity, rhythm and emotion of its rhapsodies.

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This bird truly lives up to its name, being one of the most persistent singers throughout the Spring and Summer. Other birds such as Mockingbirds are not able to effectively imitate their song.

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This is a rich, russet-and-gray bird with bold streaks down its white chest. It can be found all across the United States, including Alaska, though species size and color varies depending on the region where it is found.

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Look for Song Sparrows in open habitats, such as marsh edges, overgrown fields and backyards (they often visit bird feeders and build nests in residential areas).


This bird is rather shy and hard to see unless it is singing, so sometimes in order to find one, you must look closely. The species name, melodia, is testament to this bird’s beautiful and tranquil song.


Third Eye Herp