Friday, August 31, 2012

Quetzal

Quetzal

 
Pharomachrus mocinno
Photo: Male resplendent quetzal
Sacred to ancient Mesoamerican people, gorgeously plumed quetzals live in the mountains of Central America.
Photograph by Steve Winter

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Golden Eagle


Golden Eagle

 
Aquila chrysaetos


Photo: Golden eagle with a mountain backdrop
The national bird of Mexico, golden eagles are North America's largest raptor.
Photograph by Joe McDonald/Animals Animals—Earth Scenes

Friday, August 10, 2012

Peregrine Falcon


Peregrine Falcon

 
Falco peregrinus


Photo: Peregrine falcon
Once an endangered species in the United States, North American peregrine falcon populations have made a great comeback due to bans on usage of DDT and similar pesticides.
Photograph by Michael Melford

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Andean Condor


Andean Condor

 
Vultur gryphus


Photo: Captive Andean condor
Producing only one chick every other year, survival of the endangered Andean condor relies on captive breeding programs.
Photograph by Anne Keiser


Map

Map: Andean condor range
Andean Condor Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Bird
Diet:
Carnivore
Size:
Body, 4 ft (1.2 m); wingspan, up to 10.5 ft (3.2 m)
Weight:
Up to 33 lbs (15 kg)
Protection status:
Endangered
Did you know?
The Andean condor has the largest wing area of any bird.
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Andean condor compared with adult man
Andean condors are massive birds, among the largest in the world that are able to fly. Because they are so heavy (up to 33 pounds/15 kilograms), even their enormous 10-foot (3-meter) wingspan needs some help to keep them aloft. For that reason, these birds prefer to live in windy areas where they can glide on air currents with little effort. Andean condors are found in mountainous regions, as their name suggests, but also live near coasts replete with ocean breezes and even deserts that feature strong thermal air currents.
These condors are mostly black, but males have a distinctive white "collar" around their necks and some white markings on their wings as well. Like their relatives, the California condors, Andean condors have bald heads.
Condors are vultures, so they keep their sharp eyes peeled for the carrion that makes up most of their diet. They prefer to feast on large animals, wild or domestic, and in picking the carcasses, they perform an important function as a natural clean-up crew. Along the coasts, condors will feed on dead marine animals like seals or fish. These birds do not have sharp predator's claws, but they will raid birds' nests for eggs or even young hatchlings.
These long-lived birds have survived over 75 years in captivity, but they reproduce slowly. A mating pair produces only a single offspring every other year, and both parents must care for their young for a full year.
The Andean condor is considered endangered but is in far better shape than its California cousin. Perhaps a few thousand South American birds survive, and reintroduction programs are working to supplement that number.


Monday, August 6, 2012

GMOs bad effects on animals

GMOs cause animals to lose their ability to reproduce, Russian scientists discover

(NaturalNews) A study presented at the Days of Defense Against Environmental Hazards in Russia has unveiled once again the implicit dangers associated with the consumption of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). According to Voice of Russia, scientists from the National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems discovered that animals fed GMOs as part of their normal diet eventually develop the inability to reproduce.

A shocking revelation; the study is one of several that has identified a link between GMO consumption and infertility in recent years. And because it was conducted independently of the biotechnology industry, it came to far different conclusions than have most of the studies offered up for mainstream consumption in defense of GMOs.



Using hamsters as the test subjects, scientists observed that consumption of GM soybeans, which have never been a part of these creatures' normal diets, tended to slow sexual maturity and gradually eliminate the ability to reproduce. After several generations, hamsters consuming the "Frankensoy" eventually lost their innate ability to reproduce.

"We selected several groups of hamsters, kept them in pairs in cells and gave them ordinary food as always," said Dr. Alexei Surov, one of the authors of the study. "We did not add anything for one group but the other was fed with soya that contained no GM components, while the third group with some content of Genetically Modified Organisms and the fourth one with increased amount of GMO."

