By Sally Bowers
This past season our Okaloosa SCIENCE volunteers have been hard at work deploying and retrieving cameras in the Florida panhandle! For those of you who do not know, the Okaloosa SCIENCE project began in 2014 as a way to enhance students’ interest and performance in the sciences. By partnering with local public lands, our citizen scientists have been able to deploy over 470 cameras and gather data on 18 wildlife species from each of the following habitat types: Bottomland Hardwood Forest, Upland Hardwood Forest, Upland Pine/Sandhill, Coastal/Dune Forest, and Developed. We then used these data to develop a curriculum for middle and high school students of the Okaloosa County School District. While eMammal’s primary focus is on documenting wildlife worldwide, that doesn’t stop a few birds from getting in a photoshoot. Check out these highlights and fun facts from the 2016 camera trapping season!
Coyote (Canis latrans). Coyotes are stealthy hunters with a keen sense of smell and excellent sight. They are found in a variety of habitats but often remain out of sight; however, coyotes are very vocal so if you listen you might be able to hear one howl.
Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias). Typically found near salt or freshwater habitats, blue herons are distributed throughout North America. Despite their seemingly large size, blue herons only weigh between 5 and 6 pounds (2-3 kilograms). Did you know birds have hollow bones which allows them to stay light for flight?
Bobcat (Lynx rufus). Most bobcat camera trap photos are at night, as they are mostly nocturnal. Their stripped and spotted fur allows them to blend in almost seemingly to their surroundings. This daylight photo we captured allows you to see these patterns and discover how bobcats got their name. Check out its short or ‘bobbed’ tail.
Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). In Florida there are two fox species, grey fox and red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Both species can be found in similar habitats but here are a few key characteristics you can use to distinguish the two species. Grey foxes have black on the top of their tail, up to the tip, and have a peppered body color. Red foxes have a white-tipped tail, white fur under their neck, a reddish-orange body, and black ears, legs, and feet.
What animals have you captured this camera trapping season? Share your pictures with firstname.lastname@example.org!