Woody

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Woodpeckers with ivory bills
Tapped trees in the southerly hills
But a sighting is rare
We aren’t sure it’s there –
It would give avid birders a chill!

It projects a long tongue from its mouth
And eats too many insects to count
As it drills into the trees
Making holes with great ease
A hammer once heard ’round the south.

The bird has a look indistinct
(The Pileated’s visage is linked)
But if one is astute
There is no dispute
For one is fine, the other likely extinct.

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is thought to still be alive in the wild. Many sightings are reported, but no true proof. Even if these sightings are live specimens of the southern US, it is likely they are the last. This woodpecker is (was) the largest in North America – a mighty hammer across trees of the South.

Like all (most?) woodpeckers, it uses its tough bill to find bugs inside trees. It’s long tongue wraps around its skull when not in use. It has a strong resemblance to the northern Pileated, but it is not too hard to tell them apart given the Ivory-Billed’s striking dark feathers.

Sapphire

In Andrah Pradesh, way up in a tree
And arachnid lives wild and free.
I’ll tell you the tale, and tell you its true –
The spider in question is a bright sapphire blue.

It’s a tarantula, so try to avoid its bite
It causes intense pain – you won’t have to die.
No one on record has felt it’s fangs.
But be careful if you use bare hands.

It walks those trees with bright blue fur
Only in India does it ever occur.
It can be grown in captivity
For it has a brisk pet-activity.

The “Poecilothera metalicca” is a tarantula that is bright blue! Avoiding a golden opportunity, because I don’t listen to them, this poem is a play on “Long Black Veil” by Johnny Cash.

The tarantula in question lives in trees in Andhra Pradesh in central India. It grows in a 100 sq km range in the forest, which is slowly shrinking due to timber concerns. This is an interesting fact about many endangered species – they have a specific niche, and there they stay.

 

Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant

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Sir Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant a quaint picture indeed.
This Mount Victoria pitcher patch is where these pitchers feed.

A pitcher plant’s a pitcher filled with a liquid condition
For animals to drown inside and provide the plant nutrition.

Sir Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant’s pitcher serves dual function
By housing insect larva in a layer of liquid in conjunction
With the bottoms layer The larvae swim and provide detritus
As they grow and eat close to the brim preventing plant gastritis.

It feeds mostly upon small examples of arthropods,
But not limited to insecta, on occasion the small odd
Vertebrate will fall inside, to be digested by this goo
A little mouse, a vole perhaps, sometimes a furry shrew.

Could a pitcher plant grow large enough to digest a man?
Maybe not entirely, but I suggest we be careful with our hands.

Named in honor of Sir David Attenborough, it is one of 15 species named in his honor. Pitcher Plants are fascinating successes in passivity as they wait for flies to fall inside their pitchers. Yes, this plant has two layers of liquid in it’s pitcher. Larva swim in the top layer and their droppings serve to provide nutrition as larger insects are digested by the thicker liquid in the bottom.

Attenborough’s Pitcher Plant in particular has had remains of rodents found within it. It is the second largest pitcher plant. It is endangered mainly due to its small native range, but also poachers. 

Today is also Earth Day – a special planet to all of us. 

Sir Attenborough’s magnum opus is called the Life on Earth.
Not bad for a young man from unassuming Isleworth.
He’s known for his distinctive voice and his love of the Earth
Particularly the animals, and describing their natural worth.
Sir David’s also a champion of the BBC Networks
Whom has provided funding for his fabulous television works.
For all things natural, it’s true, this man is a bold fighter
And in my opinion, his presence here, has made the world much brighter.

Easter Sunday

Easter Eggs

If you travel Fringed Hill in New Zealand fair
Take care for fragile eggs grow there.
They are not laid, or set or placed.
They grew from mycological lace.
It runs ‘neath the ground, in threads microscopic
Until its fruiting body becomes periscopic
Popping out of the ground brown and round till it shows
A pale white center near the base of your toes.
This fungus amongus is considerably rare,
Found only on Fringed Hill in New Zealand fair.

Volcano Rabbit

On the high slopes of four Volcanoes
In the mountainous mountains of Mexico
A rabbit, almost the smallest of all,
Hides in the forest to grow.

