The Black Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucus), sometimes known as the Black Goshawk or Great Sparrowhawk, is the largest African member of the genus Accipiter. It occurs mainly in forests and non-desert areas south of the Sahara, particularly where there are large trees suitable for nesting; favoured habitat includes suburban and human-altered landscapes. It preys primarily on birds of moderate size, such as pigeons and doves in suburban areas.
Typically, both genders of the black sparrowhawk are pied black-and-white when mature; generally the plumage is predominantly black, but with a white chest and throat. Some individuals may have a tendency towards melanism, showing white only on the throat and spots on the belly. As a rule there is no noticeable difference between the plumage of mature females and males. The tails are cross-barred with about three or four paler stripes, and the undersides of the wings with perhaps four or five, but these are less well-defined.
Young chicks have black eyes and white down, but when the feathers erupt they are predominantly brown. The full plumage of juveniles is a range of browns and russets with dark streaks along the head and, more conspicuously, down the chest. Commonly there are white or light-coloured spots and streaks as well, mainly on the wings. The brown plumage being a sign of immaturity, it does not attract as dangerously aggressively territorial behaviour as the mature black-and-white would. As the young birds mature, their eyes change in colour from deep black, though brown, to red.
As is common in the genus Accipiter, male Black Sparrowhawks are smaller than females; typically the weights of males lie between 450g and 650g as compared to females, which have weights in the range 750g to 980g. The typical head-body length is 40–54cm. The ceres and legs are yellow. The wingspans are modest for such a large raptor, typically not more than 1 metre; this probably reflects their arboreal habitat, though they also hunt very efficiently in open areas. The beaks and talons are typical of the genus Accipiter, and of raptors in general, being used both in capturing prey and in feeding.
Black Sparrowhawks are relatively widespread and common in sub-Saharan Africa and listed as not globally threatened by CITES. Densities range from one pair per 13 square kilometers in Kenya to one pair per 38-150 square kilometers in South Africa.
Both subspecies are only found in parts of Africa that are south of the Sahara desert; A. m. temminckii inhabit much of the northwest section such as Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Central African Republic, while A. m. melanoleucus can be found starting from the northeast section down to South Africa. They mainly inhabit forest patches and favour large trees, including the non-indigenous eucalypt, poplar, and pine, all of which are grown commercially and are able to grow up to 15 m taller than native trees. Their adaptability to secondary forests and cultivations is one of the reasons why they are not as greatly impacted by deforestation as many African forest birds.
In some areas such as Cape Peninsula, the sparrowhawks face habitat competition with Egyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca), an aggressive species known to steal the nests of the sparrowhawks. This results in a costly loss for the sparrowhawks after the time and energy spent building the nest and may also lead to the death of current offspring. However, sparrowhawks are known to have more than 1 nest at a time, so in the event that one is usurped by an Egyptian goose, the pair would either inhabit the alternative nest and/or build a new one.
The Yellow-billed Stork, Mycteria ibis, is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It occurs in Africa south of the Sahara and in Madagascar. Its a medium-sized stork. Length: 97 cm; average body weight for males: 2.3 kg; for females: 1.9 kg. Plumage mainly pinkish-white with black wings and tail; bill yellow, blunt, and decurved at tip. Immature birds are greyish brown with dull greyish brown bill, dull orange face and brownish legs. The similar Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is an Asian bird.
The Yellow-billed Stork is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
The olive baboon (Papio anubis), also called the Anubis baboon, is a member of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys). The species is the most widely ranging of all baboons: it is found in 25 countries throughout Africa, extending from Mali eastward to Ethiopia and Tanzania. Isolated populations are also found in some mountainous regions of the Sahara. It inhabits savannahs, steppes, and forests.
The olive baboon inhabits a strip of 25 equatorial African countries, very nearly ranging from the east to west coast of the continent. The exact boundaries of this strip are not clearly defined, as the species' territory overlaps with that of other baboon species. In many places, this has resulted in cross-breeding between species. For example, there has been considerable hybridization between the olive baboon and the Hamadryas baboon in Ethiopia. Cross-breeding with the yellow baboon and the Guinea baboon has also been observed. Although this has been noted, the hybrids have not yet been studied well.
Throughout its wide range, the olive baboon can be found in a number of different habitats. It is usually classified as savanna-dwelling, living in the wide plains of the grasslands. The grasslands, especially those near open woodland, do make up a large part of its habitat, but the baboon also inhabits rainforests and deserts. Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, both support olive baboon populations in dense tropical forests.
The Abyssinian guereza or colobus Eastern black and white ( Colobus guereza ) is a species of primate catarrhines of the family Cercopithecidae and is found from sea level to 3,000 m of altitude , in the forests and wet and dry in the prairies forested of eastern Africa and central , from Ethiopia and Tanzania to Zambia , Chad and Nigeria.
