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The cougar, also puma, mountain lion, or panther, depending on region, is a mammal of the Felidae family, native to the Americas. This large, solitary cat has the greatest range of any wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in every major American habitat type. It is the second heaviest cat in the American continents after the jaguar, and the fourth heaviest in the world, along with the leopard, after the tiger, lion, and jaguar, although it is most closely related to smaller felines. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses, and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range, but it also hunts species as small as insects and rodents. Moreover, it prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and persists at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While it is a large predator, it is not always the dominant species in its range, as when it competes for prey with other predators such as the jaguar, gray wolf, black bear, and the grizzly bear. Range: At one time Mountain Lions were at home across most of North America. Due to over hunting and habitat loss around 1900 the cougars primary range was reduced to mountainous areas of the west. Mountain Lion or Cougar
Grizzly Bear The North American grizzly is a subspecies of the brown bear. Brown bears were The North American population is vulnerable. Its range has become restricted mainly to the Rocky Mountains. The grizzly is characterized by the high shoulder hump and by its generally concave head profile. The shoulder height is up to 1.5 m (5 ft.) and a weight of 500 kg (1,100 lb.) is not uncommon. The fur colour varies from cream and silver through cinnamon and brown to black. Grizzly bears are omnivorous. They eat a variety of things, from fish to tubers and berries. They will also eat carrion and young hoofed animals and livestock as the opportunities arise. Like all the bears, grizzly young are very small at birth. A newborn will usually weigh 400 g (14 oz.) or less. The cubs (usually 2 or 3) are born between January and March. Although grizzlies will, for the most part, avoid contact with humans, they are sometimes unpredictable and should be given plenty of room; every year, bears maul or kill humans. They move with a slow shambling walk, the low-slung head swinging from side to side.
Steller's Jay The Steller's Jay is a large, striking, bright blue and black songbird with a dark crest on its head. The wings and tail are a bright blue, and the body is a bit darker. The forehead generally has white and sky blue streaks. These birds are between 30 and 34 cm long (12 to 13 in.). Males and females look very similar. There is, nonetheless, a lot of variation among Steller's Jays throughout their North American range: All have dark barring on the wings and tail, but the colours can differ noticeably. Some populations have black crests and backs while others have blue ones. The Rocky Mountain variety of the species has white crescents above the eyes. Although this bird is recognized by its striking blue colour, this appearance is deceiving: blue pigments do not actually exist in birds! The blue that we see is caused by the way that certain internal feather structures reflect the light that shines on them. The reflected light is blue, so the birds appear blue. If these feathers are backlit, their surfaces don't reflect the light the way they usually do, so they no longer seem blue, but brown. Steller's Jays live primarily in dense coniferous forests, but they can regularly be seen in treed residential areas. They are not shy around humans, which means they are easy to observe. They are even bold-enough to steal food from picnic tables and campgrounds. Their diet is omnivorous, consisting of arthropods, acorns, nuts, fruits, seeds, small vertebrates, eggs of other birds and small nestlings. They hoard food, such as acorns, nuts and seeds, in caches around their territory for times when food is scarce.
Hairy-Tailed Mole This mole prefers forested areas or old pasture land where soil is relatively dry and loose. Moles's forelimbs are adapted for digging. The hands are turned permanently outward. This makes the animal clumsy on the surface but capable of tunnelling through loose soil at considerable speed by using the forefeet as earthmovers. Permanent tunnels, together with the nests, are usually about 25 to 45 cm (10 to 18 in.) beneath the surface, but they are deeper in the winter months. The tunnels are constructed during hunting forays and to provide safe nesting and travelling areas. During the winter months the moles's prey—earthworms, insects and other invertebrates—move downward to avoid freezing. The moles follow them down. Moles are preyed upon by owls, foxes and larger snakes.
