Mule Deer

 

We spotted this big mule deer while in South Dakota and the Bad Lands a few years ago…

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Where do mule deer live?

Mule deer and black-tailed deer (collectively called mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus) are icons of the American West. They are distributed throughout western North America from the coastal islands of Alaska, down the West Coast to southern Baja Mexico and from the northern border of the Mexican state of Zacatecas, up through the Great Plains to the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the southern Yukon Territory.

What do mule deer eat?

Mule deer are primarily browsers, with a majority of their diet comprised of forbs (weeds) and browse (leaves and twigs of woody shrubs).

Deer digestive tracts differ from cattle and elk in that they have a smaller rumen in relation to their body size, so they must be more selective in their feeding. Instead of eating large quantities of low-quality feed like grass, deer must select the most nutritious plants and parts of plants.

Because of this, deer have more specific forage requirements than larger ruminants.

Why is mule deer and black-tailed deer habitat conservation necessary?

The MDF’s mission is necessary due to loss of habitat, predators, poaching, highways crossing through the middle of transitional ranges, and subdivisions being built on winter ranges.

Only landscape-scale conservation efforts can make long-term gains in mule deer abundance in many areas.

What does a mule deer look like?

Mule deer are generally easy to identify due to their large mule-like ears (generally 3/4 the length of the head).

They usually have a distinctive black forehead, or mask, that contrasts sharply with a light grey face. The lighter facial coloration makes the eye rings and muzzle markings seem less obvious.

Mule deer are brownish-gray in color, have a white rump patch and a small white tail with a black tip.

How long do mule deer live?

Mule deer usually live 9-11 years in the wild and can live to be much older when in captivity.

How big are mule deer?

Mule deer range from 3 to 3-1/2 feet tall at the shoulder, 4-1/2 to 7 feet long and have a tail that is 5 to 8 inches long. They can weigh between 130-280 pounds. The female deer are smaller than the male.

For more information visit here...

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And a little Bad Lands landscape…

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Snorkeling and Jellyfish Encounters…

I’ve already shared about my jellyfish encounter, just in case you missed it you can read about it here

These pictures were taken our third day in Cancun.  I was very proud (and nervous) with myself for venturing out without my hubby and just going with one of the other wives that were down there.  Both of husbands work for the same company, so while they were stuck in meetings we went out, got a bit of sun, and a whole lot of adventure!

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Lori and I being goofy…

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My husband gifted me with a waterproof camera for Christmas to use on our trip…P1000223

The water that day was very rough and we had a pretty good wind blowing too, so things were stirred up a bit…P1000233

We did see a Barracuda though!P1000235 P1000261 P1000268

Then our trip was rudely interrupted when something hit my arm and it instantly felt like it was on fire!  It felt like someone had taken a curling iron to my arm.  It took quite a while for arm to even turn red.  I think everyone thought I was crazy!  I have given birth 8 times and this was ranking right up there on the pain scale.  I was trying not to cry and wig out!  By the time we got back to shore, we could see the streaks on my arm and found out that it was indeed a jelly fish sting.  My hand started to turn blue and I was really, really trying not to freak out, I just wanted my hubby to be there.  However, Lori did an awesome job of trying to warm me up, getting a cab, and not letting me freak out!

The owner of the scuba place dept telling me how this was a freak deal because it was too cold for the jelly fish this time of year and that the resent storms and wind must have blown one in.  When I we were back at the hotel, one place gave a statistic of your chances of being stung of 1 in 250,000 during the peak season!  In fact, I had a better chance of dying in a car crash on the way to the airport!P1000295

The next day…photo 2 (5)

Despite everyone’s great advice about drinking lots tequila and crown, (hey, I was desperate and for a while, I didn’t feel  much and laughed way too much! 😉 and I don’t normally drink a lot  but we were in Mexico!), my arm was still in quite a bit of pain.  (Duh! Right? It always seems like a good idea at the time…)  I tried a bunch of different salves, creams and balms on my arm,  but nothing seemed to work, but good ole time.  We spent the rest of our vacation checking out some of the Mayan ruins, cenotes and on our last day in Mexico, my hubby still really wanted to go snorkeling.  I figured it would be like being struck by lightning twice, right?!

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We made it through unscathed, even after sea weed hit my neck…I about walked on water!  And I was so glad that we did go, it was so beautiful!  The water was much more calm and clear, and it was very fun to be able to try out my little camera.  Best of all I was able to spend the afternoon with my hubby.

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My arm got a bit better each day, until we flew home and then….

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My body went into over-drive producing histamines!  I started to blister all around my arm.  I started itching like CRAZY, like I wanted to take a wire brush to my arm.  I finally broke down and went to Urgent Care, of course in Montana they don’t take care of many people with jelly fish stings!  They put me on 5 different drugs to bring the histamine levels down, stop the itching and a steroid to boot!  About a week later I was feeling much better!

This is my arm as of today, 6 weeks after the sting…

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No more pain or itching, just the marks and a fun story to tell about them!  😉

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Sunbathing…

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We spotted these two iguanas within a couple of yards within each other in Tulum, Mexico while looking at the Mayan ruins.  They seemed pretty happy to be perched above the ocean and soaking up the sun.  It was very neat to watch these guys, definitely something we wouldn’t  see in Montana!

