Resources

FAUNA OF THE SOUTH OKANAGAN SIMILKAMEEN

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Nuttall’s Cottontail
(Sylvilagus Nuttallii)

DESCRIPTION

The smallest rabbit in BC, the Nuttall’s cottontail is easily identified by its short fluffy white tail and its round ears. It has a grayish brown coat above, and is white underneath. The southern Okanagan Valley is the northern tip of the range of the Nuttall’s cottontail that stretches all the way to Mexico. They are often spotted at the Osoyoos Desert Centre garden munching on their favorite grasses.

Coyote
(Canis latrans)

 

DESCRIPTION

One of the best predators in our ecosystem, coyotes love feeding on rodents, rabbits, berries and carrion. They roam the Osoyoos Desert Centre when humans are  not around, leaving lots of evidence near or on the boardwalk.

Flora of the South Okanagan Similkameen

Mule Deer
(Odocoileus hemionus)

 

DESCRIPTION

Mule deer get their name by having ears similar to a mule. Their rump is white and their tail is white with a black tip. They can weigh up to 210 kilograms, and can grow to over one metre tall. At Osoyoos Desert Centre, mule deer feed on antelope brush and many other native species.

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Black Bear
(Ursus Americanus)

 

DESCRIPTION

Despite their name, the fur colour of the black bear can also be brown, white and even blue!  They can weigh a whopping 300 kilograms and reach over two metres tall!

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Rufous Hummingbird
(Selasphorus rufus)

DESCRIPTION

The rufous hummingbird arrival is the long awaited sign of spring. Males are bright orange with a vivid iridescent-red throat. Rufous hummingbirds are the most aggressive hummingbird in BC and are known to keep other hummingbirds away from the bird feeder. Rufous hummingbirds perform the longest migration route per body size, flying from Mexico all the way to Canada.

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Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)

 

DESCRIPTION

Male calliope have magenta rays bursting from its throat. It is the smallest bird in the US and Canada, and hence, gets bullied by the rufous hummingbird.

Black-chinned Hummingbird
(Archilochus alexandri)

 

DESCRIPTION

As its name suggests the chin, and head of this hummingbird is black. It does not have the flashy colors of the other hummingbirds in the Okanagan, but just like the rest of the hummingbirds here they can flap their wings faster than any bird around! So fast they can even hover and fly backwards!

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Western Bluebird
(Sialia mexicana)

 

DESCRIPTION

The most frequently spotted bird at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, western bluebirds are year round residents. There are nest boxes located in various spots on the 67-acre site and mom and dad can often be observed feeding and tending to their young.

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Mountain Bluebird
(Sialia currucoides)

 

DESCRIPTION

These beautiful bluebirds do not spend much time at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, arriving early in the spring, and continuing their migration to higher elevations locally or moving further north.

California Quail
(Callipepla californica)

 

DESCRIPTION

It's impossible to miss the California quails at the Osoyoos Desert Centre. They always try to stand out and stand guard on a post. They are very proud of their forward drooping head plume. Even though they are called California quail, their call sounds like Chi-ca-go. During rearing time, two adults can be seen with a flock of tiny quails following their parents wherever they may roam.

Golden Eagle
(Aquila chrysaetos)

 

DESCRIPTION

One of the largest and fastest raptor in North America, it can take down big prey like domestic livestock, cranes and ungulates; however, it will usually focus on rabbits and gophers. The golden eagle can be seen at the Osoyoos Desert Centre and is easily identified by its golden feathers by its head.

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Red-tailed Hawk
(Buteo jamaicensis)

 

DESCRIPTION

The most common hawk in North America. As they soar above the antelope brush habitat looking for their next meal, their reddish tail will be a helpful way to identify them. Sometimes they can be seen harassing the ravens in the back of the interpretive building.

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Great Basin Spadefoot
(Spea intermontana)

 

DESCRIPTION

Not a toad and not a frog, the spadefoot is its own unique amphibian. They spend most of their adult lives burrowed unground and in hibernation to avoid extreme hot or cold weather. They mate in early spring and their tadpoles develop very fast. By early summer young juvenile spadefoots are hopping around the Osoyoos Desert  Centre.

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Tiger Salamander
(Ambystoma tigrinum)

 

DESCRIPTION

These large salamanders can grow to 20 centimetres in length and can live for 12 to 15 years. The brightly coloured markings on their back resemble a tiger, hence their name. Tiger salamanders are secretive and in BC are endangered. The probability of spotting them is very low.

Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola)

 

DESCRIPTION

The largest snake in BC, the Great Basin gopher snake can reach up to 2.4 metres! Non venomous, these snakes are true constrictors. By squeezing or constricting  their prey so hard that its heart stops, they are able subdue their dinner before swallowing it. They'll eat lizards, insects and birds but specialize in small mammals.

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Western Yellow-bellied Racer (Coluber constrictor mormon)

 

DESCRIPTION

The most common snake at the Osoyoos Desert Centre is the fastest snake in BC. It's a non venomous snake with a grey to olive top and a white to yellow bottom. Racers are also great climbers and can often be seen on bushes or trees trying to capture their prey.

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Rubber Boa
(Charina bottae)

 

DESCRIPTION

Also known as the “Two Headed Snake,” it can be difficult to tell a rubber boa’s head from its tail. It resembles a rubbery tube with a slight taper at each end – similar to what you’d roll out of a ball of clay. Its loose skin and many small, smooth scutes (scales) combine to give the snake its rubbery appearance. They do not bite and would rather hide beneath a log than confront a human.

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Praying Mantis
(Mantis religiosa)

 

DESCRIPTION

The praying mantis, or European mantis, was introduced to the Okanagan Valley in the late 1930s to control grasshoppers. The prominent front legs of the mantis are bent, and held together, which gives it a look that suggests this mantis is praying! They are ferocious carnivores, and they mainly prey on other insects. They are loved by farmers, as they are a great biological solution for unwanted pests.

Western Black Widow
(Latrodectus hesperus)

 

DESCRIPTION

The only venomous spider in BC, its bite can cause flu-like symptoms. They build formless looking webs in old rodent holes, which they use to capture their prey. They are hard to spot at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, as they are quite fearful of humans. They would normally not bite a human unless trapped or cornered.

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Northern Scorpion
(Paruroctonus boreus)

 

DESCRIPTION

This species is the only scorpion found in Canada. It can reach 5 cm long, and its bite, although slightly venomous, is not as severe as its southern relatives. The northern scorpion cast an eerie greenish yellow glow under UV light, which is very cool for us humans to observe and very efficient for scorpions to avoid predators and find prey in the dark.

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