What is your favorite animals and/or plants and why?

Hi there everyone,

What is your favorite animals and/or plants and why?

This is a question I have been thinking about recently, and I think I would have to go for the
Eastern bar-tailed godwit as my favorite animal, here is some stuff about them -

the bar-tailed godwit is the most numerous tundra-breeding shorebird species to occur in
here New Zealand, with around 75,000 each year, they breed in western Alaska and migrate to New Zealand and eastern Australia each year which is a 11,000-12,000 km journey taking 8-9 days, with an average flight speed of 56 kph, The bar-tailed godwit has a stopover in china -
image
However my favorite thing about these birds is how they can turn parts of there brain off to rest while flying. Here is some more about it-https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsfs.2016.0082

Here is one of my observations of a Eastern bar-tailed godwit -
https://inaturalist.nz/observations/68996260

One of my favorite plants world have to be the lancewood tree.

The lancewood is a very unique tree, when they are young they are very thin and spindly with just a couple of long, narrow, deflexed leaves at the top until they are out of reach of the moa (3 meters) (well no need any more) where they start to grow much bigger and have a trunk 50 centimeters in diameter. When the European settlers first came they thought that they adult lancewood and the young lancewood where different species of trees.

As you can see here.

Young lancewood
image

Adult lancewood

Please share your favorites.

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Thanks for sharing! I wasn’t familiar with such the long journey the godwit takes and haven’t heard of the lancewood.

I’d say my favorite plants are the pitcherplants (Sarracenia) and the greenfly orchid (Epidendrum conopseum). The Sarracenia are carnivorous and the pitchers look like they have personality! On the more objective side, they relatively recently diversified. It is just amazing how different bogs in the Southeast have unique differences in color forms and shapes. Visiting these rare bogs are like seeing a snapshot of speciation.


Sarracenia leucophylla

The Epidendrum is interesting because orchids, like birds, can spread astonishing distances through the air by their dustlike seed. This particular species is an epiphyte adapted to sub-tropical climates and is one of the more frost hardy epiphytes. I always enjoyed scouring branches of live oaks looking for them in Georgia and Florida.


Epidendrum conopseum

A favorite animal would have the Killdeer. These shorebirds are quite intelligent and amusing to watch.

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My favourite plant has to be Labrador tea (Rhododendron tomentosum, Rhododendron groenlandicum, or Rhododendron neoglandulosum). It reminds me of moose hunting with my father. Collecting a few leaves to brew a tea at the end of the day was a high point of my youth. It was the true north in a hot mug.

Animals are a harder pick. I’ll leave out domestic dogs and look at wild animals. I love/hate/respect common ravens. They are so damn clever. If reincarnation exists I’d like to come back as a raven just so I can taunt the silly humans.

A close second would be Regulus species. As a boy whenever I sat quietly in the woods a Kinglet would show up to see what I was doing. They would come closer and closer until they almost sat on my head. So much beauty in such a small package.

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My very favorite taxa is Lepidoptera, more specifically MOTHS. The beauty, diversity, and discovery of the not yet encountered genera or species has been a decades long journey of amazement and learning for me. To share ONE favorite is nigh impossible but, I have chosen to share the interesting life of the Sooty-winged Chalcoela-Chalcoela iphitalis.

The larva of these little critters employ a rare feeding strategy, the consumption of the larva of paper wasps. This is atypical in the world of butterflies and moths as the caterpillars are overwhelmingly vegan.

The female chalcoela flies to the paper wasp nest in darkness, when the wasps are inactive, and lays the eggs on the structure. Each cell within the nest contains a wasp larva, or grub and future meal for the chalcoela caterpillars when they hatch and invade the nest.

By winter, the grubs have been consumed and the caterpillars have woven their cocoons within the back of the cells of the paper wasp nest and pupate.

When summer arrives, the metamorphosis of the moth complete, the moths fly in search of a mate to complete the cycle.

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@atcalvin Welcome to the forum!
Ahh, a fellow moth lover! As I’ve said before, my favourite moth is Mythimna unipuncta. Subtle in it’s beauty. It also migrates - where I live they cannot survive the winter, and some (I don’t know the percentage) migrate south. They then migrate north, probably in fits and starts, to Canada!

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My favourite are Stegodyphus spiders, especially S. dumicola… it´s personal after spending countless hours including weekends and holidays looking in their cute little faces :-D …

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/37817211

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Favorites are hard to pick and mine change all the time - but right now I’d pick Platanthera clavellata.

Mainly because of the two weeks I spent last summer trying to find one in a specific set of local metroparks. Getting my shoes muddy every day walking along streams, scratching my hands fighting through rose thickets, sometimes going way off-trail and having to avoid rangers… but not a single plant anywhere.
I finally gave up and resigned to not finding one. The next day I just went to my usual metropark after work and walked my favorite trail without looking for them anymore… and then there one was, blooming on a stream bank right next to the trail.

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It is impossible to pick a single favorite, but at least close to the top are genera of Geotrupidae such as Enoplotrupes, Lethrus, Blackburnium, and Bolborhachium. None of the craziest Blackburnium or Bolborhachium have been observed yet.

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Anna’s Hummingbirds - I’ve always thought they were magical with their flying skills. They are plentiful in the foothills here and I’ve seen them nearly every day for over 15 years. They are fairly fearless (even quite brave around people) and have so many interesting behaviors; I find them endlessly fascinating.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/77821933

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Those four already look crazy! Reminds me of one of my favorite animals to find when I lived in Europe (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/61749-Lucanus-cervus)

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I love mollusks, especially marine mollusks, especially shelled marine mollusks.

