The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Chrissy Bowker of Texas asks, “What’s this animal?”

COMMON NAME: Yellow-crowned Night Heron

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Nyctanassa violacea; ORDER, Pelecaniformes

DIET: Mainly crustaceans, insects, and some types of fish. Occasionally, it may feed on small lizards, rodents, or other small birds.

SIZE: Average height, 25 inches; Wingspan, 44 inches

WEIGHT: Average weight, 1.65 pounds

HABITAT: Wetlands, marshes, bayous, shallow lake shores, mangroves, and seasonally flooded locations.

The bird in the picture above is none other than the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. They roost in trees during the day and do most of their hunting nocturnally, specializing on crustaceans. While at rest, their neck is short, stout, and tucked-in. When extended, their necks are long and slim. Because they are a wading bird, their legs are quite long, even extending beyond the tail while in flight. Its most notable characteristics are its glossy black head, standing in stark contrast to the pale-yellow horizontal stripes which wrap the cheeks and extend from the bill to the back of the head, running between the eyes, giving it the yellow crown for which it is named. It has a large, heavy, black-bill, perfect for breaking through the shells of crab and crayfish. Their eyes are a striking red-orange. Their body, in contrast to their head and legs, is a blue-grey color which appears in an almost scale-like pattern due to the small white edges.

Listen to their flight call here:

https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/32584751#_ga=2.129454287.293442476.1493213474-1266220142.1491230625

Have something you need identified? Contact me here

The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Eco-Challenge has ended. How did we do?

At the time that the Energy Saver challenge ended, we had 53 member in our JouleBug community. Now, we are 76 members strong and growing. As the Eco-Challenge community has continued to grow, so has our impact. Week by week, I watch as our numbers rise and I am continually inspired by each and everyone of you. You are helping to make a difference and proving that doing so doesn’t equate to drastic lifestyle changes or require you to shun modern luxuries. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Eco-Challenge proved that all it takes to create change is building the right habits and breaking the bad. Here’s how we did:

Carbon Dioxide

athletes-1846039_19205.6 thousand pounds of CO2 were saved. That is the amount released by powering 4 homes for an entire month, lighting a football stadium for a whole game, or keeping your fridge cold for 1,728 days! (JouleBug)

Waste

270 pounds of waste were diverted from landfills. That’s the equivalent of eliminating 4 bins of garbage, which is the same weight as 5 old TV’s. (JouleBug)

Water

pool-691008_192013 thousand gallons of water were saved. That’s the amount it takes to fill an average swimming pool 9 times, and equivalent to the amount down the drain if you were to flush a toilet 8,336 times. (JouleBug)


What does that bring our total impact to?

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As a community, we have saved 437,726 pounds of CO2. That is the amount used powering 285 homes for a month, having the same environmental impact as saving 2 acres (2 football fields worth) of forest or planting 5,091 tree seedlings. (JouleBug)

We have diverted an elephants worth (20,771 pounds) of waste equivalent to almost 1,500 bags of garbage. (JouleBug)

As far as water is concerned, we have saved a whopping 932 thousand gallons. That’s the amount in an Olympic size swimming pool. If you break it down based on the “8 glasses of waste per day” rule, that’s a days supply of water for 1,864 000 people.


As always, be happy, be healthy, be the source of change, and live a wild life.

Keep up the good work, Eco-Warriors! Want to join ‘The Wild Life’ community on JouleBug? Download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play.

We’re Halfway Through the April Eco-Challenge. How Are We Doing?

The “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Eco-Challenge is at its mid-point and we’ve already made an extraordinary impact. Thirty-one individuals have joined the JouleBug challenge in support of sustainability through waste reduction, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we are accomplishing. Let’s break it down.

Carbon Dioxide

2.2 thousand pounds of CO2 have been saved so far. That is the amount released by powering a home for an entire month, having the same impact as planting 26 tree seedlings. (JouleBug)

Photo Credit: USFS Region 5
Photo Credit: USFS Region 5/Flickr

Waste

105 pounds of waste have been diverted from landfills. That’s the equivalent of eliminating 2 bins of garbage, which is the same weight as 2 old TV’s. (JouleBug)

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Water

4.7 thousand gallons of water have been saved. That’s the amount it takes to fill an average swimming pool 3 times, and equivalent to the amount down the drain if you were to flush a toilet 3,055 times. (JouleBug)

Keep up the good work, Eco-Warriors! Want to join ‘The Wild Life’ community on JouleBug? Download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play.

The Forest Tent Caterpillar

Species: Malacosoma disstria     

Chrissy Bowker of Texas asks, “What’s this animal?”

The caterpillar in the picture above is none other than the Forest Tent Caterpillar, Malacosoma disstriaThey are commonplace in the eastern regions of US and Canada. Down in Texas, populations are sure to be booming this spring due to the warmer than average winter.

3-21 egg mass
Photo credit: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Adult females lay eggs on the branches of deciduous trees in masses of around 300, which are coated with a rubber cement like adhesive to protect them from predators and the environment.

When they hatch, they will strip the tree of leaves, moving about in a line fashion by following a pheromone trail laid by silk strand by their fellow caterpillars. They weave a silken mat between the branches which they lie in together during molt as they grow (up to 2 inches).

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Tent Caterpillar nest Photo Credit: Jesse Varner, Flickr

Much like an owl pellet, you can dissect these masses (after they’ve been abandoned, of course) and peel through they layers to reveal molt casings and dropping indicative of growth stage, increasing in size as you move outwards.

Forest Tent Caterpillars have the potential to defoliate vast areas of forest when the conditions are right. Though this is more rare than common, it is part of the reason for their infamous reputation as a pest-defoliater. About 5 week after hatching, the caterpillars change to pupae and live inside of their individual cocoons for about 10 days. As adults, they are average sized, relatively non-descript, brown moths, living for only a few days. Just enough time to mate, and lay a new batch of eggs.

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Photo Credit: Seabrooke Leckie, Flickr

Have a picture of an animal or plant and can’t seem to figure out what it is? Send it my way and I’ll identify it for you! Send submissions to devonlbowker@gmail.com or message ‘The Wild Life’ on Facebook.

Eco-Break S1E2: The History of Life on Earth, Part 1

14 billion years ago, the universe as we know it didn’t exist. It was smaller than an atom and more hot and dense than anything we could imagine and then…BANG! The Big Bang, in less than a second, the most fantastic mess of all time was made, expanding outward to create the wonders of the cosmos. If it gives you an idea of just how big this explosion was, the universe is still expanding even now. But today isn’t about the history of the universe, it’s about the history of life! So for that, we move on to ancient earth.

On Eco-Break S1E2, Part 1, Devon summarizes the history of life beginning at the Big Bang and leading up to the Cambrian Explosion.

Eco-Break is an educational series which delivers the most exciting, key, and need-to-know basics of ecology, biology, and the natural world.

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