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Videos uploaded by user “TerraNaturalist”
Attack of the Aphid Lions
 
05:18
Aphids are the bane of gardeners, but there are a host of insects that depend on them for food. Some ants, for example, milk aphids for honeydew and then there are aphid lions, aptly named for their ravenous appetite. Empowered with close-up lenses attached to our camcorders, Karen Finch and I documented the drama of an aphid lion's life. Be forewarned, however, insect predators can be ruthless in how they kill their prey.
Views: 33101 TerraNaturalist
Brown anole: Part 1 (displays & fighting)
 
04:08
Anoles represent a fascinating group of lizards that visually communicate with one another. Male anoles, for example, extend a colorful dewlap to signal to rival males and receptive females. They also perform other conspicuous displays and have the ability to change the color of their skin. The invasive species from Cuba, called the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), is now widespread across Florida where I shot this video.
Views: 18537 TerraNaturalist
Male Red Velvet Ants in search of females
 
02:15
Close up shots of male and female Velvet Ants (Dasymutilla occidentalis) which are actually wasps. Males are fighting over a burrow from which a female will likely emerge. Contribution to the Terra Explorer Project. More details available on www.TerraNat.com
Views: 18669 TerraNaturalist
Leaf-cutting bee at work
 
01:36
Leaf-cutting Bees are solitary insects and females do all the work provisioning the nest with cut leaves, pollen and nectar. In this video a female builds a nest in a ceramic water fountain. Leaf-cutting Bees do not eat the leaves that they collect, but instead use them to construct nest cells in which they lay their eggs (see video). This video is part of the Terra Explorer Project.
Views: 21765 TerraNaturalist
Mysterious behaviors of Ruddy Ducks
 
02:12
For a male Ruddy Duck, the ability to impress one or more females determines the number of offspring he can sire. To do this, his overall size is less important than the size of his large feet and long tail. Males also go to great lengths to show off their vivid, sky blue bill, and they have the odd behavior of beating their breast and creating bubbles. In this video we propose that the color of a male's bill complements the color of the sky for a reason.
Views: 19993 TerraNaturalist
Flipping Golden Tortoise Beetle
 
01:33
Using a fascinating technique, larvae build a protective shield out of their own feces. The hard covering can be flipped up and down to ward off predators. Visit www.TerraNat.com for more information on Golden Tortoise Beetles.
Views: 27485 TerraNaturalist
Brown Anole: Behavioral profile part 2
 
02:22
Anoles represent a fascinating group of lizards that visually communicate with one another. Male anoles, for example, extend a colorful dewlap to signal to rival males and receptive females. They also perform other conspicuous displays and have the ability to change the color of their skin. The invasive species from Cuba, called the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), is now widespread across Florida where I shot this video.
Views: 1707 TerraNaturalist
Forest birds of a montane cloud forest in Costa Rica
 
11:23
We visited the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica, between Dec. 25 2013 and Jan 17, 2014. The weather was unusually dry and persistently windy.
Views: 21398 TerraNaturalist
Roadrunner's nuptial gift
 
02:18
Greater Roadrunners are ground cuckoos. They are often seen running across roads in the American southwest. In arid, brushy habitat, their brown and white plumage makes them difficult to spot to observe their unique courtship displays. While visiting Big Bend National Park, I videotaped a roadrunner bowing and cooing shortly after it (presumably male) captured a Chipping Sparrow.
Views: 5677 TerraNaturalist
Anti-predator behavior of birds
 
05:16
To protect their families, birds will mob predators and perform elaborate distraction displays such as faking a broken wing. This video is part of the Terra Explorer Project. Visit www.TerraNat.com for more details.
Views: 7689 TerraNaturalist
Bizarre sexual behavior of Royal Terns
 
03:17
Royal Terns exhibit bizarre sexual behavior. Exactly what is going on isn't clear. Contribution to the Terra Explorer Project. More information about this observation is posted on www.terranat.com
Views: 958 TerraNaturalist
How to eat snails -- Limpkin style
 
02:39
The Limpkin is a wetlands specialty of Florida, where the birds can be seen opening snails and clams. How do they accomplish this amazing feat with such a long slender beak? The answer is shown in the video. However, you may have to watch the clip several times to discern a subtle, yet, important feature of the bill. Also, you may want to stop reading and first watch the video before I divulge the answer. Look closely and you will notice that when the bill is closed there is a gap mid-way up the beak, between the top and bottom mandibles. (Note: When closed, the mandibles form a sharp point that is good for spearing prey, and touch at the tip of the bill.) This arrangement allows a limpkin to apply considerable force at the tip of its bill (not unlike using a pair of tweezers to remove a splinter) to hold a slippery shell, as the bird rotates the shell to cut through muscle, etc.
Views: 3221 TerraNaturalist
Coordinated fishing of American White Pelicans
 
03:02
Part 2. In this four part series, we have documented the foraging behavior of North America's two pelicans, the Brown and the American White. We are interested in exploring the following questions: What factors influence how individuals fish and what behaviors differentiate the two species?
Views: 2082 TerraNaturalist
A caterpillar in every pot
 