Coyote This intelligent, social animal is found from Costa Rica through most of continental U.S.A. and Canada to northern Alaska. In Canada its range extends across most of southern and central Canada, and in western Canada as far north as Yukon. The range of this very adaptable carnivore is expanding, especially eastward. Size varies tremendously throughout its range, with the larger animals being more northerly. Weight ranges between 8 and 20 kg (18 to 45 lb.). Body length is 1 to 1.35 m (3 to 4.5 ft.), and the tail is about 40 cm (16 in.). The coyote feeds mainly on small mammals such as mice and hares, carrion and some vegetation. Occasionally, a pack will try its luck hunting deer, but a single coyote is not usually successful when hunting a deer on its own. Coyotes are preyed upon by wolves, cougars and bears.
Eastern Chipmunk This interesting little inhabitant of North America's eastern forests and fence rows can be quite endearing to humans; if unmolested, the eastern chipmunk soon becomes bold enough to accept food held out to it, much of which is hoarded for the future. Chipmunks eat a wide variety of seeds, fruits and nuts. They are particularly fond of corn and sunflower seeds. In the autumn they may store as much as 7 litres (2 gal.) of food for winter use. In recognition of this practice, the Greek word for 'steward', which is Tamias, was chosen for part of the scientific name of the species. Chipmunks have special, expandable pouches in their cheeks that they can stuff with food in order to carry it back to the larder. Each pouch can hold up to 33 kernels of dried corn. Chipmunks construct extensive burrow systems, often more than 3.5 m (11.5 ft.) in length and with one or more well-concealed entrances. In addition to the main chamber, storage tunnels are constructed to accommodate the winter food supply. The sleeping quarters are kept scrupulously clean—shells, husks and feces are stuffed away into refuse tunnels.
Greater Prairie-Chicken The story of the Greater Prairie-Chicken is one of response—both positive and negative—to environmental change. The Greater Prairie-Chicken's original habitat was the tallgrass prairies of midwestern North America. In the 1880s the species spread into the American prairie provinces because ideal habitat was produced and existed there for about 50 years: some shortgrass habitat of the American prairies became more like tallgrass habitat thanks to the coincidence of a few wet years, agricultural settlement, fire suppression and the disappearance of the bison (from hunting). The Greater Prairie-Chicken became abundant there and eventually spread to Ontario. As intensive agricultural practices took over on the prairies, however, the habitat changed again, and the Greater Prairie-Chicken began to disappear. By the 1930s the species was almost gone. It now survives only in scattered areas of the midwestern United States
American White Pelican The American White Pelican is a large, web-footed bird with an enormous throat pouch. It eats mostly fish, and it catches them by scooping them up in this pouch as it swims. They also eat frogs and salamanders. Although pelicans are awkward-looking birds, they are very graceful in flight. They fly in flocks in long lines, with their elongated necks bent back over their bodies. They flap their wings slowly, and often glide. Pelicans are heavy-bodied birds with short legs and thick, rough plumage. They are white with black wing tips and a yellow throat pouch. They are 127 to 165 cm (50 to 64 in.) long and have a wingspan of up to 3 m (10 ft.). American White Pelican nesting colonies are found on remote, treeless islands and are distributed mostly from the Canadian prairie, south to southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast. A large proportion of the birds nest in Canada. They winter from the southern United States to Guatemala. A brood generally consists of two young. They eat regurgitated food from the pouch and throat of the mother. Each fledgling will consume about 70 kg (154 lb.) of regurgitated food in the weeks before it begins to fly.
California Condor California Condors range in length from 117 to 134 cm (46 to 53 in.). Their wingspan averages 275 cm (9 ft.). They generally weigh about 10 kg (22 lb.). These birds depend on the carcasses of large mammals for food. With the expansion of settlement in the mid-1800s, its food supply was reduced and the principal source of carrion became domestic livestock. The California Condor was probably never numerous, and its populations were eventually almost exterminated in the wild by hunting, food shortage, pollution, the poisoning of carcasses in predator control, and a naturally low reproductive rate. In 1987, the last few remaining wild condors were captured and placed in a captive breeding programme. The programme reintroduced condors into parts of California and Arizona in the United States. As of 2002, however, these wild birds had not yet succeeded in producing young that survived to breeding age.