It is the largest among the colobus . It reaches a length from 45 to 72 cm , plus the tail, which is from 52 to 82 cm long. Males are larger and weigh 13 to 14.5 kg , while females reach only 5 to 8 kg. His coat is black and white contrasting strongly. The main color is black, the contours of the face, chest, shoulders and tail are white, sometimes by way of pelts long U-shaped coats and a tassel on the tail, although the extent of white in the depends on the subspecies . As for all colobus, the disappearance of thumb is an adaptation to arboreal lifestyle.
The African Black Duck (Anas sparsa) is a species of duck of the genus Anas. It is genetically closest to the mallard group (Johnson & Sorenson, 1999), but shows some peculiarities in its behavior (Johnson et al., 2000) and (as far as they can be discerned) plumage; it is accordingly placed in the subgenus Melananas pending further research.
The African Black Duck is an entirely black duck with white marks on its back. It lives in central and southern Africa.It is also known as the black river duck, or (A. s. leucostigma) West African black duck or Ethiopian black duck.
It is a very shy and territorial duck. It is usually seen in pairs or small flocks. It breeds throughout the year in different areas. Incubation is about 30 days by the mother and the fledgling period is 86 days and only the mother takes care of the young.
It is a medium sized duck and is similar in size but when seen in pairs the male is noticeably bigger. Their egg quantity ranges from 4 to 8 eggs.
Though it likes to stay in rivers and streams during the day it prefers large open waters during the night. This duck likes water in the wooded hills of Africa and also like to hide its nests near running water. Also the African Black Duck makes its cup shaped nest of driftwood and matted grass. Though it builds its nest near running water it is always above flood level and on the ground.
It feeds off of larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails, and crabs.
Hagenia abyssinica is a species of flowering plant native to the high-elevation Afromontane regions of central and eastern Africa. It also has a disjunct distribution in the high mountains of East Africa from Sudan and Ethiopia in the north, through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania, to Malawi and Zambia in the south.
It is known in English as African redwood, brayera, cusso, hagenia, or kousso, in Amharic as kosso, and in Swahili as mdobore or mlozilozi. It is the sole species of genus Hagenia, and its closest relative is the Afromontane genus Leucosidea. Synonyms include Banksia abyssinica, Brayera anthelmintica, Hagenia abyssinica var. viridifolia and Hagenia anthelmintica.
It is a tree up to 20 m in height, with a short trunk, thick branches, and thick, peeling bark. The leaves are up to 40 cm long, compound with 7-13 leaflets, each leaflet about 10 cm long with a finely serrated margin, green above, silvery-haired below. The flowers are white to orange-buff or pinkish-red, produced in panicles 30-60 cm long.
It is generally found from 2000-3000 m elevation, in areas receiving 1000-1500 mm of rainfall annually. It can be found growing in mixed afromontane forest with Podocarpus, Afrocarpus, and other trees, and in drier afromontane forests and woodlands where Hagenia is dominant, or in mixed stands of Hagenia and Juniperus procera. It is often found near the upper limit of forest growth.
Hagenia is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Turnip Moth.
Kosso, kousso or cusso is a drug which consists of the panicles of the pistillate flowers of Hagenia. At the time of the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911), the drug was imported "in the form of cylindrical rolls, about 18 inches in length and 2 inches in diameter, and comprises the entire inflorescence or panicle kept in form by a band wound transversely round it." The active principle is koussin or kosin, C31H33O10, which is soluble in alcohol and alkalis, and may be given in doses of two grammes. Kosso is also used in the form of an unstrained infusion of the coarsely powdered flowers, which are swallowed with the liquid. It is considered to be an effective anthelmintic for pork tapeworm (Taenia solium). In its anthelmintic action it is similar to Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas).
Use of Kosso was borrowed from Ethiopia, where as Richard Pankhurst quotes Merab as saying that "to mention it was to cover a quarter of that country's pharmacopeia." However, its primary use was, well into the 19th century, to combat human tapeworm infestations, which was endemic due to widespread consumption of dishes containing raw beef, such as kitfo and gored gored. Frequent doses of kosso, about once every two months, was the common cure. Richard Pankhurst cites numerous examples of this practice, noting that "the two-monthly event virtually constituted a holiday for the patient, who withdrew from all normal activity, the statement 'the master has taken his kosso,' being synonymous with 'he cannot receive you today.' Kosso-drinking in fact served as an excuse or justification for not keeping appointments, being used by the debtor who did not wish to meet his creditor, by the accused who wished to avoid going to court, and by the official who sought to delay answering the Emperor's summons."
