Best Species Described by Lewis & Clark of All Time
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Quercus macrocarpa, the Bur Oak, sometimes spelled Burr Oak, is a species of oak in the white oak section Quercus sect. Quercus, native to North America in the eastern and midwestern United States and south-central Canada. This plant is also called Mossycup oak and Mossycup white oak.
It occurs from the Appalachian Mountains west to the middle of the Great Plains, extending to central Texas, across southernmost Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, east to the Atlantic Coast in southern New Brunswick and down the coast to Delaware.
It is a large deciduous tree growing up to 30 m (100 ft), rarely 37 m (120 ft), in height, and is one of the most massive oaks with a trunk diameter of up to 3 m (10 ft); reports of taller trees occur, but have not been verified. It is one of the slowest-growing oaks, with a growth rate of 30 cm (1 ft) per year when young. A 20-year-old tree will be about 6 m (20 ft) tall. It commonly lives to be 200 to 300 years old, and may live up to 400 years. The bark is a medium gray and somewhat rugged.
The leaves are 7–15 cm (3–6 in) long and 5–13 cm (2–5 in) broad, variable in shape, with a lobed margin. Most often, the basal 60% is narrower and deeply lobed, while the
The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species of deer in the world, and one of the largest land mammals in North America and eastern Asia. It was long believed to be a subspecies of the European red deer (Cervus elaphus), but evidence from a 2004 study of the mitochondrial DNA indicates that the two are distinct species.
This animal should not be confused with the larger moose (Alces alces), to which the name "elk" applies in Eurasia. Apart from the moose, the only other member of the deer family to rival the elk in size is the south Asian sambar (Rusa unicolor).
Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Although native to North America and eastern Asia, they have adapted well to countries where they have been introduced, including Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. Their great adaptability may threaten endemic species and ecosystems into which they have been introduced.
Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations which establishes dominance
The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is a large aquatic bird from the order Pelecaniformes. It breeds in interior North America, moving south and to the coasts, as far as Central America, in winter.
The German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin described the American White Pelican in 1789. The scientific name means "red-billed pelican", from the Latin term for a pelican, Pelecanus, and erythrorhynchos, derived from the Ancient Greek words erythros (ἐρυθρός, "red") + rhynchos (ῥύγχος, "bill").
The American White Pelican rivals the Trumpeter Swan as the longest bird native to North America. Both very large and plump, it has an overall length is about 50–70 in (130–180 cm), courtesy of the huge beak which measures 11.3–15.2 in (290–390 mm) in males and 10.3–14.2 in (260–360 mm) in females. It has a wingspan of about 95–120 in (240–300 cm). The species also has the second largest average wingspan of any North American bird, after the California Condor. Body weight can range between 9.2 and 30 lb (4.2 and 14 kg), although typically these birds average between 11 and 20 lb (5.0 and 9.1 kg). Among standard measurements, the wing chord measures 20–26.7 in (51–68 cm) and
The Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) is a migratory passerine bird in the swallow family. It has a wide range in summer, embracing practically the whole of Europe and the Mediterranean countries, part of northern Asia and also North America. It winters in eastern and southern Africa, South America and South Asia. It is known as Bank Swallow in North America, and as Collared Sand Martin in South Asia, and sometimes as European Sand Martin.
The 12 cm long Sand Martin is brown above, white below with a narrow brown band on the breast; the bill is black, the legs brown. The young have rufous tips to the coverts and margins to the secondaries.
Its brown back, white throat, small size and quick jerky flight separate it at once from similar swallows, such as the House Martin (Delichon urbicum), the Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) or other species of Riparia. Only the Banded Martin (R. cincta) of sub-Saharan Africa is similar, but the Sand Martin only occurs there in winter.
The Pale Martin is the subspecies diluta of northern India and southeastern China is sometimes split as a separate species Riparia diluta. It has paler grey-brown upperparts and a less distinct breast band. It
The American Robin or North American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a migratory songbird of the thrush family. It is named after the European Robin because of its reddish-orange breast, though the two species are not closely related, with the European robin belonging to the flycatcher family. The American Robin is widely distributed throughout North America, wintering south of Canada from Florida to central Mexico and along the Pacific Coast. It is the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It has seven subspecies, but only T. m. confinis in the southwest is particularly distinctive, with pale gray-brown underparts.
The American Robin is active mostly during the day and assembles in large flocks at night. Its diet consists of invertebrates (such as beetle grubs, earthworms, and caterpillars), fruits and berries. It is one of the earliest bird species to lay eggs, beginning to breed shortly after returning to its summer range from its winter range. Its nest consists of long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and feathers, and is smeared with mud and often cushioned with grass or other soft materials. It is among the first birds to sing at dawn, and its song consists of several
Baptisia australis, commonly known as blue wild indigo or blue false indigo, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae (legumes). It is native to much of central and eastern North America and is particularly common in the Midwest, but it has also been introduced well beyond its natural range. Naturally it can be found growing wild at the borders of woods, along streams or in open meadows. It often has difficulty seeding itself in its native areas due to parasitic weevils that enter the seed pods, making the number of viable seeds very low.
The name of the genus is derived from the Ancient Greek word bapto, meaning “to dip" or "immerse”, while the specific name australis is Latin for "southern". Additional common names of this plant exist, such as indigo weed, rattleweed, rattlebush and horsefly weed. The common name "blue false indigo" is derived from it being used as a substitute for the superior dye-producing plant Indigofera tinctoria.
B. australis is an herbaceous perennial that reproduces both sexually and asexually by means of its spreading rhizomes. The plant is erect and emerges from the rhizomatic network. The roots themselves are branched and deep, which helps the plant
The Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) is a medium-sized woodpecker, averaging approximately 250 mm (9.75 inches) in length with a 380 mm (15 inch) wingspan. With an estimated population in 2003 of over nine million individuals, the Hairy Woodpecker is listed by the IUCN as a species of least concern in North America.
The Hairy Woodpecker inhabits mature deciduous forests in the Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States. Mating pairs will excavate a hole in a tree, where they will tend to, on average, four white eggs.
Adults are mainly black on the upper parts and wings, with a white or pale back and white spotting on the wings; the throat and belly vary from white to sooty brown, depending on subspecies. There is a white bar above and one below the eye. They have a black tail with white outer feathers. Adult males have a red patch or two side-by-side patches on the back of the head; juvenile males have red or rarely orange-red on the crown.
The Hairy Woodpecker measures from 18–26 cm (7.1–10 in) in length, 33–43 cm (13–17 in) in wingspan and
The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae found in most of North and much of Central America. It breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, and Guatemala, with isolated populations in western El Salvador, northwestern Honduras, and northwestern Costa Rica. It may winter as far north as Pennsylvania and British Columbia, but northern populations are generally migratory, moving south to Mexico and the southern United States. Claims have been made that it is the most abundant and best studied bird in North America. The Red-winged Blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown. Seeds and insects make up the bulk of the Red-winged Blackbird's diet.
The Red-winged Blackbird is one of 11 species in the genus Agelaius and is included in the family Icteridae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America. The Red-winged Blackbird was originally described as Oriolus phoeniceus by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. but was later moved with the other American blackbirds to
The Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), known as the Black-bellied Plover in North America, is a medium-sized plover breeding in arctic regions. It is a long-distance migrant, with a nearly worldwide coastal distribution when not breeding.
They are 27–30 cm long with a wingspan of 71–83 cm, and a weight of 190–280 g (up to 345 g in preparation for migration). In spring and summer (late April or May to August), the adults are spotted black and white on the back and wings. The face and neck are black with a white border; they have a black breast and a white rump. The tail is white with black barring. The bill and legs are black. They moult to winter plumage in mid August to early September and retain this until April; this being a fairly plain grey above, with a grey-speckled breast and white belly. The juvenile and first-winter plumages, held by young birds from fledging until about one year old, are similar to the adult winter plumage but with the back feathers blacker with creamy white edging. In all plumages, the inner flanks and axillary feathers at the base of the underwing are black, a feature which readily distinguishes it from the other three Pluvialis species in flight. On
Gopher Snake (BullSnake) is a harmless colubrid species found in North America. Six subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here. The specific name catenifer is Latin for 'chain bearing', referring to the dorsal color pattern. This snake is found throughout Kansas, and is most common in the third region. This snake is often mistaken for a diamondback rattlesnake but can be easily distinguished from a rattlesnake by the lack of black and white banding on its tail, and the narrower head it has.
