Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About WildlifeVolume 19, Number 3 - February 1973

Some Questions About Wildlife


Published by: The Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia

Prepared and Issued by: The Department of Biology,
with the cooperation of the Division of Education

Editor: Robert J. Boles

Editorial Committee: James S. Wilson, Gilbert A. Leisman, Harold Durst, Robert F. Clarke

Online edition by: Terri Weast

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas teachers, school board members and administrators, librarians, conservationists, youth leaders, and other adults interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as supply lasts, except Vol. 5, No.3, Poisonous Snakes of Kansas. Copies of this issue may be obtained for 25 cents each postpaid. Send orders to The Kansas School Naturalist, Department of Biology, Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas, 66801.

The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April of each year by The Kansas State Teachers College, 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, 66801. Second-class postage paid at Emporia, Kansas.

"Statement required by the Act of October, 1962: Section 4369, Title 39, United States Code, showing Ownership, Management and Circulation." The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April. Editorial Office and Publication Office at 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, 66801. The Naturalist is edited and published by the Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas. Editor, Robert J. Boles, Department of Biology.


KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The photograph of the coyote on the cover of this issue was provided by Dr. Dwight Spencer, who is actively engaged in research on the movements, distribution, and abundance of coyotes in Kansas. The picture was taken of a tame coyote that lived at the Ross Natural History Reservation for a period of time. It was allowed to roam free among the students who worked on the Reservation. You might watch for coyotes bearing brightly-colored ear tags. If you see one, please report it to Dr. Spencer, at the Biology Department of KSTC.

Some of the items used in this issue were submitted by the following members of Dr. Thomas Eddy's Wildlife Management class: Bert Wilson, Charles Lutz, N. P. Yonally, Gary Sloan. Jim Frey, Schwann Tunhikorn, Tom Sheeley, Aik Vathana, and Rick Haley. Sketches by Dr. Robert Boles.

Some Questions About Wildlife

by Robert J. Boles

Everyone who enjoys such outdoor activities as camping, hiking, bird watching, hunting, and fishing accumulates a lot of knowledge about the animals he sees and their activities. This issue of The Kansas School Naturalist gives you a chance to test yourself on some of the questions people might ask about these animals.

The sketches contain the necessary field characteristics to recognize the animal. Several questions are then asked about this animal, such as where it might be found, what it eats, whether it is harmful or beneficial, etc. Just so you will be less likely to "peek" at the answers, in the pdf edition they have been turned "up-side-down." In this online edition, the answers are in the darkened box near the sketch; place your cursor over the box and select the text within in order to read it. Read each question carefully, decide what you think is the best answer to that question, and then turn the Naturalist over and check the information given against the one you chose. Perhaps you will have a difference of opinion. This is not necessarily bad - most research and advancement of knowledge is because someone did question the accepted answers, and then set out to collect more data so as to be able to provide more accurate knowledge and answers to these questions.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

This wild, dog-like carnivore that roams the plains of Kansas is:

... the red wolf

... the coyote

... the timber wolf

... a police dog that has "gone wild"
Though timber wolves once roamed through what is now Kansas, they have been extinct in the state for many years. Reports of red wolves have so far turned out to be feral dogs, dog-coyote hybrids, or extra large coyotes. In spite of the bounties that were paid for many years on the coyote, it has done a remarkable job of surviving in Kansas. Not even hunting, trapping, and poisoning have succeeded in eliminating this clever carnivore.

Such animals should be killed whenever possible, as they are very destructive to chickens and many other domestic animals.

... True

... False

False. Coyotes play an important role in the control of destructive rodents and rabbits. They also eat many insects. Admittedly, one may at times become an "outlaw," and prey upon chickens and other livestock, and such individuals should be controlled. However, to declare war on all coyotes just because a few do some damage makes about as much sense as deciding to kill all men because some have robbed a bank or shot a citizen.

Such animals are natural enemies of dogs. Also, they cannot be tamed, nor will they show affection for a human.

