The Assorted Wildlife page has 84 images of Warblers, Sparrows, Finches, Bullock’s Orioles, Scrub Jays,
Belted Kingfishers, Mockingbirds, Woodpeckers and Turkey Vultures. Besides birds, there are several images
of Audubon’s Cottontail Rabbit, Squirrels, Lizards, Red-Eared Sliders, Katydids and nymphs, and Ladybugs.
 Some supporting images taken in other locations have been included to add content, context and detail.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

Coots and Grebes          Cormorants           Ducks and Geese

Egrets and Herons          Hummingbirds          Common Loon

Pelicans     Phoebes and Blackbirds     Raptors     Assorted Wildlife


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


House Finches X1301 M

A male (left) and female House Finch perched in front of a clear blue sky at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

House Finches are in the American Rosefinch family, along with the Purple Finch and Cassin’s Finch.
The red color of the male, derived from fruits and berries in its diet, varies in intensity with the season.
House Finches primarily eat grains, seeds, fruits and berries, but they occasionally eat small insects.

All of the landscape (horizontal) large version images linked from the thumbnails are 1500 pixels wide.
Portrait (vertical) images are 1200 pixels tall (1290 pixels with title bar). Images designated with an “M”
in the shot number are 5:4 aspect ratio, 1500 x 1290 with a title bar, or 1500 x 1200 without a title bar.
Some of the portrait images are also designated as “M”, and are 1500 pixels tall (plus the title bar).


House Finch Female on Aloe 2126


House Finch Female on Aloe 2128

A female House Finch on Aloe, posing in the Desert Garden at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino.
The House Finch is a sparrow-sized bird. Females have a very mildly striped head and heavy streaking
on their lighter breast and belly. They originally only lived in the western US and Mexico, but caged birds
were imported into New York City as “Hollywood Finches” and sold in the 1940s. To avoid prosecution
under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, dealers and owners released the birds. Living in unforested land,
they spread across the eastern US, displacing the native Purple Finches and House Sparrows. They
were also introduced into Hawaii in the late 1800s, where they are now quite common residents.


House Finch 2227

A male House Finch perched on a cactus flower, in a desert garden near my home in Burbank, CA.
First year females are typically attracted to males with the most intense shade of red on their heads.


House Finch 2228

A male House Finch poses on a cactus flower in a desert garden in Burbank, CA.

House Finches are small-bodied with fairly large beaks. Their wings are short, which
makes the length of their tails seem quite long in comparison. The House Finch has a
relatively shallow notch in its tail compared to most finches, seen in the image above.


House Finch Yellow Variant 6525 M


House Finch Yellow Variant 6528 M

A Yellow-variant House Finch with an orange cast on the head and throat, late afternoon in December.

Most male House Finches are red but color variants do occur (orange is more common than yellow).
Originally thought to be caused by changes in diet, it was then considered a genetic difference with diet
possibly altering the degree of color change (birds in the same flock do not all show similar variations).

The causes of the color variations are still not well understood, and may be due to mating pressure.
Red males breed earlier and have more success with the younger females, and early nests tend
to do better, but the red males do not work as hard to feed the chicks. The Yellow males tend
to breed later than red males, possibly because they have to look longer to find their mate.

Older, more experienced females prefer males who will feed their chicks more often.


Thoughtful House Finch X1263 M

A male House Finch thinking deep thoughts on a Eucalyptus tree at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.
He is probably wondering whether or not it would be worth trying orange or yellow for the next year.

Apparently, Yellow-variant House Finches tend to work harder at feeding the chicks than Red males,
and while there is selection pressure by first year females on the males to be redder, the experienced
females prefer males who will perform better in feeding the chicks, and often choose yellow or orange
males over the red males. The older birds with the most success raising chicks are the orange males,
who compromise between the colors, breeding relatively early like red males and contributing more
to feeding like the yellow males. This combination results in the orange males raising more chicks.

It seems the most important characteristic in older males is the condition of the bird. Males do not
necessarily maintain the same color over time... some start out yellow and turn red, and some red
males are yellow the following year. Some stay red their entire lives. Males who do not attract a
mate one year tend to be redder the next year, probably hoping to attract a first year female.
Males who breed successfully one year are able to change to any color the following year.

