Wattled jacana have huge feet relative to their body size that enable them to walk on floating vegetation. Male and female, getting ready to mate. Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, Loreto, Peru ("Jacana jacana").
What is it about storks that make them so charismatic? It is difficult to articulate the reasons, but the Jabiru is one my favourite vertebrates. Encountering a Jabiru stork nest? Joy! It was far away and high in an enormous tree, and our boat would not stay still. Multiple rapid shots produced a couple of respectable images. Seasonally flooded forest, Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, Peru ("Jabiru mycteria").
This brown-throated, three-toed sloth was high in the canopy of a tree in seasonally flooded forest of the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, Peru. Three-toed sloths are fairly common in this part of the Amazon, due in part to the reduction in population of one of their main predators, the harpy eagle. Harpy eagles pluck sloths and monkeys from their canopy homes, but due to habitat loss and other anthropogenic causes the harpy eagle is now an endangered species. (Mammalia: order Pilosa: family Bradypodidae, "Bradypus variegatus"). "Tonal" filter used.
Often the most beautiful thing in the forest is an insect. This is "Euchroma gigantea" one of the largest members of the family Buprestidae, or jewel beetles. The larvae feed on dead kapok, or "Ceiba" trees, ultimately helping to decompose the wood and return nutrients to the soil. Shiripuno Lodge in Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador.
An eyelash cup, the fruiting body/spore producing structure of an ascomycete fungus. The "eyelashes" or long hairs may keep water from entering the cup where the spores are produced. Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador ("Cookeina tricholoma", ID by Greg Thorn).
A wattled jacana nest (with four eggs), on top of a Victoria waterlily leaf. Wattled jacana is dependent on Victoria waterlily leaves as nesting habitat. Pacaya Samiria Reserve, Peru ("Jacana jacana").
Hoatzins are large birds that live in social groups along rivers edge, and feed on fresh green leaves, flowers and fruits of a variety of plants. Bacterial fermentation in their gut helps to digest the plant food. The fermentation and aromatic compounds found in their plant food causes the birds to have a disagreeable manure-like odor, and for this reason they are usually not eaten by people. With many Amazonian species in decline due to overconsumption by humans, one could say that the stink has saved this bird. Time will tell how it responds to climate change, however. The debate over the closest living relative of the hoatzin is ongoing; one hypothesis puts them in the Cuculiformes (cuckoos and relatives). Found only in the Amazon lowlands and the Orinoco Delta of South America. Pacaya Samiria Reserve, Peru ("Ophisthocomus hoazin").
Horned screamers are related to geese, and they are definitely loud. They are also called donkey birds. Though I can hear the resemblance of their sounds to donkeys, screamers make distinctive and quite frankly beautiful sounds. It is a wondrous experience to hear them off in the distance while floating down a tributary of the amazon. They are wary of humans and always fly off when one gets too close, making a good image tough to obtain. "Anhima cornuta", Peru.
Black caracaras are a type of falcon. This individual is on a leaf high in a palm tree at Shiripuno Lodge on the Shiripuno River, Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador (family Falconidae, "Daptrius ater").
When the water recedes during the dry season masses of tangled vegetation become exposed on riverbanks, creating living sculptures. A jacamar can be seen perched near the centre of the photo. August, Pacaya Samiria Reserve, Peru. "Mono" filter used.
Another awesome example of crypsis. The colour pattern of the feathers of this female red-bellied woodpecker provides excellent camo as she forages for insects on a dead tree. Medway Valley Heritage Forest, London, Ontario
In mid-June in Ontario, a male whitetail with antlers still in velvet. White-tailed deer are generalist herbivores, and they have adapted to a variety of habitats. They are known to eat plants that are poisonous to other animals. They regularly feed on milkweed in our garden. Found from Canada through North, Central and parts of South America, it is the most widely distributed native ungulate in the Americas. Due to their ability to adapt to disturbed habitat, and the loss of natural predators such as wolves, their population is increasing across their range.
