American great crested flycatchers, photos wanted


This video from the USA is called Great Crested Flycatcher Calls.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, April 2017:

Wanted: Great Crested Flycatcher Nest Photos

Great Crested Flycatchers have a curious habit of adding snake skins to their nests. But, why do they do this? If you find a Great Crested Flycatcher nest this spring, take a photo and submit it to NestWatch to help us understand this unusual behavior. We’re collaborating with Dr. Vanya Rohwer of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates to address three main questions:

  1. Does the use of snake skins in nests vary across the breeding range?
  2. Where in the nests do flycatchers place snake skins (e.g., touching eggs, around the entrance hole, or scattered throughout the nest cup)?
  3. Do snake skins increase nesting success?

How to take photos: Great Crested Flycatchers are cavity nesters, so these directions assume that you’ve found a nest in a box. Please take photos looking straight down onto the nest so that the nest cup, eggs/nestlings, and box walls are visible. For each photo, please include the location, the date you took the photo, and indicate whether you’re NestWatching the box (data on nest fates are especially helpful). In order for photos to be used, they must be in focus and sufficiently bright so that we can see snake skins inside the nest (or lack thereof). Please submit photos through our online Participant Photos Gallery.

Great Crested Flycatchers are an insectivorous bird that is declining in some parts of its range. If you live in an area with an open forest habitat (urban or suburban neighborhoods with mature trees, old orchards, lake or riverside areas with large shade trees) in the eastern or midwestern states, you can put up a nest box to attract Great Crested Flycatchers. For the best chance of success, avoid placing the nest box in open agricultural areas or dense forest.

Grass snakes’ mating season


After grass snakes have woken up from hibernation, their mating season starts, as this 11 April 2017 video shows.

Paul Brassé in the Netherlands made this video.

Thirsty king cobra gets drink in India


This video from India says about itself:

30 March 2017

The world’s longest venomous snake, the king cobra, usually tries to avoid confrontation with humans. However, a few days ago, a thirst[y] king cobra found its way to Kaiga village in Karnataka, presumably in search of water. Karnataka has been hit by drought and is suffering from scarcity of water. In an amazing video, a wildlife rescue worker is seen offering the thirsty cobra a drink of water from a bottle – and the snake can be seen lapping it up.

Adder wakes up, video


This 28 March 2017 video shows an adder which has woken up after hibernation, and looks for a sunny spot to warm up.

Gerrit Kamphuis from the Netherlands made this video.

American king snakes, new research


This 2012 video from the USA is called King Snake vs Rattlesnake.

From Science News in the USA:

A king snake’s strength is in its squeeze

Studies suggest how the snake coils matters more than muscle size

By Elizabeth Eaton

2:47pm, March 17, 2017

It’s not the size of a snake’s muscles that matter, but how it uses them. King snakes can defeat larger snakes in a wrestling match to the death because of how they coil around their prey, researchers report March 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

King snakes wrap around their food and squeeze with about twice as much pressure as rat snakes do, says David Penning, a functional morphologist at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Penning, along with colleague Brad Moon at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, measured the constriction capabilities of almost 200 snakes. “King snakes are just little brutes,” Penning says.

King snakes, which are common in North American forests and grasslands, are constrictor snakes that “wrestle for a living,” Penning says. They mainly eat rodents, birds and eggs, squeezing so hard, they can stop their prey’s heart (SN: 8/22/15, p. 4). In addition, about a quarter of the king snake diet is other snakes. King snakes can easily attack and eat vipers because they’re immune to the venom, but when they take on larger constrictors, such as rat snakes, it has been unclear what gives them the edge. “That’s not how nature goes,” Penning says, because predators are usually larger than their prey.

King snakes, though, can eat snakes up to 35 percent larger than themselves. One of the largest king snake conquests on record, from 1893, is of a 5-foot-3-inch rat snake, about 17 percent larger than the 4-foot-6-inch king snake that consumed it, Penning says.

“David Penning is really one of the first researchers that has been looking at the anatomy, physiology and function of these snakes” to understand how king snakes are superior to rat snakes, says Anthony Herrel, a functional morphologist and evolutionary biologist at the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

To determine what makes these snakes kings, Penning and Moon compared their muscle size, ability to escape attack and the strength of their squeeze to that of rat snakes. In one test, the researchers shook dead rodents enticingly in front of the snakes to goad them into striking and squeezing. Sensors on the rodents recorded the pressure of the squeeze.

The king snakes constricted with an average pressure of about 20 kilopascals, stronger than the pumping pressure of a human heart. Rat snakes in the same tests applied only about 10 kilopascals of pressure.

But the king snakes weren’t bigger body builders. Controlling for body size, the two kinds of snakes “had the exact same quantity of muscle,” Penning says.

The snakes’ more powerful constriction is probably due to how they use their muscles, not how much muscle they have, the researchers conclude. They observed that the majority of king snakes in the study wrapped around their food like a spring in what Penning calls the “curly fry pattern.” Rat snakes didn’t always coil in the same way and often ended up looking like a “weird pile of spaghetti,” he says.

Penning plans to study how other factors influence constriction as well, such as how long the king snakes can squeeze, how hungry they are and the temperature of their environment.

Young snakes born in India


This 17 January 2017 video says about itself:

Venomous Red-Tailed Viper Snake giving birth to 12 babies in India – National Geographic

Rare water shrew at camera trap


This 1 February 2017 video shows a rare water shrew at a camera trap on Marken (traditionally an island, now a peninsula) in the Netherlands.

It is in a pit, made artificially to enable grass snakes to winter.

Which animals spent time in these pits, according to camera trap images? Many wood mice, stoats, a greater white-toothed shrew.

And also this water shrew. This rare species had only been seen once on Marken, in 2008.

Shouldn’t the water shrew worry about a grass snake being in the same pit as it? Not really now, as in winter the snakes sleep. Even in spring, as grass snakes become active, they only rarely eat mammals, preferring amphibians.