Author Archives: Texas Wild

About Texas Wild

This blog details our adventures as wildlife photographers and filmmakers. Follow Jessie Story and I as we film our upcoming wildlife series on PBS!

Green eating machine

Female Praying Mantis

Female mantis Randall County Texas Aug 31 2013

I wanted to get this posted so information will have to follow.  This female praying mantis was hanging out in the back yard today and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful model.


Categories: education, macro photography, photography, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pockets Full of Mice

Not much is known about these rodents equipped with fur pockets alongside their mouths.   Mating behaviors of  the pocket mouse species are still a mystery and research into this area is ongoing. They are solitary and nocturnal, as you can see in this video shot at Caprock Canyon State Park, they prefer to forage and move about at night, running through the grass they often look like bits of popcorn strapped to a rocket. Of all the species of pocket mice, two well known species are the Plains Pocket Mouse and the Silky Pocket Mouse. Texas Wild did not take the weight and measurements of this pocket mouse on the night of filming, so narrowing down to a  exact species type is not possible. We interrupted this particular mouse while it was out foraging on seeds and grasses, seeds being its primary food source. We always enjoy filming these animals, they are easy on the eyes and surprising with their movements.

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Porcupine 101 – Texas Wild’s first narrated video

Porcupines are amazing and often misunderstood mammals.  Take 90 seconds to learn the basics of porcupine biology and behavior and get a close-up look at these prickly tree-climbers.  This is Texas Wild’s first narrated video production.  We hope you enjoy…Ray and Jessie

Categories: conservation, dslr video, education, film making, nature writing, Uncategorized, video, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Camels Mating in the Texas Panhandle

Man Makes Move; Meanwhile, Mrs. Munches

Not even mealtime stood in the way when this male camel spider moved in for the thrill. As you can see in this video clip caught by Jessie Story, the male was completely oblivious to the fact that the female was otherwise occupied at the time of his approach.

Not that he would have minded; camel spider mating tends to be rather one-sided.

The little that we know about camel spider mating mostly comes from serendipitous observations in the field. There are approximately 1000 species of camel spider (also known as solifugids, solpugids, wind scorpions, sun spiders, and many other names). Camel spiders are arachnids but unlike some of their colloquial names imply they are neither spiders nor scorpions, belonging instead to their own order, Solifugae. These fascinating invertebrates live in deserts throughout the world (except Australia). Two families of solifugid can be found in North America: Eremobatidae and Ammotrechidae.

We are currently researching solifugid courtship and mating in Dr. Sissom’s arachnology lab at WTAMU. From previously published knowledge as well as staged mating trials in the laboratory, we know a little bit about eremobatid mating (like the pair pictured here). When a male first comes into contact with a female, she will fall into a trance-like state. During this time she is physically pliant, allowing him to maneuver her at will in order to accomplish his task. This involves the insertion of his upper jaws into her genital opening, followed by vigorous chewing and kneading. The specifics of sperm transfer are one of the aspects being investigated in our research.

On a good day, the male will disengage from the female and flee the area as she emerges from her mating-trance. On a bad day, she revives midway through his activities and tends to inflict lethal wounds to his head and neck, usually proceeding to dine on her former partner. The arachnid-mating world is fraught with peril. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the phrase “(s)he’s a camel spider in the bedroom” is in no danger of gaining popularity.

— Jen Rowsell

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I am bison, hear me Roar!!!

A male bison can weigh in excess of 2,000 lbs but these bulls, members of the Texas State Bison Herd, are probably in the 1,800-1,900 lb range (a car weighs 4,000 lbs.).  In our herd, males start to compete for access to cows in June and challenges continue through August.  I have certainly witnessed aggressive encounters at other times of year and younger males can be seen engaged in “practice” battles year-round.  These two bulls battled for over 5 minutes before the fight culminated in what appeared the be a draw.  Early on they pushed each other through mesquite and all we could see were the tops of mesquite trees being pulled down in the path of these massive animals.  One thing to watch is how the two battling bulls are being followed by yearlings, females and other males.  I assume other mature bulls follow to assess competition or to be in the right place if a there is a change in the pecking order.  Anyone care to speculate why a yearling or female might want follow so close; there is risk of being plowed under by close to 4,000 of bull, what is the benefit?