Adults specimens are 36-84 inches (91–213 cm) in length. Dorsally they are yellowish or pale brown, with a series of large dark brown or black blotches, and smaller dark spots on the sides. Ventrally they are yellowish, either uniform or with brown markings.
The Gopher snake has an odd defense mechanism, in which it will puff its body up and curl itself into the classic strike pose of the pit viper genus, but rather than an open mouthed strike, the gopher snake is known for striking with a closed mouth, using its blunt nose to "warn-off" possible predators. It will often also shake its tail to confuse predators into thinking it is a rattle snake. This
The thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), also known as the striped gopher, leopard ground squirrel, squinney, and as the leopard-spermophile in Audubon’s day, is a ground squirrel. It is widely distributed over grasslands and prairies of North America.
It is brownish, with 13 alternating brown and whitish longitudinal lines (sometimes partially broken into spots) on its back and sides, creating rows of whitish spots within dark lines.
This species has usually been placed in the genus Spermophilus with about 40 other species. As this large genus is paraphyletic to prairie dogs, marmots, and antelope squirrels, Kristofer Helgen and colleagues have split it into eight genera, placing the thirteen-lined ground squirrel in Ictidomys with three other species.
The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is strictly diurnal and is especially active on warm days. A solitary or only somewhat colonial hibernator, it often occurs in aggregations in suitable habitats.
In late summer, it puts on a heavy layer of fat and stores some food in its burrow. It enters its nest in October (some adults retire much earlier), rolls into a stiff ball, and decreases its respiration from
Populus deltoides, the eastern cottonwood, is a cottonwood poplar native to North America, growing throughout the eastern, central, and southwestern United States, the southernmost part of eastern Canada, and northeastern Mexico.
Populus deltoides is a large tree growing to 20–40 meters (67–130 feet) tall and with a trunk up to 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) diameter, one of the largest North American hardwood trees. The bark is silvery-white, smooth or lightly fissured when young, becoming dark gray and deeply fissured on old trees. The twigs are grayish-yellow, stout, with large triangular leaf scars. The winter buds are slender, pointed, 1–2 cm long (.039–0.79 inches), yellowish brown, and resinous. The leaves are large, deltoid (triangular), 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 inches) long and 4–11 cm (1.6–4.3 inches) broad with a truncated (flattened) base and a petiole 3–12 cm (1.2–4.7 inches) long. The leaf is very coarsely toothed, the teeth are curved and gland tipped, and the petiole is flat; they are dark green in the summer and turn yellow in the fall (but many cottonwoods in dry locations drop their leaves early from the combination of drought and leaf rust, making their fall color dull or absent).
The Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is a small or medium-sized woodpecker from temperate North America. Their breeding habitat is open country across southern Canada and the eastern-central United States.
The Red-headed Woodpecker was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae. The specific epithet is derived from the Ancient Greek words erythros 'red' and kephalos 'head'.
There are three subspecies recognized:
Adults are strikingly tri-colored, with a black back and tail and a red head and neck. Their underparts are mainly white. The wings are black with white secondary remiges. Adult males and females are identical in plumage. Juveniles are similarly shaded, but are mottled with brown. Non-birders may often mistakenly identify Red-bellied Woodpeckers as Red-headeds, whose range overlaps somewhat with that of the Red-headed woodpecker. While red-bellied woodpeckers have some bright red on the backs of their necks and heads, red-headed woodpeckers have a much deeper red that covers their entire heads and necks, as well as a dramatically different overall plumage pattern.
These are mid-sized woodpeckers. Both
Astragalus canadensis is a common and widespread member of the milkvetch genus in the legume family, known commonly as Canadian milkvetch. The plant is found throughout Canada and the United States in many habitats including wetlands, woodlands, and prairies. It sends out several thin, erect, green stems, bearing leaves that are actually made up of pairs of leaflets, each leaflet up to 3 centimeters in length. It has inflorescences of tubular, greenish-white flowers which yield beanlike fruits within pods that rattle when dry.
Like other Astragalus species, A. canadensis is somewhat toxic, but it has been used medicinally by Native American groups such as the Blackfoot and Lakota people, particularly the roots.
The Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) is a large tyrant flycatcher native to North America.
Adults are grey-black on the upperparts with light underparts; they have a long black tail with a white end and long pointed wings. They have a red patch on their crown, seldom seen. They are of average size for a kingbird, at 19–23 cm (7.5–9 in), 33–38 cm (13–15 in) across the wings and weighing 33-55 g (1.2-1.9 oz).
The call is a high-pitched, buzzing and unmusical chirp, frequently compared to an electric fence.
Their breeding habitat is open areas across North America. They make a sturdy cup nest in a tree or shrub, sometimes on top of a stump or pole. These birds aggressively defend their territory, even against much larger birds.
These birds migrate in flocks to South America. There is one European record, from Ireland in October 2012.
They wait on an open perch and fly out to catch insects in flight, sometimes hovering to pick food off vegetation. They also eat berries and fruit, mainly in their wintering areas.
Some eastern kingbirds place their nests in the open while others hide nests very well. Eastern kingbirds in Southern British Columbia can nest in open fields; in shrubs
The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas. Despite being extirpated from or uncommon in some its former range, the species is still fairly ubiquitous, being present in Eurasia, North America, and parts of Africa. The highest density of nesting Golden Eagles in the world lies in southern Alameda County, California. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks.
Golden Eagles use their agility and speed combined with extremely powerful talons to snatch up a variety of prey, including rabbits, marmots, ground squirrels, and large mammals such as foxes and young ungulates. They will also eat carrion if live prey is scarce, as well as reptiles. Birds, including large species up to the size of swans and cranes have also been recorded as prey. For centuries, this species has been one of the most highly regarded birds used in falconry, with the Eurasian subspecies having been used to hunt and kill unnatural, dangerous prey such as
The longnose sucker, Catostomus catostomus, is a freshwater species of fish inhabiting cold, clear waters in North America from northern USA to the top of the continent. In addition, it is one of two species of sucker to inhabit Asia, specifically the rivers of eastern Siberia. The body of the longnose sucker is long and round with dark olive or grey sides and top and a light underside. They are typically 15 - 25 inches long and weigh between one and two lb.
The longnose sucker is a bottom-feeding fish, eating aquatic plants, algae, and small invertebrates. They are preyed upon by larger predatory fish, such as bass, walleye, trout, northern pike, muskellunge, and burbot. They are fished for game and food and also used as bait to catch the larger predators.
Longnose suckers are often confused with white suckers, as they appear very similar.
Ribes aureum is a species of small to medium-sized deciduous shrubs 2 to 3 meters tall in the genus Ribes. It is native to Canada, most of the United States (except the southeast) and northern Mexico. The species Ribes odoratum is closely related.
It blooms in spring with racemes of conspicuous golden yellow flowers, often with a pronounced fragrance similar to that of cloves or vanilla. Flowers may also be shades of cream to reddish, and are borne in clusters of up to 15. Leaves are green, shaped similarly to gooseberry leaves, turning red in autumn. The shrub produces berries about 1 centimeter in diameter from an early age. Ripe fruits, amber yellow to black in color, are edible. The flowers are also edible.
R. aureum is widely cultivated in average and cold temperate regions, such as California, as an ornamental plant or, more rarely, for fruits. Several named cultivars exist. Although flowers are hermaphrodite, the yield is greatly benefited by cross-pollination. Unlike many other species of currant, R. aureum is remarkably drought-tolerant.
This currant is susceptible to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), a fungus which attacks and kills pines, so it is sometimes
The spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera) is a species of softshell turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America. They get their name from the spiny, cone-like projections on the leading edge of their carapace, which are not scutes (scales).