A female fishing spider is protecting her offspring. She is using her palps to hold the egg sac under her body, and will carry it around for nearly two weeks until the adorable spiderlings hatch. Most will become food for others animals but several will undoubtedly survive to adulthood (Araneae: Pisauridae: probably "Dolomedes tenebrosus").
Another excellent example of crypsis is the perfectly camouflaged immature dune or maritime grasshopper. By blending in with beach sand of its Atlantic coastal habitat it remains hidden from predators such as birds. Immatures are especially vulnerable because they cannot yet fly. Delaware seashore, USA (probably "Trimerotropis maritima").
Endearing tiny dancing insects that won't do any serious damage to their host plant, American Beech. It is also commonly called the beech blight aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae: "Grylloprociphilus imbricator").
The milkweed leaf beetle is another insect species dependent on milkweeds for survival (a member of the family Chrysomelidae). In our biodiversity garden they are more commonly found on butterfly milkweed (beetle, "Labidomera clivicollis". plant "Asclepias tuberosa").
Milkweeds support more than just the monarch butterfly. Several other species of insect including the red milkweed beetle have coevolved with, and are dependent on milkweed species for their food, and therefore survival. Red milkweed beetle mating on common milkweed in our garden (beetle: "Tetraopes tetrophthalmus", family Cerambycidae; plant: "Asclepias syriaca", family Apocynaceae).
Amplexus in gray tree frog, "Hyla versicolor" in late June in our biodiversity garden in Ontario. The male is on top. They remained in this mating position for the better part of the morning. The night before, we photo-documented five males calling in the area. Amphibians are in decline worldwide. It is heartening to know that our native tree frog is doing well, at least in our little neck of the woods.
High in the canopy of an old black walnut, a black squirrel is eating a pendulous catkin. In other words, the squirrel is eating the male flowers of the walnut tree (tree: "Juglans nigra", squirrel: melanistic eastern grey, "Sciurus carolinensis").
The translucent pale colour of this katydid won't last long. It had just molted, and the new exoskeleton is in the process of hardening and darkening. After an hour or so, the exoskeleton will be a darker, opaque green (much like the leaves in the photo) providing the perfect camo.
Birds depend on bugs, and bugs depend on native plants. If you want an ecosystem in your backyard, you need to plant native species. This is the essence of biodiversity gardening (Great crested flycatcher, family Tyrannidae, "Myiarchus crinitus"; red oak family Fagaceae, "Quercus rubra"). In late May in Ontario.
A pair of red milkweed beetles on common milkweed in mid-June, when the flower buds are young and the leaves are soft (beetle: "Tetraopes tetrophthalmus", family Cerambycidae; plant: "Asclepias syriaca", family Apocynaceae).
The long needle-like structure extending from the tip of the abdomen is the ovipositor, or egg-laying device on this female parasitoid wasp. I watched her thrust her ovipositor down into the centre of the daisy multiple times. This type of behaviour suggests she was laying eggs inside a host, probably a larval insect living concealed inside the disc florets. In our biodiversity garden. (plant is native oxeye sunflower: "Heliopsis helianthoides", family Asteraceae).
This robber fly is one of my favourite insects in our biodiversity garden. First, it is a bumble bee mimic. Second, it is a predatory fly, and it's eating a Japanese beetle, a notorious introduced plant pest that feeds on an unusually wide variety of plants -- and always your favourite one! (robber fly: "Laphria" sp., family Asilidae; beetle: "Popillia japonica", family Scarabaeidae").
The fresh green leaves of milkweeds support the caterpillar of the monarch butterfly and other milkweed specialists. The flowers support insect pollinators of all sorts including the non-native honey bee shown here (plant: Apocynaceae: "Asclepias tuberosa"; bee: Apidae: "Apis mellifera").
Great Golden Digger Wasp on Virginia Mountain Mint
The great golden digger is a parasitoid sphecid wasp specializing on Orthoptera. Adults are pollinators. Shown feeding on the floral resources of Virginia mountain mint (wasp: Apoidea: Sphecidae: "Sphex ichneumoneus"; plant: Lamiaceae: "Pycnanthemum virginianum").