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Critter of the Week

Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area or further afield and a critter up for adoption by Richmond SPCA.

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Where Spotted: Colonial Beach
Common Name: Royal Tern
Scientific Name: Thalasseus maximus
Length: 17.7-19.7 in (45-50 cm)
Weight: 13.8-15.2 oz (390-430 g)
Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 in (100-110 cm)

Quick Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • In Southern California in the early 1950s, populations of the Pacific sardine crashed while northern anchovy numbers boomed. The area’s abundant Royal Terns, which fed heavily on the sardine, became quite rare. However, the smaller Elegant Tern, which had been rare, suddenly became abundant and has remained so through the present. Royal Terns have slowly increased to about three dozen pairs in Southern California, most in San Diego County (as of 2019).
  • Royal Tern chicks leave the nest scrape within one day after hatching and congregate in a group known as a crèche (“nursery”), which can contain thousands of chicks ranging in age from 2–35 days old. Each Royal Tern parent feeds only its own chick, finding it in the crowd probably by recognizing its call.
  • Like many tern species, Royal Terns in their colonies perform a group behavior that is called a “dread” or a “panic.” Virtually all the breeding birds in the colony rise up slowly and fly together in silence over the colony site for up to 20 minutes. These flights typically happen early during colony formation, but it’s not known why. Normally, Royal Tern colonies are very noisy places, even at night.
  • The Royal Tern makes its nest scrape on the ground of low-lying islands. The pair defecates directly on the nest rim, perhaps to reinforce the nest against flooding. After a few weeks, the nest rim hardens.
  • The oldest recorded Royal Tern was at least 30 years, 6 months old when it was found in Belize in 2013. It had been banded in North Carolina in 1983.

If you’re a fan of original content like those photos above be sure to give our Instagram and Dickie’s Backyard Bird Blind Bonanza on FB a follow and consider making a donation.




Mac at Richmond SPCA

Are you searching for a fun, friendly and adorable family member? My name is Mac and I’m the guy for you! I am pretty lonely here by myself, just waiting for my special someone to come along. Won’t you please take me home today?

Age: 4 years, 3 months
Gender: Neutered Male
Color: Brown / White
Size: L (dog size guide)
ID: 47589834

Adopt Mac at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Critter of the Week

Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by Richmond SPCA.

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Where Spotted: Reedy Creek
Common Name: Clouded Sulphur
Scientific Name: Colias philodice
Wingspan: 1 3/8-2″

Quick Facts Courtesy of Mass Audubon

  • A century ago, the Clouded Sulphur was, in the words of Samuel Scudder “everywhere the commonest species to be found…” Today, it remains one of the most abundant species.
  • Males of this and other sulphur species congregate at puddles and other moist ground possibly to take nutrients from the wet soil. These so called “mud puddle clubs” or “puddling” groups may reach impressive proportions.
  • From mid spring to fall, Clouded Sulphurs are the prototypical meadow butterfly, cruising low over the grasstops with a vigorous, searching flight. During courtship, females respond to the male‘s pheromone, which is released when the male buffets her with his wings, causing the female “to extend the abdomen out from the hindwings such that the male can join.”
  • Atlas volunteers found this species taking nectar from 43 different species of plants.
  • Can be found continent-wide, from arctic Alaska to Newfoundland, southward to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Absent from southern California coastal regions and lower Florida; scarce along Gulf Coast.

If you’re a fan of original content like those photos above be sure to give our Instagram and Dickie’s Backyard Bird Blind Bonanza on FB a follow and consider making a donation.




Pocket at Richmond SPCA

Are you searching for a fun, friendly and adorable family member? My name is Pocket and I’m the girl for you! I am pretty lonely here by myself, just waiting for my special someone to come along. Won’t you please take me home today?

Age: 2 years, 1 month
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: White / Tan
Size: L (dog size guide)
ID: 48724902

 

Adopt Pocket at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

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Critter of the Week

Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by Richmond SPCA.