The spiny softshell has a wide range, extending throughout much of the United States, as well as north into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and south into the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila and Chihuahua.
The species was first described by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in 1827. It has been redescribed numerous times, leading to some confusion in its taxonomy. The recognized subspecies differ in the markings on the carapace, on the sides of the head, and on the feet. However, these markings, which are distinct in hatchlings, fade as the turtles grow larger. Adult females of the various subspecies, which grow larger than males, are not easily distinguishable from one another, and sometimes can only be assigned to a particular subspecies based on geography.
Spiny softshells begin mating between ages 8 and 10. A large female turtle may live up to 50 years. The turtles mate in mid-to-late
Equisetum arvense, the Field Horsetail, Oblivion Horsetail or Common Horsetail, is a herbaceous perennial plant, native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It has separate sterile non-reproductive and fertile spore-bearing stems, growing from a perennial underground rhizomatous stem system. The fertile stems are produced in early spring and are non-photosynthetic, while the green sterile stems start to grow after the fertile stems have wilted, and persist through the summer until the first autumn frosts.
The sterile stems are 10–90 cm tall and 3–5 mm diameter, with jointed segments around 2–5 cm long with whorls of side shoots at the segment joints; the side shoots have a diameter of about 1 mm. Some stems can have as many as 20 segments. The fertile stems are succulent-textured, off-white, 10–25 cm tall and 3–5 mm diameter, with 4–8 whorls of brown scale leaves, and an apical brown spore cone 10–40 mm long and 4–9 mm broad.
It has a very high diploid number of 216 (108 pairs of chromosomes).
The plant contains several substances which can be used medicinally. It is rich in the minerals silicon (10%), potassium, and calcium. The buds are eaten as
The northern pocket gopher, Thomomys talpoides, was first discovered by Lewis and Clark on April 9, 1805 at the mouth of the Knife River, North Dakota. These animals are often rich brown or yellowish brown, but also grayish or closely approaching local soil color and have white markings under chin. They also weigh less than a quarter of a pound (110 grams).
Their habitat consists usually of good soil in meadows or along streams; most often in mountains, but also in lowlands.
A special note about the northern pocket gopher is that it rarely appears above ground; when it does, it rarely ventures more than 2.5 feet from a burrow entrance. Underground, however, they often have tunnels that extend hundreds of feet where they live, store food and mate.
Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leaved purple coneflower, blacksamson echinacea) is a herbaceous plant species in Asteraceae. The plants grow 40 to 70 centimetres (16 to 28 in) tall with spindle-shaped taproots that are often branched. The stems and leaves are moderately to densely hairy.
E. angustifolia blooms late spring to mid summer. It is found growing in dry prairies and barrens with rocky to sandy-clay soils. There are two subspecies: E. a. angustifolia is native from Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the north to New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana in the south, while E. a. strigosa has a more limited range in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.
Many Native American groups used this plant for a variety of medicinal purposes, including pain relief and relief of colds and toothaches.
Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine, Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine, or Western Yellow Pine, is a very large pine tree of variable habit native to western North America, but widespread throughout the temperate world. It was first described by David Douglas in 1826, from eastern Washington near present-day Spokane. It is the official state tree of the State of Montana.
P. ponderosa is a dominant tree in the Kuchler plant association, the Ponderosa shrub forest. Like most western pines, the ponderosa is associated with mountainous topography. It is found on the Black Hills and on foothills and mid-height peaks of the northern, central and southern Rocky Mountains as well as the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, and the Maritime Coast Range Ponderosa Pine forests.
P. ponderosa is a large coniferous evergreen tree. The bark helps to distinguish it from other species. Mature individuals have cinnamon-red bark with black crevices. Younger trees have black to reddish-brown bark. The tree can often be identified by its characteristic long needles that grow in tufts of two or three, depending on subspecies. Its needles are also the only known food of the caterpillars of the gelechiid
The Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) is a medium-sized icterid bird, about 8.5 in (21.6 cm) long. It nests on the ground in open country in western and central North America. It feeds mostly on insects, but also seeds and berries. It has distinctive calls described as watery or flute-like, which distinguish it from the closely related Eastern Meadowlark.
Adults have yellow underparts, with a black "V" on the breast, and white flanks which are streaked with black. Their upper parts are mostly brown, but also have black streaks. These birds have long pointed bills and their heads are striped with light brown and black.
Their breeding habitats are grasslands, prairies, pastures, and abandoned fields, all of which may be found from across western and central North America to northern Mexico. Where their range overlaps with the eastern species, these birds prefer thinner, drier vegetation; the two types of birds generally do not interbreed but do defend territory against one another. Their nests are situated on the ground, and are covered with a roof woven from grass. There may be more than one nesting female in a male's territory. Their nests are sometimes destroyed by mowing
The Wood Duck or Carolina Duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most colourful North American waterfowl.
The Wood Duck is a medium-sized perching duck. A typical adult is from 47 to 54 cm (19 to 21 in) in length with a wingspan of between 66 to 73 cm (26 to 29 in). This is about three-quarters of the length of an adult Mallard. It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata).
The adult male has distinctive multicoloured iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colourful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.
The male's call is a rising whistle, "jeeeeee"; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, "oo-eek," when flushed, and a sharp "cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek" for an alarm call.
Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. Females line their nests with feathers and other soft
The American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a large passerine bird species of the family Corvidae. It is a common bird found throughout much of North America. In the interior of the continent south of the Arctic, it is referred to as simply "the crow."
It is one of several species of corvid that are entirely black, though it can be distinguished from the other two such birds in its range—from the Common Raven (C. corax) by size and behavior and from the Fish Crow (C. ossifragus) by call (but see below). It is also distinguished from the Raven by its smaller, more curved bill than the parallel bill of the raven, and its squared tail.
American Crows are common, widespread and adaptable, but they are highly susceptible to the West Nile Virus. They are monitored as a bioindicator. Direct transmission of the virus from American Crows to humans is not recorded to date, and in any case not considered likely.
Although the American crow and the Hooded crow are very similar in size, structure and behavior, their calls are different. The American crow nevertheless occupies the same role the hooded crow does in Eurasia.
The American Crow was described by Christian Ludwig Brehm in 1822. Its
Rosa arkansana (Prairie Rose or Wild Prairie Rose; syn. R. pratincola, R. suffulta, R. suffulta var. relicta) is a species of rose native to a large area of central North America, between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains from Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan south to New Mexico, Texas and Indiana. There are two varieties:
The name Rosa arkansana comes from the Arkansas River in Colorado. The species' wide distribution and consequent genetic drift has led to an extensive synonymy.
The name Prairie Rose is also sometimes applied to Rosa blanda, also known as the Meadow Rose or Smooth Rose, which is also widely spread, but somewhat further to the north.
Wild Prairie Rose is the state flower of the U.S. states of Iowa and North Dakota. In Iowa, convention states the species is Rosa pratincola (currently treated as a synonym of Rosa arkansana). North Dakota, on the other hand, specifies either Rosa arkansana or Rosa blanda. Alberta's "wild rose" is Rosa acicularis.
Rosa arkansana is grown as an ornamental plant, and has become naturalized in parts of Massachusetts, New York, and North Dakota.
The Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) is a large, conspicuous water kingfisher, the only member of that group commonly found in the northern United States and Canada. It is depicted on the 1986 series Canadian $5 note. All kingfishers were formerly placed in one family, Alcedinidae, but recent research suggests that this should be divided into three. All six New World kingfishers, together with three Old World species, make up the new family Cerylidae.
The Belted Kingfisher is a stocky, medium-sized bird that measures between 28–35 cm (11–14 in) in length with a wingspan of between 48–58 cm (19–23 in). This kingfisher can weigh from 113 to 178 g (4.0 to 6.3 oz). The adult female averages slightly larger than the adult male.
This species has a large head with a shaggy crest. Its long, heavy bill is black with a grey base. These features are common in many kingfisher species. This kingfisher shows reverse sexual dimorphism, with the female more brightly coloured than the male. Both sexes have a slate blue head, large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts. The back and wings are slate blue with black feather tips with little white dots. The female
The Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) or Northern Harrier (in the Americas) is a bird of prey. It breeds throughout the northern parts of the northern hemisphere in Canada and the northernmost USA, and in northern Eurasia. This species is polytypic, with two subspecies. Marsh Hawk is a historical name for the American form.
