White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow _8867

These days I often see these birds while hiking the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

White-Throated Sparrow 3-21-2014

White-Throated Sparrows have black-and-white stripes on the crown, a large patch of white on the throat and a yellow spot above each eye.

White-Throated Sparrow _2547

In Ohio it is considered a common migrant, and in some years, a fairly common Winter visitor. Easily attracted to bird feeders, this species lives in woods and gardens with dense underbrush.

White-Throated Sparrow _2545

These birds also freely sing as they migrate through Ohio. The song is a paraphrased “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.”

Third Eye Herp
E-mail

Shaggy Mane

shaggy manes (coprinus comatus)_9003

I saw this fungi while visiting Hinckley Reservation, also occasionally known as the Lawyers Wig, this is a distinctive and simple to recognize mushroom. It’s size, texture and shape make it easy to spot even from considerable distance. They are often seen growing on lawns, along gravel roads and waste areas in Summer and Fall. They may grow singly or scattered, but are often in large, tightly packed groups.

shaggy manes (coprinus comatus)_8989

Shaggy Mane has an elongated, bullet-shaped, shaggy cap, with brownish upturned scales and a straight fairly smooth stem. The white caps are covered with frilled scales, creating the origin of the common name of this fungus.

shaggy manes (coprinus comatus)_8995

This mushroom is known for its unique robust flavor. Shaggy Manes can also be used for dyeing wool, some types of fabric, or paper and will yield a bayberry color when cooked in an iron pot.

shaggy manes (coprinus comatus)_8996

Mushrooms and other fungi are one of the most important groups of organisms on the planet. This is easy to overlook, given that most of the organism is largely hidden. The fruiting body (mushroom) is all you see of a vast network of thread-like structures hidden from view deep the soil, wood or other food sources.

shaggy manes (coprinus comatus)_8988

Fungi, together with bacteria, are responsible for most of the recycling that returns dead material to the soil in a form in which it can be reused. Unlike animals, that digest food inside their bodies, fungi digest food outside of their “bodies” and then absorb the nutrients into their cells.

Third Eye Herp
E-mail

Ornate Harvestmen

Ornate Harvestman 026

Harvestmen, commonly known as “Daddy Longlegs,” superficially resemble, and are often misidentified for spiders, though they are not closely related. Spiders can be identified by their two body segments, while harvestmen have just one.

Ornate Harvestman 087

While harvestmen are common around my house, especially in late Summer and early Autumn, this particular type I’ve only seen while out-of-state, at Carter Caves, Kentucky and while visiting Snake Road in southern Illinois.

Ornate Harvestman_2978

Ornate Harvestmen are omnivorous, mostly eating small insects and a wide variety of plant material and fungi; they also are scavengers and feed on dead organisms.

Ornate Harvestman_2979

As their name implies, these are more “fancy” than the species of harvestman that I typically find. The Ornate Harvestmen’s intricate details and pattern make it an intriguing find while out and about looking for reptiles.

Ornate Harvestman_2980

Harvestmen are among the most ancient of arachnids, fossils indicate they were living on land over 400 million years ago.

Third Eye Herp
E-mail

Warmouth

Warmouth_0845

The result of setting minnow traps recently in southern Illinois yielded some cool creatures, including these fine fish. Younger examples, like this one, can sometimes have a purplish sheen to their sides.

Warmouth_0877

A type of sunfish, Warmouth usually range in size from 4 to 10 inches, but can grow to over 12 inches in length and weigh up to 2-1/4 pounds. They prefer to hide around aquatic vegetation, stumps and snags, and under the banks of streams and ponds.

Warmouth_1504

This highly aggressive and hardy fish can live in polluted waters (such as the junk=strewn environment shown in the first photo where I caught mine), with low oxygen levels where other species of sunfish cannot survive.

Warmouth_2711

The primary diet of the Warmouth consists of insects, crayfish and other fish. It has a huge mouth and will attempt to eat just about anything that comes near it.

Warmouth_2983

Other local names for this fish are Molly, Redeye, Goggle-eye, Red-eyed bream and Strawberry Perch. This was my first encounter with this tough fish and I was glad to finally experience one in the wild.

Third Eye Herp
E-mail