Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vacation Download - Part III

Okay, I know, enough with the vacation pictures already. This is the last lot, I promise!

Although this guy just looks like a slightly cuter version of a rat, he posed so nicely that I had to take his picture. He is a desert round-tailed ground squirrel.

These next few pictures were taken at the animal show. This is a white-nosed coati. Sort of an exotic version of a raccoon.

African crested porcupine.

This is the world's smallest type of fox called a Fennec. As you can see from his body language, they are nocturnal. He didn't even wake up for his applause. But sooooo cute!

And now we come to my favorite part of the show. Meet Treasure - the Thick Billed Parrot.

Did you know that there were once two parrot species indigenous to North America? The Carolina Parakeet and the Thick Billed Parrot. Sadly, the Carolina Parakeet went extinct in the late 1800's. Their feathers were popular as decorations for ladies' hats back then.

Thick Bills have not fared much better. They once roamed the pine forests of the Southwest all the way down into Mexico. VERY few are left - they are nearly extinct. A number of years ago, there was a project that involved releasing around 20 of them into the wild in Arizona, but it was not successful. Their defense mechanism against predators is to be part of large flocks - the size of the flock confuses the predators and while they may pick off an individual bird here and there, the majority of the population survives. A necessary defense when you wear such brightly colored plummage! A flock of 20 birds is not enough so most of them did not survive. The ones who remained were recaptured and a new breeding program started.

How cool would it be if we were able to get their numbers up enough to fill out forests with parrots again?

Then it was on to the raptor enclosure. This is one of our most common local raptors - I see one on about every other lightpole on my way to work each day. It's a Red Tailed Hawk.

Another view of the hawk - most of the raptors at this zoo were taken in as injured birds. They try to rehabe and release those that they can. The ones in the exhibit like this one are mostly non-releasable due to the severity of their injuries.

This is another one of my favorite local raptors - it's called a Kestrel or Sparrowhawk. It's a bit of a misnomer as they don't eat sparrows at all. They are small bird so mostly eat bugs and lizards.

For a while, they were fairly scarce as the malathion spraying that was done back when I was a kid to get rid of a certain kind of fruit fly really messed them up. It affected the density of their eggshells and led to some genetic abnormalities. I'm glad to see them making a comeback because I think they are so beautiful - love the gray and russet coloring!

We didn't really have to go to the zoo to see these guys - we saw them running on the hotel grounds and even in a shopping mall parking lot!

Beep! Beep! It's a roadrunner. There were a pair of them in this enclosure and they had a nest going, too! I would've thought they nexted on the ground, but the nest was in the lower part of a tree.

Couldn't get a very good closeup of this one, but it's a Golden Eagle sitting on its nest.

Okay, so I know this looks like just a hollow tree trunk, right? That's what we thought, too, but I took a picture of it for a reason.

As we were standing there, this little guy showed up with some grass in his beak and hopped right down inside that tree. His mate showed up and did the same thing a few minutes later so we realized they must have a nest inside there.

Which wouldn't be a big deal except this tree stump? Yeah, it's in THIS cage:

This guy has his own protection racket going!

Okay, that's it for the raptors. We moved on to bigger animals. Because of the cool weather on this trip, I got a shot of this animal for the first time:

I have tried to spot this cat every year that we've been to this zoo and it's always been hiding away in its den. But this time, I managed to capture it on film. ALMOST as exciting as my last bobcat encounter - which happened at the park across the street from my house where one sauntered right across our hiking trail about 25 feet in front of us in broad daylight. Talk about a surprise!

Another animal we see around our neighborhood quite frequently - Wile E. Coyote. Again, I think I only got a shot of him because of the cool weather.

Then, it was on to the final exhibit of the day. The zoo had just opened this exhibit for the first time about 4 days before we got there so we were among the first to see this animal:

Stupid, slow digital camera! I swear there was an animal in this picture when I pressed the button, but by the time the camera actually took the shot? Poof! Gone.

So, I tried again. Better, but still not what I was going for. However, gives you an idea of how you'd never even notice this gal if you were out in the wild and she was sneaking up on you and getting ready to pounce!

And this is what it looks like when it's walking away from you LOL! Again, the difference between the time I hit the button and the time the camera actually took the picture!

I was DETERMINED to get a good shot of this baby girl. Because yep, she's not quite full grown yet.

And then I had a brainstorm!

Put the small, helpless child in the BRIGHT YELLOW SHIRT right in center front of the glass.

Ta DA!

Bait works ;-)



Kristen said...

Oh what great pictures! I love them all! We have a raptor rescue center not to far from here and of course our zoo is small but all rescues. I think that is awesome. And yes I would love to see a huge flock of those gorgeous birdies flying. The colors man!

EB Bead and Metal Works said...

Love the photos and I loved how you got a close up of the cat in the last picture :)

TesoriTrovati said...

HAHAHA! I so love that you show us the pictures of the almost animals. And the bait must have been really digging this cool experience. You are an awesome mom!
Enjoy the day!

lunedreams said...

OMG! I think you have a future as a Wild Kingdom host. Start collecting your small children and neon t-shirts now. NICE!! She look hungry.

I wanna fox. So sweet.

I like that white ground squirrel, I think he's pretty.

That bobcat looks deceptively cuddly.

Thank you for sharing! Fun!!!

cjvierow said...

Totally awesome pictures! Love cats, both big and small and your pics were great--especially the "bait" one, lol. Thanks for sharing your vacation with us. It was fun! CJ