Hedging our bets

In fall, about 21 mammal and bird species worldwide, mostly in northern regions, change their coat or plumage colors from brown to white. White provides camouflage against predators as snow covers the landscape in winter. In spring, these same animals shed their white colors and return to brown, which provides similar camouflage when next to the brown leaf litter on the ground. Some animals can turn white and some remain brown year round.

The Count: Tracking a Formerly Endangered Species

They went into the muslin bags easily as we freed them one by one from under the heavy net. Some were stunned, frozen, immobile; others struggled between the strands, exploding with powerful wings when handled. I was a tag-along, a newbie, an invited guest to this fall ritual of trapping, counting, banding, and collaring Aleutian cackling geese (Branta hutchinsii leucopareia), an annual joint venture between the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The Eureka Moment!

A hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus.
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Field Notes from Loreto

Puerto Escondido, south of Loreto. Photo by Heather Leslie.