May 18, 2016, was a wildlife judging competition that me and my fellow 4-Her’s (who are also people from my homeschooling group) competed in. We had to learn about different species from birds to reptiles and all different kinds of mammals. During my studies of these animals, I found some interesting things that I would like to write about and share with you. There were four different categories of animals 1. Eastern Deciduous Forest 2. Urban 3. Wetlands 4. South Mixed and Outer Coastal Plain Forest.
My team studied Eastern Deciduous Forest and Urban the most, taking a chance on them asking us about any other categories. But you won’t be able to remember everything about 60 different animals in just a month, so that’s why we focused mainly on Eastern Deciduous Forest – and luckily for us that’s what they asked us about this year. It was me and my team’s first year doing wildlife judging. We’ve done forestry judging before, but studying wildlife isn’t anything like studying trees.
We learned about a certain urban bird called the European Starling. Its color is black with colorful spots on it that look like little stars. It will eat nearly anything, but mainly focuses on insects and other invertebrates. The males will begin to make the nest before mating, filling cavities with grass and feathers, cloth, string and trash. Then the female will go into the nest and remove anything see doesn’t like in the nest.
Another urban bird that I’ve learned about was the Rock Pigeon which is a member of the dove family. They eat seeds, fruit, trash and rarely invertebrates. They live in urban areas, farmlands, and rocky cliffs. They gather in large flocks for people to feed them. The males will choose a site like stairwells and rain gutters, usually somewhere that has an overhang to build the nest. Then they will sit in their nest and coo to attract a mate. But what I really loved about this certain bird was that they can find their way home blind folded even if they are states away from their home.
The Ovenbird is a very small eastern deciduous forest bird that eats mainly insects like beetles, flies, caterpillars, ants and other invertebrates. The females will clear a spot on the forest floor and over the period of five days she will make a nest out of leaves, grasses, and hair. But why they are called an ovenbird is because of their nest that looks like an old dome-shaped oven.
White-Tailed Deer, if you live in the country like me you might see this deer species often in your back yard. In the woods, maybe even by the roads, this is a very common deer and it eats lots of things like acorns, fruits, grasses, nuts and fungi. In the winter they live in the forest hidden in the grasses. I was shocked when I found out something about this deer that is little odd; the doe will hide her young ones while she finds something to eat, and if her young poop near where she is hiding them, she will eat the baby feces so that no predator will find her young.
Over the last month and a half, I have learned about many species like the Tiger Salamander, Brown Thrasher, Indiana Bat, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Box Turtle, American Woodcock, and the Wilson’s Snipe. These are only a small amount that I have learned. There are so many different species of animals and some of them can be very interesting if you learn about them. Don’t be afraid to find out cool things about different kinds of animals. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about a little piece of wildlife.
Alesha Dodd, 14, has been homeschooled her whole life.