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Critters of the Week

Critters of the Week

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

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Where Spotted: Reedy Creek
Common Name: Brown-headed Cowbird
Scientific Name: Molothrus ater
Male
Length:
7.5-8.7 in (19-22 cm)
Weight: 1.5-1.8 oz (42-50 g)
Wingspan: 14.2 in (36 cm)
Female
Length:
6.3-7.9 in (16-20 cm)
Weight: 1.3-1.6 oz (38-45 g)
Wingspan: 12.6-15.0 in (32-38 cm)

Cool Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • The Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds.
  • Social relationships are difficult to figure out in birds that do not build nests, but male and female Brown-headed Cowbirds are not monogamous. Genetic analyses show that males and females have several different mates within a single season.
  • Brown-headed Cowbird lay eggs in the nests of more than 220 species of birds. Recent genetic analyses have shown that most individual females specialize on one particular host species.
  • Some birds, such as the Yellow Warbler, can recognize cowbird eggs but are too small to get the eggs out of their nests. Instead, they build a new nest over the top of the old one and hope cowbirds don’t come back. Some larger species puncture or grab cowbird eggs and throw them out of the nest. But the majority of hosts don’t recognize cowbird eggs at all.
  • Cowbird eggs hatch faster than other species eggs, giving cowbird nestlings a head start in getting food from the parents. Young cowbirds also develop at a faster pace than their nest mates, and they sometimes toss out eggs and young nestlings or smother them in the bottom of the nest.
  • In winter, Brown-headed Cowbirds may join huge roosts with several blackbird species. One such mixed roost in Kentucky contained more than five million birds.
  • The oldest recorded Brown-headed Cowbird was a male, and at least 16 years 11 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Wisconsin.

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.

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Wartortle at Richmond SPCA

Hi! My name is Wartortle and I’m a lovely little lady looking for a loving home. Won’t you help me? I promise that I won’t ask for much… just a lifetime of love and devotion! I can’t wait to play and cuddle with my new family. Could you be the one I’m waiting for? Please ask to meet me today!

Age: 10 years, 1 month
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: Orange
ID: 49721701

Adopt Wartortle at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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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Critters of the Week

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

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Common Name:  Red Fox
Scientific Name: Vulpes vulpes
Body Length: 18–35 in
Tail Length: 11.8–21.9 in
Weight: 6-30 pounds

Quick Facts (Courtesy of Maymont Fox Page)

  • Red foxes can come in a variety of colors including black and a light blonde color. They are still red foxes, though, it is just a variation in their coat color.
  • Foxes have a really strong smell that some may mistake for a skunk. This is one reason why they do not make great pets!
  • Foxes have over 28 different vocalizations and individuals have their own unique calls.
  • Red foxes can live up to 15 years in a zoological setting, their lifespan in the wild is substantially shorter at about three years.
  • They are very agile, being capable of jumping over 2-metre-high (6 ft 7 in) fences, and swim well.

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.

Lab Coat at Richmond SPCA

Age: 2 years, 10 months
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: Black / White
Size: M (dog size guide)
ID: 49736114

Hey pals! My name is Lab Coat and I am the bestest girl in the whole world. OK, that may be more of my opinion than actual fact, but I can back it up! I already know how to sit when asked, so I would say that’s a pretty good example!

Adopt Lab Coat at Richmond SPCA

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading

Critters of the Week

Critters of the Week

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

Published

on

x

East Coast Towhee aka Eastern Towhee vs. West Coast Towhee aka Spotted Towhee

First up the Eastern Towhee (seen above)

Where Spotted: Westover Hills
Common Name: Eastern Towhee
Scientific Name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Length: 6.8-8.2 in (17.3-20.8 cm)
Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz (32-52 g)
Wingspan: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)

Quick Facts (Courtesy Cornell Lab)

  • Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size.
  • The Eastern Towhee and the very similar Spotted Towhee of western North America used to be considered the same species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. The two forms still occur together in the Great Plains, where they sometimes interbreed.
  • Eastern Towhees are common victims of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird. Female cowbirds lay eggs in towhee nests, then leave the birds to raise their cowbird young. In some areas cowbirds lay eggs in more than half of all towhee nests. Towhees, unlike some other birds, show no ability to recognize or remove the imposter’s eggs.
  • Eastern Towhees tend to be pretty solitary, and they use a number of threat displays to tell other towhees they’re not welcome. You may see contentious males lift, spread, or droop one or both wings, fan their tails, or flick their tails to show off the white spots at the corners. Studies have shown that male towhees tend to defend territories many times larger than needed simply to provide food.
  • The oldest known Eastern Towhee was a male in South Carolina, and at least 12 years, 3 months old.

