'/> Amazing Animals: April 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

10 Intriguing Black Birds

If I ask you to name three black birds, then without thinking you'll give these names; crow, raven and hawk. You're absolutely right. But what if I asked for a list of 10 intriguing black birds. So sure you will scratch your head. Am I right?

To help you out, here is my list of 10 intriguing black birds. Go check it out and learn some interesting facts about them as well.


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The Anhinga (Anhinga Anhinga), sometimes called snakebird, American darter, or water turkey, is a large, dark waterbird with long tail found in freshwater ponds and swamps in the warmer parts of the Americas. Like other darters, the Anhinga hunts by spearing fishes and other small prey using its sharp, thin beak.

It is a dark-plumaged piscivore with an S-shaped, thin neck; a long, thin, pointed bill, a long tail and yellow webbed feet. Adult measures 85 cm (33 in) in body length, a wingspan of 117 cm (46 in), and a mass of up to 1.35 kg (3.0 lb)

Anhingas are sexually dimorphic; males have brighter colors than females. Males have greenish-black plumage overall, with a cluster of silver/white feathers on his wings. They also have black crests. Females are distinguishable by their buff-tan head, neck, and upper chest.

Rusty Blackbird

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The Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) is a medium-sized blackbird, closely related to grackles. The species forages on ground of wet forested areas, breeding in the boreal forest and muskeg across Canada and Alaska. These birds migrate to the eastern and southeastern United States. Formerly abundant, the species are experiencing rapid population decline.

Males have glossy-black plumage, a thin, pointed bill and a pale yellow eye. Females sports grayer plumage.

Adults measure 22–25 cm (8.5–9.8 in) body length, wingspan of 36 cm (14 in)and weigh 60 g (2.1 oz). The tail is around 8.5–9.45 cm (3.35–3.72 in).

Black Vulture

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The Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) also known as the American black vulture, is a large raptor found in the southeastern United States to Central Chile and Uruguay in South America. The species prefers relatively open areas which provide scattered forests or shrublands.

This New World vulture has sooty black plumage, a bare grayish-black head, and wrinkled neck; a short, hooked beak, white-tipped wings, and broad, rounded wings.

Adults measure 55-68 cm (22-27 in),a wingspan of 1.3-1.5 m (4.5-5 ft), and weigh 0.9-1.8 kg (2-4 lbs).

Smooth-billed Ani

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The Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) is a medium-sized near passerine bird of the tropical savannas in the Caribbean and South America. The species prefers open fields, pastures, or marshes.

Adults have glossy black overall plumage, thick bill, short wings and long tail.

Northern phainopepla

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The Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) or Northern Phainopepla is a small, flycatcher-like bird with glossy black body found as far north as the United States and south to central Mexico. The species is considered birds of the desert scrublands, oak foothills, mesquites, and mistletoe clumps.

Males have glossy black overall plumage, distinct crest, and short, slender black bill. White wing patch, long tail and black legs and feet.

Pelagic Cormorant

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The Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus), also known as Baird's cormorant, is a small, slender cormorant of the Pacific Coast found in inshore coastal waters. It breeds from the Bering Sea south to northern Baja California. It winters south of southern Alaska. It nests on sea cliffs and rocky islands. It feeds mainly on eating fish and crustaceans.

Adults have glossy black plumage with white patches on flanks. They have a long, slender neck and a dark, curved bill and a long, slender neck. Males and females look alike, though the latter is a bit smaller.

Adults measure 64-89 cm (25-35 in) long, with a wingspan of 100–121 cm (39.4–47.6 in) and weigh 1370–2440 g 1,474–2,438 g (48.3–86.1 oz ).

Great-tailed Grackle

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The Great-tailed Grackle or Mexican Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a medium-sized, passerine bird native to North and South America. The species preferred habitats include farmland, irrigated fields, marshes, and suburban lawns.

The male Great-tailed Grackle have jet-black and purple plumage overall. Long tail, yellow eyes and black bill and legs. Females sport brownish-black feathers.

