Spheniscus demersusBlack-footed Penguin group

Family

  • Spheniscidae

Lifespan

  • Wild:  Up to 20 years
  • Captivity:  20 to 25 years

Size

  • Length: 18 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 7 to 11 pounds

Range

  • South Africa, in latitudes between 20 and 40 degrees south of the equator

Habitat

  • Coastlines, concentrating on islands and shorelines that are uninhabited and free of predators

Diet

  • Wild: Small swarm-fish such as anchovies and sardines; and squid.
  • Zoo: Smelt, Sardines, and capelin (it’s their favorite).

Reproduction Black-footed Penguin group

  • Generally, male penguins arrive at the rookery (breeding and nesting ground) first to establish their nesting sites.
    • Female penguins arrive several days later to select their mate, usually choosing the same mate from the previous season.
  • Male penguins may perform elaborate displays of arching backward, throwing back his wings, and braying like a donkey.
    • These displays are lively and noisy in an effort to attract attention from the available female penguins.
  • Two to three eggs are laid and both parents participate in incubating the eggs.
    • Parents alternate 1 to 3 day shifts until the eggs hatch at 38 to 41 days.
    • Usually the first-laid egg is larger than the others and hatches first.

Special Adaptations

  • The penguin body is perfect for life in the water.
    • Its streamlined shape causes very little resistance as the penguin moves through the sea.
    • Penguins use their wings and webbed feet to propel and steer as they swim.
  • Unlike many birds which are lightweight allowing them to fly, penguins are heavy, enabling them to swim and dive for food.
  • All penguins are light colored on their chest and dark on their backs. This is an example of "countershading", and serves as camouflage.
    • Swimming in the ocean, the penguin’s dark dorsal (back) side blends in with the dark ocean as seen from above.
    • The light ventral (under) side blends in with the lighter surface of the ocean as seen from below.
    • The coloration helps penguins blend into their environment so predators cannot easily spot them.

Black-footed penguins diving into pool

Penguin Facts

  • While penguins are so well adapted to life in the water, they don’t spend all their time in the sea.
  • Penguins come ashore to nest, lay eggs, and molt.
    • Penguins molt or shed their feathers periodically throughout the year. New feathers are regenerated and replace the old.
  • While at sea, penguins typically form small groups. However, they often gather in groups of thousands when they are on land.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • In the early 1900s, guano (excrement of sea birds) was harvested from the breeding locations.
    • Removal of the guano led to a dramatic reduction in nesting sites, which then resulted in a significant drop in population.
  • Egg collection, commercial fishing in feeding areas and oil spills have also contributed to the vulnerability of this species.
  • The South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds has rescued many penguin species from oil spills and have rehabilitated them for return to the wild.
  • Also, known breeding islands have been made into nature reserves or national parks. Fences have been constructed to prevent predatory attacks on eggs and young.
  • However, the black-footed penguin is still considered threatened, with approximately 180,000 individuals left in the wild.

Note: Black-footed penguins are also called "jackass penguins" because of the similarity of the noises they make to those of donkeys.

Black-footed penguin swimming

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices.  Accessed December 2012.  www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.  Accessed December 2012.  www.iucnredlist.org

Corvus brachyrhynchosAmerican Crow

Family

  • Corvidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: Up to 14 years
  • Captivity: Up to 30 years

Size

  • Length: 16 to 21 inches; females are the smaller sex
  • Wingspan: 33 to 39 inches
  • Weight: 11 to 22 ounces

Origin

  • Southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico

Habitat

  • Grasslands, open woodlands, forests, coastal areas, farmland, and cities

DietAmerican Crow

  • Wild: Vegetables, nuts, fruit, insects, mice, eggs, young birds, and carrion
  • Zoo: Beef, thawed frozen mice, lake smelt, and dog kibble

Reproduction

  • Crows lay between 3 and 8 eggs once a year in a large cup-shaped nest of sticks lined with plant matter.
  • Nests are found in trees or bushes, or even at the top of a telephone pole.
  • Both parents, who mate for life, care for the chicks.

Corvid Facts

  • Corvids are the most intelligent and adaptable of all the birds. They have a highly evolved social system that aids them in dealing with any situation.

Fun Facts

  • Crows are very vocal.
    • Sounds include "caws", "coos", and rattles, among others.
    • Crows have been known to mimic human speech
  • Practice Mobbing- where a group of crows will gather together, then vocally harass and chase predators.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • Crows are considered pests in some agricultural areas, leading to the invention of the scarecrow.
  • Crow numbers have been quite steady, but high susceptibility to West Nile virus may cause population decreases in the near future.

What’s the Difference?

Ever wonder the difference between ravens and crows? Ravens and crows seem at first glance to be very similar in appearance, but they have very noticeable differences. First, ravens are generally larger than crows, nearly 1/3 larger. Although both birds are black, crows are a flat black, sometimes with light markings while a raven has a blue or purple sheen, especially when in sunlight. The tail is different as well. Crows have an evenly curved tail like a fan while the tail of a raven comes to a triangular point. Also, crows are usually found in groups, while ravens live a more solitary lifestyle.

American Crow

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

Alligator mississippiensisAmerican Alligator

Family

  • Alligatoridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 30 to 40 years
  • Captivity: 50 to 80 years

Size

  • Length: 9 to 18 feet, with the tail accounting for half the length
  • Weight: The average female ranges from 150 to 300 pounds; The average male ranges from 400 to 600 pounds

Origin

  • Southeastern United States, from North Carolina to Texas, as well as parts of Central America

Habitat

  • Swampy areas, ponds, lakes, sluggish rivers, freshwater, and brackish marshes.

