The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.
The loggerhead shrike is a black-masked bandit. This predatory songbird, about the size of a robin, hovers and then attacks from behind. In a flash, its falcon-like beak can sever its prey’s spinal cord.
Often called the “butcher bird,” the shrike skewers grasshoppers and other prey on thorns or barbed wire for when hunting is lean. A shrike’s small feet can’t grip large prey, so impaling food makes for easier eating.
Prairie lizards, also known as northern fence lizards, rarely venture far from shelter. These glade-loving, sunbathing slackers are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. To stay warm, they bask in the sun on rocks and dart under them for protection.
A lizard can drop its tail like a flip-flopping, wriggling worm to distract predators from taking a bigger bite. This tail tactic gives stubby a split second to split. A new tail grows back in three to four months.
The prairie lizard’s camo scales make it all but disappear to predators. However, this male lizard — busy flashing his brilliant blue patches while doing push-ups to attract a mate — soon became lizard lunch.
Nichole LeClair Terrill