It migrates to more southerly areas in winter. Eurasian birds move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia, and American breeders to the southernmost USA, Mexico, and Central America. In the mildest regions, such as France, Great Britain, and the southern US, Hen Harriers may be present all year, but the higher ground is largely deserted in winter.
The Hen Harrier is 41–52 cm (16–20 in) long with a 97–122 cm (38–48 in) wingspan. It resembles other harriers in having distinct male and female plumages. The sexes also differ in weight, with males weighing 290 to 400 g (10 to 14 oz), with an average of 350 g (12 oz), and females weighing 390 to 750 g (14 to 26 oz), with an average of 530 g (19 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 32.8 to 40.6 cm (12.9 to 16.0 in), the tail is 19.3 to 25.8 cm (7.6 to 10.2 in) and the tarsus is 7.1 to 8.9 cm (2.8 to
The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as Great White Egret, Common Egret, Large Egret or Great White Heron, is a large, widely-distributed egret. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, in southern Europe it is rather localized. In North America it is more widely distributed, and it is ubiquitous across the Sun Belt of the United States and in the rainforests of South America. It is sometimes confused with the Great White Heron of the Caribbean, which is a white morph of the closely related Great Blue Heron (A. herodias). Note, however, that the name Great White Heron has occasionally been used to refer to the Great Egret.
The Great Egret is a large heron with all-white plumage. Standing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, this species can measure 80 to 104 cm (31 to 41 in) in length and have a wingspan of 131 to 170 cm (52 to 67 in). Body mass can range from 700 to 1,500 g (1.5 to 3.3 lb), with an average of around 1,000 g (2.2 lb). It is thus only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Heron (A. cinerea). Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the
Mimulus guttatus, the Common monkey-flower, is a yellow bee-pollinated annual or perennial herbaceous wildflower that grows along the banks of streams and seeps in western North America.
A highly variable plant, taking many forms, it is a species complex in that there is room to treat some of its forms as different species by some definitions. Mimulus guttatus is 10 to 80 cm tall with disproportionately large, 20 to 40 mm long, tubular flowers. The perennial form spreads with stolons or rhizomes. The stem may be erect or recumbent. In the latter form, roots may develop at leaf nodes. Sometimes dwarfed, it may be hairless or have some hairs. Leaves are opposite, round to oval, usually coarsely and irregularly toothed or lobed. The bright yellow flowers are born on a raceme, most often with five or more flowers. The calyx has five lobes that are much shorter than the flower. Each flower has bilateral symmetry and has two lips. The upper lip usually has two lobs; the lower, three. The lower lip may have one large to many small red to reddish brown spots. The opening to the flower is hairy.
Both annual and perennial forms occur throughout the species' range. It is found in a wide range
Purshia (bitterbrush or cliff-rose) is a small genus of 5-8 species of flowering plants in the family Rosaceae, native to western North America, where they grow in dry climates from southeast British Columbia in Canada south throughout the western United States to northern Mexico. The classification of Purshia within the Rosaceae has been unclear. The genus was originally placed in the subfamily Rosoideae, but is now placed in subfamily Dryadoideae.
They are deciduous or evergreen shrubs, typically reaching 0.3-5 m tall. The leaves are small, 1-3 cm long, deeply three- to five-lobed, with revolute margins. The flowers are 1-2 cm diameter, with five white to pale yellow or pink petals and yellow stamens. The fruit is a cluster of dry, slender, leathery achenes 2-6 cm long. The roots have root nodules that host the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Frankia.
The evergreen species were treated separately in the genus Cowania in the past; this genus is still accepted by some botanists.
The Common Raven (Corvus corax), also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids. There are at least eight subspecies with little variation in appearance—although recent research has demonstrated significant genetic differences among populations from various regions. It is one of the two largest corvids, alongside the Thick-billed Raven, and is possibly the heaviest passerine bird; at maturity, the Common Raven averages 63 centimetres (25 inches) in length and 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) in mass. Common Ravens can live up to 21 years in the wild, a lifespan exceeded among passerines by only a few Australasian species such as the Satin Bowerbird and probably the lyrebirds. Young birds may travel in flocks but later mate for life, with each mated pair defending a territory.
The Common Raven has coexisted with humans for thousands of years and in some areas have been so numerous that they are considered a pest. Part of its success comes from its omnivorous diet; Common Ravens are extremely versatile and opportunistic in finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion,
The American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), also known as the Eastern Goldfinch and Wild Canary, is a small North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter.
The only finch in its subfamily that undergoes a complete molt, the American Goldfinch displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant yellow in the summer and an olive color during the winter months, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade which brightens only slightly during the summer. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate.
The American Goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for the consumption of seedheads, with a conical beak to remove the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads while feeding. It is a social bird, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. It may behave territorially during nest construction, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is tied to the peak of food supply, beginning in late July, which is relatively late in the year for a finch.
The American Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) is a member of the passerine bird family Hirundinidae — the swallows and martins.
It breeds in North America and is migratory, wintering in western South America from Venezuela southwards to northeast Argentina. This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.
This bird averages 13 cm (5 inches) long with a tiny bill. The adult Cliff Swallow has an iridescent blue back and crown, brown wings and tail, and buff rump. The nape and forehead are white. The underparts are white except for a red face. The tail is square-ended.
Young birds are essentially brown above and whitish below, except for the buff rump and dark face. The only confusion species is the closely related Cave Swallow, which is richer in colour and has a cinnamon rump and forehead.
Like all swallows and martins, Cliff Swallows subsist primarily on a diet of insects which are caught in flight.
American Cliff Swallows breed in large colonies. They build conical mud nests and lay 3-6 eggs. The natural nest sites are on cliffs, preferably beneath overhangs, but as with the Eurasian House Martin, man-made structures are now the principal locations for breeding.
The Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) is a fairly large American sparrow. It is the only member of the genus Chondestes.
This passerine bird breeds in southern Canada, much of the United States, and northern Mexico. It is much less common in the east, where its range is contracting. The populations in Mexico and adjacent states of the United States are resident, but other birds are migratory, wintering in the southern United States, Mexico and south to Guatemala.
It is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, with two accepted records in Great Britain in 1981 and 1991.
Lark Sparrow is distinctive. Adults have a typically sparrow-like dark-streaked brown back, and white underparts except for a dark central spot. The cheeks and crown sides are chestnut, with white eyebrow and crown stripes. The dark tail's corners are also white. Young Lark Sparrows are duller, and the underparts are streaked.
These birds forage on the ground or in low bushes. They mainly eat seeds, but insects, including grasshoppers are also eaten in the breeding season. They form flocks on migration or in winter.
The breeding habitat is a variety of open habitats including grasslands and cultivation. Lark Sparrows
Oenothera caespitosa, known commonly as tufted evening primrose and fragrant evening primrose, is a perennial plant of the genus Oenothera native to much of western and central North America. It produces a rosette of lobed or toothed leaves each up to 36 centimeters long around a woody caudex.
There are many subtaxa, referred to as subspecies or varieties.
Oenothera caespitosa grows to 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall. It is good for rock gardens. The flowers are white and become pink in time.
The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), sometimes colloquially known as the Sparrow Hawk, is a small falcon, and the only kestrel found in the Americas. It is the most common falcon in North America, and is found in a wide variety of habitats. At 19–21 centimeters (7–8 in) long, it is also the smallest falcon in North America. It exhibits sexual dimorphism in size and plumage, although both sexes have a rufous back with noticeable barring. Juveniles are similar in plumage to adults.
The American Kestrel hunts by hovering in the air with rapid wing beats or perching and scanning the ground for prey. Its diet typically consists of grasshoppers, lizards, mice, and other small birds. It nests in cavities in trees, cliffs, buildings, and other structures. The female lays three to seven eggs, which both sexes help to incubate. It is a common bird to be used in falconry, especially by beginners.
