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Posts by Melanie Smith

Gray Four-eyed Opossum

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017

Gray Four-eyed Opossum

This is a young Gray Four-eyed Opossum (Philander opossum) caught in one of our mammal traps, as we were surveying for an unusual jungle rodent called Watson’s Climbing Rat (Tylomys watsoni) in Rara Avis Nature Reserve, Costa Rica. Believe it or not, the rat would have been bigger than this opossum (and particularly fond of chocolate and soap). Like it’s cousin, the Virginia Opossum, these guys show a remarkable resistance to venoms and poisons, including snake venom, and are relatively immune to dangerous snake bites. In North America, opossums have been credited with being a biological...

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Downy Woodpecker

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is an industrious little bird that frequents parks and woodlots throughout much of North America. While often spotted at backyard feeders with similarly sized chickadees and nuthatches, this black-and-white woodpecker is also at home on tiny branches where it can be seen acrobatically foraging for insect larvae. Roger Tory Peterson described this bird’s call as “a rapid whinny of notes, descending in pitch.” Keep an eye and an ear out for this charismatic little bird; its striking plumage, shrill song and tree-trunk tapping should...

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Opening Eyes, Minds, and Hearts to Earth’s Biodiversity

Posted by on Mar 10, 2017

Opening Eyes, Minds, and Hearts to Earth’s Biodiversity

Roger Tory Peterson traveled the world to explore, discover, and document its flora and fauna. He applied his artistic talents to describe and illustrate plants and animals in far-away regions to make their existence known to a broad audience, while his biological observations and knowledge supported conservation efforts and helped elicit positive environmental change. Like Peterson, RTPI Director Twan Leenders likewise uses his artistic skills to increase awareness and appreciation for the organisms that he studies, both locally and abroad. Leenders is currently in Costa Rica conducting...

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Amphibian Aficionados

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017

Amphibian Aficionados

> Dave Huth – Associate professor of visual communication and media arts at Houghton College, friend of RTPI, and gleeful amphibian enthusiast – recently interviewed some of our staff for an article he wrote on how today’s youth interact with nature. The piece, entitled “Raising the Next Generation of Amphibian Aficionados”, appeared in the February edition of the publication FrogLog. Huth’s passion for amphibians – as well as for the living world at large – is reflected in his writing, as well as in his masterfully executed photography; he and RTPI President...

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Water is Life

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017

Water is Life

Chautauqua County is at the beginning of several different watersheds – water from north county streams flows into Lake Erie, drops over Niagara Falls, and ultimately drains into the Atlantic Ocean. Streams in the southern half of the county drain into the Allegany, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, respectively, and eventually water from these streams reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Our springs and wells are at the source of several large bodies of water and our streams contain some of the cleanest water in these watersheds. As a result, the variety of fish and other aquatic creatures in our area is...

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