The ROARS you hear on the video are recordings of bison bulls from the Texas Herd.  I’ve heard this many times before and continue to be amazed by their low-frequency calls.  Low frequency calls, partially below the range of human hearing, are used by elephants to communicate long distances in open country.  I can best describe the roar of a bison as intermediate to the roar of an African lion and an African elephant.  Turn up the volume for this one!  Hope you enjoy this short clip.

Categories: conservation, dslr video, education, film making, nature writing, video, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Have Canadian. Will Travel.

This is just a short video of Texas Wild being helped out by Jen Roswell, a friend and student. We could not have done it without her help. It was a day long job, in the hot summertime. Jen is one of the few people who love being outdoors and helping people. Texas Wild always enjoys having our supporters and friends along, this trip would not have been as humorous has Jen not come along and supervised us.  Jen was the one working the camera during our “interviews” we were attempting to shoot for our series opening.  She also helped us carry equipment down into the cave and back to the truck. Jen thanks for putting up with us, I know its not easy. Thanks Jen!

– Jessie Story

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Have Pockets: Will Model.


This is a little “for you information” about a pocket mouse we caught outside of Caprock Canyon State Park lodge on our stay. Each trip we have taken to CCSP has yielded an adventure of some sorts. This one in particular occurred at five thirty in the morning.  Luckily we had our side kick Abbey Palmer with us to enjoy the night and morning. The Texas Wild crew never finds themselves bored or disappointed when hosted by Donald Beard and the CCSP bison herd. The full length video and research is to come. Stay Tuned!


– Jessie Story

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There’s gold in them there canyons!

The golden-fronted woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons) is a real Texas specialty, occurring throughout much of the central part of the state through Central America as far south as northern Nicaragua.  This species spills over only into southwest Oklahoma in the United States.  This pair was filmed last year in Palo Duro Canyon and I bet this 50 second video will be all it takes to make these awesome birds a favorite.  By the way, this species is very abundant and obvious in Palo Duro Canyon and can be found at Caprock Canyon State Park too,  The species is quite versatile in terms of diet, feeding on invertebrates and plant material and foraging in trees and on the ground.  In Palo Duro Canyon I have seen Golden-fronts with large beetles and also seen them feed on soap berries.

In the video you will see the male and the female at the nest cavity these birds excavated in this juniper.  Both sexes have the orange-yellow nape but it is easy to distinguish the male’s red crown in the video.  While I watched and filmed these two I became very impressed with how diligently they looked after the nest as well as the cooperation and communication involved.  Most of the time there was an adult incubating the eggs, on the nest tree, or near by.  It was common to hear vocalizations and we even have video where the male raps the tree while apparently waiting for the female to emerge (a signal to come out perhaps).  You will hear a great deal of their vocalizations in the video along with a number of other local species.  In some cases you will hear the other member of the pair respond to calls from their mate with their loud and repeated “kirrr” notes.  Share this please!

Categories: conservation, dslr video, film making, nature writing, video, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Land Shark???


Scolopendra heros, known commonly as the Texas giant centipede or the giant redheaded centipede, is the largest centipede that occurs in the central United States (Arizona to Arkansas and Texas to Kansas) and can reach 8″ in length.  In the first week of August we found two individuals of this species active at Caprock Canyons State Park where one was wedged in a tree feeding on a true bug and the other was moving about quickly on the ground.  Their diet consists primarily of insects and other invertebrates but these big guys have been found to capture and eat small snakes and small mammals.  Centipede refers to 100 legs but in the case of this centipede they only have 21 pairs of legs, 1 per body segment, with the last pair being enlarged and marked in warning colors (aposmatic coloration).  I have watched this video dozens of times and cant get over how this centipede’s body plan allows it to swim, slither, crawl, and in short bursts, skim over any substrate.  While these are certainly high on my list of species I do not want to be bitten by, most human envenomations result in localized pain for a short period of time.  We left the centipedes like we found them but with a great deal of respect for their size, strength and speed.  Jessie and I both had to touch the active individual to keep in “on the set” so to speak and when touched they fling their body in an arch towards you amazingly quickly, like a mouse trap firing.  Play nice when you enjoy these other-worldly predators or you may develop a fast understanding of why they display warning coloration.

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Grand Lakes Colorado, Rapids Lodge, Cabins and Celling Fans


During the trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, Matlack & Story finally take shelter to charge batteries. After a summer in the field the Texas Wild crew decided to treat themselves to a cabin suite in Grand Lakes Co. Indoor living is a rare sight for this team of two.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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