'/> Amazing Animals: July 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hummingbirds of North America: Small But Beautiful

A list of some North American hummingbirds. Read on to see and learn interesting facts about these small but beautiful birds.

The Trochilidae or hummingbirds, is one of the largest bird families with three hundred and thirty-eight species. One hundred twenty of these species are found in North America. These hyperactive hummingbirds are widely known for their miniature size and flying skills. Read on to learn more about these small but beautiful hummingbirds.

Magnificent Hummingbird

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The Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens)is the second-largest US hummingbird that inhabits oak forests, pastures and open woodlands of the southwestern United States to western Panama. This bird can grow between 11-14 cm where the average weight for males is about 10g and females 8.5 g. Adult male has a very recognizable dark plumage and long, straight black bill.

It has a green body, dark green back, black breast, metallic green gorget, purple forehead and violet crown. While females carry a bronze-green back and crown, grayish-white breast and throat, and white mark behind the eyes. Magnificent hummingbirds main source of food is nectar, and at times small insects.

Rufous Hummingbird

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The Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) is a small North American migratory hummingbird. These feisty hummingbirds are typically found in open areas and coniferous forest during the breeding season from southern Alaska to California. They winter in Mexico and south Texas. Rufous hummingbirds are about 8 cm long and can be recognized by its long, straight and very slender bill.

Adults average 3.5 g for males and 3.65 for females. Adult females are bigger than males. The adult male is Rufous all over, except for its short green wings and white breast. The female has a green back, white breast, shining orange feathers in the throat’s central spot and a dark tail. The bird's main diet is nectar as well as small insects.

Anna’s Hummingbird

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The Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) is a medium-sized hummingbird widespread along the western coast of North America. It is about 10 to 11 centimeters long and weighs about 4.31 (male) and 4.07 (female). Anna’s has a straight bill, but quite small and a long sloping forehead. Both males and females carry bronze-green upperparts and gray underparts.

Males are easy to recognize with their dark rose-red crown and extensive iridescent throats. Female have grayish-white breast, green heads, with some red spots on their throats. Males have solid blackish-gray tails, while females carry white tipped black tails. These hummingbirds feeds on nectar from flowers and feeder. At times, they will pick on small insects and spiders.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

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The Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is a small hummingbird with a moderately straight bill. Average length is 8.25 cm and average weight is 3.09 g for males and, 3.42 g for females. Adult females are larger than males. Their breeding habitats range from British Columbia to central Texas. Black-chinned hummingbirds migrate to Mexico during the winter season.

Typically, they inhabit open semi-arid areas, mountain forests and deserts. The adult male has a black face, green crown, white collar, metallic green back, grayish breast and dark forked tail. Adult female has green upperparts and crown, pale throat, white breast and dark rounded tail with white tips on outer tail feathers. Black-chinned hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers and are familiar feature at feeders.

Violet-Crowned Hummingbird

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The Violet-crowned Hummingbird, (Amazilia violiceps) is a medium-sized hummingbird about 10 cm long and weighs roughly 5.78 g (male) and for female about 5.19 g. This bird is widespread Arizona, Texas, California, and New Mexico making arid scrubs its typical breeding habitat. The Violet-crowned hummingbird visit Mexico during the winter.

This hummingbird is easily recognized by its violet-colored cap and white breast. The adult male has violet-blue crown, emerald green back and straight red bill. The female carries similar features as male, but its crown is a little dull. Using its long tongue, Violet-crowned hummingbird sips nectar from flowers and often catches insects on the wing.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

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The Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) is another medium-sized hummingbird, about 10 cm long and weighs about 3.16 g for male and nearly 3.6 g. for female. The breeding habitat extends across open habitats and mountain meadows throughout the Western United States down to southern Mexico. It winters in Mexico.

Both sexes have green crowns, white breasts and shining green upperparts. Adult males have rose throat patch and rounded tail; adult females carry black spots on their chests, dark tail feathers with white spots at the tips. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird feeds on nectar from flowers as well as insects.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbird

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The Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis) is a medium-sized hummingbird widespread across Texas through eastern Mexico. It is found in a variety of habitats such as thickets, woodland edges, and forests. Buff-bellied hummingbirds winter along the Gulf Coast of U.S. It is about 10–11 cm in length and weighs approximately 4–5 g.