Diet

  • Wild: Insects and fish as well as a variety of reptiles, birds, and mammals
  • Zoo: Frozen thawed large adult mice and enrichment items such as chicken, fish, yams, tomatoes, and frozen thawed rats.

Reproduction

  • Bulls roar loudly to attract a female and to warn off other males because they are very territorial during breeding season.
  • Near the end of courtship, both animals engage in a bout of snout and back rubbing.
  • Alligators are egg-layers and females will lay 20 to 50 eggs in a single clutch per year.
  • The eggs are laid in a nest of mud and rotting vegetation near the water’s edge.
    • Michigan’s climate is too cold for alligator eggs to hatch.
    • Sex is usually determined by the warmth of the eggs during incubation
  • Alligators reach maturity past 6 years of age.

Special AdaptationsAmerican Alligator

  • The alligator has a wonderful camouflage.
    • Young alligators have yellowish bands on their body, but adults are generally gray or black in color.
    • The ears and nostrils have valves that close when the alligator is submerged, and it can remain under water for up to an hour.

Unique Characteristics

  • The alligator has a broad snout and all the teeth in its upper jaw overlap with those in the lower.
  • There are about 80 teeth in those powerful jaws!
    • As teeth wear down or break, a new tooth replaces the old
      • Alligators go through about 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

Conservation

  • IUCN: Lower Risk
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • The main predator for the American alligator is humans.
    • Hunted for its skin and meat, alligators were once on the brink of extinction.
  • Preservation of wetlands is very important for alligator habitats.
  • The American alligator is a keystone species to the ecosystem, so its preservation is crucial.
  • Conservation efforts have since taken the American alligator from the endangered species list.

What’s the Difference?

Ever wonder the difference between alligators and crocodiles? Alligators have broad heads with short, blunt snouts and their lower teeth fit into the edge of the upper jaw and cannot be seen when the mouth is closed. Crocodiles have a narrow head and a slender snout. Their lower teeth are visible while their mouth is closed.

American Alligator

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

 

Buteo jamaicensishawk rt 4

Family

  • Accipitridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 21 years

Size

  • Length: 17 to 26 inches; females tend to be larger.
  • Wingspan: 19 - 26 inches
  • Weight: 2 - 4 lbs

Origin

  • They are found all over North America, in Central America, and in the West Indies.

Habitat

  • The red-tail is commonly seen in both rural and suburban areas that have woodlands, prairies, grasslands, or swamps.
  • Prefer open areas, such as fields or deserts, with high perching places nearby from which they can watch for prey. They often perch on telephone poles and take advantage of the open spaces along the roadside.

Diet

  • Wild: Mice, rabbits, snakes, birds, and insects
  • Zoo: Frozen thawed rats

Reproduction

  • Red-tailed hawks are monogamous and may mate for life.
  • They make stick nests high above the ground, in which the female ays one to five eggs each year. 
  • Both sexes incubate the eggs for four to five weeks, and feed the young from the time they hatch until they leave the next about six weeks later.

Red-tailed Hawks & Humans

  • Have adapted well to urban life, using our tall buildings and monuments as perches and even our long strips of highways as hunting grounds.
  • Hawks are not game animals, so they can't be hunted. Anyone killing a red-tailed hawk is subject to a large fine.

Fun Facts

hawk rt 1

  • The red-tailed hawk has a sharp, surved beak that's used to tear its prey into pieces for eating. The bird has great eyesight, which helps it see prey on the ground while its flying high overhead.
  • Red-tailed hawks are often seen soaring in wide circles high over a field. 
  • When flapping, their wingbeats are heavy. In high winds they may face into the wind and hover w ithout flapping, eyes fixed on the ground.
  • They attach in a slow, controlled dive with legs outstretched -- very different from a falcon's stoop.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix I
hawk rt 2

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Red-tailed Hawk: Minnesota Department of Nautral Resources www.dnr.state.mn.us/birds/redtailedhawk.html
  4. All About Birds: The Cornell Lab or Ornithology www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-tailed_hawk/id
  5. Red-Tailed Hawk: National Geographic animals.nationalgeographic.com/birds/red-tailed-hawk/

Anolis carolinensisanole fb1

Family

  • Polychrotidae

Lifespan

  • 2 - 8 years

Size

  • Length: 5 - 8 inches
  • Weight: 3 grams

Origin

  • The green anole is found thoughout much of the southeastern united States, extending north through parts of North Carolina, west to Texas, and south through Florida. It has been introduced to Hawaii, Japan, Cuba, the bahamas, and Guam.

Habitat

  • An arboreal lizard, they like to hide in trees. They are often seen in urban areas as there are lots of places to hide in.

Diet

  • Wild: Small invertebrates such as butterflies, cicadas, juvenile grasshoppers, and flies.
  • Zoo: Freeze-dried fruit flies.

Reproduction

  • The majority of green anoles are polygynous. Especially in larger populations, they usually will mate only within their own territories.
  • To attract the attention of females, males bob their heads up and down and extend their dewlaps.
  • Males protect their mating partners from other intruding males by defending their territory.
  • Unlike other Anolis species, such as Anolis aeneus, green anoles do not leave their hatch sites after breeding.

General Information

  • Green anoles are the only species of anoles native to North America.
  • Recent introductions of invasive species of anoles int he green anoles' range may cause population concerns in the future.
  • The green anole can change its color and is sometimes referred to as the "American Chameleon," although its color changing is not nearly as dramatic or as sophisticated as a true chameleon.

Conservation

  • IUCN: Lower Risk
  • CITES: No Special Status

 

anole port1

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Animal Diversity Web: Anolis carolinesis. animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Anolis_carolinensis