... True

... False

False. Captured early in life, before they have opened their eyes, and raised with dogs, the coyote will enjoy their company, and they appear to enjoy his. Coyotes. especially females, raised under such conditions, may be heart-broken if ignored by their owners, just as a pet dog would be. This should not betaken as a suggestion that coyotes be adopted as pets by humans, as wild animals are better off in the role that nature has set aside for them. Also, coyotes, unlike dogs, become more nervous and unpredictable as they grow older.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The name most writers of hunting stories and the Old West use for this animal is:

... elk

... deer

... moose

... caribou

... wapiti

Wapiti is the best name to use. Although it is sometimes called an elk, this name is used to refer to the moose in the Old World. The name wapiti is an old Indian name for this large mammal.

It was originally a common animal in what is now Kansas.

... True

... False

True. It was once common throughout the state. As late as 1866 several thousand elk, or wapiti, were seen in one herd, and they were reported as being common in western Kansas as late as 1875. The last wild individual of this species in Kansas was killed before the start of this century.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The Kansas snake sketched above has a sharp, turned up nose, and is sometimes called a "spreading adder." It spreads its body back of the head and hisses violently when approached. It should be viewed with fear and avoided at all costs.

... True

... False

Although, with the spreading or the body and the hurfing and hissing, this snake may look as mean as a cobra, the hognose snake cannot even be teased into striking. If it can't frighten you away with its "act," it will often turn over on its back and "play dead." It is harmless to man.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

Which one of the statements below is not true about the animal sketched above?

... It is the largest antlered animal in the world

... It is the tallest mammal in North America

... It is the fastest runner of the heavy herbivorous land animals of the world

The moose is the largest antlered animal in the world and the tallest mammal in North America, but it must take a back seat to the American bison as the fastest runner among the heavy herbivores or the world.

This animal undergoes an annual migration.

... True

... False

True. The moose does migrate-but its migration consists or moving down from higher altitudes to lower ones as winter approaches. It then returns to the higher mountain valleys with the coming of spring. The distance is usually only about 40 miles, a far cry from the thousands of miles covered by the tiny humming bird during its migration.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The sketch above is that of a:

... rabbit

... hare

The animal shown is a rabbit. Hares have longer legs and ears, and their young are able to run soon after birth. The Kansas jack rabbit isn't really a rabbit, but a hare.

The breeding season of this animal normally begins about:

... January

... March

... May

... July

... September

Rabbits start breeding about March. Breeding continues through the summer, but usually stops in August.

The number of litters of young this mammal may bear during the breeding season is:

... one or two

... three or four

... five to seven

... ten to twelve

In a good year, a female cottontail rabbit may have as many as five to seven litters. This means that she might produce up to twenty-five to forty young in a single breeding season. However, of all these young, only about fifteen percent may be expected to make it through their first year of life.

One female may, during the breeding season, be the mother of:

... five to ten young

... fifteen to twenty young

... twenty-five to forty young

The number of her young that may be expected to survive through the first year is only about:

... 5%

... 15%

... 25%

... 50%

... 75%

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The animal above is most likely to be seen:

... in brushy areas

... in trees

... around ponds

... near its den in open areas

... in groups of six to eight individuals

Though the squirrel may sometimes be seen searching for acorns and other food on the ground, it is most at home in the higher branches of trees. Other than at mating time, or while still in small family groups, they tend to be somewhat solitary animals. They do most of their feeding early in the morning, about the time of sunrise. Like birds, they build nests of leaves and twigs in the summer, but prefer holes in the trunks of trees during the colder parts of the winter, where they are better sheltered from the wind and cold.

They do most of their feeding activities:

... about sunrise

... near sunset

... during the late morning hours

... in the early afternoon

They are somewhat like birds in that they:

... can fly

... can "chirp"

... catch insects for food

... build nests

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The two animals sketched above are closely related.

