Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Missouri Wildlife

Kristen here. I got on our blog today for the first time in almost four years and found this gem of a post that Cory had started about the animals we saw in Missouri. I want to get back into posting here more regularly and thought I would start off with a little blast from the past. In future posts I'll catch you up on what we're doing these days, but for now, this is fun, too.

And now Cory, take it away~

I've spent most of my life living well within city limits, but since our move from Missouri that has changed. We are smack dab in the middle of nowhere, according to our new friends. Our home is a cabin in the woods halfway between Colombia (school) and Fulton (church and friends). So whenever we are out doing yard work, walking the dog, or driving we see the awesome beauty of nature, and more importantly wildlife.

Shortly after I got a smart phone, and took pictures of any wildlife I saw, I found an app and website for documenting wildlife encounters, or spottings, called Project Noah. Go here to check out my page. I am now addicted to getting a good shot of any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian and uploading it right away with detail on location, habitat, and species. Aside from documenting my own wildlife spottings, I get to identify other peoples wildlife uploads on Project Noah. Due to this I am getting great at identifying members of the rodent family Sciuridae, tree squirrels, woodchucks, chipmunks, and ground squirrels.  What I most wanted to share was the amazing animals I have seen out here in the Eastern United States. Growing up in Oregon, and then doing a mission and school in Utah every thing was either the Western blank or Northern blank, now everything is the Eastern blank or Southern blank.
Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)
Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

So  we will start with mammals, because they are awesome, and a bit harder to find. Here in Missouri, as in Oregon, there are a lot of squirrels. The two common tree squirrels are the Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) and the Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). The two are really quite easy to tell apart but they overlap a lot in where they are found, their distribution, I see fox squirrels on campus but gray squirrels at the LDS institute building where I park, and I only see grays near our house, which Petra our dog always want to chase, but I've seen foxes cross the highway close by. My favorites are the foxes they are a bit bigger than the grays and the gray grizzled coat is complemented by orange undersides, aposed to white. They are fun to watch forage for nuts and seeds on the ground, especially in the leaves and sometimes you can get pretty close.
Groundhog or Woodchuck (Marmota monax)
The other cool member of the squirrel family out here is the groundhog or woodchuck (Marmota monax) big grey ground squirrels. I have seen two now the closest I've been is in a car driving past. They seem a bit smaller than the yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) I'm used to in Utah, but still pretty cool.
Eastern cottontail (Sylivagus floridanus)
I have been able to get pretty close to the local lagamorphs here, the Eastern cottontail (Sylivagus floridanus) there are two residents on the LDS institue's grounds, and more on campus. I have been reading Watership Down by Richard Adams, about European rabbits, and didn't realize that some rabbits make large underground burrows, European and pygmy rabbits, and others just have nests or campout in other animal's burrows, cottontails. So these guys come out in the evening and nibble on the grass near cover.

(From here I was going to finish writing about other mammals I had seen and in later posts write about other groups of animals. As outlined in this list of species.)


turkey vulture

box turtle
snapping turtle

cricket frogs
leopard frog

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