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From the June 2014 Conservationist

Letters

By Eileen Stegemann and Jenna Kerwin

Lazing in the Shade

Red fox nursing her pups

I thought your readers would enjoy this photo I took of a red fox nursing her pups.
Dennis Tommasulo
Huntington Station, Suffolk County

What a gorgeous capture and a good opportunity to remind readers of the message: "If You Care, Leave Them There." Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are helpless and need assistance for their survival. However, in nearly all cases, this is a mistake, and typically human interaction does more harm than good. If you see newborn wildlife, enjoy the encounter but keep it brief, maintain some distance, and do not attempt to touch the animal. Often, wild animal parents stay away when people are near, and will return when you leave. Visit DEC's website for more information and FAQs about young wildlife.
-Conservationist staff

Peek-a-Boo

Eastern screech owlets peek out of their nest

We have an owl and at least three owlets living in a silver maple in front of our house. We believe they are Eastern screech owls. These owlets had initially poked their heads out, and were frightened by my son's school bus, but then poked their heads out again to investigate after the bus drove away.
Kristina Deyoe
South Bethlehem, Albany County

You're right; it looks like you've photographed two curious gray-phase Eastern screech owlets.
-Jenna Kerwin, Staff Writer


It's a Snake-Eat-Snake World

Milksnake eating another snake

I took this photo of a milk snake attempting to eat another snake in our yard! They eventually separated and the garter snake lived another day.
Jennifer Harvill
Brownville, Jefferson County

You have captured something fascinating: a juvenile milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) trying to consume what appears to be an adult Northern brown or DeKay's snake (Storeria dekayi). Ophiophagy (feeding on snakes) is common in our nation's species of kingsnakes (which include milksnakes) and indigo snakes in the Southeast through the Midwest, into the Southwest. However, while milksnakes will consume other snakes, it's not widely recognized, or at least rarely encountered; they are thought of being more of a rodent nest raider. Some species of snake will eat members of their own species.
-William Hoffman, Fish and Wildlife Technician


All Smiles

First largemouth bass!

Pictured are Isabella and Michael Paragi with Isabella's first largemouth bass. Isabella caught the fish in the St. Lawrence River. The picture was taken by Isabella's grandfather, Frank Cannistra, at his camp in Alexandria Bay.
Gina Paragi

The smile says it all-a great catch for a first largemouth bass!
-Eileen Stegemann, Assistant Editor


Waxwing-ing It

Cedar waxwing

I took this photo and was wondering if you could tell me what kind of bird this is. I may be wrong, but I think I saw this bird eating dragonflies.
Rebecca Pavlick
Lancaster, Erie County

This beautiful bird is an adult cedar waxwing. While they primarily eat berries, they will eat some insects, and the adults do feed insects to their young. It's possible you saw them capturing a dragonfly to feed to their chicks.
-Dave Nelson, Editor

Ask the Biologist

A tagged egret

Q: While kayaking on the Hudson River in Easton on September 7, 2013 I saw this great egret with yellow "E12" tags on its wings. Can you tell me about the bird and why it was tagged?
-Jacquie Tinker, Rensselaer County

A: Thanks for reporting your sighting. The egret you photographed was tagged on Elder's Marsh East, Jamaica Bay, Queens on July 8, 2013. Prior to your sighting, it was spotted twice on August 19, 2013, perched along the Hudson River approximately one mile south of Schuylerville.

Audubon scientists in New York City band a small number of birds each spring (20 great egrets were banded in 2013) to learn more about the birds' movements and where they spend their winters. Reports like yours are instrumental in helping us learn more about the state's egrets and have shown that egrets hatched on harbor islands fly as far north as Canada before going south for the winter. To find out more about bird banding, visit NYC Audubon's website.
-Susan B. Elbin, Ph.D., New York City Audubon