Attaining a length of six to eight feet at adulthood, the American alligator is North America’s largest flesh-eating reptile. The alligator’s thick and powerful tail, used for propulsion and defense, accounts for half its body length. Similar in appearance to the endangered American crocodile, the American alligator has a stockier build and broader head and snout; unlike crocodiles, alligators’ teeth are not visible when their jaws are closed. [Read more…]
One of two crane species found in North America, the endangered whooping crane– measuring a stately four to five feet in height–is the continent’s tallest bird. Once widespread throughout North America, the whooping crane faced almost certain extinction in 1937 when the wild population consisted of just fifteen birds. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts by Canada and the United States, the whooping crane has begun a slow but seemingly steady recovery. [Read more…]
During my training to become a Texas Master Naturalist, one of my goals was to volunteer with many organizations in different capacities to see what I most enjoyed. I spent some of my first 40 volunteer service hours toward certification doing habitat restoration and rehabilitation work to remove non-native invasive species of plants from area public lands. These activities are immensely gratifying and educational—they are one of the best ways to learn how to identify common trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants.
Early in my training, I also discovered ample opportunities to take part in research-gathering projects. Some survey projects require more training before volunteering. One such project is the golden-cheeked warbler survey at Guadalupe River State Park in Spring Branch, Texas. The 1.5 hour training session familiarizes prospective volunteers with the history of the survey, its rules and processes, and introduces the golden-cheeked warbler via photographs and birdsong. [Read more…]
As its name implies, the giant walkingstick (Megaphasma denticrus) is the largest of all North American walkingsticks. [Read more…]