Saturday, June 16, 2012

Snake Over Troubled Waters

Yesterday in the Park I saw two things I’ve never seen before. The first occurred while I was still in the parking lot. I was just getting out of the car when I saw two white-winged doves very close together on the ground. On closer look, I saw they were a parent dove and a baby dove. The parent was feeding the fledgling, very much the way a female hummingbird feeds her offspring: repeatedly thrusting its beak into the baby’s open mouth, and presumably into its crop. I suppose the parent was feeding its offspring “pigeon’s milk,” which is a nutritious liquid doves and pigeons produce in the crop. (For more information on bird milk, see this fascinating article.) This observation answered a major question for me: do doves care for their babies once they have fledged? I always suspected they did, and now I have seen it with my own eyes!

The second thing I had never seen before occurred in the riparian area of the Park. I had finished with my bird walk and was on the way to Reptile Ramble when a fellow docent pointed out a large gopher snake in the thick undergrowth behind our recirculating stream.

Gopher snake Tohono Chul Park 9-10-2010 8-13-50 AM 2792x842 9-10-2010 8-13-50 AM 2792x842

As we watched, the snake approached a small waterfall, then elevated the front part of its body and formed a bridge to the other side. The rest of his body followed, serpentining and staying dry. I wish I had thought to take a picture, but I was so startled and fascinated I could only watch in amazement.

Finally, this is something I have seen many times, but I’m sure a lot of the people reading this blog have not. Our reptile show usually ends with a discussion and demonstration of a Gila monster. These huge, lumbering lizards are one of only three species of venomous lizards in the world (the others are the Mexican beaded lizard and the Komodo dragon). Gila monsters are interesting in so many ways, and I will do a post on them soon. But for today, I just want to post the short video I took of the demonstration animal walking around the inside of the safety fence, trying to find a way out.

Gila monster, Reptile Ramble at Tohono Chul Park


  1. Fascinating times three!

  2. Anonymous5:10 AM

    Serpentining, how great, I can almost picture it. Sue

  3. Replies
    1. Are snakes that afraid of water? I thought they were good swimmers. Maybe not desert snakes though . . .

    2. Are snakes afraid of water? I thought they were good swimmers. Maybe not desert snakes though . . .

    3. It probably depends on the species. But most of the snakes I've seen around here avoid water, except to drink. I've had kingsnakes shed in my planter box, but they freak out when I water them. They definitely do NOT like to BE WATERED. Lizards also seem to dislike getting wet.