Adults measure 43 cm (18.1 in), with a wingspan of 58 cm (22.8 in), weigh 230 g (8.1 oz). Females are smaller than males.

California Condor

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The California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is the largest flying bird in North America. This intriguing black bird lives in rocky, forested regions, including canyons, gorges and mountains. These excellent gliders travel widely to feed on carcasses of cattle, deer, pigs, sea lions, whales, and other animals. It is one of the world's longest-living birds, with a lifespan of up to 60 years.

Adults are black with patches of white under the wings and exceptionally long and broad wings. The bare-skinned head and neck are red- orange; brownish red eyes, an ivory-colored bill, gray legs and feet. Adult coloration is reached at 6-8 years of age.

The overall length can range from 109-140 cm (43-55 in) and a wingspan from 2.49-3 m (8.2-9.8 ft). Their weight varies from 8-9 kg (18-20 lb).

Common Hill Myna

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The Common Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa) is a common bird in hilly regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia. The species prefers areas where rainfall and humidity are both high. It is a popular cage bird, renowned for its ability to mimic the sounds of their surroundings.

It is overall green-glossed black plumage with a prominent white wing patch. It has purple-tinged on the head and neck; bright orange bill and yellow legs and feet. Males and females are similar in appearance. This intriguing bird The averages 27-30 cm (10.62-11.81 in) in length.

Eurasian Coot

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The Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) is a noisy bird found in Europe, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa. The species preferred habitats include vegetated lagoons and swamps.

The Eurasian Coot has black plumage and red bill with cream-white tip. White frontal shield, orange-red head and bright red eye.

Adults measure 32–42 cm (13–17 in) long and weigh 585–1,100 g (1.290–2.425 lb).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

5 Key Tips For Finding A Lost Dog

Every dog owner will tell you that their dog is not simply a pet. Their dog is a family member. This is why it can be a truly traumatic time if a family loses their dog. Regardless of how the dog got away, the actions you take immediately following can determine if you get your valued family member back or not.

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Many dog owners today are saved by a microchip. This small chip is implanted in the dog, usually at the same time it is under anesthesia while being spayed or neutered. The chip provides GPS tracking in the case the dog is lost or even stolen.

However, if your dog is not microchipped, all is not lost. There are a handful of steps you can follow, in no particular order, that can help you recover your furry friend.

Search for Your Dog

Immediately after noticing the absence of your dog, you should go out looking for him or her. Get family, friends, and neighbors to help with canvassing the neighborhood. Checking places you think your pet might be is usually not successful. When a dog gets loose, there is not telling where he or she might go.

You should walk and drive around the neighborhood calling for your pet by name. People searching on foot can check down small alleys, walking trails, and parks. If you are in the car and searching for your dog, drive slow, call for pet by name with the windows rolled down, and make frequent stops with the vehicle off to listen.

Searching for your dog at night or at dawn is often the best solution. You have much less exterior activity going on which not only creates less noise for you to try to break through, but it also provides less stimulant for your dog.

Make Posters and Info Cards

After a quick yet thorough search, you should take the time to create posters and informational cards. You should make as many posters as you possibly can, with a very simple statement of “LOST DOG” at the top. This should be easy to read even if the person is driving their car. Describe your dog and then include an image if possible. You should also include your dog’s name and offer a reward, but don’t state how much. Then, obviously, include your own contact information.

In addition to posters, you can create informational index cards to pass around the neighborhood. This too should include your pet’s description, name, along with your own contact information. You can even request that people check their sheds or hidden areas of their yards. Leave the index cards wherever people are going to pick it up. You can deliver it door-to-door, slide it into people’s doors, place them under windshields, or place them in mailboxes.

Place a “Lost” Ad in the Paper

A lot of local newspapers allow pet owners to place “Lost” ads for free. Despite how much you read the paper, you never know who might check that section frequently or who may have information about your dog’s whereabouts but have no idea who to contact. In a lost dog situation, every set of eyes matters.

