Mourning Dove

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This graceful, slender-tailed, small-headed dove is common across the continent. The Mourning Dove is the most widespread and abundant game bird in North America. They like to hang out on the deck rail, ground and backyard maple tree at my house.

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Part of the reason for its significant increase in population is that many forests have been converted to farmlands, pastures and towns – which provide ideal habitat, as this is an open-country bird.

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Their soft, drawn-out calls sound like laments (mourning). When taking off, their wings make a sharp whistling or whinnying sound. Mourning Doves have coloration that matches their surroundings. They are brown to tan overall, with black spots on the wings and black-bordered white tips.

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Seeds make up 99 percent of a Mourning Dove’s diet. It tends to feed busily on the ground, swallowing seeds and storing them in an enlargement of the esophagus called the crop. Once they’ve filled their crop, they fly to a safe perch to digest their meal.

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Although this is primarily a bird of open areas with scattered trees, and woodland edges, large numbers roost in woodlots during Winter.

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False Turkey Tail Mushroom

Like the “true” Turkey Tail, this has a colorful, somewhat fuzzy cap which displays patterns of brown, red, orange, buff and green.

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The stemless fruiting body is shell-like, tough and inedible. It grows on tree bark. This fungus is native to North America, where it is widespread and grows all year round.

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Both Turkey Tail and False Turkey Tail are highly variable in appearance and look strikingly similar. So how do you tell them apart? The answer can be found by looking at the underside of the cap. Turkey’s Tail has tiny holes for its spore tubes, while False Turkey Tail has a smooth to slightly wrinkly underside with no visible holes.


While an imposter, False Turkey Tail Mushroom plays a crucial role in woodlands by breaking down dead wood, recycling nutrients back into the soil and creating space for new growth.

It also provides color to woodlands on Winter days.

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Yellow-soled Slug

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Also known by its common name the “Garden Slug,” “Small Striped Slug” or “Black Field Slug,” this species is small (about 1 inch). The “Yellow-soled” part of its name comes from its colorful foot.

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This creature lives in gardens, fields, pastures and similar habitat and consumes agriculturally important crops; it often inhabits disturbed sites like roadsides.

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Their food is eaten by means of a rasping tongue known as a radula. Slugs are related to snails; in this species the shell is reduced to a group of calcareous granules below the mantle, which appears as a bulge on front part of the animal.

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Yellow-soled Slugs emerge at night and spend the day in moist places beneath stones, logs and other objects. Although not a favorite of many people, I didn’t mind coming across this little creature on a warm Winter’s day.

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Melanistic Eastern Gray Squirrel

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The black form of Eastern Gray Squirrel occurs as a “melanistic” subgroup. It is particularly abundant in the northern part of the mammal’s range.

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This is due to black squirrels having a considerably higher cold tolerance than that of gray colored squirrels.

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In addition, because the northern forests are more dense and therefore darker, dark colored squirrels have the benefit of better concealment in their dimly lit habitat.

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The black color is most likely the result of a mutation, which probably occurred by chance. As it turns out, the color mutation was favorable to the survival of the squirrels, became passed down through generations and spread.

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Although somewhat common in northeast Ohio, the rarity of the black squirrel has caused many people to admire them, and they enjoy great affection in some places as mascots.

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