... True

... False

Both of these animals are mammals, but other than that they are not closely related. The kangaroo rat gets its common name from its resemblance to the kangaroo. However, the Australian kangaroo is a marsupial, bearing its young in a very immature stage and carrying them for some time in its marsupium, or brood pouch. The kangaroo rat is a rodent, and is more closely related to the rats and mice than to the Australian kangaroo. The kangaroo's nearest relative in Kansas is the opossum. Incidentally, the kangaroo rat does have pouches, but they are used to hold food, not its young, and are inside its cheeks.

The mammal sketched to the right may spend its entire life without taking a drink of water.

... True

... False

The kangaroo rat, having lived for a great number of years in arid and semiarid areas, has become adapted to use its metabolic water, or the water that is produced when its food is utilized in the body, for carrying on its body processes, rather than excreting it as urine, as do most other mammals.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The sketch above is that of a(n):

... horned owl

... prairie chicken

... eared grebe

... ruffed grouse

... double-crested cormorant

Spring. Male prairie chickens gather at ancestral "booming grounds," where they strut and show off before each other and the females. Visiting one of the booming grounds in the Flint Hills in early May makes an enjoyable and educational field trip.

The pose of this bird suggests that the time of year is:

... spring

... summer

... winter

... fall

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The sketch above shows the metatarsal glands of the white tail and the mule deer.

... Which sketch is that of a white tail deer's leg?

The whitetail deer has a small metatarsal gland, about an inch long, which is located on the inner side of the deer's hind foot. The same gland on the mule deer has a slit-like opening about four inches long.

The sketch shows the:

... outside of the deer's front leg

... outside of the deer's hind leg

... inside of the deer's front leg

... inside of the deer's hind leg

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

In birds such as the one sketched above, the females are larger than the males.

... True

... False

Though in many species of birds the males are larger than the females, this is not true of hawks. The female is a larger bird than her mate.

These birds are:

... diurnal

... nocturnal

... crepuscular

... active both during the day and night hours

Hawks, unlike most owls, are diurnal. They search for their food during the daylight hours.

The bird is a(n):

... omnivore

... herbivore

... carnivore

... insectivore

Hawks are carnivores, feeding upon the flesh of mice and rabbits. They may take an occasional bird, but even these are usually the old or injured. Because they feed upon small rodents that may take part of our crops, they should be considered more beneficial than harmful.

Such birds:

... should be shot whenever possible because they eat song birds and chickens

... should be hunted during the hunting season, as they are good eating

... should be protected at all times, with few exceptions, as they feed upon animals which destroy our crops

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The bird sketched above is a:

... scaled quail

... Gambel's quail

... chuckar partridge

... bobwhite quail

... pheasant

True. A bobwhite quail may build two or even three nests, and lay several clutches of eggs before bringing off a successful hatch. Quail seen with young as late as early in September are probably quail who have re-nested following failure of an earlier attempt.

This bird produces only one brood of young each year.

... True

... False

A landowner permits no quail hunting on his land. The landowner next to him, with an equal amount of land and with similar cover and habitat, permits hunting. After five years, how will the number of quail on the land of the farmer permitting no hunting compare to the number of quail on the land of the owner who permitted sportsmen to hunt on his place?

... The landowner who permitted no hunting will have many more quail.

... The landowner who did not permit anyone to hunt on his land will have about the same number of quail as the owner who permitted hunting on his property.

Both areas will have about the same number of quail. Some sportsmen have hunted the same area for over thirty years, and the number of quail is just about as large on this land as on the adjacent land upon which no hunting is permitted. There is an old but true adage: "You cannot stockpile game."

By fall the young birds hatched that year will make up about what percentage of the population?

... 10%

... 25%

... 50%

... 75%

... 100%

Quail may be "aged" by their wings. Examination of many wings from birds killed during the hunting season shows that the young-of-the-year make up about seventy-five percent of the bird population each fall.

The female bird raises the young, while the male is content to sit on a post and whistle while she does the baby-setting.