Its breeding range extends from central and western Alaska across northern Canada to Nova Scotia, and south throughout North America, into central Mexico and the Caribbean. It is a local breeder in Central America and is widely distributed throughout South America. Most birds breeding in Canada
Cleome serrulata (Rocky Mountain beeweed, Rocky Mountain bee-plant, spider-flower, stinking-clover, Navajo spinach) is a species of Cleome, native to western North America from southern British Columbia, east to Minnesota and Illinois, and south to New Mexico and northernmost California. It is also naturalized further east in North America.
It is an annual plant growing to 10-150 cm (4-60 in) tall, with spirally arranged leaves. The leaves are trifoliate, with three slender leaflets each 1-7 cm (0.4-2.75 in) long. The flowers are reddish-purple, pink, or white, with four petals and six long stamens. The fruit is a capsule 3-6cm (1-2.4 in) long containing several seeds.
In 1817, Frederick Traugott Pursh described this species in the first volume of Flora Americae Septentrionalis.
In the first volume of Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis in 1824 Augustin Pyramus de Candolle moved this species into his idea of what the genus Peritoma should be, calling it Peritoma serrulatum.
In 1901, Edward Lee Greene built a genus of Cleome species based on Candolle's Peritoma, including this species as Peritoma serrulatum DC. and Peritoma lutem Raf. Other species that were included
Juniperus communis, the Common Juniper, is a species in the genus Juniperus, in the family Cupressaceae. It has the largest range of any woody plant, throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic south in mountains to around 30°N latitude in North America, Europe and Asia.
Juniperus communis is a shrub or small coniferous evergreen tree, very variable and often a low spreading shrub, but occasionally reaching 10 m tall. Common Juniper has needle-like leaves in whorls of three; the leaves are green, with a single white stomatal band on the inner surface. It is dioecious, with male and female cones on separate plants, which are wind pollinated.
The seed cones are berry-like, green ripening in 18 months to purple-black with a blue waxy coating; they are spherical, 4–12 mm diameter, and usually have three (occasionally six) fused scales, each scale with a single seed. The seeds are dispersed when birds eat the cones, digesting the fleshy scales and passing the hard seeds in their droppings. The male cones are yellow, 2–3 mm long, and fall soon after shedding their pollen in March–April.
As to be expected from the wide range, J. communis is very variable, with
Miscanthus sinensis (Chinese silver grass, Eulalia grass, maiden grass, zebra grass, Susuki grass, porcupine grass; syn. Eulalia japonica Trin., Miscanthus sinensis f. glaber Honda, Miscanthus sinensis var. gracillimus Hitchc., Miscanthus sinensis var. variegatus Beal, Miscanthus sinensis var. zebrinus Beal, Saccharum japonicum Thunb.) is a grass native to eastern Asia throughout most of China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea.
It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 0.8–2 m (rarely 4 m) tall, forming dense clumps from an underground rhizome. The leaves are 18–75 cm tall and 0.3–2 cm broad. The flowers are purplish, held above the foliage.
It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions around the world.
It has become an invasive species in parts of North America. However, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of escape or hybridization with extant wild M. sinensis populations with breeding and proper management.
Several cultivars have been selected, including Strictus with narrow growth habit, Variegata with white margins, and Zebrina with horizontal yellow and green stripes across the leaves.
M. sinensis is a candidate for bioenergy production due to its high
The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family (Columbidae). The bird is also called the Turtle Dove or the American Mourning Dove or Rain Dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina Pigeon or Carolina Turtledove. It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also the leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure stems from its prolific breeding: in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods a year. Its plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name. The wings can make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).
Mourning Doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning Doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents.
The Mourning Dove is closely related to the Eared
The beaver (genus Castor) is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American beaver (Castor canadensis) (native to North America) and Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) (Eurasia). Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges (homes). They are the second-largest rodent in the world (after the capybara). Their colonies create one or more dams to provide still, deep water to protect against predators, and to float food and building material. The North American beaver population was once more than 60 million, but as of 1988 was 6–12 million. This population decline is due to extensive hunting for fur, for glands used as medicine and perfume, and because their harvesting of trees and flooding of waterways may interfere with other land uses.
Beavers are known for their natural trait of building dams on rivers and streams, and building their homes (known as "lodges") in the resulting pond. Beavers also build canals to float build materials that are difficult to haul over land. They use powerful front teeth to cut trees and other plants that they use both for building and for food. In the absence of existing ponds, beavers must
The Great Horned Owl, (Bubo virginianus), also known as the Tiger Owl, is a large owl native to the Americas. It is an adaptable bird with a vast range and is the most widely distributed true owl in the Americas.
Great Horned Owls are the heaviest extant owl in Central and South America and are the second heaviest owl in North America, after the closely related but very different looking Snowy Owl (B. scandiacus). They range in length from 43–64 cm (17–25 in) and have a wingspan of 91–153 cm (36–60 in). Females are invariably somewhat larger than males. An average adult is around 55 cm (22 in) long with a 124 cm (49 in) wingspan and weighing about 1.4 kg (3.1 lb). Depending on subspecies, Great Horned Owls can weigh from 0.6 to 2.6 kg (1.3 to 5.7 lb). Among standard measurements, the tail measures 17.5–25 cm (6.9–9.8 in) long, the wing chord measures 31.3–40 cm (12.3–16 in), the tarsal length is 5.4–8 cm (2.1–3.1 in) and the bill is 3.3–5.2 cm (1.3–2.0 in).
There is considerable variation in plumage coloration but not in body shape. These are heavily built, barrel-shaped birds, and have large heads and broad wings. Adults have large ear tufts and are the only very large owl in
The Passenger Pigeon or Wild Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is an extinct North America bird. The species lived in enormous migratory flocks until the early 20th century, when hunting and habitat destruction led to its demise. One flock in 1866 in southern Ontario was described as being 1 mile (1.5 kilometres) wide and 300 miles (500 kilometres) long, took 14 hours to pass, and held in excess of 3.5 billion birds. That number, if accurate, would likely represent a large fraction of the entire population at the time.
Some estimate that there were 3 billion to 5 billion Passenger Pigeons in the United States when Europeans arrived in North America. Others argue that the species had not been common in the Pre-Columbian period, but their numbers grew when devastation of the American Indian population by European diseases led to reduced competition for food.
The species went from being one of the most abundant birds in the world during the 19th century to extinction early in the 20th century. At the time, Passenger Pigeons had one of the largest groups or flocks of any animal, second only to the Rocky Mountain locust.
Some reduction in numbers occurred from habitat loss when Europeans
Richardson's ground squirrel (Urocitellus richardsonii), or the flickertail, is a North American ground squirrel in the genus Urocitellus. Like a number of other ground squirrels, they are sometimes called "Dak Rats" or "gophers", though this name belongs more strictly to the pocket gophers of family Geomyidae.
This squirrel was named after the Scottish naturalist Sir John Richardson. The Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington, Alberta, Canada, has a large selection of stuffed ground squirrels of many varieties and colors. North Dakota is nicknamed the Flickertail state after the squirrel.
Native to the short grass prairies, Richardson's ground squirrel is found mainly in the northern states of the United States, such as North Dakota, and in southern Canada, such as southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan. The range of this animal expanded as forests were cleared to create farm land. They are not simply restricted to prairie; sometimes adapting to suburban environments, causing them to be seen as pests because of the burrows they dig. It is not unusual to find squirrels digging tunnels under the sidewalks and patios of urban homes.
Typical adults are about 30 centimetres (12 in) long.
The sauger (Sander canadensis) is a freshwater perciform fish of the family Percidae which resembles its close relative the walleye. They are members of the largest vertebrate order, Perciforms. They are the most migratory percid species in North America. Saugers obtain two dorsal fins, the first is spiny and the posterior dorsal fin is a soft-rayed fin. Their paired fins are in the thoracic position and their caudal fin is truncated which means squared off at the corners, a characteristic of the Percidae family. Another physical characteristic of Saugers are their Ctenoid scales which is common in advanced fishes. Saugers have a fusiform body structure, and as a result saugers are well adapted predatory fishes and are capable of swimming into fast currents with minimal drag on their bodies. They may be distinguished from walleyes by the distinctly spotted dorsal fin, by the lack of a white splotch on the caudal fin, by the rough skin over their gill, and by their generally more brassy color, or darker (almost black) color in some regions. The average sauger in an angler's creel is 300 to 400 g (0.75 to 1 lbs) in weight.