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Where Spotted: Bryan Park
Common Name: Chipping Sparrow
Scientific Name: Spizella passerina
Length: 4.7-5.9 in (12-15 cm)
Weight: 0.4-0.6 oz (11-16 g)
Wingspan: 8.3 in (21 cm)

Quick Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • The early naturalists had a gift for description you just don’t see anymore. In 1929, Edward Forbush called the Chipping Sparrow “the little brown-capped pensioner of the dooryard and lawn, that comes about farmhouse doors to glean crumbs shaken from the tablecloth by thrifty housewives.”
  • In much of the West, Chipping Sparrows disperse shortly after breeding to move to areas with better food resources. It’s not unusual to see Chipping Sparrows on alpine tundra or along roadsides in open grasslands. This results in the common misperception that they bred in those areas, when really they simply moved there to molt.
  • Chipping Sparrows typically build their nests low in a shrub or tree, but every once in a while they get creative. People have found their nests among hanging strands of chili peppers, on an old-fashioned mower inside a tool shed, and on a hanging basket filled with moss.
  • The nest of the Chipping Sparrow is of such flimsy construction that light can be seen through it. It probably provides little insulation for the eggs and young.
  • The oldest recorded Chipping Sparrow was at least 10 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Ontario in 1998. It had been banded in the same province in 1987.

If you’re a fan of original content like those photos above be sure to give our Instagram and Dickie’s Backyard Bird Blind Bonanza on FB a follow and consider making a donation.




Sylvia at Richmond SPCA

Are you searching for a fun, friendly and adorable family member? My name is Sylvia and I’m the girl for you! I am pretty lonely here by myself, just waiting for my special someone to come along. Won’t you please take me home today?

Age: 6 months
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: Brown / White
ID: 49034267

Adopt Sylvia at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

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Critter of the Week

Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by Richmond SPCA.

Published

on

This may look like a generic brownish bird but it is fact a young (1st year) Heermann’s Gull. Heermann is not an east coast bird he should be hanging out along a very narrow band of the west coast. This guy has been hanging in Hopewell for a while now.

Fully mature Heermann’s look dramatically different.

Photo Courtesy of Cornell Labs

Where Spotted: Hopewell Marina
Common Name: Heermann’s Gull
Scientific Name: Larus heermanni
Length: 18.1-20.9 in (46-53 cm)
Weight: 13.1-22.7 oz (371-643 g)
Wingspan: 40.9-45.3 in (104-115 cm)

Quick Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • Heermann’s Gulls have an unusual “backwards” migration: they breed mostly south of the United States and then move north for the nonbreeding season. After breeding is over in July, the gulls quickly come north all the way to southern Canada. They head back southward by December, and most breeders are at the breeding islands by March.
  • Perhaps as a result of increasing populations in Mexico, some Heermann’s Gulls now breed in California, with the first successful nests at Seaside in central California, where they have nested on artificial islands and rooftops since 1999.
  • The name of Heermann’s Gull refers to Adolphus Lewis Heermann, an American doctor and naturalist who traveled through western North America in the 1850s, as surgeon for the Pacific Railroad Survey expedition.
  • The Heermann’s Gull, like many other gulls, frequently steals food from other birds and often targets Brown Pelicans. An adult Heermann’s Gull is most likely to try to steal food from an adult pelican, and an immature gull is more likely to steal from an immature pelican. In the field of animal behavior, the word for stealing is “kleptoparasitism.”
  • The oldest recorded Heermann’s Gull was a female, and at least 24 years old when she was caught and released in Oregon in 2009. She had been banded in Mexico in 1985.

If you’re a fan of original content like those photos above be sure to give our Instagram and Dickie’s Backyard Bird Blind Bonanza on FB a follow and consider making a donation.




Mink at Richmond SPCA

Are you here to meet a luxurious young lady with a smile that is sure to melt your heart? Well, look no further! Mink is a sweet little lady who is excited to meet new people, and make friends. She is patiently awaiting your arrival at the Richmond SPCA, so come and meet her today!

Age: 5 years, 4 months
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: Brown / White
Size: M (dog size guide)
ID: 42044685

Adopt Mink at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

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