Dr. Surov and his team then monitored the various groups of cubs, including their rates of growth and birthing frequencies, and compared their findings to the cubs' diets. After several generations of cubs breeding with each other, the team observed that those cubs who ate GMOs as part of their diet eventually became completely sterile.

"[W]e noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from [the] cubs and continued to feed them as before," added Dr. Surov. "These pairs' growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly. When we got some of their cubs, we formed the new pairs of the third generation. We failed to get cubs from these pairs, which were fed with GM foodstuffs. It was proved that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs."

Will widespread GMO consumption make future generations of humans infertile?

An Austrian study uncovered similar harm in mice that consumed GM corn. An immediate consequence among the mice eating the "Frankencorn" was that their offspring weighed less than normal, and overall litter size became smaller. After three or four generations, mice who came from GMO-eating parents and grandparents became completely infertile. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

Farmers across the U.S. have also reported infertility among pigs and cows that consume GM feed. And in India, an investigatory team observed infertility and other serious problems among buffalo that were consuming GM cottonseed.

Sources for this article include:

http://english.ruvr.ru/2010/04/16/6524765.html

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036710_GMO_animal_experiments_infertility.html#ixzz22pJ5yXuX

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gentoo Penguin


Gentoo Penguin

 
Pygoscelis papua


Photo: Penguins diving in water
An adult gentoo penguin makes as many as 450 dives a day foraging for food.
Photograph by Robert Heil, My Shot


Map

Map: Gentoo penguin range
Gentoo Penguin Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Bird
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
15 to 20 years
Size:
30 in (76 cm)
Weight:
12 lbs (5.5 kg)
Group name:
Colony
Protection status:
None
Did you know?
An adult gentoo penguin makes as many as 450 dives a day foraging for food.
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Penguin compared with adult man
With flamboyant red-orange beaks, white-feather caps, and peach-colored feet, gentoo penguins stand out against their drab, rock-strewn Antarctic habitat.
These charismatic waddlers, who populate the Antarctic Peninsula and numerous islands around the frozen continent, are the penguin world’s third largest members, reaching a height of 30 inches (76 centimeters) and a weight of 12 pounds (5.5 kilograms).
Gentoos are partial to ice-free areas, including coastal plains, sheltered valleys, and cliffs. They gather in colonies of breeding pairs that can number from a few dozen to many thousands.
Gentoo parents, which often form long-lasting bonds, are highly nurturing. At breeding time, both parents will work to build a circular nest of stones, grass, moss, and feathers. The mother then deposits two spherical, white eggs, which both parents take turns incubating for more than a month. Hatchlings remain in the nest for up to a month, and the parents alternate foraging and brooding duties.
Like all penguins, gentoos are awkward on land. But they’re pure grace underwater. They have streamlined bodies and strong, paddle-shaped flippers that propel them up to 22 miles an hour (36 kilometers an hour), faster than any other diving bird.
Adults spend the entire day hunting, usually close to shore, but occasionally ranging as far as 16 miles (26 kilometers) out. When pursuing prey, which includes fish, squid, and krill, they can remain below for up to seven minutes and dive as deep as 655 feet (200 meters).
Gentoo penguins are a favored menu item of the leopard seals, sea lions, and orcas that patrol the waters around their colonies. On land, adults have no natural predators other than humans, who harvest them for their oil and skin. Gentoo eggs and chicks, however, are vulnerable to birds of prey, like skuas and caracaras.
Gentoo numbers are increasing on the Antarctic Peninsula but have plummeted in some of their island enclaves, possibly due to local pollution or disrupted fisheries. They are protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and received near threatened status on the IUCN Red List in 2007.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Peregrine Falcon


Peregrine Falcon

 
Falco peregrinus





Photo: Peregrine falcon
Once an endangered species in the United States, North American peregrine falcon populations have made a great comeback due to bans on usage of DDT and similar pesticides.
Photograph by Michael Melford

