Every now and then we come across oddities in nature, things that really make an animal stand out, either from its surroundings or from its siblings. Obvious abnormalities include albinos, rare colour morphs, or hybrid crosses (mule deer x whitetail deer come to mind). Less obvious traits include such things as non-typical antlers, or missing or deformed appendages.
Some of these observations are fairly unique, I’m sure. For example one fall I observed a doe with a knife-like spike antler about 6 inches long on one side. On another outing I observed a mule deer buck that had damaged his eye, the injury had caused a softball-sized bag of fluid to be suspended from that eye, bouncing as he moved. I’ve seen three stuffed albino ground squirrels that came from the same prairie pasture. An albino coyote is hard to miss in the summer time (which it the time of year I saw it), though it would definitely have the upper hand on its prey in the snowy winters of Saskatchewan. This is by no means an exhaustive list. I would venture a guess that most of us will see a couple of these occurrences every year.
The unfortunate part is that many of these strange things are observed without a camera. Thus, they are captured only as memories. I’m learning to always have a compact camera at the ready, able to record what no-one else will see.
A few years ago I noticed a pheasant that had a double spur. I was able to document this anomaly as it was a ‘bird in the hand’ rather than ‘in the bush’. I have never seen the like before or since. Perhaps there are others who have seen this phenomenon in pheasants before (and if so I’d like to hear from you), but I thought it was noteworthy.
I would like to start a collection of unique wildlife observations. If you have something to share, please do send me your story, with a photo if possible, and I’ll post it.
Enjoy your time out in nature this fall, and keep an eye out for those strange wild things.