Kosso or ኮሶ in Amharic is also the name of the human tapeworm, Taenia saginata. Treatment with Hagenia is often unsuccessful resulting in only partial removal of the intestinal worm.
The (American) Five-lined Skink (Eumeces fasciatus) is one of the most common lizards in the eastern U.S. and one of the seven species of lizards in Canada. Other common names include Blue-tailed Skink (for juveniles) and Red-headed Skink (for adults).
It is technically appropriate to call it the "American Five-lined Skink" to distinguish it from the African skink Trachylepis quinquetaeniata (otherwise known as Five-lined Mabuya), or "Eastern Red-headed Skink" to distinguish it from its western relative Plestiodon skiltonianus (otherwise known as Western Skink). The Blue-tailed Skink proper is Cryptoblepharus egeriae from Christmas Island, but in North America the juveniles of any Eumeces or Plestiodon species may be called this.
Description: 5-8.5 in. (12.5-21.5 cm) As their name implies, five-lined skinks have five light lines that run down their backs and tails. While female skinks usually retain this pattern throughout life, adult males often become nearly uniform brown or olive in coloration with orange-red coloration on their jaws during the spring breeding season. Young five-lined skinks have five white or yellowish stripes on a black ground color and a bright blue tail. Five-lined skinks can be distinguished from the southeastern five-lined skinks by a row of enlarged scales under the tail and from broadhead skinks by smaller size and four labial (lip) scales instead of five. Five-lined skinks are primarily terrestrial but often climb trees, especially dead and decaying snags where insects are abundant. They are active year-round in warm weather.
Feeding/Diet: Five-lined skinks eat various arthropods including spiders, roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, and beetle larvae.
Habitat/Range: The five-lined skink occurs throughout North Carolina except for the Outer Banks. They can be found in almost any habitat but are most abundant in areas with rotting stumps and logs, in swamps, and along river margins. They can be seen basking on warmer days.
Reproduction: Five-lined skinks generally mate in spring and lay 6 to 10 eggs in nests which are usually in rotten stumps or logs, sawdust piles, or beneath sheltering objects.
Miscellaneous: Skinks, particularly young individuals with blue tails, are often called "scorpions" and are thought to have a venomous sting. This myth is false, and although a large skink can deliver a powerful nip, no lizards in the Southeastern United States are dangerous to humans.
The mangrove snapper, Lutjanus griseus, is a snapper in the family Lutjanidae. It is also known as the gray snapper, mango snapper, or cabellerote.
Its color is typically greyish red, but it can change color from bright red to copper red. It has a dark stripe running through its eye if you look at it from the top when it is underwater. Its size ranges from 2–6 pounds (1–3 kg) but many biologists have now confirmed that a 29.5 pound (13.4 kg) mangrove snapper was speared off of the coast of Louisiana.
The mangrove snapper can be confused with the cubera snapper, black snapper Lutjanus cyanopterus. Mangrove snappers are typically much smaller than cubera, but when they are of similar size, the two species can only be distinguished by examining a patch of teeth (tooth patch) on the inside roof of the mouth. Many specimens caught in Florida, specifically Punta Gorda, are actually misidentified Dogtooth Snapper, a.k.a. Dog Snapper Lutjanus jocu. The best way to distinguish between the two species is that the Dogtooth Snapper has a lighter triangle of color with a blue band under the eye and large, sharp fangs in the front (canines), hence its common name. These fangs can deliver a painful bite, even in a small fish. The mangrove snapper feeds mostly on small fishes and crustaceans.
The mangrove snapper is one of, if not the most common species of snapper in warmer regions. It can be found in many areas from canals to grass flats as well as in open water. Most mangrove snapper in the open water are generally found near bottom structure or reefs. Mangrove snapper is a common target for anglers; and is highly prized for its light and flaky meat. Mangrove snapper can be caught on a variety of baits, but is typically caught with live or frozen shrimp, squid, minnows and occasionally on artificial lures or baits. Mangroves can be spearfished as well, but are sometimes a tough target as they tend to be more wary of divers, rather than curious. Mangroves are typically a wary fish, and the wariness of mangroves to eat baits tends to increase as the fish grow larger. Most mangrove snapper are caught on light to medium tackle, and typical catches range from eight inches to fourteen inches in shallow or in-shore waters, to up to 20" in deeper waters. Larger fish are uncommon, but not rare.
Chum is sometimes used by anglers to attract mangrove snapper and other species to feed and eat.
The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is a manatee, and the largest surviving member of the aquatic mammal order Sirenia (which also includes the dugong and the extinct Steller's sea cow).
