July 2020
For July, we're back to Australia where there's a seemingly unending supply of adorable and interesting natives!
 A chipmunk? A squirrel? No, it's a numbat!
I fell for the first numbat I ever saw. Sadly, it was only a photo, and sadder still, I’m unlikely to ever see a real one. This small Australian marsupial, though once plentiful enough to be chosen as the emblem of Western Australia, is now so rare—less than 1,000—that there are more Giant Pandas in the wild than there are numbats. It’s the same old culprits: diminishing habitat, and competition with and predation by introduced species.

But they do have their human advocates. The Perth Zoo has an active breeding program which has, since 1993, successfully reintroduced (as of January, 2019) 244 individuals in protected wild areas. The zoo works closely with Project Numbat (of which I’m a proud member) which advocates for this engaging little creature.

Numbats are insectivores and have a diet comprised mostly of termites.  Their long sticky tongues, like those of anteaters', are adapted to their diet. To find out more, enjoy a video from the Perth Zoo by clicking here.

The piece pictured above is the front cover of a book I made as part of my new project on making blank books with beautiful covers. With this one, I’m showing how to use watercolor on a journal cover. Below is the finished product showing both the front and back covers. By the way, although numbats are termite eaters, I've chosen to surround her with leaves of native trees as I like the botanical look.
And here's a stoneware numbat I made. Sadly, the glazes for the darks are too dark, but then my glaze choices are somewhat limited. I wasn't going to include this because her left rear foot broke off in the bisque firing and I wasn't able to fix it. But she wanted to be in the newsletter, so here she is, fault and all! By the way, she's small, about 6" long from nose to tail tip.
The indomitable Northern Quoll.
The Northern Quoll is the smallest and most aggressive of the four quoll marsupial species native to areas in northern Australia. The size of small cats, they’re also known as the little northern native cat, or Njanmak in the native Mayali language. Like cats, they’re carnivorous, eating insects, small reptiles and mammals, and sometimes fleshy fruit.

Australia is home to many beautiful and appealing animals. I’m attracted by their sweet faces, cute body shapes, and unforgettable markings. But when I find out more about them, I find so many to be endangered, as is the case with the quoll. The biggest pressure is predation by feral cats and poisoning by the cane toad whose range is expanding wherever Northern quolls are found. Habitat destruction also plays a major role by reducing cover and appropriate nesting sites.

But the uplifting news is when I find out about an endangered Australian species, I nearly always also discover programs and inspiring individuals working to preserve them. Here are a few interesting videos about Northern quolls that I hope you’ll enjoy.
The Amazing Western Bowerbird!
Bowerbirds are among Australia’s jewels. Native to New Guinea and Australia, their family includes 20 species in 8 genera. The one I’m featuring here is the Western bowerbird which lives in central Australia and the Pilbara region of Western Australia. I chose them because, although there are other species with more spectacular plumage, the Westerns' spots and striking pink crest appeal to me.

The bowers these birds build are fascinating. In general, each bowerbird species builds one of two different types of bowers. One type vaguely resembles a tent. The other, like the Western bowerbirds', is an elaborate upside down arch meticulously constructed on a platform of sticks. A bird may use a bower for several years, and when it’s time to move on, re-uses much of the material from the old bower in the new one.

As interesting as the bowers are, though, they provide a backdrop for the bird’s even more interesting collection of beautiful items intended to impress a female. I was surprised to find that different species prefer different color objects. The satin bowerbird shows a strong preference for blue while our Western bowerbird chooses primarily green and white objects. In addition to natural objects, they treasure and display man-made items as well, preferring glass, metal, and other shiny objects.

These birds are polygamous. The males devote their energies to building their bowers, accumulating and arranging their collections, attracting females, and mating. The females, on the other hand, build the nests and provide all parental care to the eggs and the young.

I think you’ll enjoy this video of a bowerbird jewel heist!
July Coupon - Sales Proceeds go to Animal Rescue Organizations

I'm offering you, my precious subscribers, 20% discount in my Etsy shop. And, this month, I'm donating all proceeds to animal rescue organizations. Any sales from the Bear section will go to Idaho Black Bear Rehab. Proceeds from all other sales will go to Sierra Wildlife Rescue. Everything in the shop is hand made by me.  From July 1 to July 15, just use discount code FORWILDLIFE20 at checkout.  I ship the day after I receive your order, and domestic shipping is free.  Click on the image of my needle-felted river otter to visit my shop!
The News from Milkweed
In November 2019 I published my first illustrated fiction book, Tales of Love and Courage from Milkweed Manor. This year, I'll be publishing two more, Dark Days at Milkweed Manor (the sequel to Tales) and A Milkweed Christmas 2020. My days are filled with writing and illustrating these books about the animals living in the Milkweed community, and I'm pleased to brings you news from this charming place.
The badger twins, ever curious and always up for adventure, heard of an animal they weren't familiar with - sheep! Armed with the knowledge that some lived nearby, they set out to find them, and they did!

"Magnificent creatures, are they not?" Arthur observed.

After a moment of careful contemplation Percy answered. "Engaging, perhaps. But 'magnificent?' I'm afraid I just don't see it, Art!"

Next time?
Tasmania's Nearby. Let's Go!
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