Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanusBald Eagle

Family

  • Accipitridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 20 to 30 years
  • Captivity: Up to 50 years

Size

  • Length: 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet with a 6 to 8 foot wing span.
    • The female is the larger sex.
  • Weight: 10 to 14 pounds.

Origin

  • North America

Habitat

  • Coastal forests, marshes, lakes, and mountains

Diet

  • Wild: Fish, birds, lizards, small mammals, and carrion
  • Zoo: Lake smelt, frozen thawed rats

ReproductionBald eagle vocalizing

  • Bald eagles mate for life, producing 2 eggs a year.
  • The nest, called an aerie, is a massive platform of sticks and twigs in a tree or cliff ledge.
    • It weighs up to 2 tons, is 6 feet wide, and is the largest of all bird nests.
    • Eagles will return to the same aerie year after year.

Special Adaptations:

  • Eagle wings have deeply slotted tips for soaring and long distance flight.
  • These magnificent birds of prey live close to the water, often flying at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and diving at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
  • Their keen sense of vision allows them to spot their prey while soaring high in the air.

Raptor Facts

  • Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals.
  • The raptor has talons for seizing prey and a hooked beak for tearing it apart.
  • Raptors have keen eyesight and can pick out prey from miles away.

Unique Characteristics

  • The head of this bird appears to be featherless from a distance, hence its name.
  • Bald eagles can swim, too. They use their wings in a "butterfly strokes" fashion.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • On June 28, 2007, the bald eagle was taken off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
  • They are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which prohibits the take, transport, sale, barter, trade, import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts, nests, or eggs without a permit.
    • The only exception to this is Native Americans who are able to possess these items since they are traditional in their culture.
  • The Children's Zoo is home to two Bald eagles who were permanently injured and unable to be rehabilitated to the wild. 
    • They are owned by the government, and the zoo has special permits to house them here.

Note: On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was chosen to be our national emblem because of it’s long life, great strength, and majestic looks.

Bald Eagle exhibit 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org

  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org


 

Strix variaowlb port

Family

  • Strigidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 20 to 25 years

Size

  • Height: 17" to 20" with a 3.5 to 4 foot wing span.
  • Weight: 1 - 2 pounds.

Origin

  • North America

Habitat

  • The barred owl prefers extensive mature deciduous forests, such as river bottomlands, northern hardwoods, and oak-hickory forests, but is also found in mixed conifer-deciduous forests and less commonly in spruce-fir forests.

Diet

  • Wild: Small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The barred owl is undoubtedly an opportunistic feeder, taking whatever is available.
  • Zoo: Frozen thawed rats

Reproduction

  • Barred owls begin nesting in March. They nest in hollow trees, in abandoned nests of other animals or in nest boxes.
  • The female lays two or three white eggs, which hatch in 28 to 33 days.
  • The newly hatched young are covered with fine white down. Young barred owls leave the nest four to five weeks after hatching.

Special Adaptations:

  • A barred owl's right ear is higher than its left ear. Hearing from two different angles helps it pinpoint the location of prey.
  • The barred owl is very vocal and will call even during the day.
    • It has a loud distinctive eight or nine note call which seems to ask Who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all in addition to other shorter calls, squeaks, and grunts.                

Raptor Facts

  • Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals.
  • The raptor has talons for seizing prey and a hooked beak for tearing it apart.
  • Raptors have keen eyesight and can pick out prey from miles away.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II

owlb eyeopen 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org

  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

  3. Barred Owl – National Geographic

  4. Vermont Critter Curriculum – Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department


 

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

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

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/