A pristine meadow; a snow-covered field; an autumn stand of birch trees. All quiet and peaceful places where not a creature is stirring—or so it would seem. Once you see these amazing photos of animal camouflage, you’ll soon realize that there may be no better place for these creatures to hide than in plain sight.
The willow ptarmigan (whose Latin name is, delightfully, lagopus lagopus) is native to Canada’s North. Its colouring, while definitely effective in the winter, is equally dramatic in the summer, when its feathers turn speckled brown and blend perfectly with grassy tundra and wooded thickets. Willow ptarmigans often sleep under the snow during the winter, even flying into snow banks so they don’t leave tracks.
Great horned owl
Great horned owls are widely distributed throughout North, Central, and South America, and have feathers that seem tailor-made for blending into tree bark. Although they look like ears, those “horns” you see are actually just feathery tufts. Owls’ ears, which are hidden in the feathers on the sides of their heads, are asymmetrical, meaning the birds can easily gauge the location of a sound in the dark.
With their dapply brown and white coats, white-tailed and other species of deer blend into the forest’s tree trunks and leaves quite easily. Fawns have a reddish-brown coat, which disguises them as they rest on the forest floor as they wait for adult deer to return from foraging.
Although wolves are at the top of the food chain and don’t need camouflage from predators, concealing coloration can help when stalking prey. Unlike Arctic wolves, a subspecies that have fur that blends into snow as well as rocky tundra, grey wolves tend to be earth-coloured. Areas of black on their coats, called disruptive coloration, make it hard to tell the outlines of the wolf from far away.
Its name notwithstanding, the American toad is common across eastern parts of Canada. Unlike frogs, toads spend much of their life on land, though they do need freshwater during their early development and to breed. Their mature colouring, though, reflects their ability to live in forests and grasslands.