Based upon these empirical observations, it seems that the breeding pattern is dependent both on state and context. A redder color indicates better condition and better reproductive success if the male is a first time breeder in an environment with a lot of inexperienced females. Orange is the best color if the male is an experienced breeder and is in an environment which contains a lot of experienced females. The context is important to understanding the breeding pattern as it relates to color.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Belding’s Savannah Sparrow 3873

The Belding’s Savannah Sparrow is an endangered subspecies of Savannah Sparrow, with a thick-based,
somewhat short seed-eating bill. They are often permanent residents of salt marshes on the Pacific coast,
such as the Bolsa Chica wetlands, and have darker, thicker streaks on the underside and darker streaks
on the back than the migratory northern Savannah Sparrows. Belding’s never raise a crest, and the head
appears rounded (without a peak on the rear of the crown). This individual, taken on the boat ramp at the
Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge in March, is likely on its way to Bolsa Chica or another of the coastal marshes.


Baby Sparrow 7456


Baby Sparrow 7474

This is a baby House Sparrow that we rescued when it fell out of its nest and was abandoned before it was old enough to fly or feed itself. I spent a week feeding it mealy worms by hand, and then took it outside to get acquainted with trees again and try out its wings. These were taken on the first day out with a 60mm Micro lens from very close range. It tried flying, but did not want to get very far from me. The second day was more successful. After the first try getting the baby to fly, it came back and landed on my shoulder. I took it down, petted it and told it how it should go look for some friends and possibly a mate, and tossed it into the air again. This time it flew across the street, chirped at me from a tree, and then left on its great adventure.


Bannister Surfing Sparrow 0020 M

Speaking of great adventures... here a young House Sparrow has apparently discovered one of the
Southern California pastimes: surfing. In this case... bannister surfing. The bird landed atop the bannister,
edged over to the slope, and skid down as I frantically whipped the camera up to take this shot. Looked like fun.


Sparrow Male 9254


Sparrow Female 9243c

Here are two close portraits of a breeding male and female House Sparrow, taken alongside one of the smaller of the many La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park. House Sparrows are one of the most common of birds, but there are not all that many opportunities for a good close portrait, so here they are.


Sparrow Pampas Grass 4059 M

A female House Sparrow on Pampas Grass alongside the largest of the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park.

House Sparrows are similar in size to House Finches, and both are members of the Passerine birds (order
Passeriformes), which are the perching birds. House Sparrows are the eponymous Passerine species. The
female House Sparrow looks much like the juvenile, and a lot like females of many other seed-eating birds.
They are very social birds, and primarily eat grain and weed seeds along with berries, insects and worms.


Audubon’s Warbler 8045

In my opinion, one of the cutest of the Passerine birds is the Audubon’s Warbler (a Yellow-rumped Warbler).
This one was taken posing on a branch in Wildwood Canyon in the hills above Burbank, CA. It was fluffing up
the normally less apparent yellow shoulder feathers, and right after this shot it flew over and landed on my hat.
This was the second time I had seen this individual (on two consecutive days), and the bird was quite friendly.


Audubon’s Warbler Drinking 9551-55 LG

A 1505 x 1975 composite of an Audubon’s Warbler drinking from a water fountain.

Another Audubon’s Warbler in the Wildwood Canyon area, this time a little lower in the
canyon at Stough Park, catching a drink on a hot day from a convenient drinking fountain.
The bird knows that this particular fountain has a leak, and rather than drinking from the little
puddle in front of the fountain, prefers to drink from the small amount of water welling up out
of the fountain itself. First, it looked at me (probably asking if I want to drink first), then eyed
me sideways, took a quick drink, and looked at me again before flying to a nearby tree.


Audubon’s Warbler Bamboo 8014

One final portrait of an Audubon’s Warbler, this time in the bamboo next to the Japanese Pavilion,
a part of the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Hancock Park, next to the La Brea Tar Pits.
This was an extremely attractive scene, and the image makes a beautiful 30 inch canvas print.
Not only has it been popular with clients, but I have a framed 30” canvas print on my own wall.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Bullock’s Oriole 4963-74

The first of two composites of male Bullock’s Orioles, taken at 420mm from
long distance in Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge on a beautiful clear day in April.

The male Bullock’s Oriole is a small but very colorful New World blackbird, related to
the Baltimore Oriole. The males have strongly contrasting orange and black plumage,
a black throat patch, and white wing bars. They have a straight, pointed insect-eaters bill
and a black line extending from the bill through the eyes to their black crown. Wing coverts
are also white, forming a covert wing patch. Females look very different, with gray-brown on
their back, dull yellow breasts and tail, and an olive crown without a black line across the eye.