Saugers are a widely distributed fish species. Their
The bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to 30 pounds (14 kg), while the sheep themselves weigh up to 300 pounds (140 kg). Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae. Sheep originally crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge from Siberia: the population in North America peaked in the millions, and the bighorn sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americans. However, by 1900 the population had crashed to several thousand. Conservation efforts (in part by the Boy Scouts) have restored the population.
Ovis canadensis is one of three species of mountain sheep in North America and Siberia; the other two species being Ovis dalli, which includes Dall Sheep and Stone's Sheep, and the Siberian snow sheep Ovis nivicola. Wild sheep crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia during the Pleistocene (~750,000 years ago) and subsequently spread through western North America as far south as Baja California and northwestern mainland Mexico. Divergence from their closest Asian ancestor (snow
Bearberries are three species of dwarf shrubs in the genus Arctostaphylos. Unlike the other species of Arctostaphylos (see Manzanita), they are adapted to Arctic and Subarctic climates, and have a circumpolar distribution in northern North America, Asia and Europe, one with a small highly disjunctive population in Central America.
The name "bearberry" for the plant derives from the edible fruit which is a favorite food of bears. The fruit, also called bearberries, are edible and are sometimes gathered for food. The leaves of the plant are used in herbal medicine.
Other recorded old English common names include Arberry, Bear's Grape, Crowberry, Foxberry, Hog Cranberry, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Mountain Box, Mountain Cranberry, Mountain Tobacco, Sandberry, Upland Cranberry, Uva-ursi.
The plant contains arbutin, ursolic acid, tannic acid, gallic acid, some essential oil and resin, hydroquinones (mainly arbutin, up to 17%), tannins (up to 15%), phenolic glycosides and flavonoids.
The leaves are picked any time during the summer and dried for use in infusions, liquid extracts, medicinal tea bags and tablets believed to be potentially effective in folk medicine.
Bearberry appears to be
The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is a wild goose with a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brownish-gray body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, it is occasionally found in northern Europe, and has been introduced to other temperate regions.
The Canada Goose was one of the many species described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae. It belongs to the Branta genus of geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey species of the Anser genus. The specific epithet canadensis is a New Latin word meaning "from Canada". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first citation for the 'Canada Goose' dates back to 1772. The Canada Goose is also referred to as the Canadian Goose, although that name is discouraged.
The Cackling Goose was originally considered to be the same species or a subspecies of the Canada Goose, but in July 2004 the American Ornithologists' Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature split the two into two species, making Cackling Goose into a full species with the scientific name Branta hutchinsii. The British Ornithologists' Union followed
The Greater Prairie Chicken or Pinnated Grouse, Tympanuchus cupido, is a large bird in the grouse family. This North American species was once abundant, but has become extremely rare or extinct over much of its range due to habitat loss. There are current efforts to help this species gain the numbers that it once had. One of the most famous aspects of these creatures is the mating ritual called booming.
Adults of both sexes are medium sized, stocky, with round-wings. They have short tails which are typically rounded and dark in color. Adult males have orange comb-like feathers over their eyes and dark, elongated head feathers that can be raised or lain along neck. They also possess a circular, un-feathered neck patch can be inflated while displaying, this like their comb feathers is also orange. As with many other bird species the adult females have shorter head feathers and also lack the male's yellow comb and orange neck patch.
There are three subspecies;
Greater Prairie Chickens prefer undisturbed prairie and were originally found in tall grass prairies. They can tolerate agricultural land mixed with prairie, but the more agricultural land, the fewer prairie-chickens. Their diet
The striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is an omnivorous mammal of the skunk family Mephitidae. Found over most of the North American continent north of Mexico, it is one of the best-known mammals in Canada and the United States.
The striped skunk has a black body with a white stripe along each side of its body; the two stripes join into a broader white area at the nape. Its forehead has a narrow white stripe. Similar in size to a house cat, this species is the heaviest species of skunk, though it is not as long (in body or tail length) as the American hog-nosed skunk. Adult specimens can weighs variously from 2.5 to 15 lb (1.1 to 6.8 kg), although the average weight is 6–8 lb (2.7–3.6 kg). This species' head-and-body length (excluding the tail) is 13 to 18 in (33 to 46 cm). Males tend to be around 10% larger than females. The bushy tail is 7 to 10 in (18 to 25 cm), and sometimes has a white tip. The presence of a striped skunk is often first made apparent by its odor. It has well-developed anal scent glands (characteristic of all skunks) that can emit a highly unpleasant odor when the skunk feels threatened by another animal.
The striped skunk is widespread throughout North America.
The cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the puma, mountain lion, or catamount, is a mammal of the family Felidae, native to the Americas. This large, solitary cat has the greatest range of any large 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 Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar. Although large, the cougar is most closely related to smaller felines and is closer genetically to the domestic cat than to true lions. Like the smaller felines, the cougar is nocturnal.
A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can also live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and survives at low population densities. Individual territory
The northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda) is the largest shrew in the genus Blarina, and occurs in the northeastern region of North America. It is a semifossorial, highly active and voracious insectivore present in a variety of habitats. It is one of the few venomous mammals. The specific epithet, brevicauda, is a combination of the Latin brevis and cauda, meaning "short tail".
B. brevicauda is a red-toothed shrew, one of three or four species (depending on the authority) in the genus Blarina. It was formerly considered to be a sister subspecies of the southern short-tailed shrew (Blarina carolinensis). The species has been divided into 11 subspecies based on morphological characteristics, which are grouped into two semispecies: brevicauda and talpoides. These groupings were mirrored by a molecular systematics study of the mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence. The two groups of subspecies are thought to have been kept isolated from each other by Pleistocene glaciers.
This shrew has a total length of 108 to 140 mm (4.3 to 5.5 inches), of which 18 to 32 mm (0.7 to 1.3 inches) is tail; it weighs 15 to 30 grams (0.5 to 1.1 ounces). The northern short-tailed shrew exhibits
Prunus pensylvanica, also known as bird cherry, fire cherry, pin cherry, and red cherry, is a North American cherry species in the genus Prunus.
Prunus pensylvanica can be found from Newfoundland and southern Labrador, crossing Canada to the west and reaching British Columbia and the southern Northwest Territories. Additionally it is very common in New England and the Great Lakes region but not very common south of Pennsylvania, where it is found only sporadically in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee. Scattered growth of the Pin cherry also occurs in the Rocky Mountains, south to Colorado and southeast to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Prunus pensylvanica, grows as a shrub or small tree, usually with a straight trunk and a narrow, round-topped crown. It grows 5–15 m (15–50 ft) tall and 10–51 cm (4-20 inches) in diameter. Trees up to 30 m (100 ft) tall have been found growing in the southern Appalachians, with the largest found on the western slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains. Its foliage is thin, with leaves 4–11 cm (1.5-4.3 inches) long and 1-4.5 cm (0.5-1.75 inches) wide. Flowers occur in small groupings of five to seven with individual
Thuja plicata, commonly called Western or Pacific redcedar, giant or western arborvitae, giant cedar, or shinglewood, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae native to western North America. Despite its common names, it does not belong with the true cedars within the genus Cedrus. It is the Provincial tree of British Columbia, and has extensive applications for the indigenous First Nations of the Pacific Northwest.
It is a large to very large tree, ranging up to 65–70 metres (213–230 ft) tall and 3–4 metres (9.8–13 ft) in trunk diameter, exceptionally even larger. Trees growing in the open may have a crown that reaches the ground, whereas trees densely spaced together will only exhibit a crown at the top, where light can reach the leaves. It is long-lived; some individuals can live well over a thousand years, with the oldest verified being 1,460 years.