The West Indian manatee is a species distinct from the Amazonian manatee (T. inunguis), and the African manatee (T. senegalensis). Based on genetic and morphological studies, the West Indian manatee is divided into two subspecies, the Florida manatee (T. m. latirostris) and the Antillean or Caribbean manatee (T. m. manatus). However, recent genetic (mtDNA) research suggests that the West Indian manatee actually falls out into three groups, which are more or less geographically distributed as: (1) Florida and the Greater Antilles; (2) Central and Northern South America; and (3) Northeastern South America.
Like other manatees, the West Indian manatee has adapted fully to an aquatic life style, having no hind limbs. Pelage cover is sparsely distributed across the body, which may play a role in reducing the build-up of algae on their thick skin. The average West Indian manatee is approximately 2.7–3.5 m (8.9–11 ft) long and weighs 200–600 kg (440–1,300 lb), with females generally larger than males. The largest individual on record weighed 1,655 kg (3,650 lb) and measured 4.6 m (15 ft) long. This manatee's color is gray or brown. Its flippers also have either 3 or 4 nails so it can hold its food as it is eating.
As its name implies, the West Indian manatee lives in the West Indies, or Caribbean, generally in shallow coastal areas. However, it is known to withstand large changes in water salinity, and so has also been found in shallow rivers and estuaries. It can live in fresh water, saline water, and even brackish water. It is limited to the tropics and subtropics due to an extremely low metabolic rate and lack of a thick layer of insulating body fat. While this is a regularly occurring species along coastal, southern Florida, during summer this large mammal has even been found as far north as Dennis, Massachusetts and as far west as Texas.
The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, is the largest of all living sirenians. Florida manatees inhabit the most northern limit of sirenian habitat. Over three decades of research by universities, governmental agencies, and NGOs, has contributed to our understanding of Florida manatee ecology and behavior, which is more than we know about any other sirenian species. They are found in fresh water rivers, in estuaries, and in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Females usually have their first calf when they are about 7 or 8 years old. Normally they only have one calf every three years because manatees nurse their calf for 1 or 2 years, but there are rare occurrences of twins. When a calf is born, they usually weigh between 60 and 70 pounds and are between 4 and 4.5 feet. The family unit consists of mother and calf, which remain together for up to 2 years. Males aggregate in mating herds around a female when she is ready to conceive, but contribute no parental care to the calf. Florida manatees may live to be greater than 60 years old in the wild, and one captive manatee -- "Snooty" Snooty -- has lived for 63 years. In captivity, West Indian Manatees live up to 28 years. The biggest single threat to Florida manatees is death from collisions with recreational watercraft. Large concentrations of Florida manatees are located in the Crystal River area and also Wakulla Springs regions in central and north Florida. The best time to see the Wakulla Springs manatees are in November and December, and in the spring for the Crystal River manatees.
The other subspecies of the West Indian manatee is sometimes referred to as the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus). Antillean manatees are sparsely distributed throughout the Caribbean and the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean, from Mexico, east to the Greater Antilles, and south to Brazil. They are found in French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad (however there has been a lack of recent sightings), Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Trinidad, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. Historically, Antillean manatees were hunted by local natives and sold to European explorers for food. Today, they are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching, entanglement with fishing gear, and increased boating activity. Several of Sirenian International's scientists study Antillean manatees in Belize, which may be the last stronghold for the subspecies. Funds for research, education, and conservation projects are desperately needed in other Central American nations.
The yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) is a land and water turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. This subspecies of pond slider is native to the southeastern United States, specifically from Florida to southeastern Virginia, and is the most common turtle species in its range. It is found in a wide variety of habitats, including slow-moving rivers, floodplain swamps, marshes, seasonal wetlands, and permanent ponds. Yellow-bellied sliders are popular as pets.
Adult male yellow-bellied sliders typically reach 5–8 inches (13–20 cm) in length; females are anywhere from 8–13 inches (20–33 cm). The carapace (upper shell) is typically brown and black, often with yellow stripes. The skin is olive green with prominent patches of yellow down the neck and legs. As the name implies, the plastron (bottom shell) is mostly yellow with green spots along the edges. Adult males tend to grow darker as they age. Yellow-bellied sliders are often confused with Eastern River Cooters, who also have yellow stripes on the neck and yellow undersides, but the latter lack the green spots characteristic to T. scripta scripta and the yellow belly often has a "s" like yellow stripe on its face.
Mating can occur in spring, summer, and autumn. Yellow-bellied sliders are capable of interbreeding with other T. scripta subspecies, such as red-eared sliders, which are also commonly sold as pets. The release of non-native red-eared sliders into local environments caused the state of Florida to ban the sale of red-eared sliders so as to protect the native population of yellow-bellied sliders.
