About Me

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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My neighborhood bears

As if you haven't seen enough bears on this blog already, here is the full cast of characters -- the bears in my neighborhood.

I've gotten to know them pretty well, and this shows how I tell them apart. 

Like people, they get a bit gnarly looking with age.

So, they are easier to identify when they get old.

My estimates of age are based on body size and photos of two of these critters taken some years ago.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, here are some useful references.

Alt, G.L. 1980. Rate of growth and size of Pennsylvania black bears. Pennsylvanian Game News, 51(12)7-17.

Marks, S.A. and A.W. Erickson. 1966. Age determination in the black bear. Journal of Wildlife Management, 30:389-410.

Rausch, R.L.. 1961. Notes on the black bear in Alaska with particular referecne to dentition and growth. Zeitschrift fur Saugetierkunde, 26(2):65-128.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Denning Kit Foxes

It took the codger a while to wade through 850 30-second clips to produce this little video about the den life of a pair of kit foxes.

This is the same den photographed by Randomtruth (RT) with the able assistance of California Fish & Wildlife Biologist Craig (aka "Dr. Fiehlgood") and his assistants.

You will enjoy the graceful foxiness of kit foxes in motion, but to fully savor their colorful beauty and other activities you really have to go to Randontruth's recent blogposts. (His 3 posts are chock full of wonderful photos).

I used two trail cameras for the footage, and RT's camera was set for stills.

The foxes were thoroughly cooperative, but one of my cameras was less than ideally positioned. Craig did the needful and moved it for a better view. (Thank you, once again, Dr Fiehlgood.)

One interesting observation was the foxes' infrequent examination of my cameras.

But when the pup approached the camera at about 6 weeks of age the mother (I presume) picked it up by its scruff and carried it away.

She showed no signs of fear to the camera, but she wasn't taking any chances with her pup.

The footage however wasn't good enough to include in the video.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Creature Comfort

Bears take a beating in hot weather.

They huff and puff and seek water where they can cool off.

They wallow and tank up at any time of day or night, but during really hot weather they may visit the same pool several times a day.

"Shedding thermal energy" is biological techno-jargon for the various ways animals cool off.

I learned that from a "physiological ecologist".

It's hard to shed thermal energy if you are big and fat like a bear, because of the large surface-to-volume ratio.

Anyway, I've learned a few things from viewing hundreds of 30 second video clips of bears visiting water holes here in Butte County.

You'll notice that I've also moved the camera closer to center stage.

This video introduces "Tank", and one of these days I'll post a video of the full cast of Bruins here.

Meanwhile, enjoy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bathing Bears of Summer

Here is more proof that a lot goes on at the water hole in summer.

Day and night.

It's not surprising.

It's a whole other world down there, and after viewing hundreds of clips I think I am starting to appreciate the personality differences between these characters.

Hope you enjoy these Bruins as much as I do.