Bullock’s Oriole 4981-94

This was the first time I had seen a Bullock’s Oriole, so although it was high in a tree
at a significant distance, I took a series of images just so I could identify it later. Since
the bird only covered about 5% of the frame, the images are not available, but I cropped
down eight of the images and put them together to create these two composites for you.

Bullock’s Orioles prefer the edges of woodlands and scrub forests, and forage in trees for
berries and nectar (esp. Eucalyptus in California), and make short flights to catch insects.
Once combined with the Baltimore Oriole into a single species (Northern Oriole), they are
now recognized as separate species, although they hybridize where the ranges overlap.


Bullock’s Oriole X4125 M

A closer portrait of a male Bullock’s Oriole high in a tree in early April at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.
In this case, I was able to approach the tree (the other tree was on the other side of a canal), so the
bird covers more of the frame. This image, taken in flatter light during a light overcast, is available.

Bullock’s Orioles are generally solitary birds, although they can be found in pairs early in the year.
The brilliant orange bird really draws your attention, as it is very different than anything else around.


Belted Kingfisher Female X5569 M

A female Belted Kingfisher, shot at distance across the pond at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge late on a September afternoon. Females have a rust-red band below the blue-gray band on their breast, males have only the blue band. They are medium sized, stocky birds with a ragged crest atop their large head.


Belted Kingfisher Female X5329


Belted Kingfisher Flight X5344

A male Belted Kingfisher screams while in flight over Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge in the late afternoon.

As the name suggests, the Belted Kingfisher primarily eats fish, and it is generally found around water.
They also eat mollusks, amphibians, small mammals, birds and reptiles, insects and occasionally berries.
They nest in underground burrows, which is quite unusual for North American birds. They dig a long tunnel in
a stream bank, usually over six feet long, terminated in a chamber with a turned floor and no nesting material.
The inner toes are fused together into a single long flattened toe which the bird uses to excavate its burrow.
Both the fused inner toes and the outer toe, which is as long as the fused toes, have sharply pointed claws.


Belted Kingfisher Sunset Flight X5653

A Belted Kingfisher in flight over the pond at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge at sunset in September.

Once Belted Kingfishers establish a territory, they pretty much stay where they are. They boldly pursue anyone
or anything entering their territory, including humans, screaming, chattering, and chasing it until it leaves the area.
Belted Kingfishers dive for prey. They perch near the water and watch below the surface for a small fish, spring
off their branch and dive directly on it. They then return with the prey to their perch, smack it against the branch,
then they flip the prey up in the air and swallow it head-first. If the fish is too large, they leave it protruding from
their beak until digestive juices break down the foreparts of the fish before they swallow the rest. If the water
is not clear and they cannot spot fish, they go after crayfish and other crustaceans. Belted Kingfishers are
top predators in their environments, but they are attacked by raptors (they dive underwater to escape).


Turkey Vulture 1859

A Turkey Vulture taken at 420mm as it soars over Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge on a May afternoon.
This bird is somewhat unusual in that it has short central primaries at the tips of both of its wings.

The Turkey Vulture is the most widespread of the New World Vultures. It is a scavenger and feeds
almost exclusively on carrion. It got its name from the resemblance of its head to a male wild turkey.
The Western Turkey Vulture (C.a. meridionalis) is the most migratory subspecies, ranging as far as
South America from its breeding grounds, which range from southern Canada to Baja California.
Northern populations migrate more than southern, traveling into areas beyond the southern birds.
Originally considered to be a Raptor (bird of prey), DNA tests have placed it in the Stork family.


Turkey Vulture 7533

An 850mm portrait of a Turkey Vulture as it takes off from a perch at Sepulveda, at mid-day in December.
This shot is unusual as it was taken from nearly the same height as the bird (they are usually far overhead).

Turkey Vultures have a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet, half that of California Condors and about the size of an Eagle.
Their feathers are brownish-black except on the under-wings, which are silvery-gray with a brown-black lining.
The red head, bare of feathers, is small in proportion to its body. The nostrils are perforated through the head.
The bill is hooked and ivory, the two front toes are quite long, resembling a chicken foot, and have long talons.


Turkey Vulture 7735

A Turkey Vulture soars over Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge, searching for carrion at mid-day in January.

The Turkey Vulture soars on thermal updrafts with its wings held in a shallow V (dihedral), rarely flapping. It
teeters in flight as it follows the thermals, using its sense of smell to find decomposition odors from carrion.
Their olfactory lobe is highly developed, and their sense of smell is exceptionally acute, especially for a bird.
They almost never attack living prey, and prefer recently dead carrion. They do occasionally eat plant matter.


