Monday, September 30, 2013

Too Many Legs to Be a Bird

I haven't been able to get out into the field in weeks - floods, work deadlines, illnesses, family commitments, and other interferences have kept me from birding the way I want to. The last time I did, however, I wasn't able to find the lifer short-eared owls I was hoping for, but I did find a lifer of another kind - with way too many legs.

We stopped at the side of the road on the west side of Utah Lake while I scanned over the shore with my binoculars, and as I turned back toward the front of the truck and told my husband we could continue on, I found him staring at the road ahead and he commented "that's one hell of a spider." I'm not a fan of arachnids, not by any means, but yes, it was one hell of a spider - a western tarantula.

I've never seen one before, and while it may not have feathers, it was certainly fascinating. I've learned that these arachnids are primarily nocturnal, but come out earlier during the late summer and fall as they're seeking mates - this particular specimen was male, and he was wandering about looking for a female's den and hoping she'd invite him in.

Tarantulas won't attack humans, but I certainly wasn't going to get any closer to test that fact. My husband suggested I should have put a nickel down next to the spider so the scale of its size would be more clear... Yeah, that wasn't going to happen. Thank goodness for zoom lenses.

Next time out, whenever that may be, I hope I see more birds. I don't mind the occasional exposure to other unique Utah wildlife, but let's just leave this one in the arid field where he belongs.

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