American Bison Nobody knows how many American bison inhabited North America before the arrival of the Europeans. Most estimates range between 30 and 70 million animals. They were, however, the economic cornerstone of the native peoples of the plains, who used almost every part of the animal, whether for food, shelter, weapons, utensils or ornamentation. A large bull may stand 2 m (6 ft.) high at the shoulder and weigh about 1 t (2.2 tn.). It is the heaviest land mammal native to North America. Among the predators, only the grizzly is strong enough to kill an adult bull, although wolves can take juveniles and weak adults. Bison are equipped with a sense of smell so keen that it is able to detect odours of other animals farther than 2 km (1.2 mi.) away. They also have excellent eyesight and are quite at ease in the water. Bison are herbivores, and they eat mainly grasses. They have been known to live for up to 40 years in captivity. In the wild they are scattered in reserves within their historical range. They are also on game farms and ranches within and even beyond their former range.
Mountain Goat The social order of the mountain goat is matriarchal; the smaller nannies (females) dominate the more placid billies (males), except during the mating season. Males are 10 to 30% larger than females. A large billy stands about 1 m (40 in.) at the shoulder and weighs around 90 kg (200 lb.). These animals are very adept at moving about on the high rocky cliffs and ledges of the rugged mountainous terrain where they spend much of their time. Their main predator is the cougar, but the kids (young) sometimes fall victim to the Golden Eagle. Humans hunt them for trophies. This North American species inhabits the Rocky Mountain zone from southern Alaska to Washington State and parts of Montana and Idaho. In Canada, the mountain goat is found primarily in British Columbia
American Alligator Of the 21 crocodilian species known to science, only two are native to the U.S.A.: the American alligator and the American crocodile. Its broadly rounded snout distinguish the American alligator from the American crocodile, which has a sharper snout. The American alligator inhabits coastal marshes and inland waters of the southeastern United States (usually in freshwater), from the southern Virginia-North Carolina border to the Rio Grande in Texas. The young have bold yellowish crossbands on a black ground. They grow from about 23 cm long (9 in.) at hatching up to 5 m long (16.5 ft.). Adults are generally black, but they can retain some light markings of the young. Breeding takes place in shallow waters during the night, in early May. A large nest of vegetation, 1 to 2 m in diameter (4 to 7 ft.) is built by the female, where she will lay 35 to 50 eggs in late June and early July.
Hoary Marmot The hoary marmot is well known to hikers in the western mountains of North America, where a high-pitched whistle often welcomes visitors to the alpine country. The whistle is actually a warning to other members of the colony of approaching danger. They are sometimes called 'whistlers' because of it, but they are more commonly identified by the name inspired by the "hoary" mantle of white fur that covers their shoulders and backs. Hoary marmots can weigh up to 13.5 kg (30 lb.), but are usually 5 to 9 kg (11 to 20 lb.). In summer the hoary marmot will gain body-fat on its diet of lush alpine plants. The stored energy allows the hoary marmot to spend the seven to eight winter months in hibernation far beneath the snow. In early summer, young marmots spend hours engaged in playful wrestling matches. Though the pushing and grappling can be quite vigorous, marmots have only to give a sharp yelp to end the bout. Hoary marmots grow to adult size by late summer.
Carolina Parakeet The Carolina Parakeet is extinct, as direct and indirect results of human activity. Already rare by the mid-1880s, its last stand was in Florida. There, in 1920, a flock of 30 birds was the last ever seen of the only parrot native to the United States. Once common in the southeastern United States, the Carolina Parakeet became increasingly scarce as deforestation reduced its habitat. Furthermore, with the spread of agriculture, this bird developed a liking for the seeds of many kinds of fruit and grain crops; for this, and for its habit of gathering in great destructive flocks, it was condemned as a pest and subjected to wholesale slaughter. It was also hunted for its brilliantly coloured feathers, and many were sold as pets. Bird diseases that were introduced to North America may also have been a significant factor in their disappearance.