Turkey Vulture 7746 M

A Turkey Vulture soars over a field at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge at mid-day in January.

Turkey Vultures have an exceptionally well-developed immune system, and their digestive system
kills bacteria and other disease organisms (these systems are being studied by medical science).
They are sometimes accused by ranchers of carrying anthrax or hog cholera, but their digestive
system destroys the organisms, although their droppings can harm trees and other vegetation.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Mockingbird 0182


Mockingbird Female 7312

At left, a male Mockingbird under the canopy at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge in the late afternoon in September,
and at right, a female Mockingbird in the early afternoon in January, perched near my home in Burbank, CA.

Mockingbirds are in the Mimidae family, and are best known for mimicking the songs of birds and insects,
often in rapid succession. Their scientific name (Mimus polyglottos) means many-tongued mimic. They are
so skillful at imitating sounds (even squeaky hinges, barking dogs, sirens and other non-bird sounds) that an
acoustical analysis cannot differentiate between the Mockingbird and the original source. Adult males can
have up to 200 sounds and songs in their repertoires, and can sing as many as 1000 songs in an hour.


Mockingbird Juvenile 1461

A juvenile Northern Mockingbird at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge in the early evening in August. Juveniles
have streaks on their backs and chests and grayish-green irises. This one has lost most of the streaks
on its chest, and its irises are already orange, but streaks on the back are still present (out of picture).

Mockingbirds eat insects, seeds and fruit. The Northern Mockingbird is the only North American species, and
has been adopted as the state bird in five states. They are known for their intelligence, and have been known
to recognize humans who are known threats or intruders on nesting areas and attack them. They aggressively
defend their nests, and harass dogs, cats and other intruders (they even attack large birds like hawks). There
have been a number of incidents of Mockingbirds ”going postal” on postal carriers, disrupting mail delivery.
They have even been known to attack their own reflection, flying into glass and knocking themselves out.

Mockingbirds are closely related to the thrashers and thrushes. They are about the size of a Robin, but they
are thinner and have longer legs and tails. They have yellow irises, though some are orange as seen above.
They have parallel wing bars and a large white patch on the short, broad wing, and a long, down-curved bill.
They are gray-brown above and pale below. Males are larger than females but are similar in appearance.


Scrub Jay 6361 M

A 420mm close portrait of a Western Scrub Jay in the early afternoon at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

The Western Scrub Jay has a blue head, wings and tail, a gray-brown back and an off-white throat patch.
They have a very distinctive harsh cry, and with Ravens and Crows are among the most intelligent of birds.
They store food in numerous caches, and can remember where they are. They plan ahead, and implement
complex strategies to keep other birds from stealing their food. They are also mischievous, and memorize
where other birds cache food and steal from them. Other than the dolphins and primates, they are the only
creatures with the proven ability to plan ahead. The brain-to-body mass ratio rivals that of chimpanzees.


Scrub Jay HS0552


Scrub Jay HS0558

200mm telephoto close portraits of a Western Scrub Jay at Descanso Gardens.

Western Scrub Jays eat lizards and small amphibians, eggs and small birds, insects, grain, nuts and berries.
Coastal (California) Scrub Jays are a brighter blue than inland birds, and have a distinctive white breast band.
They have a rounded head with no crest, and they are very often loud and assertive, as well as quite inquisitive.
They are very territorial, and scream at other birds and animals (including humans) who get near their territory.


Scrub Jay HS0587

A 200mm telephoto portrait of a Western Scrub Jay at Descanso Gardens.

The favorite food of many local Scrub Jays is acorns, and they often steal them from
Acorn Woodpeckers and from other jays, looking around to make sure nobody is watching
before they hide them in a new spot. An acorn can travel quite a ways before being eaten.

Scrub Jays are well known as planters of acorns. They can move thousands of acorns a year,
and often hide them in damp soil. Many are not eaten, and many of these sprout into seedlings.


Acorn Woodpecker 0134


Acorn Woodpecker 0135

An Acorn Woodpecker searches around for sign of Scrub Jays and other woodpeckers who might steal
its goodies (the hidden acorn is under the scale of the palm tree, bottom of left image, if you want to get it).

Acorn Woodpeckers are such clowns... and their call is a cackling sound which is almost like laughter.
They live in large groups, breed cooperatively, and hoard, steal and move tens of thousands of acorns.


