Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vigorous Jack Rabbit Sex

   This afternoon out of the corner of my eye , I noticed two Jack Rabbits racing down my street. I have never seen them chasing each other. I had to go to another window because they went out of my vision. When I saw them one was up on my neighbor's planter and the second rabbit was making mad attempts to get on the planter as well. It was kind of funny when he fell off a couple of times. He finally got up on the planter and then I found out what was going on. A male was chasing a female in an attempt to mate. He mounted the female on the planter but just as fast, she took off and he had a surprised look on his face.

    The  female gained a few hops in the chase and then they chased around my neighbor's spruce tree which has boughs touching the ground. The two rabbits chased around and around the tree and through the branches. Next the female made a break to cross the street. The male took a leap with out stretched front paws and missed and almost did a forward roll. The female gained a couple of leaps and then stopped. The male harassed her and she ran off again and they ran around  a neighbor's juniper the same as the spruce tree. 

    Finally the female ran through my neighbor's yard and I lost sight of them.

    Since we have so many jack rabbits in the area I have seen mating before. Usually it's two or three bucks fighting with one another over the female. The bucks also follow the female just before she gives birth as she will breed right away. 

    So things can happen very quickly in the space of two minutes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dr. J Cahill Speaks to the Red Deer River Naturalists

    On Thur Mar. 28 Dr James Cahill gave a talk to the Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN) on Foraging animal plants: An investigation into brainless behavior.  When I saw the title I thought , "Well, this could be freaky!"  It turned out to be  a talk that gave me much more to think about than many other talks.

    Dr Cahill started off by showing us that animals have many behaviors that help them feed themselves, protect themselves  or help one another. Then he said he began wondering if plants had the ability to change their behavior to adapt to conditions that either vary or if behavior was different in diverse locations. 

   He started with simple things like how plants can wilt in hot bright sunlight and then recuperate when the temperature drops and the sun goes down. He has shown that plant kin look after each other. If something attacks one plant, the plant or the attacker gives off odors that only kin plants pick up and then protect themselves. Non family plants in the same area are harmed.

    So Dr Cahill showed us many instances where plants have a behavior that allows them to survive even though they are brainless.

    Dr Cahill's talk was filled with photos and data that illustrated what he talked about. The talk was made most enjoyable as he was energetic and humorous. 

   If you want and excellent speaker on plants , I would highly recommend Dr. Cahill.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 11 Birding

    On March 11 the bird focus group spent the afternoon searching for birds.   Pickings were slim.

     A bald eagle on a nest and a Great horned on a nest were interesting sightings. After that horned larks, snow buntings, European starlings, black-billed magpies, common ravens , black-capped chickadees and a northern flicker were seen.

    Several old owl's nests were checked but the nests were either gone or unoccupied.

    On march 18 two great horned owl's nests were found that were occupied.

   You're most welcome to join the Red Deer River Naturalists bird focus group. Meet at the Kerry Wood nature Center Mondays at noon.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Monday Jan. 21 Birding Trip

  The Red deer River Naturalists (RDRN) go on a birding field trip most Monday afternoons. They meet at the Kerry Wood Nature Center and carpool for the afternoon of birding.

    Monday was a very cold day. Not many species were found. They did see house sparrows, black-billed magpies, common ravens, common red polls, hoary red polls. black-capped chickadees, snow buntings and a northern goshawk. The snow buntings have been seen on a large pile of grain for the last couple of weeks . it was estimated that there were about 150 birds. The goshawk was a complete surprise as they are normally not seen here in the winter.


The route that was taken Jan. 24.