Learn, Participate, Conserve
Our latest update to Lakes SOS includes iPhone X compatibility and a cool new icon. The next update will include banded mystery snails, new Chinese mystery snail photos as well as silver and black carp comparison Quick ID slides.
Our favorite designer Stephanie Gallegos of brandedbyg has done it again! We've had several different icons for the Lakes SOS app over the years, but have decided to go with Stephanie's latest creation to complete our SOS app series. Many thanks to her for being able to work on this and get it to us before the next Lakes update. Let us know what you think!
We are updating our Rash Plants and Lakes SOS apps. If you have suggestions for rash-causing plants or invasive aquatic plants or animals, we would LOVE to hear them! Currently, we are gathering data and going through thousands of photos of cow and wild parsnip as well as the very dangerous giant hogweed for the Rash Plants app. We will eventually include poison wood and the highly toxic manchineel tree. The Lakes SOS app will soon have a shiny new icon and will include several invasive carp comparison photos as well as other invasive fish species, so be on the lookout for these Naturedigger app updates!
Pictured: Mike Bald of Got Weeds? carefully holding a giant hogweed umbel.
It is an unusual thing to hear about a species you've never encountered and a truly exciting thing to actually see it with your own eyes. Recently, I spent some time in the San Francisco Bay area and bumped into a fellow birder who told me about a subspecies of Canada goose she had seen at a nearby golf course. She also mentioned there was a small flock of white-fronted geese (which I'd never seen) in the same grassy area and that they had been there just an hour before. I thanked her profusely and hurried to the area. I immediately found what she referred to as a smaller variety of Canada goose. This bird is called a cackling goose and is now considered a separate species (Branta hutchinsii) which includes four sub species. The common and well-known Canada geese (Branta candensis) includes eleven sub-species.
The primary physical differences between these two species is the size and the bill. Cackling geese are much smaller weighing 3 to 4 pounds with the largest subspecies weighing approximately 7 lbs. Canada geese, by comparison, range from 5 to 15 lbs. Aside from the size difference the bill size is pretty obvious. Cackling geese have smaller, stubbier bills (see below) making them stand out in a flock of Canada geese. Their voices are higher-pitched, which would be difficult to detect if you're ever heard a large flock of geese calling (honking)!
Note the size of difference (left photo above)
Note the bill difference (center photo above)
Can you find the cackling goose among the Canada geese in the last photo on the right? what about the greater white-fronted geese?
Aside from keeping people informed about what is going on with our many iOS apps, we provide nature and conservation education using this website and blog. There are too many important issues facing our natural world to begin to cover in this one blog or even in thousands over many years, but there is one issue in particular we should focus on and never become complacent about, and that is educating the public about the effect outdoor cats have on our native bird and mammal populations. This isn't an anti kitty post, it's simply education about the devastating effects outdoor cats have on bird and mammal populations.
True story. Recently, I was called to a neighbor's house to help her daughter clean up the carnage left behind by their cat. The scene was indescribable. The photo shouldn't be posted, and my apologies if it offends anyone. This is an attempt to reach and appeal to the outdoor cat owners and urge them, at the very least, to refrain from adopting another outdoor cat once your current one is gone. Our songbird population is reduced by billions (that's with a B) annually because of unnecessary predation by cats. Mammal mortality also numbers in the billions because of cats. If the graphic image below (which shows the remains of a cardinal's body in front of the bed and the entrails in the top corner of the bed) isn't enough to encourage you to keep cats indoors, then remember that outdoor cats have significantly shorter lifespans than indoor cats. They can also bring fleas and ticks into the house which, as we know, is not healthy for other household pets or humans. So please keep wild birds and mammals in mind when you adopt, and keep cats warm and safe inside your home and critters alive and well outside in the natural world where they belong.
Field season is winding down, so this has been the month of app updates. They have all been updated to the new iOS 11, but the one app you'll notice that has just a "few" more changes is Monarch SOS. This was an overdue update, and if you're a fan of this app, you'll notice some very obvious changes and some new additions that we felt would be useful. Here are a few of the cool changes/additions that will be available later this week.
Our first major improvement is the At a Glance section. You'll remember this as the Quick ID section. This is now first on the menu and specific to monarchs and their life cycles. We raised 19 monarch butterflies this year, which is amazing since we haven't had a monarch in our neighborhood for ten years. We actually witnessed a female laying her eggs, then collected and raised them from being laid within minutes through eclosure.
You'll notice a few new buttons on the navigation screen. We broke out look-alikes from the monarch section so you can get to them quickly and instinctively. We also added the side by side slide to the Compare tab, so users can immediately compare the look-alike to a monarch rather than scrolling through the Quick ID slides to find the right one. Makes sense! We also broke out programs from reports. If you are a citizen scientist in the western US, you will definitely appreciate this change. Our reporting Monarch Joint Venture partners now have their own separate report section, rather then a buried report tab as part of their general program pages.
We included a Support Monarch SOS section in the slide out menu and updated the How to Use this App section, also in the slide out menu.
Our next major update will include several new milkweed photos thanks to Brad Grimm of Grow Milkweed Plants and others who have offered their milkweed images to help users better ID milkweed in their region.
Check out our slideshow below for a pre-release preview of the new Monarch SOS update!
This week is all about updating our apps for iOS 11. Not much fun but necessary if you want our apps to work on your devices! We are also working on a pretty major update to Monarch SOS that we think you'll love.