Enlist the Help of Social Media

Believe it or not, social media has been a huge success in terms of helping dog owners find lost dogs. Pet lovers are quick to share and like pet related posts, and missing pets are no different. These fellow dog owners know the importance of returning a pet home and will have no hesitation in reaching out to their own networks to enlist help.

Again, the more people that are aware of the missing dog, the higher the odds are that the dog gets returned. There is no quicker way to spread the word than through a viral Facebook post.

Contact and Visit Local Vets, Shelters, and Pounds

Finally, you should be contacting local veterinarians, shelters, and pounds. You should even contact vet clinics or emergency vet hospitals outside of your local area. Some good Samaritans pick up strays but may unknowingly bring them further away from their home if they know of a responsible animal hospital.

You should also be contacting local shelters, dogs pounds, kennels, and police. Police can help contact animal control as well as their fellow comrades in blue. Kennels will often take in dogs if one of their employees happens upon a stray. When it comes to dog pounds and shelters, a simple call may not suffice. Unfortunately you can’t always take their word for it when they say that they don’t have a dog that meets your description. You should visit the pounds and shelters daily, personally viewing all of the dogs they have.

About the author: No author bio.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

10 Strikingly Odd Backyard Chickens

Chickens are just great to have in a farm or backyard. Some chicken breeds are picked for their tender meat, while others are chosen for their great egg-laying traits. A number of breeds are excellent in both of those fields. But how about selecting chickens that are weird-looking!

So, if you go for the weird-looking ones, then here's a list of 10 strikingly odd backyard chicken.

Check them out, and learn a few things about them as well.


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The Silkie is a breed of chicken named for its unusual fluffy plumage. Some breeders often called this chicken a "walking cotton ball". The breed traces its origin in ancient China. The breed features some odd qualities such as blue earlobes, black skin and bones, and five toes on each foot, whereas most chickens only have four.

Silkies are such cute chickens, since you can hardly see its eyes, and only a glimpse of its beak is visible. And yes, even a portion of its legs and feet is concealed by its silky feathers.

They are relatively small chickens, with the males weighing only 1.8 kg (4 lbs) pounds, and females weighing 1.36 kg (3 lbs).

These strikingly odd chickens are often kept as ornamental fowl and are considered an ideal pet by backyard keepers. Silkies appear in two distinct varieties: Bearded and Non-bearded.


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The Frizzle looks as if it has just stepped out of a beauty parlor; wearing a peculiar curled or frizzled plumage. The breed is thought to have originated in Asia.

The Frizzle developed from a mutation which makes the chicken’s feathers curl upwards curve outward instead of the normal look where feathers are straight and going downward.

Some chicken breeders consider the Frizzle a totally unique breed; and are kept mostly for its ornamental value.


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The Araucana or South American Rumpless is a breed of chicken originating in Chile. A rare chicken breed, partly due to being difficult to breed because a high percentage of the chicks die in their shells.

The Araucana breed is characterized by the feather tufts around the ears, absence of tail or rump, and the breed is known for laying blue eggs!


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The Onagadori known for its striking long tail, is a breed of chicken which traces its roots in Japan. These chickens can achieve tail lengths from 3.65 - 8.2 m (12 - 27 ft). Under good housing and special care, these feathers never molt, thus can continue to grow through the life of the rooster.

If you’re looking for an easy-maintenance chicken, then this breed isn't for you. Just imagine keeping their tails clean!

The Laced Polish

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The Laced Polish is a unique breed of chicken characterized by its V-shaped comb and its huge bouffant crest of feathers, which virtually covers the whole of the bird's head! It is the most popular of the crested breeds. Polish chickens come with or without beards on their faces.

The range of colors is quite extensive. The most popular are the White Crested variants: these come in black, blue and cuckoo. Originally, these funny looking chickens were bred and kept as egg laying chickens, but today the breed is primarily bred for ornamental value.

La Fleche

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The La Fl├Ęche is a rare breed of chicken whose roots originates from France. The breed's main distinguishing feature is its unusual V-shaped comb that looks like horns. Thus, this strikingly odd chicken is also called the Devil Bird!