Like most lagomorphs, it is eats mostly plants
But may gain some protein from a snack of small ants.
As it dines and drinks during the twilight
Heading to bed before it’s darkest night.

These diminutive bunnies hide in the Zacaton
Away from the predators seeking to snack on
The Volcano Rabbit. And of course there is man
Who used to make farmland as fast as it can.

But, despite a habitat split into fractions,
There have been good people taking good actions
To preserve this example of genetic diversity
And to help it overcome it’s eco-adversity.

Eggs and Rabbits are inexplicably linked with the Easter Holiday – an example that synergy and branding are very old concepts indeed. Fischer’s Eggs are egg-like fungus growing in New Zealand. It is a surprise to many that, yes, even mushrooms can be endangered. Though, fungus and bacteria possess incredible genetic diversity with new species discovered in differing teaspoons of forest soil!

The Volcano Rabbit has a heavy metal name, but would likely die if placed in a mosh pit. It is larger than only the pygmy rabbit in the world of rabbits, closely resembling a pika. Which is an animal that looks a lot like a rabbit, but isn’t one. It lives in Mexico on Four Volcanoes. Most of its troubles are a loss of habitat due to humanity. So, you know, humans are the worst.

Happy Easter! Otherwise, Happy Sunday!

Bacter-Bactri-Bactra-Two-Humped Camel

If you ever see a silhouette on the Gobi vista,
It may be the envy of every fashionista –
With eyelash thick and lush with nary a mascara,
To keep the sun and sand away from its sclera.

The Bactrian is a champion of mammalian survival,
In the rocky desert, defeating every trial.
A needle, a prickle, an edible rock?
It eats it, it chews it, without sense of shock.

It’s soles are as leather, thick, wide, and sturdy.
Fur, warm as heather, red, thick, and curly.
Two humps rise up on the ridge of the spine,
Droopy if unhealthy, plump and high if its fine.

Related, it’s true, to those domesticated,
But can drink seawater until it’s thirst is sated.
Wild populations were found to be best
In an area victim to Nuclear tests!

They aren’t mean, but aren’t nice, so keep yourself wary –
This Bactrian’s meaner than your own dromedary.
Traders know the value with a saying that’s common –
Translated it means “Mo’ humps, mo’ problems.”

The Wild Bactrian Camel used to be thought a feral version of its domesticated cousin. However, as happens, DNA testing shows this is not the case! They are distant relatives, but very similar. Camels themselves are thought to have originated in North America and crossed to Asia on a land bridge.

Due to the harsh conditions of the Gobi, these camels are tough. They can eat any vegetation, drink any clean water (salt or fresh or frozen) available, and even smoke cigarettes. They are a sturdy, incredible ungulate.

Giant Wet

For amphibians existing as two-handers
You can’t beat the Chinese Giant Salamanders.
An animal known to be relatively vicious
In that it finds its own kind highly delicious.

Like all salamanders, it makes and lays eggs,
Which hatch, start to eat, and someday grow legs.
It lives in the water, in crevices shady.
It’s also been known to cry like a baby.

Though considered one species that barely thrives,
Genetic divisions suggest there are five
Cryptic species all living as a single –
Of which all can hybridize and genetically mingle.

And, of course, it’s habitat is threatened
Perhaps most living examples are destined
To live on a farm and struggle for residency
(Which may pan out, as its considered a delicacy).

Likely, the future holds aquaria and zoos
With a pane of glass with which to see through.
At least humanity will have chance to gander
At a species, once wild, the Chinese Giant Salamander.

The Chinese Giant Salamander lives in China. It’s normal habitat is breaking apart, and if it is in fact five species, some of those are more threatened than others. There is no morphological distinction, so it gets returned to the wrong habitat often. Saving one may happen, but all five?

People also eat it. In a poor defense, it eats other members of the species. I’ve never eaten one – it has all the appeal of a Pangolin Sandwich.

Bumblebee Bat

When you’re the world’s smallest mammal
It’s tough to be brave
So inside the forest you find
Limestone Caves.
Hang upside down for most of the Day
At sunset, wake up and head on your way.
But not for too long – only time to devour
As many insects as possible in a half hour.
Then back to the cave until a quarter to dawn
To eat a bit more before nature’s lights come on.