Wildlife Around Us

One of the most plentiful and perhaps most intimidating creatures that we coexist with in the Vineyards is the snake.  There are a number of varieties of snakes in our area, many are not harmful and actually do great work keeping other unwanted pests and rodents away.  How do you tell the good ones from the bad ones?  Well it's not easy in some cases, so you should always treat a snake you come across with the utmost respect.

Copperhead (Northern)

Copperhead Snake

The most common venomous snake in our area is the Northern Cottonmouth.  They can be very dangerous to humans and pets and while they aren't aggressive if left alone, they can be aggressive if provoked or surprised.  What does a Copperhead look like?  Well this video does a pretty good job of explaining them and while this one is for Tennessee the information still applies!.  NEVER TRY TO HANDLE ONE

Northern Water Snake

Northern Water Snake

This is a harmless snake that is prevalent to our region and as you can tell from its name, lives near water.  It is easy to confuse this snake with the Copperhead, so you should always be careful when you see one.  

Black Snake (actually known as the Black Rat Snake)

Black Rat Snake

These snakes can get very large (6 feet is common) and are "good" snakes.  They are passive and non-poisonous and are actually a good thing to have around your home.  They will eat rodents as well as lizards and if you've seen one, they typically will move away from you if they see a clear path away.  Some freeze and if they feel very threatened they may coil as if to strike, but that is unusual and they are not venomous.

Common Snapping Turtle

The Common Snapping Turtle

Snapping turtles are abundant around the Vineyards due to our lakes and streams.  They are most visible when they are laying their eggs - many times up near our houses!
 They are Named "Snapping" turtles because it is their form of defense.  Snapping turtles are a bit too big for their shells and cannot completely withdraw into their shells, so at times they will snap to defend themselves against predators.  They are passive around humans, but if provokes they do snap!  Watch the video to see the key identifiers.  THEY CAN BITE AND REALLY SHOULDN'T BE HANDLED UNLESS YOU ARE VERY CAREFUL.

The Box Turtle

The Box Turtle

The Box Turtle is another common turtle found in our community.  Sometimes confused with the Painted Turtle, the Box Turtle gets its name from the fact that it can completely withdraw into its shell, or "box" as a form of defense.  These too are very passive turtles and are slow movers.  If you see one in the road, it him (or her) a favor and pick them up and put them in the woods - many are too small to get back over the curbs in our neighborhood.

The Bufflehead Duck      (Information courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

A buoyant, large-headed duck that abruptly vanishes and resurfaces as it feeds, the tiny Bufflehead spends winters bobbing in bays, estuaries, reservoirs, and lakes. Males are striking black-and white from a distance. A closer look at the head shows glossy green and purple setting off the striking white patch. Females are a subdued gray-brown with a neat white patch on the cheek. Bufflehead nest in old woodpecker holes, particularly those made by Northern Flickers, in the forests of northern North America.


Keys to identification 

·         Size & Shape

Bufflehead are very small, compact ducks with large, rounded heads and short, wide bills.

·         Color Pattern

Adult male Bufflehead have a white body, black back, and a dark head with a large white patch that wraps around the back of the head. Females and first-year males are gray-brown overall with an oval, white cheek patch. In flight adult males have a large white patch on the upperwing; females and first-year males have a smaller white wing patch.

·         Behavior

Bufflehead dive underwater to catch aquatic invertebrates. When courting females, male Buffleheads swim in front of them, rapidly bobbing their heads up and down. In flight, you can identify Bufflehead by noting their small size, fast wingbeats, and pattern of rocking side-to side as they fly.

·         Habitat

Bufflehead are most widespread in migration and winter, when they move south to coasts and large bodies of water, particularly shallow saltwater bays. They breed near lakes in northern forests where conifers mix with poplars or aspens. Bufflehead nest in tree cavities, especially old Northern Flicker holes.

Range Map