Monday, June 9, 2014

Fence Lizard on a Fence

I’ve had hundreds of encounters with Northern Fence Lizards at Blue Jay Barrens.  My most recent encounter has the distinction of being the only time I’ve actually seen a fence lizard on a fence.

The lizard zipped up to the top of a fence post and gave a couple of head bobs, typical behavior for a male lizard.  Instead of the bright blue sides and throat normally associated with the male Northern Fence Lizard, this individual displayed only a blue blush in the throat area.  I recently read of research done by biology professor Tracy Langkilde of Pennsylvania State University in which she states that a high proportion of female Fence Lizards display some degree of blue coloration.  This fact effectively invalidates my previous assumption that lizards sporting blue coloration had to be males.  Limited head bobbing is also practiced by females of many lizard species, so I’m calling this one a female with weak male characters.

Any wild animal lounging in the open has to keep an eye to the sky in watch for avian predators.  The only things passing over this day were Tree Swallows.  The lizard glanced up each time one of these birds came near.

In between bird passes, a search was conducted for any insects that might make a suitable meal.

The fence posts are of native cedar locally grown and milled.  In the 25 years since they were installed, the posts have become a foundation for a variety of lichens and mosses.  I think this makes them more attractive to native wildlife such as the Northern Fence Lizard.

Even though this is the first time I’ve seen her on the fence, the lizard has been in the garden for several weeks running along the planting beds or scurrying across the mulched paths between.  She normally pays little attention to my activities.

If she doesn’t worry about me, it means that I have to worry about her.  Her coloration closely matches that of the garden soil and mulch.  I don’t want to discover that she has been trodden upon, so I’m careful to watch where I put my feet.

So far, she’s stayed close to the native planting part of the garden.  I see her most frequently darting in and out of the Ashy Sunflower and Prairie Dock thickets.

At other times I find her just lounging around.  Here she is taking in the morning sun.  She’s totally relaxed and not at all disturbed by my moving around nearby.  I’m looking forward to having her as a gardening companion through the summer.


  1. HI Steve... Great title for your post today, how did you ever come up with that clever play on words? haha!!

    Your going to have to tip-toe through the garden !!!

    Good that you got to see the reason for it's name at last, and an interesting little one he,or is it she is : }

    Thanks for stopping by my post Steve much appreciated your comment!!

    It is always good to have a garden friend especially when they don't bite or eat on your plants!

  2. Hi Grace. I'll do my best not to step on her. As a youngster, I once accidently stepped on a lizard and it still makes me sad to think about it.