It is easily distinguished by its iridescent green head, breast, and throat, and beige-colored belly. Bill is red and partly curved with a black tip. Both sexes carry these features. However, the female shows a much darker upper bill, but is paler than the male. Buff-bellied hummingbirds are regular visitors of gardens, feeding on nectar from flowers.

Green Violet-Ear

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The Green Violet-ear (Colibri thalassinus)is a beautiful, medium-sized and generally a traveling hummingbird found in mountain forests, semi-open upland areas, and forest edges across central Mexico to western Panama. Sightings have also been recorded across the eastern and central United States and even Canada. It is about 10 cm long and weighs nearly 5-6 g. The green violet-ear hummingbird has dark metallic green plumage characterized by blue markings on its throat and chest. It has blue-green squared tail with a black band. The bill is black and slightly curved. Both sexes carry similar coloration, but the female is duller overall.

White-eared Hummingbird

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The White-eared Hummingbird (Basilinna leucotis) is a medium-sized hummingbird that breeds in pine oak forests from is regularly Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Mississippi to Arizona. It winters in Mexico. It is approximately 9-10 cm in length, and weighs approximately 3-4 g. It got its name for its large white ear stripe. Males and females both have green backs, black tails and red bills with a black tip. Females have straight-edged tails while males have forked tails. White-eared hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers and flowering trees.

Friday, July 12, 2013

18 Weird and Most Rarest Reptiles in The World - Part 2

Learn and enjoy more interesting facts about the 18 Weird and Most Rarest Reptiles in The World

Oldest Snake

The greatest reliable age recorded for a snake in captivity is 40 years 3 months 14 days for a male Common boa (Boa constrictor) named Popeye, who died at Philadelphia Zoo, Pennsylvania, USA, on 15 April 1977.

Largest Crocodilian

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The estuarine, or Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is found throughout the tropical regions of Asia and the Pacific. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary in Orissa State, India, houses four crocs measuring more than 6 m (19 ft 8 in) in length, the largest being over several authenticated reports of specimens up to 10 m (33 ft) in length. Adult males average 4.2-4.8 m (14-16 ft) in length and weigh about 408-520 kg (900-1,150 lb).

Smallest Crocodilian

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The Dwarf Caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) of northern South America is the smallest crocodilian in the world today. Females rarely exceed a length of 1.2 m (4ft) and males rarely grow to more than 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in).

Largest Tuatara

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There are only two species of tuatara, both of which are found exclusively in the islands off the main coast of New Zealand. Of the two, the greatly endangered Brothers Island Tuatara (Sphenodon guntheri) is the largest. It can measure (2 ft 6 in) long and have a maximum weight of 1.4 kg (3 lb 1 oz).

Rarest Lizard

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Until it was rediscovered in 1990, the Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collie) was thought to be extinct. With no more than 100 adult specimens located since 1990, the species is considered critically endangered and it is clinging to survival in southern Jamaica’s remote Hellshire Hills-the only sizeable area of dry forest remaining on the island.

Largest Venomous Snake

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The venom of a single bite from the King Cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah), found in Southeast Asia and India, is enough to kill an elephant, or 20 people. What’s more, it can grow to 3.65-4.5m (12-15ft) in length and can stand tall enough to look an adult human in the eye.

Rarest Crocodilian

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There were fewer than 200 Chinese alligators (Alligator sinensis) living in the wild in 2002. Found in the lower parts of the Yangtze River in wetlands, the species can grow 10 2 m (6 ft 6 in) and weigh 40 kg (88 lb). Their numbers have dwindled over time due to habitat destruction and killing by local farmers.

Missed Part 1, check it here:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Animal Kingdom: Masters of The Night

These animals may appear to be harmless during the day, but watch out… when darkness falls, they are extremely active and are known to be excellent hunters!

The animal kingdom has true “Master of the Night” creatures. These nocturnal animals gifted with a keen sense of smell, remarkable hearing ability and outstanding night vision have adapted to living in darkness in intriguing ways. Read on to know the top ten nocturnal animals.