The foliage forms flat sprays with scale-like leaves in opposite pairs, with successive pairs at 90° to each other. The foliage sprays are green above, and green marked with whitish stomatal bands below; they are strongly aromatic, with a scent reminiscent of pineapple when crushed. The
The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semiaquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats. It has important effects on the ecology of wetlands and is a resource of food and fur for humans. It is an introduced species in some of its present range.
The muskrat is the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae, which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings. Muskrats are referred to as "rats" in a general sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle and an omnivorous diet. They are not, however, so-called "true rats", that is, members of the genus Rattus.
The muskrat's name probably comes by folk etymology from a word of Algonquin origin, muscascus, (literally "it is red", so called for its colorings) or from the Abenaki native word mòskwas as seen in the archaic English name for the animal, musquash. Due to the association with the "musky" odor which the muskrat uses to mark its territory and its rat-like appearance, the name became altered to muskrat.
Two forms of black-tailed deer or blacktail deer occupying coastal temperate rainforest on North America's Pacific coast are subspecies of the mule deer. They have sometimes been treated as a species, but virtually all recent authorities maintain they are subspecies. The Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) is found in western North America, from Northern California into the Pacific Northwest and coastal British Columbia. The Sitka deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) is found coastally in British Columbia, Southeast Alaska and Southcentral Alaska (as far as Kodiak Island).
Black-tailed deer once lived at least as far east as Wyoming. In Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail, an eyewitness account of his 1846 trek across the early West, while within a two-day ride from Fort Laramie, Parkman writes of shooting what he believes to be an elk, only to discover he has killed a black-tailed deer.
The black-tailed deer is currently common in northern California, western Oregon, Washington, in coastal and interior British Columbia, and north into the Alaskan panhandle. It is a popular game animal.
Though it has been argued that the black-tailed deer is a species,
The eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is a New World cottontail rabbit, a member of the family Leporidae. It is one of the most common rabbit species in North America.
The eastern cottontail can be found in meadows and shrubby areas in the eastern and south-central United States, southern Canada, eastern Mexico, Central America and northernmost South America. It is abundant in Midwest North America, and has been found in New Mexico and Arizona. Its range expanded north as forests were cleared by settlers. Originally, it was not found in New England, but it has been introduced there and now competes for habitat there with the native New England cottontail. In the mid-1960s, the Eastern cottontail was introduced to northern Italy, where it displayed a rapid territorial expansion and increase in population density.
Optimal eastern cottontail habitat includes open grassy areas, clearings, and old fields supporting abundant green grasses and herbs, with shrubs in the area or edges for cover. The essential components of eastern cottontail habitat are an abundance of well-distributed escape cover (dense shrubs) interspersed with more open foraging areas such as grasslands and
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North and Central America as well as the Caribbean and the Galápagos Islands. It is a rare vagrant to Europe, with records from Spain, the Azores, England and the Netherlands. An all-white population found only in the Caribbean and southern Florida was once treated as a separate species and known as the Great White Heron.
The Great Blue Heron was one of the many species originally described by Carolus Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae.
The Great Blue Heron is replaced in the Old World by the very similar Grey Heron, which differs in being somewhat smaller (90–98 cm), with a pale gray neck and legs, lacking the browner colors that Great Blue Heron has there. It forms a superspecies with this and also with the Cocoi Heron from South America, which differs in having more extensive black on the head, and a white breast and neck.
There are five subspecies:
It is the largest North American heron and, among all extant herons, it is surpassed only by the Goliath Heron and the White-bellied Heron. It has head-to-tail
Gutierrezia sarothrae is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family known by the common names broom snakeweed and perennial matchweed. It is native to much of the western half of North America, from central Canada to northern Mexico. It can be found in a number of desert, grassland, and mountain habitats.
This is a dense, bushy subshrub reaching maximum heights around a meter. The multibranched stems and twigs are greenish or tan when young and age to woody brown. There are scattered narrow to thready leaves along the branches.
The plant flowers abundantly in inflorescences of a few flowers each. The flower is about a centimeter long and bright golden yellow with a center of a few long, protruding disc florets and a fringe of ray florets. The plant is toxic to livestock in large quantities, due mainly to the presence of saponins and concentrated selenium.
Native Americans on the Great Plains bound the stems together to make brooms. A tea made from the leaves was used to treat rheumatism, stomach ache, and snakebite in humans, and coughs and loose bowels in horses.
Liatris aspera also known as the lacerate, rough, tall or prairie blazing star is a wildflower that is found the mid to eastern United States in habitats that range from mesic to dry prairie and dry savanna.
It grows to two to four feet. The flowers are an erect spike with numerous, purple, button-like, stalkless flower heads blooming from the top down. Leaves are alternate, numerous, rough, and narrow along the entire stem. It flowers from mid-August through September, with seed becoming ripe in October to November. One of the many plants and animals Meriwether Lewis and William Clark discovered on their journey to get to the Pacific Ocean.
The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus Greek hali = salt, aeetus = eagle, leuco = white, cephalis = head) is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird of the United States of America and appears on its Seal. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
Its diet consists mainly of fish, but it is an opportunistic feeder. It hunts fish by swooping down and snatching them out of the water with its talons. It is sexually mature at four years or five years of age. The Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any North American bird, up to 4 meters (13 ft) deep, 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) wide, and one metric ton (1.1 tons) in weight.
The adult Bald Eagle is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are larger than males. The beak is large and hooked. The plumage of the immature is brown. Bald Eagles are not actually bald, the name derives from the older meaning of the
The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was the only parrot species native to the eastern United States. It was found from southern New York and Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico, and lived in old forests along rivers. It is the only species classified in the genus Conuropsis. It was called puzzi la née ("head of yellow") or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kelinky in Chickasaw.
The Carolina Parakeet's habitats were forests along rivers, with large hollow trees to use as roosting and nesting sites. It mostly ate the seeds of forest shrubs and other plants (such as thistles) and also ate fruits (often from orchards by the time of its decline).
Carolina Parakeets were probably poisonous—John James Audubon noted that cats apparently died from eating them, and they are known to have eaten the toxic seeds of cockleburs.
According to a study of mitochondrial DNA recovered from museum specimens, their closest living relatives include the Sun Parakeet, the Golden-capped Parakeet, and the Nanday Parakeet.
The last known wild specimen was killed in Okeechobee County, Florida, in 1904, and the last captive bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918. This was the male specimen
Juniperus horizontalis (Creeping Juniper or Creeping cedar) is a low-growing shrubby juniper native to northern North America, throughout most of Canada from Yukon east to Newfoundland, and in the United States in Alaska, and locally from Montana east to Maine, reaching its furthest south in Wyoming and northern Illinois.
It lives up to both its scientific and common names, reaching only 10-30 cm tall but often spreading several metres wide. The shoots are slender, 0.7-1.2 mm diameter. The leaves are arranged in opposite decussate pairs, or occasionally in whorls of three; the adult leaves are scale-like, 1-2 mm long (to 8 mm on lead shoots) and 1-1.5 mm broad. The juvenile leaves (on young seedlings only) are needle-like, 5-10 mm long. The cones are berry-like, globose to bilobed, 5-7 mm in diameter, dark blue with a pale blue-white waxy bloom, and contain two seeds (rarely one or three); they usually have a curved stem and are mature in about 18 months. The male cones are 2-4 mm long, and shed their pollen in early spring. It is dioecious, producing cones of only one sex on each plant.
It is closely related to Juniperus virginiana, and often hybridizes with it where their ranges
The long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), also known as the bridled weasel or big stoat is a species of mustelid distributed from southern Canada throughout all the United States and Mexico, southward through all of Central America and into northern South America.