M o n a r c h The monarch is sometimes called the "milkweed butterfly" because of the importance of this plant to its survival and development. Throughout most of the monarch's life, milkweed provides most of its food and a home. The toxins it takes in from the milkweed it eats makes it poisonous to predators. Like other butterflies, monarchs develop through several forms after they hatch from their eggs: caterpillar (also called larva), chrysalis (also called pupa), adult butterfly. Eggs hatch after three to five days. One egg produces one caterpillar, which will grow to about 5 cm (2 in.) long in about two weeks. For the last of the five times it will shed its skin, it attaches itself head-down to a convenient twig. Next, it sheds its outer skin and begins the transformation into a chrysalis. This process is completed in a matter of hours. Packed tightly inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly in about two weeks. Adults live from three weeks to seven months, depending of the generation and the season. There are two geographically distinct monarch populations in North America. The eastern population breeds east of the Rocky Mountains and migrates to central Mexico, where it spends the winter in patches of fir forest high in the mountains. Millions and millions of monarchs fly up to 4000 km (2,480 mi.) to get there. Until 1975, when the scientific community finally tracked down the wintering sites of the monarch in Mexico, the monarchs' winter hideouts had been a secret known only to local villagers and landowners. Monarchs face threats to their survival. In Canada and the United States, large scale agriculture and herbicides are turning flower filled meadows into flower less monocultures. Without this summer habitat, monarchs will be unable to breed or migrate successfully. In Mexico and California, monarchs are even more at risk. Despite conservation efforts, tree cutting and development are destroying their winter homes. Because so many butterflies gather in only a few locations for the winter, this loss of habitat is devastating.
Bald Eagle The adult Bald Eagle can be distinguished by the white of its head and tail. This colouration is fully developed by the time a bird is about four years old. Adult males have a body length of 76 to 86 cm (30 to 34 in.) and a wingspan of 178 to 210 cm (70 to 83 in.). Females are larger: their bodies are 89 to 94 cm (35 to 37 in.) and their wingspan is 198 to 225 cm (78 to 88 in.). The Bald Eagle is more a scavenger than a predator. It subsists mainly on fish, and most of its food comes from what it finds cast onto shore. It occasionally makes its own kills, and, when fish are not available, it may take a few birds. This majestic bird is most common on the Pacific coast. The Bald Eagle's range also extends northward into Alaska and southward into the rest of the continental United States.
B u l l f r o g This giant among all North American frogs often attains a length of 15 cm or more. Bullfrogs inhabit lakes, rivers, and large ponds from southern Nova Scotia to southern America. In North America, this plain or nearly plain green frog is found through Nova Scotia to central Florida; west to Wisconsin and across the Great Plains to the Rockies. It has also been widely introduced in the rest of the world. Breeding occurs from late May to early July in the northern hemisphere, and February to October in the southern hemisphere. This is when you will hear the call of the males on warm evenings, a vibrant, low frequency "jug-o-rum" or "oua-oua-ron" which can be heard over a distance of 1 km (3,280 ft.). Bullfrogs are collected for dissection in educational courses, and their meaty hind legs are found on menus in some regions.