1. Owl

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There are more than 200 species of owl that are found in all corners of the globe except in Antarctica. A nocturnal bird of prey, owls generally inhabiting grasslands, rainforests, tundra and woodlands. Unlike other birds that have theirs on the side, owls have their eyes, face forwards which give them excellent binocular vision. Another remarkable feature of owls is their ability to make “silent flight” due to their thick plumage which absorb the sounds their wings make in flight. Owls use their extremely well developed hearing and eyesight hunt for prey such as rodents, frogs, fish, other birds and other small mammals.

2. Flying Squirrel

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The Flying Squirrels (Petauristini), are a nocturnal gliding mammals consisting 43 known species. Though they lack the ability to go on sustained flight, flying squirrels have developed a remarkable way of navigating its way along tree branches. Possessing loose skin that connect its front and hind legs, flying squirrels will have to spread their legs wide apart to make this maneuver. The tail acts as a stabilizer in flight and steering is controlled by adjusting the tightness of the patagium. The flying squirrels main diet includes leaves, flowers, seeds, bulbs, barks, nuts and roots. Insects, eggs, small birds and other small animals are also on their food list.

3. Mink

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The Mink (Mustela vison) is widespread across North America, northern Europe and Russia. There are two known species, namely: the American Mink and the European Mink. They live along rivers, streams, lakes, marshes and ponds. A remarkable feature of minks is their excellent sense of smell that aid them hunt for prey. Minks utilize their noses to sniff on possible prey, which includes: muskrats, fish, rodents, rabbits, frogs and small birds.

4. Honey Badger

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The Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis), or Ratel are found in Asia and Africa inhabiting forest areas, grasslands and savannahs. They can easily be distinguished by their stout claws, black short legs, and short tail. These nocturnal animals spend the day sleeping in burrows, but will come out of their burrows at night to hunt for prey, which includes: reptiles, small mammals, rodents, ants, termites, fruits and berries.

5. Slow Loris

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Found in tropical forests across southeast Asia, Slow Loris is a slow moving, tree-dwelling primate. A distinguishing feature of Slow Loris is its soft yellowish-brown coat mark with a black stripe that runs along its back. Its round-shaped face shows large eyes and small ears.Though it has a short tail, Slow Loris is an excellent tree climber… thanks to its powerful feet and hands with opposable thumbs. Setting an ambush, it patiently waits for its prey and when an unknowing victim falls on its trap, the slow loris makes a swift movement. Slow Loris feeds on insects, small animals, birds' eggs, fruits and shoots.

6. Catfish

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From the order Siluriformes, catfish are generally large bony fish. A remarkable feature of catfish is its barbels (similar to cat’s whiskers) which it uses to search for foods at the bottom of shallow waters. One species of catfish is known to have the ability to “walk” on land. Using its pectoral pins and tail, it can “walk” across land in search of deeper ponds.

7. Tarantulas

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About 900 known Tarantula species are found living in deserts, rain forests throughout arid, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. A very crafty night hunters, tarantulas set up an ambush to catch prey that includes insects, frogs, mice, lizards and birds.

8. Hedgehogs

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There are 16 extant species of hedgehog that are local to Africa, Asia, Europe and New Zealand. Known for its spines, hedgehog averages about 7 to 14 inches long, and weighs about 1/2 lb to 1.5 lbs. They are generally nocturnal, spending their day sleeping in burrows or in a hole in the ground. When darkness falls, they busied themselves searching for prey that includes insects, caterpillars, frogs, lizards, mice, snakes, small birds as well as plants and fruits.

9. Foxes

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A foxis small to medium-sized animals that have a long, slim nose, and a bushy tail (brush). Fox grows to an average of 50-90 cm, in body length and weighs about 6-10kg. Fox uses its excellent sense of smell, exceptional hearing and sight to hunt for prey at night. Its diet includes: fish, rodents, rabbits, snakes, amphibians, birds, as well as fruits, grasses, and eggs.

10. Bats

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Bats are the only mammals that are exceptionally well-equipped for night actions! Using “echolation,” meaning the ability to “see”, bats are perfect night hunters. In the course of flight; they emit high-pitched sounds and listen to the echoes (sonar) to locate positions of prey and other nearby objects, allowing them to navigate in total darkness.