Mating takes place in the water, but some suitable terrestrial area is required for egg-laying by nesting females, who will normally lay 6–10 eggs at a time, with larger females capable of bearing more. The eggs incubate for 2–3 months and the hatchlings will usually stay with the nest through winter. Hatchlings are almost entirely carnivorous, feeding on insects, spiders, crustaceans, tadpoles, fish, and carrion. As they age, adults eat less and less meat such that up to 95% of their nutritional intake comes from plants.
The slider is considered a diurnal turtle; it feeds mainly in the morning and frequently basks on shore, on logs, or while floating, during the rest of the day. At night, it sleeps lying on the bottom or resting on the surface near brush piles, but in all cases it prefers to stay in the water. Highest densities of sliders occur where algae blooms and aquatic macrophytes are abundant and are of the type that form dense mats at the surface, such as Myriophyllum spicatum and lily pads (Nymphaeaceae). Dense surface vegetation provides cover from predators and supports high densities of aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates, which offers better foraging than open water.
The lifespan of yellow-bellied sliders is over 30 years in the wild, and over 40 years in captivity.
I caught this photo while riding down Erwin Road in Durham, N.C. in the vicinity of Duke Forest. I saw a glimpse of white out the corner of my eye, pulled off the road immediately, to the utter surprise of my wife and four children. Then jumped out of the car and starting running after this albino deer. I was able to take a very good picture of this remarkable animal.
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the smallest members of the North American deer family, are found from southern Canada to South America. In the heat of summer they typically inhabit fields and meadows using clumps of broad-leaved and coniferous forests for shade. During the winter they generally keep to forests, preferring coniferous stands that provide shelter from the harsh elements.
Adult white-tails have reddish-brown coats in summer which fade to a duller grayish-brown in winter. Male deer, called bucks, are easily recognizable in the summer and fall by their prominent set of antlers, which are grown annually and fall off in the winter. Only the bucks grow antlers, which bear a number of tines, or sharp points. During the mating season, also called the rut, bucks fight over territory by using their antlers in sparring matches.
Albino deer are deer that lack pigmentation and have a completely white hide and pink eyes, nose and hooves. Albinism is much rarer and may only be observed in one in 30,000 deer.
Female deer, called does, give birth to one to three young at a time, usually in May or June and after a gestation period of seven months. Young deer, called fawns, wear a reddish-brown coat with white spots that helps them blend in with the forest.
White-tailed deer are herbivores, leisurely grazing on most available plant foods. Their stomachs allow them to digest a varied diet, including leaves, twigs, fruits and nuts, grass, corn, alfalfa, and even lichens and other fungi. Occasionally venturing out in the daylight hours, white-tailed deer are primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, browsing mainly at dawn and dusk.
In the wild, white-tails, particularly the young, are preyed upon by bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. They use speed and agility to outrun predators, sprinting up to 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour and leaping as high as 10 feet (3 meters) and as far as 30 feet (9 meters) in a single bound.
Although previously depleted by unrestricted hunting in the United States, strict game-management measures have helped restore the white-tailed deer population.
These particular tree photos were taken while kayaking down the Black River in Bladen County looking for one of the oldest trees named "Methuselah". One image in particular I dubbed “child of the swamp” because of a knot having the uncanny resemblance of a child kneeling in the middle of an opening in the base of one of the trees. It scared me when I first saw it! Tell me what you think.
Taxodium distichum (Bald-cypress, Baldcypress, Bald Cypress, Cypress, Southern-cypress, White-cypress, Tidewater Red-Cypress, Gulf-Cypress, Red-Cypress, or Swamp Cypress) is a deciduous conifer that grows on saturated and seasonally inundated soils of the Southeastern and Gulf Coastal Plains of the United states.
It is a large tree, reaching 25–40 m (rarely to 44 m) tall and a trunk diameter of 2–3 m, rarely to 5 m. The bark is gray-brown to red-brown, shallowly vertically fissured, with a stringy texture. The leaves are borne on deciduous branchlets that are spirally arranged on the stem but twisted at the base to lie in two horizontal ranks, 1-2 cm long and 1-2 mm broad; unlike most other species in the family Cupressaceae, it is deciduous, losing the leaves in the winter months, hence the name 'bald'. It is monoecious. Male and female strobili mature in about 12 months; they are produced from buds formed in the late fall, with pollination in early winter. The seed cones are green maturing gray-brown, globular, 2-3.5 cm in diameter. They have from 20–30 spirally arranged four-sided scales, each bearing one or two (rarely three) trianglular seeds. The number of seeds per cone ranges from 20–40. The cones disintegrate when mature to release the large seeds. The seeds are 5-10 mm long, the largest of any species in the cypress family, and are produced every year but with heavy crops every three to five years. The seedlings have 3–9 (most often 6) cotyledons.
The main trunks are surrounded by cypress knees.
