Thursday, May 03, 2007

Love is in the Air

Love is in the air and in the water of the swamp! On April 20th, a pair of Barred Owls (Strix varia) were observed mating on the ground near #1 along the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest. Barred Owl pairs are monogomous and pair for life. Despite the public display of affection, Barred Owls in Francis Beidler Forest are not in any danger from the feds. However, this cannot be said for the Barred Owls that have extended their range west into the territory of the endangered Spotted Owl. See the AP story here.

Two days ago, this blog showed an image of a male Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) singing loudly on his territory near #7 along the boardwalk. We can only assume his mate was nearby sitting on the nest hidden within a bald cypress knee. As we listened to his song, dragonflies flew by as one reproductive unit.

Yesterday's image shows two Eastern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) entwined on a log near #10 along the boardwalk. Repeated strikes by the female seemed to indicate that she was not enjoying what the visting first graders described as "wrasslin'". Ovulation only occurs in alternate years with gestation taking 3 to 4 months. The female will give birth to as many as 12 living young. Each new snake will have a brightly colored tail (see image) which it will use to lure unsuspecting frogs or minnows to within striking distance.

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