Species of the Week: Pumpkinseed

Photo by Claire Alarcon-Belanger

As pumpkin season comes to a close, we thought it would only be appropriate to discuss our jack-o-lantern-named friend, the Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus). Although Pumpkinseeds are a native species, they almost look out of place in our waters with their bright tropical colours. They are a fun and easy fish to catch but look out! Pumpkinseeds have up to 11 spines on their dorsal fins and 3 spines on their anal fins. These spines help to defend them from predators, including larger fish like Largemouth Bass and Pike, as well as birds like Cormorants and Herons. As for the Pumpkinseeds, they eat insects, small crustaceans, and other small fish. Pumpkinseeds prefer to live in warmer, slow-moving or still water, where there is aquatic vegetation to give them shelter from predators. They tend to travel in schools with other Sunfish as well. Thanks to this, it is not uncommon for Pumpkinseeds to hybridize with other Sunfish species, which we have seen here at the park! Have you ever gone fishing at Murphys Point?

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Species of the Week: The American Toad

Photo by Nata Culhane

Just in time for Halloween, our #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Toads are often recognized as a symbol for Halloween due to their association with witches and their “warty” skin. You’ve probably even heard the age-old myth that touching a toad will give you warts too! The little bumps on their skin are actually called “granular glands” and help toads camouflage with their surroundings. They also have two large parotoid glands located behind their eyes, which secrete a milky, white substance, that is mildly poisonous when ingested by predators. After picking up a toad, a dog will promptly drop it and may foam at the mouth, but will not be hurt. American Toads live a primarily nocturnal life, and often spend much of their day hiding in the leaf litter on the campgrounds and trails here at Murphys Point. Make sure to keep an eye out for them next time you’re here!

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Species of the Week: The American Crow

Photo by Nata Culhane

This week we’re looking at the American Crow. Their scientific name, Corvus brachyrhynchos, comes from Ancient Greek — it translates to ‘short-billed crow.’ Interestingly, a group of Crows found together is called a ‘murder.’ Crows live in family groups that can have as many as 15 individuals with young from 5 different years! American Crows don’t typically mate until they are 3-5 years old. As with other members of the crow family, such as the Common Raven and Blue Jay, they are considered intelligent and have occasionally been seen making and using tools. They will also follow other bird species in order to locate their nests, whereupon they steal their eggs and young. These birds are extremely common throughout Murphys Point — often seen perching high above campground roads in trees and on telephone wires

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