The breed was once famous for its fine meat; but are now kept as ornamental birds.

A medium-sized chicken with black plumage, white earlobes; La Fleche also are found as bantams.

Naked Neck

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The Naked Neck, also called the Turken, is a peculiar breed of chicken that is characterized by its 'featherless' neck and vent. The breed originates from Hungary but was largely developed in Germany.

This breed has approximately half the feathers of other chickens, making it resistant to hot weather and easier to pluck.

Despite its highly odd appearance, the Naked Neck breed is not considered as an exhibition bird, but as a dual-purpose chicken. They are good layers of brown eggs, and are good for meat production.

The Naked Neck can be found in several different color variants including black, white, buff, blue, red and cuckoo.


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The Sultan is a breed of chicken originating in Turkey. The breed has always been kept for its ornamental value. They are wonderful for show, because their "attire" is so impressive and outlandish.

Sultans have a great deal of decorative plumage, including large, puffy crests, a V-shaped comb, beards, muffs, long tails, and abundant foot feathering. The breed is also one of a few chicken breeds to have five toes on each foot.

The smallest of the large breeds of chickens, males weigh around 2.7 kilos (6 pounds) and hens 2 kilos (4 pounds. Sultans also come with bantam version.

Sultans appear in three color variants: Black, Blue, and White.


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The Sebright is a breed of chicken named after its developer, Sir John Saunders Sebright. Sebrights are a very special breed of bantam chicken in that the males and females have exactly the same feathering. Males are devoid of the long, sickle–shaped feathers common in most roosters that appear at the tail, neck and saddle.

Furthermore, it is considered a 'true' bantam (meaning there is no standard (large) version of the breed).

There are two types of Sebright bantams; the gold-laced and the silver-laced bantam.

Ayam Cemani

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The Ayam Cemani is a relatively new and a rare breed of chicken originating in Indonesia. These chickens sport a 'completely black' appearance! Black plumage, black skin, black beak and tongue, black comb and wattles, black legs and toe nails; even their meat and internal organs appear dark black.

Ayam Cemani get their black coloring from a generic trait known as ‘fibromelanosis’, that promotes the proliferation of black pigment cells.

One of the most beautiful chickens in the world; Ayam Cemani takes ‘black’ into an entirely different realm. The breed is referred to as the “Lamborghini of poultry.”

Sunday, April 5, 2015

10 Striking Purple-colored Birds

Below is a list of purple-colored birds, where the color purple/violet is the more prominent color of its plumage. It is interesting to note that most of the purple/violet colored birds seen are male species of that bird type, whereas the females of the same species may be of any other color.

Violet-Backed Starling

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The Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster), also known as the plum-colored starling or amethyst starling, belongs to the family of birds classified as Sturnidae. The species is the smallest of the Southern African starlings found widely in the woodlands and savannah forest edges of mainland sub-Saharan Africa.

The sexes are sexually dimorphic; males are brilliantly colored while females appear comparatively drab. The male is brilliantly colored with a deep iridescent violet along the length of is back, wings, face and throat. It has a bright white breast and the rest of the The eyes are brown and the bill and legs are black. The female sports brown head and back; and white underparts streaked with dark brown.

Adult measures 17.8 cm (7.0 in) in length and weighs 33-56 g (1.2-2.0 oz.)

Purple Grenadier

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The Purple Grenadier (Uraeginthus ianthinogaster) is common and widespread throughout east Africa. The species is found in subtropical and tropical (lowland) and dry shrubland. Adult averages 13.3 cm (5.25 in)in length and weighs 15 - 16 g (or approx. 1/2 oz.)

These striking purple-colored birds are sexually dimorphic (the male and female look different). Both sexes have a red beak and black tail. The male has a cinnamon (upperparts) with purplish-blue feathers around the eyes; and vibrant blues (face and underparts) feathers. The female is mostly cinnamon brown; breast and belly are spotted or barred white. She also has some purple on her tail feathers.

