Tawny Emperor Butterfly (Asterocampa clyton)
The tawny emperor is a species of brush-footed butterfly. It is native to North America, especially the eastern half from Canada to northern Mexico. The tawny emperor should not be mistaken for a very similar Asterocampa butterfly, the hackberry emperor, which can be distinguished by the white spots near the tip of its forewing and the black eyespot lower along the edge of the forewing. The upper side is mostly dark brown. The forewing is an orange-brown color with pale orange-yellow spots. The underside is mainly gray-brown with the forewing having some black and pale yellowish markings. The wingspan measures 2 to 2.6 inches (51 to 66 mm). A dark morph of this species is regionally common with nearly uniformly dark hind wings. This butterfly may be seen flying near houses, gravel driveways, water, muddy places, gardens, and woodlands. Its only host plant is hackberry trees. The adult feeds on carrion, plant sap, and dung, and rarely lands on flowers.
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
A bird with a lovely, melancholy song, the Hermit Thrush lurks in the understories of far northern forests in summer and is a frequent winter companion across much of southern North America. It forages on the forest floor by rummaging through leaf litter or seizing insects with its bill. The Hermit Thrush has a rich brown upper body and smudged spots on the breast, with a reddish tail that sets it apart from similar species in its genus.
Día de Los Muertos/Day of The Dead 2022
¡Feliz Día de Los Muertos!
Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)
Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater)
Sauromalus ater, also known as the Common Chuckwalla, is a species of lizard in the family Iguanidae. It inhabits the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Its range extends from eastern California, Nevada, and Utah south to Baja California and Sonora.
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Although the Greater Roadrunner occurs throughout Texas, is well known, is the topic of much folklore, and is a very popular cartoon character, the only field research studies that have been conducted are in desert scrub or brush-grassland habitats in South Texas. As a popular multicultural iconic bird, from prehistory to modern times, it is surprising that it was one of the last bird species to be given state protection because of the mistaken belief that roadrunners were a threat to declining quail populations.
Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)
A close cousin of the ground squirrel, the Black-tailed Prairie Dog is a heavy-bodied rodent with a black-tipped tail. Prairie dogs have large eyes, short tails and brownish-tan pelage.
Prairie dogs play an important role in the prairie ecosystem. They serve as a food source for many predators and leave vacant burrows for the burrowing owl, the Black-footed Ferret, the Texas horned lizard, rabbits, hares, and even rattlesnakes.
Prairie dogs are very social animals. They live as a group in prairie dog “towns” which range from one to over 1,000 acres. These towns are subdivided into wards that are arranged like counties within a state. Wards are further subdivided into distinct social units called coteries. A coterie usually consists of a single adult male, one to four adult females, and any offspring under two years of age. Movement between wards is uncommon; however, among family members, prairie dogs greet each other with bared teeth with which they “kiss” as a form of recognition.
Prairie dogs are strictly diurnal animals. They are most active during the cool hours of the day, when they engage in social activities such as visiting and grooming each other as well as feeding on grass and herbs. When prairie dogs are out, a sentry perches on the volcano-like ring that surrounds the burrow. Should a predator or any other danger become evident, the sentry will bark out a warning, after which the community will dive into their burrows and wait for the “all clear” call before venturing out again.
Prairie dogs are native to short-grass prairie habitats of western North America. They avoid heavy brush and tall grass areas due to the reduced visibility these habitats impose.