An American crow, photographed at the @suttoncenter, whose mission is finding cooperative conservation solutions for birds and the natural world through science and education.
A familiar face to many of us, crows can be seen all throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. They are considered one of the most intelligent bird species, thriving not only in forests, orchards and fields, but also in suburbs and inner cities. They’re opportunistic hunters, feeding on anything from worms to seeds to human food scraps. The American crow is extremely sociable, gathering in familial groups to feed, roost and protect their territory. They are cooperative breeders, all members of the group aiding parents in raising and protecting their young.
To see a portrait of this bird, check out @natgeo.
Did you know that the black and white-ruffed lemur is the world’s largest pollinator? This #pollinatormonday features our curious friend from the @LincolnChildrensZoo. The black and white-ruffed lemur is the primary pollinator of the travelers palm, a species of tall, flowering plant native to Madagascar. The lemur will climb the palm, skillfully pry back the sturdy leaves to reveal the flower, and reach its muzzle into the blossom to drink the nectar. The pollen that gets trapped on its fur is then moved along to the next flower. This process simultaneously pollinates the traveller’s palm and nourishes the lemur. Scientists even speculate that the black and white-ruffed lemur and the travellers palm may have co-evolved because they suit one another's needs so perfectly. The traveller's palm is unique in that it produces enough nectar to sustain a pollinator of the lemurs size, and the lemur has the dexterity to open the palm’s sturdy leaves, as well as a long, tapered muzzle perfect for reaching down into the flower. Now that’s a perfect match!
Thanks to @PBS, @WGBH and @NatGeo for making #RarePBS and for helping me further my mission to put the @PhotoArk photos in front of people to get them to care about species conservation. If you haven't watched the show, it's streaming online now. Link in bio.
A male Florida grasshopper sparrow, considered the most endangered bird in North America.
The Florida dry prairie, home to 22 species found nowhere else in the world, is going quiet. Where there were once thousands, 50 male Florida Grasshopper Sparrows are singing every morning this spring protecting their territories and vying for the attention of the less than 25 females that remain. Their steep decline is mirroring the decline of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow, extinct since 1981 due to habitat loss.
This critically endangered sparrow was photographed inside of my special shooting tent at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. He was banded and released back into the prairie to resume singing from the tall grasses where he lives.
A captive breeding program began in 2014 and provides real hope to this sparrow, but due to other priorities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not able to fully fund the captive breeding program and associated field efforts. Go to @floridagrasshoppersparrow and click on the link in their bio to learn more about this bird and discover ways you can help prevent its extinction.
For a video of this bird, check out @natgeo.
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This futuristic-looking capsule is a harmonia tigerwing butterfly chrysalis from the @auduboninstitute insectarium in New Orleans. This butterfly is native to tropical areas of Mexico and Central America, and is part of a family of “toxic” butterflies. While in its caterpillar phase, the harmonia tigerwing feeds on plants that have a very bitter taste, which then makes the butterfly very unpalatable to birds. The males of this species are also known to frequent the droppings of birds in order to increase their toxicity, and ensure their safety from predators in the sky. The butterfly is so effective at dissuading predators that other species have evolved similar color patterns and behaviors in order to gain protection through mimicry. In addition to being masters of repulsion, these butterflies are able to aid in the pollination of many tropical fruits and flowers in their area.
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East African crowned cranes are tall, slender-necked birds with a golden crown of stiff feathers on the tops of their heads. During breeding season these birds attract mates by dancing, bowing and jumping while emitting a booming call by inflating the red gular sac on their necks. They typically nest in territorial pairs in densely vegetated areas, but unfortunately, due to development, they have been forced closer to humans and have begun to roost on agricultural land. In these situations they’re often eradicated as pests. Crowned cranes are endangered and are threatened by habitat degradation, hunting and egg collection, and overuse of pesticides for agriculture.
Photo taken at @parcdesoiseaux in France.
Swipe through for a behind-the-scenes look at my photoshoot with Nabire, a rare northern white rhino. I was fortunate enough to photograph Nabire just days before she passed away, leaving behind only three others of her kind. Watch my full shoot with Nabire in the final episode of #RarePBS, which is streaming on @PBS now. (Link in bio.)