... True

... False

False. The male may do a lot of whistling to warn other males to stay out of his territory, but he is a faithful father. If the female should be killed, he will tend the brood until they are grown. He will even adopt orphans if he finds them. This accounts for cases where several sizes of young are seen in a family, and may be partly responsible for the belief that the female may produce more than one brood of young in a given year.

In the fall broods of young birds begin to meet and mix with the other families and join the groups of twelve or more birds. Such groups are called:

... flocks

... gaggles

... herds

... bands

... coveys

A group of quail is referred to as a covey, and may contain birds from several different clutches. This mixing of birds in the fall helps to prevent inbreeding of family groups.

An area will support larger numbers of this bird if it is:

... all grassland

... all timberland

... all cropland

... part grassland, part cropland, part brushland, part woodland

Quail need places to reed, sun themselves, nest, and hide from predators. Therefore, a diversified area or grassland, cropland, brush and trees will support more quail than any or the habitat types by itself.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

This fish is a:

... scavenger

... predator

... primarily an insect-eater

... feeds mostly on plankton

The large mouth bass fills the same niche in the aquatic habitat that the hawk and the coyote do in the terrestrial habitat - that or the predator. The large mouth, large eyes, and the stream-lined body are good clues that this fish preys upon smaller fish and other organisms for its food supply.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

A duck flies by your blind with the markings shown by the sketch above. The duck is a:

... gadwall

... merganser

... mallard

... shoveler

... blue-winged teal

Some species of ducks are in serious trouble, such as the mallard shown in the sketch, as their numbers have dropped alarmingly in the last few years. These ducks must be protected in order to let them build up their numbers to a safe level, yet many hunters are unable to distinguish one duck from another when in night. Learn to recognize the different ducks on the wing before you go hunting.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

The largest land carnivore is the grizzly bear.

... True

... False

True. The largest grizzly bears are found on Kodiac Island in Alaska. Some individuals may reach a length of more than nine feet and a weight of over 1,500 pounds. Some books may call this the "Alaskan brown bear," but the more recent classification schemes place them in with the grizzlies.

There are 90 different species of grizzly bears.

... True

... False

There have been some 90 different species of grizzly bears described in the literature, but the validity of such a large number is doubtful. All bears show individual variations, and this is especially true of the grizzly bear. Because of the lack of a large number of specimens for study and comparison, and the fact that the grizzly bear will not tolerate humans who might wish to study them closely in the wild, this great carnivore may never be completely and accurately described.

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

A nest such as this would be used by a:

... pintail duck

... blue-wing teal

... snow goose

.... hooded merganser

... woodduck

The woodduck will readily accept man-made nesting boxes. The nest should be placed ina tree some twenty to thirty feet above the ground. The little ducklings, hatching within a few minutes of each other, fearlessly launch themselves from the nest opening into space. (Imagine a new-born human baby jumping safely to the ground a hundred feet or more below the nursery window at the hospital where he was born!) Unable to fly, they hit the ground and bounce like a fluffy little rubber ball. Unhurt by the experience, they are led by the mother to the safety of the nearest water.

The nest should be placed in a tree:

... level with the ground

... about two or three feet from the ground

... six to 10 feet above ground level

... 11 to 15 feet up on the tree trunk

... 20 to 30 feet from the ground

KSN - Vol 19, No 3 - Some Questions About Wildlife

Which of the following factors has the least effect upon the numbers of this bird in Kansas?

... hunting

... severity of the winter

... nesting conditions

... extensive use of insecticides

... excessive drought

Years of intensive research have shown that all fo teh above factors - except HUNTING - have a marked effect upon the number of pheasants each year. Nine out of ten of the cock pheasants could be shot each hunting season without any great effect upon next year's crop of birds.

It is a native bird of western Kansas.

... True

... False

The pheasant is not a native American bird. The fist introductions from Europe about 1730 in eastern United States were unsuccessful. However, introductions from the Orient in the west were established and spreading by 1884. In Kansas they fill the niche originally occupied by the sharp-tailed grouse, which disappeared when people started cultivating the land.

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