Florida Mouse (Gopher Mouse) The Florida Mouse (Podomys floridanus, also known as the Gopher Mouse, ) is a small rodent, currently on the endangered species list because of land development and destruction of their habitat. The Florida Mouse is found only in Florida on sandy beaches and scrub-brush. In fact, the Florida Mouse is the only mammal that is limited to Florida. The Gopher Tortoise makes its home here in burrows, and the Florida Mouse uses the tortoise burrow, making its home in a corridor off of the main route for the tortoise. If a tortoise burrow is not available, the Florida Mouse will often use a discarded burrow of the oldfield mouse. The mouse is nocturnal, using cover of darkness to escape from predators and is active all year. Even though it is considered large for its species, the Florida Mouse is small, only growing to an average length of 5-8 inches (12-20 cm). They have long tails, usually attaining a length of 3-5 inches (7-12 cm). They have soft brown fur with white fur on their underbellies and large, round, brown ears that don’t have any fur. Florida mice have a distinctive odor, almost like a skunk. Like most mice, the Florida Mouse is an omnivore, eating seeds, plants, some insects, nuts, and fungi, but acorns appear to be the preferred food source. Other mice will eat the dead bodies of other mice, if necessary, and they have been known, in periods of starvation, to eat their own tails. Breeding in the Florida Mouse usually occurs between the months of July and February, but there seems to be a peak in late summer and late winter. The gestational period is estimated to be about 23-24 days, compared with other mice of the species. Litters are produced with two to four young mice per litter, and there are special chambers in their burrows that are used for breeding and nursing. Mice are born blind and hairless, and their eyes don’t open until they are at least 15 days old. They are usually weaned at three to four weeks of age but are nursed continuously for the first two weeks of life.
Alabama Map Turtle The Alabama Map Turtle is from the order Testudines. All turtles are testudines (or Chelonia). There are more than 280 different species belonging to this order. The Alabama Map Turtle was first reported by Baur, 1893. In general members of this order are found all over the world, except for Antarctica. Turtles can range in size from just a few cms, to two metres. The Alabama Map Turtle has a special bony shell developed from their ribs. The shell is called a carapace, and the underside of the carapace is called the plastron. This reptile is not agile on land, but in water it is an apt swimmers. The Alabama Map Turtle is an air-breathing reptile. They need to surface to fill their lungs with air.
Arizona Gray Squirrel The Arizona Gray Squirrel is from the order Rodentia. The largest group of mammals is the Rodentia. A rough generalisation is most non-flying mammals are rodents. Prairie Dogs, beavers, porcupines and many others are classified as rodents. The Arizona Gray Squirrel was first reported by Coues, 1867. In general members of this order are found all over the world, except for Antarctica. The largest living rodent weighs around 50 kilograms or 110 pounds, and this is called the capybara. The capybara has been known to reach weights of 70 kilograms!. On the other hand, rodents can be as small as 5 grams such as the pygmy mice. The Arizona Gray Squirrel has a single pair of incisors in each jaw. These teeth will grow continually throughout its life. It has a high rate of reproduction, and this is one key factor in attributing to the success of this species.
The Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter Snake is from the order Squamata. Species from this order are amphisbaenians, lizards or snakes. There are over 6,000 living species belonging to the squamata order - it is the largest order of all reptiles. The Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter Snake was first reported by Kennicott, 1860. It is a scaled reptile, and it sheds its skin. In general, species from the squamata order are incredibly diverse. Small lizards from 1.2 cm long, to snakes reaching 10 metres in length!. In general, species from the squamata order are spread throughout the world. They do not inhabit antarctica, and there are some few remote islands where this order has not inhabited. The Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter Snake is just one member of over 6000 from this order. Pacific Coast Aquatic Garter Snake
Giant Kangaroo Rat The Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens) is a rodent named because of its tendency to move by jumping on its hind legs. Currently listed as endangered in the state of California, the Giant Kangaroo Rat is in danger because of development and population expansion. The Giant Kangaroo Rat is located only in southern California. It is often found in valleys where there are open areas of grassland. The rats live in small burrows, usually less than 12 inches (30 cm) long, and the burrows have many separate chambers that the kangaroo rat uses for food storage and nesting. They are active mostly at night, staying and often digging in their burrows during the day. They venture out most often when gathering stores, but can often be seen outside after twilight. True to its name, the Giant Kangaroo Rat is the largest of its species. It can grow to 12-13 inches long (30-33 cm) and typically weighs 5-6 ounces.
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