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April 15, 2020 -

So, did we perform just as well on ID Challenge #2?

Although some of the species were not things you’d encounter every day, all are relatively common to the MD Piedmont, if one knows where/when to look.

You should have identified the following 12 organisms (each listed with a few ‘fun facts’ to know):


  1. Eastern White Pinethe only eastern species with needles in fascicles (bundles) of five
  2. Downy Woodpecker (male) — our smallest and shortest billed species of woodpecker; small red patch on back of head distinguishes it from female
  3. Eastern Ratsnakelarge and common snake, good climber; adults are usually black but young have beautiful patterns of gray and white spotting
  4.  Asian Lady Beetlethe most common of the many species of ‘ladybugs’ . . . migrate short distances in the fall, often in huge numbers 
  5.  Groundhog (a.k.a. Woodchuck) — this particular one was ‘trapped’ at one end of a long bridge and couldn’t decide which way to run
  6.  Black Raspberry — very close cousin of the blackberry; both in the Rose family
  7.  House Centipede — creepy looking but good to have around; kill roaches, termintes, & spiders with a venom in their front 2 (of ~30, not 100) legs 
  8.  Bluegill — small, colorful, freshwater ‘panfish’ from the Sunfish family; trademark ‘ear’ (more like gill) spots and black spot at back end of dorsal fin
  9.  Eastern Screech Owl (Red Phase) — small, strictly nocturnal predator named for its descending ‘whinny’ call; will stretch or puff to blend in w/ tree 
  10. Common Eastern Firefly — called ‘lightning bug’ by some; uses bioluminescence to communicate and also to fool predators
  11.  Eastern Chipmunk — Generally solitary, hoarder, spends most of winter in torpor; named (Tamias striatus) for its stripes  [photographed at Irvine]
  12.  Red-winged Blackbird (displaying male) — females (brown and spotted) look nothing like this; colorful wing patches are called epaulets, after the shoulder ornaments on a military uniform; males are highly polygamous and defend a territory, not a particular mate


We’ll continue making things just a little more challenging on quiz #3.  For several of these, you’re likely to know a common general ‘street term’ for the animal, but do a little research to see if you can fully identify the correct species.  Remember, this is largely an exercise in utilizing your field guides and helpful natural history websites, both of which will come in handy for the upcoming Backyard Nature Challenge!


CLICK HERE When You’re Ready for ID Challenge #3!