03:52
Many solitary wasps construct mud enclosures which they provision with paralyzed prey followed by the laying of eggs. Potter Wasps, for example, build jug-shaped pots which are usually filled with geometrid caterpillars. Given the size of a wasp's brain, surely instructions on how to build a nest is genetically encoded. Yet, the Potter Wasp (Zeta argillaceum) I observed exhibit behavioral flexibility. Furthermore, as I learned while filming a wasp, secure acquisition of larvae within a sealed pot is not assured.
Views: 740 TerraNaturalist
Wasp and sneaky fly
 
02:41
A Horse Guard Sand Wasp is shown building and provisioning her nest. Also, a small fly is captured on tape parasitizing the wasp's prey. Contribution to the Terra Explorer Project. More information about this observation is posted on www.terranat.com
Views: 2668 TerraNaturalist
Plunge-diving (part 1, Brown Pelicans)
 
04:48
Part 1: In this four part series, we have documented the foraging behavior of North America's two pelicans. We are interested in exploring the following questions: What factors influence how individuals fish and what behaviors differentiate the two species?
Views: 1938 TerraNaturalist
Raptors at play
 
03:49
Why do young birds toss objects into the air, chase one another, or engage in mock fights? The answer depends upon the species. Young birds of prey, such as Crested Caracara and Red-shouldered Hawks, are fond of manipulating objects that resemble prey. Presumably, playing with objects helps them hone their skills at handling and subduing prey without the risk of injury.
Views: 317 TerraNaturalist
Condo living -- Cliff Swallows
 
04:03
Before humans arrived and built numerous roads that crisscrossed the landscape, Cliff Swallows nested on the vertical slopes of cliffs. Today, hordes of swallows build gourd-shaped nests under bridges and the eves of buildings. This short video, as part of the Terra Explorer Project, gives a glimpse into the lives of Cliff Swallows. Have you ever wondered why Cliff Swallows breed in such dense colonies or build such elaborate nests? (View the video for insightful possibilities)
Views: 248 TerraNaturalist
Beetle vs snake
 
01:41
I encountered a dead snake being stuffed down a hole, but how remained a mystery until ... Contribution to the Terra Explorer Project. More information about this observation is posted on www.terranat.com
Views: 2920 TerraNaturalist
Booming and strutting for sex
 
03:13
Matt Schulze provides this excellent footage of Lesser Prairie-Chickens attending a lek in New Mexico. Why do males join leks as opposed to defending all-purpose territories, as do most species of birds? Why are male prairie-chickens so elaborately attired? A few answers are provided below. In spring, male Lesser Prairie-chickens gather on small plots of land where they fight each other and display to passing females. The intent of each male in such gatherings, called leks, is to persuade as many females to mate with him as possible. However, given the intense competition among contenders and the choosy disposition of females, it is difficult for any one male to successfully reproduce. It is under such stringent conditions when natural selection produces some of its spectacular creations, which is certainly true for male prairie-chickens. For onlookers, it is impossible not to notice the conspicuous head-feathers, colorful inflatable cheek patches, and the bizarre habit of males stomping their feet. And then there is the hypnotic booming and rhythmic sounds produced by multiple males simultaneously displaying. Presumably, most females visiting the lek are also impressed, but the task at hand for every male is to stand out above the crowd. Assuming that a female mates with only one male per breeding season -- and then only within designated display arenas -- having all males displaying together simplifies the task of choosing a sexual partner. It also logically follows, that for a male to have a chance of breeding, he is obligated to join a lek despite the fact that only a few dominant males will win the approval of the majority of females. Indeed, deciphering the dynamics of such an intricate mating system presents a host of mysteries. Why, for example, do multiple males choose to display together as opposed to each defending an exclusive and much larger multi-purpose territory to attract a mate? Several interesting hypotheses have been proposed. Some biologists contend that subordinate males seek out the company of sexy males, because these so called "hotshot" performers are magnets for females. If this idea is true, the best chance for a young male to sire offspring is to mingle with the local Don Juans. On the other hand, convincing evidence also suggests that males gravitate to areas where females are likely to be, such as near heavily traveled corridors. Instead of males seeking out each other's company, leks may form near "hotspots," that is, near locations determined by the seasonal movements of females. In either scenario, however, choosing the best site for male Lesser Prairie-chickens to gather is, in part, determined by the suitability of the surrounding terrain. Stable leks, that are formed in the same locations each season, are typically situated in open country where females can simultaneously monitor multiple males and where males can spot approaching predators. Indeed, some lek sites are better suited than others which results in the establishment of local traditions. Here is second mystery concerning lekking birds, including prairie-chickens: why are males so elaborately attired and why do they perform so energetically? Perhaps the intimate presence of multiple rivals makes it necessary for each performer to "go all out" to impress finicky females. This includes flaunting bright plumage and generating impressive sounds. Presumably, the more bells and whistles a male can employ the greater the chance he can intimidate rivals and more importantly, persuade females to copulate with him. Given that prairie-chickens on average live for less that five years, most males have few opportunities to breed. As a rule, males are not particularly choosy when comes to having sex while, in contrast, females can be very discriminating. Females are best served by selecting a mate that possesses good genes and is free of infectious diseases and parasites. They do this by looking for traits that inferior and unhealthy males cannot fake, at least not convincingly. All things being equal, males that have survived several years have either been extremely lucky or possess good genes. Needless to say, older males typically procure the best, centrally located sites within a lek. Based on their appearance and behavior, it seems impossible to discern in the video which males possess superior qualities. Do females also have difficulty making up their minds? If so, this could explain why many females meander on a lek for extended periods of time before copulating. Also, what about inexperienced hens breeding for the first time? As a rule, selecting a male capable of holding his ground in the center of the lek, where rivalry among contenders is greatest, is a good choice. Another option is to choose a male that older females find attractive, a phenomenon called mate choice copying.
Views: 1718 TerraNaturalist
It takes a thief ...
 