Acorn Woodpecker 6435c

A male Acorn Woodpecker peeks out of a granary, created by pecking a cavity in a telephone pole.
Green acorns are stored in the granary, and as they dry out they are moved to small holes (and stolen).

Acorn Woodpeckers practice cooperative breeding, a rare phenomenon among birds where more than
two birds take care of nestlings. Often, nests are located inside storage granaries, and sometimes grown
offspring stay in the nest to guard the granary and to help raise the next generation. Acorn Woodpeckers
form breeding collectives of up to seven males and three females, plus up to ten non-breeding helpers.


Northern Flicker 3759 M

A female Red-Shafted Northern Flicker at Sepulveda on a dark, heavily overcast afternoon in March.

The Northern Flicker is larger than the Acorn Woodpecker, and is one of the only woodpeckers which
feeds on the ground. They eat berries and other fruit, seeds and nuts, but their primary food is insects.
Red-Shafted Flickers (western North America) are named for red primary shafts and red under the tail.
Males also have a red mustache. Yellow-Shafted Flickers (eastern North America) have yellow shafts
on their primaries and yellow under the tail. They eat large numbers of ants (up to 45% of their diet).


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Squirrel X4171

A California Ground Squirrel poses for the photographer alongside a path in Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

California Ground Squirrels have a mottled appearance on their upper parts and an exceptionally bushy tail.
They live in burrows (which they excavate themselves), and spend a lot of time either in or near their burrow.
Their burrow systems often house multiple generations, forming a sort of colony, with each squirrel having
its own entrance. They typically forage for food or relax within 450 feet (137 m) of their burrow entrance.


Squirrel 0787


Squirrel 0844

Two California Ground Squirrels, one munching on a nut and the other flicking its tail.

These squirrels are highly vulnerable to predation by hawks and other Raptors, Coyotes, cats, dogs,
and many other predators, and are wary of approach when on the ground. They often scurry to a tree
at the first sign of approach, except in areas where they are used to getting food from humans. In
Yosemite National Park, the Squirrels in some areas approach closely and beg without mercy.


Squirrel Eating Oak Galls 8069 M

A California Ground Squirrel eating Oak Galls at mid-afternoon in January.

Oak Galls can resemble berries or apples, but they are not fruit. They are caused
by several different species of small wasps which lay eggs in newly grown oak stems
and inject growth-regulating chemicals into these stems. As a result of the eggs hatching,
the tree responds to the growth chemicals, forming a gall which acts as both a food source
and a protective environment for the wasp larvae. Depending on the species of wasp, galls
can be smooth, spiked or rough-surfaced, and range from grape to apple-sized growths.
Oak galls most often form at the end of new stems, and they have a spongy interior.


Napping Squirrel 6277

A California Ground Squirrel resting on an oak branch at mid-day in December.
Squirrels often take naps on convenient branches, to the point where my dog often
checks branches on his mid-day walks to see if he can find one. Barking at napping
squirrels (and chasing squirrels on the ground into trees) is Harry’s favorite pastime.


Audubon's Cottontail Rabbit HS1533

A 300mm telephoto portrait of an Audubon’s Cottontail Rabbit at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge in July.

The Audubon’s Cottontail Rabbit (aka Desert Cottontail) is a common rabbit in the chaparral environment
in Southern California. This one was traversing a grassy area at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge, and stopped
for a moment to take a look at the odd human carrying all of that odd-looking black stuff. When I took this
shot he jumped straight up at the click of the shutter and took off running. Below is an action composite.

These rabbits are usually most active in the early morning and late afternoon (this is a late afternoon shot).
Desert Cottontails are 13” to 17” long, and carry their 3” to 4” ears erect. The same color as a squirrel, with
white fur on their belly, they use burrows dug by other animals rather than digging their own. Like all other
cottontails, this rabbit has a rounded tail with white fur on the underside, easily visible as it is escaping.


Audubon's Cottontail Rabbit HS1535-36 XL

A 1600 x 890 version of the two-image XL composite (3000 x 1500)
of an Audubon’s Cottontail Rabbit running at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

The rabbit sprang straight up into the air at the sound of the shutter when I took his portrait (see above),
then took off running. Obviously, he was not used to mechanical sounds, and even though he was curious
about the objects I was carrying, when he heard the click he figured that getting away was more important.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Red-eared Slider 0531

A Red-eared Slider basking on a rock at the LA Arboretum in late May at mid-day.

