Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Snowy Owl


Snowy Owl

 
Nyctea scandiaca


Photo: A snowy owl perched atop a rock
The snowy owl's beautiful white plumage helps to hide it in its Arctic habitat. Only the males are completely white. Chicks are dark and spotted, while the females are white with spots on their wings.
Photograph by Norbert Rosing
The ghostlike snowy owl has unmistakable white plumage that echoes its Arctic origins.
These large owls breed on the Arctic tundra, where females lay a clutch of 3 to 11 eggs. Clutch size depends upon the availability of food, and in particularly lean times a usually monogamous pair of owls may not breed at all. Parents are territorial and will defend their nests against all comers—even wolves.
Young owls, especially males, get whiter as they get older. Females are darker than males, with dusky spotting, and never become totally white. Some elderly males do become completely white, though many retain small flecks of dusky plumage.
The snowy owl is a patient hunter that perches and waits to identify its prey before soaring off in pursuit. Snowy owls have keen eyesight and great hearing, which can help them find prey that is invisible under thick vegetation or snowcover. The owls deftly snatch their quarry with their sharp talons.
A snowy owl's preferred meal is lemmings—many lemmings. An adult may eat more than 1,600 lemmings a year, or three to five every day. The birds supplement their diet with rabbits, rodents, birds, and fish.
Read full here... http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/snowy-owl/


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Macaw


Macaw

 
Psittacidae


Photo: Hyacinth macaw in flight
Of the 17 species of macaws, several are endangered, including the beautiful hyacinth, seen here in flight.
Photograph by Joel Sartore
Macaws are beautiful, brilliantly colored members of the parrot family.
Many macaws have vibrant plumage. The coloring is suited to life in Central and South American rain forests, with their green canopies and colorful fruits and flowers. The birds boast large, powerful beaks that easily crack nuts and seeds, while their dry, scaly tongues have a bone inside them that makes them an effective tool for tapping into fruits.
Macaws also have gripping toes that they use to latch onto branches and to grab, hold, and examine items. The birds sport graceful tails that are typically very long.
Macaws are intelligent, social birds that often gather in flocks of 10 to 30 individuals. Their loud calls, squawks, and screams echo through the forest canopy. Macaws vocalize to communicate within the flock, mark territory, and identify one another. Some species can even mimic human speech.
Flocks sleep in the trees at night, and in the morning they may fly long distances to feed on fruit, nuts, insects, and snails. Some species also eat damp soil, which may help to neutralize chemicals in their fruity diet and ease their stomachs.
Macaws typically mate for life. They not only breed with, but also share food with their mates and enjoy mutual grooming. In breeding season, mothers incubate eggs while fathers hunt and bring food back to the nest.
There are 17 species of macaws, and several are endangered. These playful birds are popular pets, and many are illegally trapped for that trade. The rain forest homes of many species are also disappearing at an alarming rate.
Read full here... http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/macaw/


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