The silver rice rat has been listed as federally endangered since 1991. They’re an important part of their ecosystem, and very intelligent. This species is typically found in marshlands throughout Florida, but the populations that live among a few islands in the Lower Keys area of Florida are in the gravest danger. In the long term, sea level rise caused by climate change threatens the wetlands, but in the short term, commercial and residential development is the main cause of decline. Another big problem for these rats is the increased number of raccoons in developed areas of the Keys. Raccoons prey upon silver rice rats, and because so much trash is produced by humans in these areas, raccoon populations have skyrocketed. Protecting this rat’s habitat is an essential first step to conserving the species.
To see a video of this rat, check out @natgeo.
A baby box turtle during its first moments of life breaks free of its shell at @theomahazoo. For most turtles, the sex of the hatchling depends on the temperature of the egg. If the egg was incubated at a warmer temperature, the turtle will be born female. At cooler temperatures they will be born male. Box turtle eggs are slightly flexible and hatchlings like this one can take up to 3 days to fully emerge after they begin the process of hatching. Box turtles have many natural predators, so unfortunately most hatchlings don’t survive in the wild past their first winter. However, if they do, they live an average of 50 years-- many of them making it to over 100!
To see a video of this turtle hatching, check out @natgeo.
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Don’t forget to head over to my newly launched website and check out our celebratory print sale! Get 50% off select 20x30 signed Photo Ark prints, including one of this Himalayan monal pheasant, by using the code launch2017 at checkout. Click the link in my bio to view the gallery of eligible images. Discount valid while supplies last. 100% of profits directly support the Photo Ark.
Palawan leopard cats can be found on Palawan Island in the Philippines. They are about the size of a domestic cat but slightly leaner with distinct black markings on their heads and webbed toes. They’re solitary and spend a lot of their time resting in trees when they aren’t hunting for small mammals, birds and amphibians. They are capable of hybridizing with domestic cats, producing the popular pet breed, bengal cats. Though it’s illegal to hunt leopard cats in many countries including the Philippines, they’re still sold in the pet trade and their parts are distributed for decoration and use traditional ‘medicine’. Leopard cats are wild animals are are absolutely not suitable as household pets.
To see a video of this cat, check out @natgeo.
It takes serious patience to be a Photo Ark photographer. Check out my story 🏻 to see some of the animals in tonight's episode of #RarePBS, like this northern white rhino named Nabire.
Swipe through 🏻 for a behind-the-scenes look at my travels with conservation ranger Tracey Dearlove to find a rare rowi kiwi egg in New Zealand. You can see the full shoot in the final episode of "RARE: Creatures of the Photo Ark" tomorrow night at 9/8 C on @PBS.
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Transforming your #pollinatormonday with the lifecycle of the cecropia moth (swipe to see). This giant moth is the largest in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches. It feeds on leaves and is known to pollinate apple, cherry, and plum blossoms. The lifecycle of this moth is mystifying. After hatching from an egg into a caterpillar, this solitary creature will eat many times its body weight in leaves as it grows. It will then find a safe place to attach its cocoon, such as the the underside of an elder tree leaf. The caterpillar will spin a cocoon of silk fibers where it will form a chrysalis, and develop an entirely new body.
Although it doesn’t look like much is going on, inside the cocoon is a very busy place. The caterpillar's body digests itself from the inside out to rebuild itself. The fluid breaks down the old caterpillar body into cells called imaginal cells, which have the potential to become any type of cell. The new body then forms from those cells, wings and all. This whole process takes about two weeks. When the time comes, fluid will secrete to soften the chrysalis and the fully formed moth will break through the fibers to dry its wings and enter the world. Now that’s a transformation!
Keep it up with those images of your pollinator gardens, milkweed and monarch images. Use the hashtag #pollinatorhero so I can follow along with you!
Where some see a pile of dung, I see a whole ecosystem of rare and beautiful creatures just waiting to board the Photo Ark. It just about makes up for the arduous trek through the mountains of Cameroon to get there! My journey around the world continues tonight in a brand new episode of #RarePBS starting at 9/8C.
People always ask me which animal is my favorite. My answer is: the next one. Big or small, every animal I photograph fascinates me. Like these dung beetles I found while photographing in Cameroon during Episode 2 of #RarePBS. Tune in to @PBS tomorrow night at 9/8C to watch me discover these creatures (in a pile of dung, of course).