Tag Archive: animals


Santa Cruz Island Fox


The Santa Cruz Island Fox is a major success story in the conservation and restoration world. Living on Santa Cruz Island within the Channel Islands National Park, there were only 14 individuals remaining on the island just a few decades ago. The foxes were added to the endangered species list and a captive breeding program commenced while the main sources of the foxes population decline, non-native golden eagles, were relocated. The foxes now number in the hundreds and may be removed from the endangered list this year. The Channel Islands have many similar success stories including the return of native bald eagles to the islands, the bolstered populations of the endemic Island Scrub Jay, and a variety of plants and other animals that have been preserved because there of the intense effort going into the restoration and conservation of this unique group of islands. The eight land masses that make up the Channel Islands were separated from the mainland tens of thousands of years ago, and separated from each other around 13,000 years ago, so they have also been called the Galapagos of North America since the creatures living here have had so long to develop and evolve after being separated from a common ancestor on the mainland.

Brown Pelican, Baja California

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Tame Wood Duck


I was stalking this wood duck for an hour or so. During this time I was thinking about the benefit of photographing wild creatures who are accustomed to a constant human presence (this picture was taken at a semi-urban park near San Francisco). I try to avoid harassing animals while I take pictures of them and I can get much closer to these urban animals than I creatures living in, for example, a larger/more remote sanctuary. It was also interesting to realize that these ducks were eating whole acorns! Those don’t seem easy to digest – even squirrels chew them at least.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Eating a combination of shrimp and small fish, this great egret seems to be getting along well in the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. This 307 acre marsh is a popular spot for walking, running, bird watching, dog walking and sunset-viewing and is an incredible alternative treatment center for wastewater, especially considering the history of the area. Federal and California state marsh reclamation acts in 1850 and 1861 resulted in Humboldt Bay losing 90% of its salt and freshwater marshlands to uses such as agriculture and shipping ports. Most of the local inhabitants fled and were replaced with invasive and aggressive species like rats and gulls. In 1965 as shipping became obsolete for the bay when railroads linked Humboldt to San Francisco, the marsh area became a landfill. Pollutants began leaking into the bay from the waste and the landfill was terminated and covered with three feet of mud. Again, the only inhabitants in this area of the bay were rats and gulls. In the late 1970s, though faced with many alternative uses, it was decided that the bay would become a marsh restoration area, waste water treatment center and aid to other conservation efforts, including salmon habitat restoration. Today, some areas directly next to the treatment facility smell like waste, but I’ve seen thousands of migratory and resident birds here including ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, hummingbirds, egrets, herons and warblers and they are obviously able to eat and find shelter and water in this historically unlikely location. I find it incredibly galvanizing that the Arcata Marsh has so successfully used human waste to recreate a habitat for so many creatures, especially in light of the area’s previous degradation.