Now the Spotted Towhee

The only real difference more spots on the Spotted Towhee and of course habitat.

Where Spotted: Anacortes, Washington
Common Name: Spotted Towhee
Scientific Name: Pipilo maculatus
Length: 6.7-8.3 in (17-21 cm)
Weight: 1.2-1.7 oz (33-49 g)
Wingspan: 11.0 in (28 cm)

Quick Facts Courtesy of Cornell Labs

  • Watch a Spotted Towhee feeding on the ground; you’ll probably observe its two-footed, backwards-scratching hop. This “double-scratching” is used by a number of towhee and sparrow species to uncover the seeds and small invertebrates they feed on. One Spotted Towhee with an unusable, injured foot was observed hopping and scratching with one foot.
  • The Spotted Towhee and the very similar Eastern Towhee used to be considered the same species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. The two forms still occur together in the Great Plains, where they sometimes interbreed. This is a common evolutionary pattern in North American birds – a holdover from when the great ice sheets split the continent down the middle, isolating birds into eastern and western populations that eventually became new species.
  • Early in the breeding season, male Spotted Towhees spend their mornings singing their hearts out, trying to attract a mate. Male towhees have been recorded spending 70 percent to 90 percent of their mornings singing. Almost as soon as they attract a mate, their attention shifts to other things, and they spend only about 5 percent of their time singing.
  • Spotted Towhees live in drier habitats than Eastern Towhees. Some scientists have suggested that the bold white spots on Spotted Towhees’ backs help them blend in to the sun-dappled undergrowth.
  • The oldest recorded Spotted Towhee was a male, and at least 11 years old when he was recaught and rereleased during banding operations in California in 2010.

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.

Happy Slider at Richmond SPCA

Age: 7 years, 2 months
Gender: Neutered Male
Color: Grey / White
ID: 51326596

Hello friends, my name is Happy Slider and I’m here to find a family of my very own. I haven’t always known the comfort of a home and I think the world is a pretty scary place at times. I need someone special like you to show me plenty of patience and kindness to help me overcome my fears and gain confidence. If you think that you can show me the devotion I deserve, then won’t you please be my hero and ask about adopting me today?

Adopt Happy Slider at Richmond SPCA

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading

Critters of the Week

Critters of the Week

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

Published

on

x

Where Spotted: Tuckahoe Creek Park
Common Name: Winter Wren
Scientific Name: Troglodytes hiemalis
Length: 3.1-4.7 in (8-12 cm)
Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (8-12 g)
Wingspan: 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm)

Quick Facts from Cornell Lab

  • Per unit weight, the Winter Wren delivers its song with 10 times more power than a crowing rooster.
  • The Winter Wren is almost identical to the Pacific Wren and Eurasian Wren, and the three were considered the same species until 2010. Genetic and other evidence prompted researchers to split them into the Pacific Wren of western North America, the Winter Wren of eastern North America, and the Eurasian Wren of the Old World.
  • Where the ranges of the Pacific Wren and Winter Wren come together, in British Columbia, the two almost identical species sing different songs. The males battle each other, but the females seem to choose only mates that sing “their” song—keeping interbreeding to a minimum. Find out more in Living Bird magazine.
  • The Americas are the land of the wren: more than 80 species live in North and South America, but only one wren occurs in the rest of the world (the Eurasian Wren).
  • The oldest recorded Winter Wren was a female and at least 6 years, 6 months old, when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California in 2009. She had been banded in the same state in 2003.
  • Male Winter Wrens build multiple nests within their territory. During courtship, males lead the female around to each nest and the female chooses which nest to use.

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.

Gayle at Richmond SPCA

Age: 8 years, 1 month
Gender: Spayed Female
Color: Red
Size: L (dog size guide)
ID: 51418700

Are you searching for a fun, friendly and adorable family member? My name is Gayle 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?

 

Adopt Gayle at Richmond SPCA

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

Continue Reading