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Monday, October 17, 2016

Private Lives of Cooper's Hawk and Raven

Cooper's hawk in bird bath
Nature sometimes lets us in on the private lives of animals. Share a private moment with a Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) and a common raven (Corvus corax). 

While we have song birds in and out of the bird bath all the time. Occasionally, birds of prey come down to the bath as well. This immature Cooper's hawk was most likely hatched in our neighborhood this spring.
female common raven

The raven pair have been neighbors for several years. The recent batch of youngsters are finally out of the nest and off on their own. The pair are back to romancing and renewing their pair bond. The female has this strange clucking/gurgling sound that she calls to the male. He was flying overhead between the trees.

Our bird neighbors frequently open up their personal lives, we just need to take a moment to observe.

More Earth Minutes with Ravens and Birds of Prey

Ravens with 2016 offspring
Identifying a Young Raven
Harrier Hawk with Prey on Frozen Big Bear Lake 
Red-tailed hawk on the L.A. River
Great Horned Owl Takes Shelter 
Osprey at Malibu Beach 
Bald Eagle in Alaska
White-bellied Sea Eagle - Australia 

More Earth Minutes with Birds and Wildlife

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Alligator Lizard Hunting the Yard

After a week of indoor work, an Earth Minute can seem elusive. But all it takes is a few moments outside and an Earth Minute finds you.

This adult southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) is living under one of the native California lilac, or ceanothus, in the front yard. She is probably the mother of the juvenile we rescued from the garage.


If you look closely you can see where she has lost her original tail and regrown the current tail. The coloring is less complex and doesn't quite match her body. Alligator lizards can let their tail break off in order to startle and redirect a predator. It is an amazing evolutionary adaptation. The breakage occurs through a vertebra; kind of like the perforations between saltine crackers. The musculature comes apart at these breakage sites as well. There is little blood loss and nerves in the tail will continue to make it twitch for several minutes. The continued movement of the tail tricks the predator into thinking it's caught the whole lizard. 

The tail grows back, but the bone is not replaced. The replacement tail can break again if needed. Science has yet to figure out exactly how this tail replication takes place. 

This alligator lizard is one of our yard's natural predators and the benefit of a yard that provides habitat.

What does a baby alligator lizard look like? Rescuing an Alligator

More Earth Minutes with Reptiles 

This week on The Earth Minute