Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

NAOMI WEST: The tale of the mockingbird and the hognose snake

These are pictures of a snake that explored my backyard for a good while this afternoon.

As you can see, the Mocking Bird wasn't too happy. When the bird tried to frighten the snake off, the snake flattened his head and neck. I did some research, and concluded that this is an Eastern Hognose snake, which is native to the eastern United States, but can be found throughout other regions as well, including my own Central Texas.

Hognose snakes eat mostly toads and frogs, but will eat some birds and other small mammals. This snake is easily identifiable by its upturned snout, stout body, and ability to flatten its neck and head, much like a cobra. It is only very slightly venomous, however, and if its flattening and hissing doesn't frighten you away,it will roll over and play dead. If you try to turn it upright, it will roll back over and attempt to fool you again.

Pardon the quality of the pics with the bird -- I took them in a hurry through the screen.

EDITOR's NOTES: Naomi originally wrote that the snake is non venomous, and she is technically right. However Members of this genus have enlarged maxillary teeth and possess a slightly toxic saliva. In a few cases involving bites from this species, the symptoms reported have ranged from none at all to mild tingling, swelling and numbness. Nevertheless, they are generally considered to be harmless.

And for those only familiar with the word `mockingbird` from the novel by Harper Lee, and the songs by Eminem, Inez and Charlie Foxx, Carly Simon and James Taylor, Grant Lee Buffalo and Barclay James Harvest (I had no idea how many different songs there were with this title), mockingbirds are an exclusively New World passerine family that have been popular cage birds because of their extraordinary powers of mimicry, in the wild "mimicking the songs of insect and amphibian sounds as well as other bird songs, often loudly and in rapid succession" (Wikipedia)

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