The Benefits of Wildlife Cameras

A Tule elk cow mother with her spotted calf.
This Black-tailed deer buck has velvet antlers.
A juvenile Black bear crossing Outlet creek.
A large bull Tule elk with large velvet antlers.
This Red-shouldered hawk took a solitary bath in Outlet Creek.

​July 6th, 2021

Mid July is the time when there are many juvenile animals – birds, mammals, lizards, and even insects out and about. The sound of lots of different species of baby birds being fed is in the air. Large groups of juvenile Redwing blackbirds, Brewer’s blackbirds and Brown-headed cowbirds get together and form huge flocks of three hundred or more. The sound of all those blackbirds can be deafening!

Juvenile skunks, raccoons, and foxes are out at dusk and evening, leaving their telltale prints and scat. Like the spotted calves of the Tule elk and Mule deer, they are rarely seen. Therefore, the wildlife cameras are wonderful additions to our wildlife surveys. It is an unobtrusive way to capture animals in their daily life. Although the animals such as elk and deer notice the cameras and can bat them around and sniff and lick them as they investigate, they become accustomed to the odd thing that is on the tree or post once the camera has been in the same spot for a few days. About two weeks ago, we placed one of the wildlife video cameras on a spot overlooking Outlet creek. It was a well-traveled location with many animal tracks going past it. The trick is to place the camera so that it gets a good view without any waving branches or grasses to trip it. Lately with all the wind we have been having, it has been a challenge to find a spot that does not take a lot of pruning to make it work! The position and angle must also be optimal so that the whole animal is captured, not just the feet or head. This spot turned out to be fantastic.

The sound of the birds singing, from Swainson’s thrushes to Wilson’s warblers was lovely to capture in the videos. It was good to see that there were young Tule elk calves, at least three of them. Initially there was plenty of water for ducks and other animals to drink but as the days got hotter, the water dried up.

It was interesting to see the Tule elk bulls with their velvet antlers, the mother Tule cows with their spotted calves, and the newborn spotted Black-tailed deer fawn. There is also a photo of a juvenile Black bear walking past the crossing, and we wonder if it is a cub from the large female bear we have seen on other videos. A Red-shouldered hawk and a Common raven were both captured taking a bath in the creek. It is a treat to go through the photos and videos to see what we were able to get, and this time was no exception. This information helps to fill in the picture of what is happening in the life cycle of the wildlife that live on the mitigation land and helps us learn more about their daily habits!