03:53
Many crows, jays, and ravens hoard food. If, however, a bird is not careful many of its caches can be stolen by onlooking birds. In fact, some corvids behave as if they can read the minds of their companions. This video is part of the Terra Explorer Project (TEP). Visit www.TerraNat.com to learn more about TEP.
Views: 670 TerraNaturalist
Living under a shroud ...
 
02:10
I like making new discoveries that demand an explanation. Last summer I encountered an oak tree wrapped in a layer of silk. Surely the tree was infested with tent caterpillars or web worms or some exotic species of spider! Not so. Instead, I found a community of small insects living in and under the webbing actively gleaning fungi, lichen, and assorted debris off the bark of the tree, hence the web builder's common name barklice. Presumably, the layer of silk was spun to protect the community from predators such as ants, spiders, and anoles.
Views: 379 TerraNaturalist
Klepto-parasitic pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants (part 3)
 
02:32
Part 3: In this four part series, we have documented the foraging behavior of North America's two pelicans, the Brown and the American White. We are interested in exploring the following questions: What factors influence how individuals fish and what behaviors differentiate the two species?
Views: 234 TerraNaturalist
Visual mimicry in sphinx moths
 
02:53
Many sphinx moths are active during the day, and as a result are vulnerable to diurnal predators such as birds. Presumably, to avoid being eaten, some sphinx moths mimic the appearance of species that are capable of defending themselves (e.g., bees), or species that are not ordinarily pursued by predators (e.g., hummingbirds). In this video we present footage of two species of sphinx moths feeding alongside carpenter bees and hummingbirds.
Views: 528 TerraNaturalist
How to eat poisonous prey
 
03:35
Not all prey are defenseless. Young catfish, for example, have sharp spines and poison glands to deter predators. Toads are also known for secreting deadly alkaloids from skin glands. Understandably, birds that eat such poisonous prey may die. As part of the Terra Explorer Project, this video shows how a hungry Great Egret and White Ibis skillfully handle potentially dangerous prey. Visit www.TerraNat.com for more information on the Terra Explorer Project.
Views: 278 TerraNaturalist
The wonder and grace of getting airborne
 
02:09
Gaining enough attitude to fly long distances is no easy task for birds as large as American White Pelicans. To help get airborne, they often fly into the wind and seek out rising currents of warm air called thermals. And then there is the problem of avoiding mid-air collisions.
Views: 94 TerraNaturalist
Diving songbird!
 
04:42
American Dippers routinely dive into mountain streams to glean invertebrates from rocks and occasionally catch fish. This foraging style of dippers is very unusual for a songbird. I also located the impressive dome nest of several pair of dippers and watched two chicks leave the nest. Visit www.TerraNat.com for more animal behavior stories.
Views: 215 TerraNaturalist
A robin's secret strategy
 
01:37
American Robins can find buried prey by listening. In this video a robin is searching for beetle grubs. Contribution to the Terra Explorer Project. More information about this observation is posted on www.terranat.com
Views: 155 TerraNaturalist
Using flower petals for camouflage
 
02:50
Evolution equips caterpillars of butterflies and moths with numerous ways to evade detection by predators. Some species conspicuously display bright colors and patterns to advertise that they are dangerous or poisonous to eat while other species exhibit patterns that provide camouflage. In either case, the larvae are naturally endowed with appropriate apparel to protect them from harm. Caterpillars of the South Emerald Moth, however, cover themselves. In this video we show several larvae eating flower petals and, most intriguingly, snipping off petals that they adhere to their body.
Views: 335 TerraNaturalist
Woodpeckers drum to impress
 
05:12
Nearly all woodpeckers hammer on trees to signal one another. Some species have distinctive styles and select specific trees. This video is a contribution to the Terra Explorer Project. Visit www.TerraNat.com for more info. on woodpeckers.
Views: 382 TerraNaturalist