The shells are so elegant, so beautiful and so fascinating. Also you can take dead empty shells home to ID them without really doing any harm in the process.

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My current favorites to identify are bees and wasps, but I’m interested in all plant and animal wildlife. Some bees and wasps are safe to walk on your hand, although others sting and most fly away, so they don’t always interact with people much. If you observe them near flowers or feed them fruit sugar they don’t fly away and might walk on your hand though.

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My favourite are birds - all sorts of birds here in Australia. I’m a keen birder and love the challenge of getting ‘that’ top shot. And with the changing seasons, the birds change too. Currently Kingfishers and Tawny Frogmouths are top of my list.

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This is hard, i kinda feel like i’m leaving some species behind and they will be upset xD
For now, the marsh harrier. So elegant to see it flying around

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Cool. here in New Zealand we have a swamp harrier.

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I have been a birder since 2010. I was originally in a raptor nest survey in NE Ohio for six years. So, naturally my favorites were birds of prey. But, the more I went birding, the more I appreciated the local resident birds. I think it is because I never noticed them before. I was always a hiker. But, birding has made me really look at what’s around me. Two years ago (at the start of the pandemic) I started looking at dragonflies/damselflies. I had the same feeling as when I started birding: these beautiful creatures were there all along. I just never took the time to look at them. (The annual Ohio Odonata Survey uses iNaturalist which is why I started using this website.) I look more closely at pretty much everything now - plants, insects, fungi, rocks.

If forced to give a favorite, I would say the American Rubyspot damselfly. I have no idea which bird is my favorite.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/54961667

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My favorite taxa is Gastropoda, including all terrestrial, freshwater and marine.
I cannot choose one as I love almost all taxons beloging to gastropoda, but my recent interest is Charopidae.
They are little snails native to some countries in Southern Hemisphere, especially in New Zealand and New Caledonia. Most they are under 1 cm, and due to their size they are often overlooked.

They are nocturnal and in daytime they can be found in moist plant litter in shady part of a native forest. To observe them, exploring a native bush at night after rain gives you the best result because they start crawling actively to graze on their food such as rotting vegetation.

The diversity in the taxa is amazing that more than 40 species can be found in a single location. Because their immigration speed is very slow, there are thousands of species just within New Zealand, and still many species are waiting to be described.


Laoma cf. leimonias, found in plant litter. Scale is just 1 mm but this is a mature specimen!


Serpho cf. kivi, observed at 1 a.m. in Waitakere range. Size approx. 1 cm.


Species unknown, size approx. 1 cm.

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How can I pick just a few? I can look at my “favorites” list on iNat, and see too many for a reasonable length post. Besides, it changes over time and according to where I am.

If I go with just my current location in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would have to go with the White-Tailed Kite:


(Thank you @phylogenomics for the observation)
In this picture, you can see it engaging in the typical “kiting” behavior – which is, presumably, where the toy kites you fly on a string got their name. “Kiting” means fluttering to hover in place.

If I think of my place in the Dominican Republic, It’s a tough call, but I’m going to say Jagua:


(Thank you @ericvandenberghe for the observation)
There is so much lore surrounding this tree (also called genipap). The Native people of the Islands, called Taíno, in their Creation story, hold that the Taíno emerged into the world from the Cave of the Jagua, and all other peoples, from the Cave of Insignificance. Throughout South America, Native peoples used the unripe fruits of Jagua to make their blue body paint (and annatto seeds for the red body paint); and the ripe fruit is a tasty food. One of the first plans I made for my Dominican home, even before planning the house, was that I wanted to plant a Jagua tree.

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Akita dog is my favorite animal because of its loyalty. And in plants, Amazon water lily is my favorite plant because of it’s the largest aquatic plant in the world.

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I’ve always loved the swamp white oak, Quercus bicolor. I remember first encountering ancient ones in northeast Ohio when I went away to college, and I just kind of fell in love with them. I love the foliage that is shiny and dark green on one side, white and soft and fuzzy on the other. I love both textures and the contrast. I love how the foliage looks from a distance. I love the shape of the tree. I love the rugged trunks and branches. I love how habitats look when there are these huge swampy forests filled with swamp white oaks, especially when you visit them in late winter when the snow is melting and it’s just this totally impassible, human-unfriendly terrain with standing water everywhere, and the trees just love it.

There are swamp white oaks near where I live now but there are no really massive ones the way there are in northeast Ohio. There are some small bottomlands in the northern piedmont where there are a lot of them, like floodplains of small streams and such.

I still really love them and I get excited whenever I see them.

I think in general I am a huge fan of bottomland oaks. I am also a huge fan of swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii), and water oak (Quercus nigra). Incidentally, my girlfriend’s favorite tree is willow oak (Quercus phellos) and I always think it is a sign we are a good match haha…compatible but not exactly alike!

Other favorite organisms of mine include fish crows (I love the sound they make), hermit thrushes (probably favorite bird song ever), black-throated green warblers (possibly my favorite warbler song), and bluebirds (I just find them really pleasant).

And then among insects I love the spotted cucumber beetle, and also love the false potato beetle. They are both so cute!!! I tend to like cute, round beetles that eat plants and that I find in my garden but that do not “infest” my garden, i.e. they just show up as isolated individuals and/or have a preference for eating non-food plants.

Another favorite organism is surf clam, which I like to eat as food. I enjoy it because people always make fun of how gross they are and how would anyone like them, they’re so rubbery, blah blah blah. And then I get to order them and eat them and people are like wow I have been proven wrong, someone actually likes them. I pretty much like all bivalves (love eating the edible ones, appreciate the non-edible ones for their ecosystem services too.)

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