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post #21 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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Nice positive thread, makes me want to visit everyone and see their yards I can promise that you will see Bald Eagles from my back yard. I only wish I knew the names of all the other birds to satisfy all the true bird watchers out there. Two links that will interest birders.

Where do you want to go birding in British Columbia today?

Eagles, Brackendale Eagles Park - Squamish BC - BrackendaleEagles.ca

Bill
Mrs B & I got bit by the bird bug late in life -- last year -- and we're closing in on 35 years of marital bliss. The spring & fall migrations are really interesting. This past spring we had several flocks of goldfinches numbering 20-30 each. They can eat a lot of bird groceries! We also have an interesting stream of confusing spring warblers. We could only positively identify a handful but I'm pretty sure we had twice as many species as we identified. Now I'm thinking that if I only had a good camera I could take photos to better identify the little bastards.

Or a pellet gun (just kidding folks!).

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post #22 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 03:03 AM
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we get rainbow lorikeets, king parrots, sulphur crested cockatoos, black cockatoos, kookaburras, mynas, peewees, magpies, the occasional kite, galahs, possums (who love the bird feeder), the occasional snake but they tend to stay in the bush behind the house (no dogs).

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post #23 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 05:11 AM
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Had a Cougar, a Grey wolf, numerous Deer, Raccoons, Squirrels, Possums. and various other ground critters.
On the bird front, Falcons, Hawks, an occasional Brown Eagle, Sandhill Cranes, Geese, Ducks(various varieties), and a variety of differing odd and common winged creatures.

I won't feed them. When the harsh winter hits, they would be too accustomed and dependent, and that is not good, if you don't keep up on it on a 365 basis.

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post #24 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 03:15 PM
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If you have gopher tortoises, you have a really interesting bit of viable Gulf coastal ecosystem. I'm guessing somewhere between Milton & Tallahassee. Do you hear lots of military aircraft? The downside is that you and your critters live in a naturally pyrogenic plant community. I once lived in a similar ecosystem -- longleaf pine-wiregrass savanna. I burned-off my yard every 2-3 years. I didn't have the gopher tortoises but I had the phenomenal array of flowering plants found in the ecosystem. Terrestrial orchids, meadow beauties, sundews, etc. I envy you.

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Is this one? (Sorry about the crap photo).
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post #25 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 03:17 PM
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^ Box turtle.

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post #26 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 04:20 PM
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^ Box turtle.

Ah, right. In Europe, we tend to call those land-living with domed shells, tortoises.

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post #27 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 04:27 PM
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As do we, more or less, all except box turtles. Go figure....

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post #28 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, right. In Europe, we tend to call those land-living with domed shells, tortoises.
I think you are technically correct -- terrestrial critters are tortoises and aquatic critters are turtles. In the USA we don't give a shyte. If it has a shell, cold blooded, no hair, and legs, it's a turtle. It's the porpoise/dolphin thing. Dolphin is a fish, porpoise is a mammal. But tell peopel you caught a 48" dolphin and grilled it and you'll have more pickets than Wilson.

The eastern gopher tortoise is a really interesting creature. It lives in sandy, piney woods hill country originally ranging from South Carolina to Florida and across to western Louisiana. They grow quite large -- maybe 15 or 20 pounds. And they are very long lived, perhaps over 80 years. They are also late maturing perhaps a decade. They are also slow and stupid and quite good to eat. They were almost eaten out of existence during the Great Depression. Also the conversion of longleaf pine forests to production loblolly pine destroyed their habitat and food sources. Did I mention stupid? There are probably many thousands of them still extant. But they are widely scattered in small refugia habitats. They are slow. They go wandering looking for a mate and get smooshed by cars or logging equipment or eaten by dogs or coyotes. They bury their eggs, which protects them, but the young are so stupid that they get eaten almost as fast as they emerge. Or fire ants get them.

Curiously, a whole host of animals depend on gopher tortoises for shelter. The tortoise digs large elliptically shaped tunnels that can extend for several yards into the sandy soil. They share their tunnel with foxes, spiders, scorpions, snails, and a host of snakes, venomous and nonvenomous. Some of the snakes are themselves endangered because, in part, of their dependence on the gopher tortoise for shelter.

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post #29 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 08:52 PM
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Our locals are another variety of gopher tortoise, and the only endangered animal I have ever encountered in my life. It is illegal to so much as touch a desert tortoise, and for good reason. When threatened, they blow their entire water supply as a defense mechanism, and are quite likely to die as a consequence, unless they're able to replenish it with a few short weeks, no easy feat in the deep desert. The main threat to their existence here is raven predation, which brings us back full circle to the OP. Fill your bird feeders with baby tortoises to attract ravens.

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post #30 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2009, 09:26 PM
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An adult gopher tortoise:



A baby gopher tortoise (they have yellowish spots on their shell):

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