Probably the best known of all turtles, the Red-eared Slider is the most popular pet turtle in the US,
and many of them have become invasive species outside of their native areas due to pet releases.
They get their name from the red stripe on the sides of their head, and their ability to slide off rocks.
Their carapace can reach over a foot from head to tail end, but they average 5” to 8” in shell length.


Red-eared Slider 0828


Red-eared Slider 0829

An older male Red-eared Slider basking on a rock, identifiable by the thick tail and the dark olive-green
coloring along with the subdued red markings. The shells of mature males are smaller than mature females,
and males have longer claws on their feet as well as a slightly concave plastron (the bottom of their shell),
which helps to stabilize the male when he is balancing atop the female’s carapace as they are mating.

Older melanistic (dark-skinned) males with faded red stripes are often difficult to distinguish from the native
Pacific Pond Turtle. The easiest way to tell is the serrated edge at the rear of the Red-eared Slider’s shell.


Red-eared Slider 1220

A highly-figured young Red-eared Slider at the LA Arboretum in the early afternoon in mid-May.
There are plenty of Red-eared Sliders at Sepulveda Refuge, but as in the image below from the
Egrets and Herons page, they are often far across the pond, so I am using images taken at the
LA Arboretum and Franklin Canyon to give you some close portraits instead of distant shots.


Great Blue Flasher X0475 M

A Great Blue Heron and a group of Red-Eared Sliders from across the pond at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.
The bird was actually trying to cool off on a hot day, letting a little breeze in, but you know what this looks like.


Red-eared Slider 7807

A Red-eared Slider basking on a log at Franklin Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, at mid-afternoon in August.

Red-eared Sliders originated areas around the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, and prefer places
around still, warm water. They like to climb onto rocks and logs and bask in the sun, often together in groups.
They are almost entirely aquatic, but they are cold-blooded and leave the water to regulate their temperature.
During the day, they usually alternate between water activities and basking in the sun to warm themselves.


Red-eared Slider 8033 M

An algae-coated Red-eared Slider poses for the camera while basking on a log at Franklin Canyon.

Red-eared Sliders are omnivores, and eat aquatic plants, fish, crustaceans, amphibians and insects.
Their skin has a green and yellow stripe pattern. Their shell consists of a carapace (top) and plastron
(bottom), which are connected together by a bridge made of bone between the fore and hind limbs.
Their domed shell is divided into plates called scutes, which are made of keratin (like fingernails).
The beak is also made of keratin, which easily cuts flesh and plants, and they have sharp claws.


Red-eared Slider 8039

An algae-coated Red-eared Slider basking on a log at Franklin Canyon in the late afternoon in mid-August.

Red-eared Sliders have well-developed senses, and can see in color above and below the water. They
have a keen sense of smell, which helps them find prey. They can hear, although they lack an ear opening.
Their tympanic membranes are covered with skin, and they can sense low frequency sounds and vibration.
There are nerves running throughout their shell, and they are sensitive to touch on the shell. They live up to
20 years in the wild, and in captivity, a healthy Red-eared Slider can live for 40 years (I know someone
who had one for 42 years, since they were 14 years old. That was one seriously long-lived pet turtle).


Red-eared Slider HS5861

A Red-eared Slider approaches the photographer for a closer look across the algae on Franklin Canyon pond.

Red-eared Sliders have been introduced throughout the world, especially near populated areas, primarily due to
released pets. Considered an invasive species in many locations as they mature earlier than native terrapins and
breed faster, plus they out-compete the natives for basking space, breeding and nesting sites, and food sources.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Bluebelly Lizard 1903

The Western Fence Lizard (Bluebelly Lizard) is a fairly small lizard that is about 7-8 inches long
including the tail (assuming the tail has not broken off and regenerated). They are sandy-brown
or greenish-brown to black in color, blue on the belly sides, with yellow on the rear of the limbs.
The blue markings on females are light or absent, and juveniles have no blue on their bellies.


Bluebelly Lizard 1904 M


Bluebelly Lizard 1907 M

Western Fence Lizards are often found basking in the sun on rocks, logs, trees or other surfaces.
Males defend their territory and try to attract females with a head-bobbing and push-up display.
This individual is most likely either a female with no blue markings or a juvenile. As I cane in
for a closeup, it posed nicely (above right and below) and you can see no blue markings.


Bluebelly Lizard 1910

A female or juvenile Western Fence Lizard poses for a close portrait while basking on a rock.