The tallest known individual specimen, near Williamsburg, Virginia, is 44.11 m tall, and the stoutest known, in the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has a diameter of 521 cm. The oldest known specimen, located in Bladen County, North Carolina, is over 1,620 years old making this one of the oldest living plants in Eastern North America.
Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous)
Description: Cottonmouths are very heavy-bodied, semi-aquatic pitvipers with dark crossbands on an olive to dark brown background. Young cottonmouths are often reddish brown and thus resemble their close relative, the copperhead. Adult cottonmouths are considerably darker than juveniles and can sometimes be entirely black. Like copperheads, young cottonmouths have yellow tails which they wiggle to lure unsuspecting frogs and lizards.
Feeding/Diet: This species is most active at night and feeds on a variety of prey including rodents, frogs, fish, and other snakes, many of which are ambushed near the edge of the water.
Habitat/Range: Though they can be found far from water, cottonmouths are usually associated with aquatic environments, preferring swamps, canals, and slow-moving streams and rivers.
Reproduction: They mate during spring and fall and give birth to 2–15 young during late summer.
Miscellaneous: The cottonmouth gets its name from the white coloration inside the mouth that they open wide as a threat towards potential enemies. Cottonmouths are often referred to as “water moccasins,” as are nonvenomous watersnakes, a species with which they are often confused.Though often perceived as aggressive, cottonmouths usually try to escape or dissuade their enemy before biting. Besides gaping the mouth, the cottonmouth will also vibrate the tail, flatten the body to make themselves look bigger, and release foul smelling musk from scent glands near the tail. A cottonmouth's venom is very toxic and bites can be severe.
Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa)
Description: The barking treefrog is the largest treefrog species in North Carolina. It has large toe pads and is generally green with reddish-brown or purple spots. Like most treefrogs, the barking treefrog can change color rapidly, from green to gray or brown. It also has distinctly granular skin, which differentiates it from smooth-skinned species like the green treefrog.
Habitats and Habits: Barking treefrogs occur in the Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont, primarily in pine forests and dry flatwoods. Although barking treefrogs can be found high in trees, they are also adept burrowers, sometimes taking refuge under sand or soil. They breed in permanent and semipermanent wetlands. Eggs are laid singly at the bottom of the pond. The tadpole period lasts about six to 10 weeks.
Call: Barking treefrogs call from April to September. Their breeding call is a single “toonk,” given every few seconds. From a distance, a breeding chorus may sound like a pack of barking dogs. Unlike other treefrogs that call from vegetation or the shoreline around a wetland, barking treefrogs call while floating on the surface.
Frog Fact: Although relatively common in North Carolina, barking treefrogs are uncommon and protected in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland.
Squirrel Treefrog (Hyla squirella)
Description: The squirrel treefrog is a small, smooth-skinned frog that can change color rapidly, from green to yellowish brown or brown. It generally has a poorly developed yellowish stripe on each side and sometimes spotting on the back.
Habitats and Habits: Squirrel treefrogs occur in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from pine savannas to urban backyards. They are found primarily in the Coastal Plain, although they may be introduced into other parts of the state by hitchhiking on garden materials. Squirrel treefrogs are nocturnal and spend the daylight hours hiding under leaves, bark or logs. Eggs are deposited singly at the bottom of shallow, temporary pools, and tadpoles require at least seven weeks to complete metamorphosis.
Call: Breeding occurs from April to August. Their breeding call is a nasal “waaak, waaak,” repeated about 15 times in 10 seconds. They also have a “rain call,” which is a scolding, squirrel-like rasp usually performed away from water before or during rain storms. Consequently, they are sometimes called “rain frogs.”
Frog Fact: Squirrel treefrogs and other treefrogs are often seen at night around lighted windows and street lights, where they feed on insects.
Southern Toad (Bufo terrestris)
Description: The southern toad closely resembles the American toad and the Fowler’s toad but is most easily distinguished by the large knobs on its pronounced cranial crests. Color may be brown, tan, reddish, gray or blackish with a variable number of warts in each large dark spot on the back. It may have a light middorsal stripe. Males are smaller than females and have dark throats.
Habitats and Habits: These common toads occur throughout most of the Coastal Plain. In many portions of the lower Coastal Plain, they are the only large toads. Eggs are deposited in long strings. They hatch in about a week or less, and the small blackish tadpoles transform in about four to eight weeks. Shallow ponds and other temporary wetlands are preferred breeding sites, but permanent bodies of water are also used. Southern toads may hybridize with Fowler’s or American toads in areas where their ranges overlap.
Call: Southern toads breed mostly from late February to May, but they may also call later in the summer. Their call is a long trill resembling that of American toads but usually shorter in duration and slightly higher in pitch. Males also utter a chirping “release call” if handled or mistakenly grasped by another male.