Purple Martin

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The Purple Martin (Progne subis) is the largest North American swallow. The species' breeding range is throughout temperate North America. Purple Martins are very large, broad-chested swallows. They have a black bill, legs and feet; stout, forked bills, and long, tapered wings. Adults average 20 cm (7.9 in) long from bill to tail.

Adult males are iridescent, dark blue-purple overall with brown-black wings and tail. Adult females are gray on the head and chest with some steel blue sheen, and a whitish lower belly.

Purple Gallinule

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The Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) is a brightly colored marsh bird found in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. It is also found in Central and South America and the West Indies. The species prefers swamps, lagoons, ponds and freshwater marshes, with floating vegetation.

Adults average 26–37 cm (10–15 in) in length, with a wingspan spanning 50–61 cm (20–24 in) and weighing 141–305 g (5.0–10.8 oz.)

The adult Purple Gallinule sports a stunning purple-blue plumage with a glossy green back. It has a dark purple head, neck, and underside. Red eyes and bill with a yellow tip, white undertail coverts, and long yellow legs.

Varied Bunting

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The Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor) is a stocky, medium-sized songbird common and widespread in the southern parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States and throughout most of Mexico. These brilliantly colored birds inhabit thorn forests, streamline thickets, and scrubby woodlands.

Breeding males have purple-red body with a red nape; blue crown and rump. Wings and tail are purple-blue. Females have grayish-brown plumage overall with buff underparts.

Adults average It is 11–14 cm (4.3–5.5 in) in length with a wingspan of 21 cm (8.3 in), and weighs 11–13 grams (0.39–0.46 oz).

Purple Honeycreeper

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The Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus), also called the Yellow-legged Honeycreeper, is a small bird of northern South America. This is a forest canopy species, but also occurs in cocoa and citrus plantations. The sexes are sexually dimorphic; Male and female are very different in color.

The adult male has purplish-blue plumage overall with black wings, chin throat and belly. Blue tail shows two black central feathers. It has brown eyes, and bright yellow legs. Adult female has lime green upperparts, and green-streaked yellowish-buff underparts.

Purple Honeycreeper measures 11.5 cm (4.5 in) in length long, weighs 12 g (0.42 oz).

Violet-crowned Woodnymph

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The Violet-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica), also known as the purple-crowned woodnymph, is a medium-sized Central and South American hummingbird. The species inhabits wet lowlands and foothills up to 2500 meters (~8,200 feet). It is a small hummingbird averaging 10.2 cm (approx.4 inches)long and weighs 4.5 grams (0.16 oz).

The adult male has a violet crown, upper back, shoulders and belly. It has green throat, breast, and lower back. The female is bright green above and duller green below, with a grey throat and breast.

Purplish-mantled Tanager

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The Purplish-mantled Tanager (Iridosornis porphyrocephalus) is found in Colombia and Ecuador. Its natural habitats are humid mossy rainforests, second-growth woodland, and heavily degraded forest borders.

The species average 14 cm (5.5 in) long and weigh 20-23 g (0.7-0.8 oz). It feeds on berries and insects.

Purple Starling

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The Purple Starling (Lamprotornis purpureus), also known as the purple glossy starling, is a common passerine bird common and widespread in tropical Africa. The species is typically found in scrublands, open woodlands, savannas, and cultivated areas.

Adults have a metallic purple head, crown and body. Lores are black and glossy green wings. They large yellow eyes, black beak and short tail.

Purple Starling measures around 22-27 cm (8.7-10.6 in) long, including the short tail and weighs around 91–140 g (3.7-4.9 oz).

Splendid Sunbird

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The Splendid Sunbird (Cinnyris coccinigaster) is a small passerine bird found in west and central tropical Africa. This species is a common breeder in wet savannah and woodland.

Splendid sunbirds measure 15 cm (5.9 in) in length. The species is characterized by its medium-long thin down-curved bills and brush-tipped tubular tongues.

The adult male has glossy purple head and a crimson breast patch. It has dark green back, black wings and tail. The female is greenish-brown above and yellowish below.