Map

Map: Falcon range
Peregrine Falcon Range

Audio

Fast Facts

Type:
Bird
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
Up to 17 years
Size:
Body, 14 to 19 in (36 to 49 cm); wingspan, 3.3 to 3.6 ft (1 to 1.1 m)
Weight:
18.8 to 56.5 oz (530 to 1,600 g)
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Falcon compared with adult man
These falcons are formidable hunters that prey on other birds (and bats) in mid-flight. Peregrines hunt from above and, after sighting their prey, drop into a steep, swift dive that can top 200 miles an hour (320 kilometers an hour).
Peregrine falcons are among the world's most common birds of prey and live on all continents except Antarctica. They prefer wide-open spaces, and thrive near coasts where shorebirds are common, but they can be found everywhere from tundra to deserts. Peregrines are even known to live on bridges and skyscrapers in major cities.
These birds may travel widely outside the nesting season—their name means "wanderer." Though some individuals are permanent residents, many migrate. Those that nest on Arctic tundra and winter in South America fly as many as 15,500 miles (25,000 kilometers) in a year. Yet they have an incredible homing instinct that leads them back to favored aeries. Some nesting sites have been in continuous use for hundreds of years, occupied by successive generations of falcons.
Peregrine populations were in steep decline during the mid-20th century, and in the United States these beautiful falcons became an endangered species. The birds have rebounded strongly since the use of DDT and other chemical pesticides was curtailed. Captive breeding programs have also helped to boost the bird's numbers in the U.S. and Canada. Now populations are strong in those nations, and in some parts of the globe, there actually may be more peregrines than existed before the 20th-century decline.
Peregrines are favored by falconers, and have been used in that sport for many centuries.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Emperor Penguin


Emperor Penguin

 
Aptenodytes forsteri

Photo: Emperor penguins
Emperor penguins are the largest penguins, standing about 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall.
Photograph courtesy Giuseppe Zibordi/Michael Van Woert/
NOAA NESDIS, ORA


Map

Map: Emperor penguin range
Emperor Penguin Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Bird
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
15 to 20 years
Size:
45 in (115 cm)
Weight:
Up to 88 lbs (40 kg)
Group name:
Colony
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Emperor penguin compared with adult man
Emperors are the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 45 inches (115 centimeters) tall. These flightless animals live on the Antarctic ice and in the frigid surrounding waters.
Penguins employ physiological adaptations and cooperative behaviors in order to deal with an incredibly harsh environment, where wind chills can reach -76°F (-60°C).
They huddle together to escape wind and conserve warmth. Individuals take turns moving to the group's protected and relatively toasty interior. Once a penguin has warmed a bit it will move to the perimeter of the group so that others can enjoy protection from the icy elements.
Emperor penguins spend the long winter on the open ice—and even breed during this harsh season. Females lay a single egg and then promptly leave it behind. They undertake an extended hunting trip that lasts some two months! Depending on the extent of the ice pack, females may need to travel some 50 miles (80 kilometers) just to reach the open ocean, where they will feed on fish, squid, and krill. At sea, emperor penguins can dive to 1,850 feet (565 meters)—deeper than any other bird—and stay under for more than 20 minutes.
Male emperors keep the newly laid eggs warm, but they do not sit on them, as many other birds do. Males stand and protect their eggs from the elements by balancing them on their feet and covering them with feathered skin known as a brood pouch. During this two-month bout of babysitting the males eat nothing and are at the mercy of the Antarctic elements.
When female penguins return to the breeding site, they bring a belly full of food that they regurgitate for the newly hatched chicks. Meanwhile, their duty done, male emperors take to the sea in search of food for themselves.
Mothers care for their young chicks and protect them with the warmth of their own brood pouches. Outside of this warm cocoon, a chick could die in just a few minutes. In December, Antarctic summer, the pack ice begins to break up and open water appears near the breeding site, just as young emperor penguins are ready to swim and fish on their own.

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