Frog Fact: Small juveniles of our three large toads (American, Fowler’s and southern) are very difficult to distinguish from each other. Locality, habitat and time of year can be useful for correctly identifying them. Juveniles and adults of all three species are terrestrial, returning to the water only to breed.
Eastern Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
Description: The eastern narrowmouth toad is a small, plump toad with a small triangular-shaped head and a tiny mouth. The limbs are short and the toes lack webbing. The narrowmouth toad has a fold of skin across the head just behind the eyes, and it lacks a visible tympanum (external eardrum). It is usually dark colored, ranging from gray to reddish brown, often with a broad, irregular light band running down each side.
Habitats and Habits: Narrowmouth toads are found in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont. They are nocturnal, spending the daylight hours buried or hidden under leaves, logs and debris in moist places. Eggs are black and white and are laid on the surface of the water. Tadpoles change into little frogs three to 10 weeks after eggs are laid.
Call: Breeding occurs between April and October and usually takes place during or after heavy rains on warm nights. Males call from clumps of vegetation along pond edges or ditches. Their call is a high-pitched “weeeeee,” similar to the bleat of a lamb or calf.
Frog Fact: The skin secretions of narrowmouth toads can be irritating to human eyes and mucous membranes. These secretions protect the toads when feeding on ants — their primary food source.
Fowler's Toad (Bufo fowleri)
Description: Highly variable in color and pattern, the Fowler’s toad may be brown, tan, gray, olive, greenish or reddish. Often boldly spotted, it is more likely to have a greenish tint than any of our other toads. It usually has a pale stripe running down the middle of its back. The Fowler’s toad closely resembles the American toad but has less pronounced cranial crests that are flush with the parotoid glands; smaller warts on the lower leg section (tibia); three or four large warts within each large dark spot on the back; and often a single dark spot on an otherwise whitish chest. Males are smaller than females and have dark throats.
Habitats and Habits: These familiar amphibians are the most common toads in many parts of the Piedmont. They also occur over much of the Coastal Plain and Mountains. They are primarily nocturnal but may also be active by day. Several thousand eggs are laid in long strings and hatch in a few days. The small blackish tadpoles transform in about three to eight weeks. Fowler’s toads are fish-tolerant and breed in permanent water as well as temporary wetlands. Farm ponds have provided good artificial habitat for these toads and may have increased their numbers in some rural areas. Fowler’s toads may hybridize with American or southern toads in areas where their ranges overlap.
Call: Fowler’s toads breed mostly from April to July. Their call is a loud, nasal “waaaaaah,” lasting about one to four seconds. Males also utter a chirping “release call” if handled or mistakenly grasped by another male.
Frog Fact: As with other toads, Fowler’s toads have skin secretions that are toxic or distasteful to many predators.
Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)
Description: The green treefrog is relatively large, slender and usually bright green (but sometimes olive or brownish) with large toe pads and a white belly. Most individuals have scattered orange or gold flecks on their backs and a clearly defined ivory or yellow stripe along their upper jaws and their sides.
Habitats and Habits: Although their range is expanding into many parts of the Piedmont, green treefrogs are found primarily in the Coastal Plain, where they can be extremely abundant along wetland margins and in swamps. During the day, green treefrogs hide under waterside vegetation or in other moist, shady areas. At night, they forage for flying insects, often performing acrobatic maneuvers as they jump from branch to branch. Egg masses are attached to vegetation at or near the water’s surface. Tadpoles transform in about eight weeks.
Call: Green treefrogs breed from April to September. During the breeding season, their loud, monotonic, nasal “queenk, queenk, queenk” call can be heard from a wide variety of wetland habitats, from lake and river margins to ephemeral pools. From a distance, large congregations of green treefrogs sound like cowbells ringing.
Frog Fact: Herpetologists have found that this species and other treefrogs will occupy plastic PVC pipes that are placed around wetlands. This method has been used to monitor populations of treefrogs in North Carolina.
Carpenter Frog (Rana virgatipes)
Description: The carpenter frog looks somewhat like a small bullfrog but may be distinguished by the presence of four buff, reddish-brown or yellowish-brown stripes — two on the back and one on each side — on a mottled greenish or brownish background. It has dark stripes on the rear of each thigh and usually dark mottling on its belly and sides. It does not have ridges running along its sides like many other members of the family.
Habitats and Habits: Found in the Coastal Plain, carpenter frogs are more often heard than seen. They are among our most aquatic frogs, seldom venturing far from water. Habitats include pine savanna ponds, bogs, beaver swamps, Carolina bays, seeps, pocosins (shrub bogs) and ditches. They are found most often in tea-colored, relatively acidic waters with abundant Sphagnum or other vegetation and are sometimes called “sphagnum frogs.”