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Brown Pelican

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Cool Facts

  • While the Brown Pelican is draining the water from its bill after a dive, gulls often try to steal the fish right out of its pouch—sometimes while perching on the pelican’s head. Pelicans themselves are not above stealing fish, as they follow fishing boats and hang around piers for handouts.
  • Pelicans incubate their eggs with the skin of their feet, essentially standing on the eggs to keep them warm. In the mid-twentieth century the pesticide DDT caused pelicans to lay thinner eggs that cracked under the weight of incubating parents. After nearly disappearing from North America in the 1960s and 1970s, Brown Pelicans made a full comeback thanks to pesticide regulations.
  • The closely related Peruvian Pelican lives along the Pacific Coast of South America from southern Ecuador to Chile. It’s a little larger than a Brown Pelican, with fine white streaking on its underparts and a blue pouch in the breeding season. These two species are the only pelicans that plunge-dive for their food.
  • During a dive, the Brown Pelican tucks its head and rotates its body to the left. This maneuver is probably to cushion the trachea and esophagus—which are found on the right side of the neck—from the impact.
  • The oldest Brown Pelican on record was 43 years of age.

Habitat

Brown Pelicans live year-round in estuaries and coastal marine habitats along both the east and west coasts. They breed between Maryland and Venezuela, and between southern California and southern Ecuador—often wandering farther north after breeding as far as British Columbia or New York. On the Atlantic and Gulf coasts they breed mostly on barrier islands, natural islands in estuaries, and islands made of refuse from dredging, but in Florida and southern Louisiana they primarily use mangrove islets. On the West Coast they breed on dry, rocky offshore islands. When not feeding or nesting, they rest on sandbars, pilings, jetties, breakwaters, mangrove islets, and offshore rocks.

Food

Brown Pelicans mostly eat small fish that form schools near the surface of the water—including menhaden, mullet, anchovies, herring, and sailfin mollies. A foraging pelican spots a fish from the air and dives head-first from as high as 65 feet over the ocean, tucking and twisting to the left to protect its trachea and esophagus from the impact. As it plunges into the water, its throat pouch expands to trap the fish, filling with up to 2.6 gallons of water. Pelicans usually feed above estuaries and shallow ocean waters within 12 miles of shore, but sometimes venture over the deeper waters past the narrow continental shelf of the Pacific coast. They occasionally feed by sitting on the surface and seizing prey with their bills, like other pelican species, usually when a dense school of fish is close to the surface and the water is too shallow and muddy to plunge. They also steal food from other seabirds, scavenge dead animals, and eat invertebrates such as prawns.

Behavior

Though they have an awkward gait on land, Brown Pelicans are strong swimmers and masterful fliers. They fly to and from their fishing grounds in V-formations or lines just above the water’s surface. They and the closely related Peruvian Pelican are the only pelican species to perform spectacular head-first dives (typically ending in a huge splash visible from far away) to trap fish. Pelicans usually forage during the day, but may feed at night during a full moon. Before swallowing their prey they drain the water from their pouches, while gulls or terns often try to steal fish right out of their beaks. Highly social all year, pelicans breed in colonies of up to several thousand pairs—usually on small islands where they are free from terrestrial predators. The male defends a nest site and nearby perches for up to 3 weeks until he attracts a mate, and the pair is monogamous throughout the breeding season. The parents incubate their eggs with their feet. If disturbed suddenly they fly hastily, sometimes crushing their eggs. Pelicans regurgitate predigested fish onto the nest floor for their nestlings, later switching to whole fish once the young are big enough. The young can fly and fend for themselves after 3 months, but take 3–5 years of age to reach sexual maturity.

For more information please visit allaboutbirds.org

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Crocodile in Nichupte Lagoon…

Our first day in Cancun we saw this sign and thought it might be neat it might be to see a crocodile, from a distance…

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Imagine our surprise when a couple hundred yards down the sidewalk we spotted this guy sunning himself…P1100213

Too neat!

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The American crocodile is considered an endangered species in nearly all parts of its North, Central, and South American range. Survey data, except in the United States, is poor or nonexistent, but conservationists agree that illegal hunting and habitat depletion has reduced populations of this wide-ranging reptile to critical levels.

A small, remnant population lives in southern Florida, but most are found in southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Their habitat of choice is the fresh or brackish water of river estuaries, coastal lagoons, and mangrove swamps.

A prehistoric-looking creature, it is distinguishable from its cousin, the American alligator, by its longer, thinner snout, its lighter color, and two long teeth on the lower jaw that are visible when its mouth is closed.

This species is among the largest of the world’s crocodiles, with Central and South American males reaching lengths of up to 20 feet (6.1 meters). Males in the U.S. population rarely exceed 13 feet (4 meters), however.

Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, fish, crabs, insects, snails, frogs, and occasionally carrion. They have been known to attack people, but are far more likely to flee at the sight of humans.

Most countries in the American crocodile’s range have passed protection laws, but unfortunately, few governments provide adequate enforcement

For more info visit here…http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/american-crocodile/

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