The Western Fence Lizard is a common lizard in California. It is a member of the spiny lizards. Their tail is easily detached as a defensive measure, and it is capable of being regenerated. They eat spiders and insects, and recent studies have shown that they are important in controlling Lyme disease.

When a tick carrying Lyme disease bites a Western Fence Lizard, a protein in the lizard’s blood kills the Lyme bacterium, cleansing the tick of the disease. Ticks in areas where Bluebellies live typically show the disease in about 5% of the population. In areas without these lizards, 45% of the ticks or more have the disease. This may explain why Lyme disease is far less common in California than in northeastern states. Lyme disease is most often carried by nymphs, which commonly bite lizards.


Bluebelly Lizard 2017

A large and exceptionally attractive dark phase adult male Western Fence Lizard who shows the blue
markings and some greenish scales on its back, posing while sunning on a log with a colorful background.


Bluebelly Lizard 2104

A top view of the back of a dark phase Western Fence Lizard showing the keeled, spiny scales.
These overlapping, pointed scales are the source for the common genus name (Spiny Lizards).
Western Fence Lizards lizards can lighten or darken considerably in response to temperature,
and when the lizards are in dark phase their scale markings can become much harder to see.
Their tail is typically 1.5 times the body length from snout to vent (unless it has regenerated).


Bluebelly Lizard 7126

Close detail of a light phase male Western Fence Lizard, showing the scattered blue and green scales.

Western Fence Lizards maintain their body temperature within a fairly narrow range by basking in the sun
when cold and hiding in shady crevices when they get too hot. I remember as a child looking for these guys
while I was out searching for Horny Toads. We would pick them up, turn them over, and tickle their bellies.
They would just lay there, and I swear they were smiling. They seemed to like having their bellies tickled.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Bluebelly Lizard 9567 16x9

A Western Fence Lizard hiding in a very apt place to cool off on a hot day. Where? On a Western Fence, of course.

Note the greenish scales scattered around on the back of the lizard, and the keeled, spiny character of the scales.
Also, notice the strange, very long rear foot of this lizard. I do not know what to make of this extended central toe.


Bluebelly Lizard Display 9811

A male Western Fence Lizard (Bluebelly) in the midst of a territorial display. They begin the display with
head bobs, then transition to a series of push-ups which show the blue markings on their throat and belly.
When nearing the top of the push-up, the lizard flattens its body sideways to better display the markings.
These displays are done both to keep the other males away, and as a mating display to attract females.


Bluebelly Lizard 9819


Bluebelly Lizard 9820c

This Western Fence Lizard has a regenerated tail. Note how the thickness drops off rapidly about 1/2 inch
behind the rear legs, and notice the blunt tip and the relative shortness of its tail. At right, a closeup shows
how it is difficult to see the blue markings when the lizard is in its normal body position. Compare with the
image just above, where this lizard is displaying and flattening its body vertically to show the markings.


Bluebelly Lizard X0097 M

A strongly marked adult female Western Fence Lizard. Note the dark bars.
This is a 1000 x 1600 image that allows examination of detail in the scales.

Females do not have the scattered blue or green scales on their back.


California Alligator Lizard 5171

The California Alligator Lizard is a foot long lizard with a longitudinal fold between the back and the belly,
dark bands and large, bony scales on the back, and white spots on the sides of the dark bands. They have
a large alligator-like head, light yellow eyes, and a prehensile regenerable tail which breaks off for defense.
The longitudinal fold, made of small granular scales, allows the body to expand to hold food, eggs or young.

They have strong jaws and teeth and can inflict quite a bite if threatened, but they mostly eat lizards and mice.
It is quite rare for them to grow large enough to eat a human or destroy a major city (tongue deeply in cheek).


California Alligator Lizard 5175

A close detail shot of a California Alligator Lizard, pausing for a portrait while slithering through the tree litter.
California Alligator Lizards are most often in grassland, open forest and chapparal, but they like visiting homes.
They move with a snake-like undulating motion, often tucking their rear legs in and pulling with only the front legs.
They have short legs for their body length, and if the tail has not been regenerated it can be twice the body length.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Insect Macros

I am going to wrap up this section with a few insect macros of Katydids and Ladybugs.


Katydid 3088


Katydid 2189

A series of detail shots of a Scudderia Katydid (either Scudderia furcata, the Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid
or Scudderia mexicana, the Mexican Bush Katydid), both of which live in the Los Angeles area. The image
at left on the daisy is a female, as the ovipositor can be seen curving upward between the hairy protrusions.