Several hundred eggs are deposited in a flattened cluster. The tadpoles take about a year to transform and are highly acid-tolerant. Larger tadpoles have a distinct dotted or dashed line in their dorsal tail fins and may also have tiny, scattered black dots like those of bullfrogs.
Call: Carpenter frogs can be heard calling in late winter, spring and summer. Their common name refers to their call, an explosive “pa-tank!” or “clack-it!” repeated several times in succession, resembling a carpenter’s hammer.
Frog Fact: Male carpenter frogs are highly territorial and defend their territories from other males using physical interactions (wrestling) and vocalizations.
Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii)
Listed: N.C. Natural Heritage Program, Significantly Rare
Description: Named for the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the Pine Barrens treefrog is considered by some to be the most beautiful frog in the United States. It is a medium-sized green treefrog with a white-bordered lavender stripe along each side of its body and brilliant orange on the underside of each leg.
Habitats and Habits: Pine Barrens treefrogs are found in the pine forests and sandhills of south-central North Carolina. They are nocturnal and seldom seen, presumably spending their time in shrubs and trees. Most sightings occur during their breeding season. Breeding habitats include Carolina bays, pocosins (shrub bogs), spring-fed pools and bogs adjacent to pine forests. Females attach eggs singly or in small clusters to Sphagnum moss, or lay them on the bottom of the wetland. After hatching, tadpoles complete metamorphosis in seven to 11 weeks.
Call: Pine Barrens treefrogs call from April to September. Males call from the ground or from shrubs or other vegetation near the water’s surface. Their call, which sounds like a nasal “honk” or “quonk,” is quickly repeated 10 to 20 times at infrequent intervals.
Frog Fact: Pine Barrens treefrogs have a limited distribution in North Carolina, and populations are thought to be declining due to habitat destruction and degradation.
Pine Woods Treefrog (Hyla femoralis)
Description: The pine woods treefrog is usually reddish brown, brownish or grayish (occasionally greenish) with dark blotches on its back and small yellow, orange or white spots on the rear of each thigh.
Habitats and Habits: Pine woods treefrogs inhabit pine forests and flatwoods, as well as cypress swamps in the Coastal Plain. They are noted for climbing to the tops of the tallest trees. Breeding occurs in grassy pools, roadside ditches, cypress ponds and other temporary aquatic habitats. Egg masses are loose and sticky and are attached to vegetation at or near the water’s surface. Tadpoles hatch within three days after eggs are laid and transform in seven to 11 weeks.
Call: Pine woods treefrogs call from March to October. Singing males call from the edge of shallow water or from emergent vegetation with a very distinctive, machine-like “kek-kek-kek” call, which is sometimes described as sounding like Morse code.
Frog Fact: Like many species of amphibians that use ephemeral breeding sites, pine woods treefrog tadpoles may fail to reach metamorphosis if the wetland dries prematurely. Fortunately, large numbers of tadpoles often complete metamorphosis during wet years, which can help make up for the losses sustained during dry years.
Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)
The Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) is a North American member of the family Saturniidae, the giant silk moths. It is a tan colored moth, with an average wingspan of 15 cm (6 inches). The most notable feature of the moth is its large, purplish eyespots on its two hindwings. The eye spots are where it gets its name – from the Greek myth of the Cyclops Polyphemus. The caterpillar of the Polyphemus Moth can eat 86,000 times its weight at emergence in a little less than two months
Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis and Hyla versicolor)
The Cope’s gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and the common gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) are identical in appearance. Both have somewhat rough, warty skin; a whitish spot under each eye; large toe pads; and bright orange or golden-yellow spots on the underside of each hind leg. In the laboratory, the two species can be distinguished by their chromosomes, with the common gray treefrog having twice as many as the Cope’s gray treefrog. In the field, they can be differentiated by their breeding calls.
Cope’s gray treefrogs are widespread throughout most of North Carolina and Virginia. Common gray treefrogs have been documented only in Warren and Caswell counties in NC, however, they have been documented in many counties throughout Virginia. Individuals of both species are capable of rapid color change; they may be gray, brown, greenish or nearly white. Their color-changing capabilities, along with their rough skin, provide these treefrogs with excellent camouflage when perched on tree branches or bark. Both species descend from trees to breed in many types of ephemeral and permanent aquatic habitats. Eggs are laid at the water’s surface in small masses of 30 or 40, usually attached to vegetation. Tadpoles transform in about six to nine weeks.
Both species call from April to August. Cope’s gray treefrogs have a harsh, rapid trill; common gray treefrogs have a trill that is often slower and more melodic.
The bright yellow or orange on the underside of each hind leg is believed to startle or confuse predators