Katydid 2187c M

A detail crop of a Scudderia Bush Katydid showing the head, mouth parts, leg and wing detail.

Katydids (Tettigonids) are leaf-shaped insects similar to grasshoppers, but with longer antennae.
They produce sound via stridulation of sound-organs on the hind angles of their front wings. Their
stridulation sounds like “ka-ty-did, ka-ty-didn’t”, which is the source of their common name. They
stridulate by rubbing a scraper on one forewing against the toothed edge of the other forewing.


Katydid 2191

An extreme close frontal portrait of a Scudderia Bush Katydid showing the facial detail.

Typical Katydids are green, but they can be red-orange, yellow, brown or a bubblegum pink. The
odder katydids are rare and caused by erythrism, caused by a recessive gene similar to albinism.
Breeding experiments in the Audubon Butterfly and Insectarium in New Orleans have yielded a
veritable rainbow of colored Katydids, which they keep in the aptly named “Rainbow Room”.
They have yellow with pink legs, taupe, red, pink, orange, gray, tan, and of course green.


Katydid Colorful Hideaway 5908

A Scudderia Bush Katydid eyes the photographer from a vibrantly colorful perch inside a rose.

Scudderia Katydids eat leaves of trees and shrubs, flowers, fruit and stems, especially citrus fruit.
The Fork-tailed Bush Katydid can cause a lot of damage in a citrus orchard. They often take a single
bite from a fruit and then move on to another one, so a few can damage a lot of fruit in a short period.


Katydid Nymph 2443

A Scudderia Katydid nymph perched atop a daisy. The brilliant, highly-figured bronze body
drew my eye from a distance, and it obliged me by posing for a series of images while checking
the daisy for tasty morsels. This Katydid nymph was one of the most attractive insects I have seen.


Katydid Nymph 2457c

A detail crop of a Scudderia Katydid nymph on a daisy (either S. furcata or S. mexicana).


Katydid Nymph 2464

A Scudderia Bush Katydid nymph with white-banded black antennae poses on a daisy,
displaying its highly-figured bronze body for the photographer while searching for food.


Katydid Nymph 2470

A Scudderia Bush Katydid nymph (either S. furcata or S. mexicana) on a daisy.

Scudderia Katydids (Bush Katydids) in southern California are generally either the
Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid (Scudderia furcata) or Mexican Bush Katydid (S. mexicana).
both of which have the white-banded black antennae. Their species ranges overlap in LA.


Katydid Nymph 2472


Katydid Nymph 5181

Above are two comparative images of Scudderia Katydid nymphs, an older nymph on the left and a
younger nymph on the right, perched on a rose. Katydid nymphs molt their skins several times as they
grow, their appearance changing radically, but their black, white-banded antennae remain identifiable.
The young nymph on the right (the first instar) still has its prominent egg tooth showing atop its head.


7-spot Golden Ladybug 5615


7-spot Golden Ladybug 5621

A golden 7-spot Ladybug traversing a yellow rose. The 7-spot Ladybird beetle is the most common
species in Europe and the one originally named Lady, and is also one of the most common in the US.
Most 7-spot Ladybugs are red and black... this golden one on a yellow rose is into color coordination.
Actually, it seems that golden ladybugs are somewhat rare, and this individual and its choice of
location were unusual enough in my experience that I had to get some extreme closeups.


Ladybug 1517

A Ladybug (probably a Convergent Ladybird) searches a leaf for prey at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

Ladybird Beetles (Coccinelids, or Ladybugs) are predatory insects, primarily eating aphids and other
scale insects, including larvae and pupae. Some species feed on mites, mealybugs, fungus or plants.
Ladybird Beetles were originally named for the Virgin Mary in medieval Europe. Their colors are a
warning of toxicity to insect-eating birds and other predators. They can secrete a foul substance
from their leg joints when threatened, and their blood contains foul tasting alkaloid toxins.


The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collection where a Gallery can be selected.


Direct Links:

Sparrows, Finches and Warblers       Jays, Ravens & Magpies

Turkey and Turkey Vulture      Woodpeckers      Assorted Birds

Reptiles      Squirrels      Rodents      Insect Macros


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Coots and Grebes page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Cormorants page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Ducks and Geese page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Egrets and Herons page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Hummingbirds page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Loons page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Pelicans page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Phoebes and Blackbirds page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Raptors page.