The long-tailed weasel is the product of a process begun 5–7 million years ago, when northern forests were replaced by open grassland, thus prompting an explosive evolution of small, burrowing rodents. The long-tailed weasel's ancestors were larger than the current form, and underwent a reduction in size to exploit the new food source. The long-tailed weasel arose in North America 2 million years ago, shortly before the stoat evolved as its mirror image in Eurasia. The species thrived during the Ice Age, as its small size and long body allowed it to easily operate beneath snow, as well as hunt in burrows. The long-tailed weasel and the stoat remained separated until half a million years ago, when falling sea levels exposed the Bering land bridge, thus allowing the stoat to cross into North America. However, unlike the latter species, the long-tailed weasel never crossed the land bridge, and did not spread into
The Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), also known as the Blue Goose, is a North American species of goose. Its name derives from the typically white plumage. The genus of this bird is disputed. The American Ornithologists' Union and BirdLife International place this species and the other "white geese" in the Chen genus, while other authorities follow the traditional treatment of placing these species in the "gray goose" genus Anser.
This goose breeds north of the timberline in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and winters in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico. It is a rare vagrant to Europe, but a frequent escape from collections and an occasional feral breeder. Snow Geese are visitors to the British Isles where they are seen regularly among flocks of Barnacle, Brent and Greenland White-fronted geese. There is also a feral population in Scotland from which many vagrant birds in Britain seem to derive.
In Central America, vagrants are frequently encountered during winter.
The Snow Goose has two color plumage morphs, white (snow) or gray/blue (blue), thus the common description as
The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States (all but five of the states), Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru. It has also been introduced to New Zealand and some countries in Europe, such as Finland, Czech Republic, and Serbia. In the Americas, it is the most widely distributed wild ungulate.
In North America, the species is most common east of the Rocky Mountains, and is absent from much of the western United States, including Nevada, Utah, California, Hawaii, and Alaska (though its close relatives, the black-tailed or mule deer Odocoileus hemionus, can be found there). While black-tailed deer prefer rough, open areas with hills, the white-tailed deer is a woodland species. It does, however, survive in aspen parklands and deciduous river bottomlands within the central and northern Great Plains, and in mixed deciduous riparian corridors, river valley bottomlands, and lower foothills of the northern Rocky Mountain regions from South Dakota and Wyoming to southeastern British Columbia, including the Montana Valley and Foothill
The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a member of the family Bombycillidae or waxwing family of passerine birds. It breeds in open wooded areas in North America, principally southern Canada and the northern United States.
Cedar waxwings are approximately 6–7 in (15–18 cm) long and weigh roughly 30 grams. They are smaller and more brown than their close relative, the Bohemian Waxwing (which breeds farther to the north and west).
These birds' most prominent feature is a small cluster of bright red feathers on the wings, a feature they share with the Bohemian Waxwing (but not the Japanese Waxwing). The tail is typically yellow or orange depending on diet. Birds that have fed on berries of introduced Eurasian honeysuckles while growing tail feathers will have darker orange-tipped tail-feathers. Adults have a pale yellow belly. Immature birds are streaked on the throat and flanks, and often do not have the black mask of the adults.
During courtship the male and female will sit together and pass small objects back and forth, such as flower petals or an insect. Mating pairs will sometimes rub their beaks together affectionately.
The flight of waxwings is strong and direct, and the
The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the diverse Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which was originally derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of Wild Turkey (not the related Ocellated Turkey).
Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green legs. The body feathers are generally blackish and dark brown overall with a coppery sheen that becomes more complex in adult males. Males, called toms or gobblers, have a large, featherless, reddish head, red throat, and red wattles on the throat and neck. The head has fleshy growths called caruncles. When males are excited, a fleshy flap on the bill expands, and this, the wattles and the bare skin of the head and neck all become engorged with blood, almost concealing the eyes and bill. The long fleshy object over a male's beak is called a snood. When a male turkey is excited, its head turns blue; when ready to fight, it turns red. Each foot has three toes, and males have a spur behind each of their lower legs.
Male turkeys have a long, dark, fan-shaped tail and glossy bronze wings. As with many other species of the Galliformes, turkeys exhibit
The American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae. This avocet has long, thin, gray legs, giving it its colloquial name, "blue shanks". The plumage is black and white on the back with white on the underbelly. The neck and head are cinnamon colored in the summer and gray in the winter. The long, thin bill is upturned at the end. The adult bird measures 40–51 cm (16–20 in) in length, 68–76 cm (27–30 in) and 275–420 g (9.7–15 oz) in weight.
The breeding habitat is marshes, beaches, prairie ponds, and shallow lakes in the mid-west and on the Pacific coast of North America. American avocets form breeding colonies numbering dozens of pairs. When breeding is over the birds gather in large flocks, sometimes including hundreds of birds. Nesting occurs near water, usually on small islands or boggy shorelines where access by predators is difficult. The female lays four eggs in a saucer-shaped nest, and both sexes take turns incubating them. Upon hatching, the chicks feed themselves; they are never fed by their parents.
This species is migratory, and mostly winters on the southern Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico and the United
The Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris), called the Shore Lark in Europe, is a species of bird in the genus Eremophila.
Unlike most other larks, this is a distinctive-looking species on the ground, mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. The summer male has black "horns", which give this species its American name. America has a number of races distinguished by the face pattern and back color of males, especially in summer. The southern European mountain race Eremophila alpestris penicillata is greyer above, and the yellow of the face pattern is replaced with white.
Vocalizations are high-pitched, lisping or tinkling, and weak. The song, given in flight as is common among larks, consists of a few chips followed by a warbling, ascending trill.
The Horned Lark breeds across much of North America from the high Arctic south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, northernmost Europe and Asia and in the mountains of southeast Europe. There is also an isolated population on a plateau in Colombia. It is mainly resident in the south of its range, but northern populations of this passerine bird are migratory, moving further south in winter.
This is a bird
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest of the true foxes and the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America and Asia. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammal and bird populations. Because of these factors, it is listed as Least Concern for extinction by the IUCN. It is included among the IUCN's list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species".
The red fox originated from smaller-sized ancestors from Eurasia during the Middle Villafranchian period, and colonised North America shortly after the Wisconsian glaciation. Among the true foxes, the red fox represents a more progressive form in the direction of carnivory. Apart from its large size, the red fox is distinguished from other fox species by its ability to adapt quickly to new environments and, unlike most of its related species, is not listed as endangered anywhere. Despite its name, the species often produces individuals with abnormal colourings, including albinos and melanists. Forty-five subspecies are
The Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) is a large sandpiper, closely related to the curlews (Thomas, 2004). Older names are the Upland Plover and Bartram's Sandpiper. It is the only member of the genus Bartramia. The genus name and the old common name Bartram's Sandpiper commemorate the American naturalist William Bartram. The name "Bartram's Sandpiper" was made popular by Alexander Wilson, who was taught ornithology and natural history illustration by Bartram.
An adult is roughly 12" long with a 26" wingspan. The average weight is 6 oz. This odd bird has a small dove-like head on a long neck. It is heavily marbled black and brown on the back and wings. The neck is streaked with dark brown which continues down to the breast and on to the flanks. The belly and undertail coverts are white. The tail is quite long for a sandpiper. The Upland also sports a white eyering and long yellow legs.
They breed from eastern Alaska south east of the Rocky Mountains through Montana to northern Oklahoma and then northeast to Pennsylvania, New England and extreme southern Quebec and Ontario. There are also local breeding populations in northeast Oregon and west central Idaho. They winter in
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized. The surviving species are the American bison, also known as the American buffalo (although it is only distantly related to the true buffalo), Bison bison, found in North America, and the European bison, or wisent (Bison bonasus), found in Europe and the Caucasus. The North American species is composed of two subspecies, the plains bison, Bison bison bison, and the wood bison, Bison bison athabascae. While all bison species are usually grouped into their own genus, they are sometimes included in the closely related genus Bos, together with cattle, gaur, kouprey and yaks, with which bison have a limited ability to interbreed.
The American bison and the European wisent are the largest terrestrial animals in North America and Europe. Bison are good swimmers and can cross rivers over half a mile (1 km) wide. Bison are nomadic grazers and travel in herds. The bulls leave the herds of females at 2 or 3 years of age, and join a male herd which is generally smaller than the female herds. Mature bulls rarely travel alone. Both sexes get together for the
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It is resident through most of eastern and central United States and southern Canada, although western populations may be migratory. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common near and in residential areas. It is predominately blue with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year. Four subspecies of the Blue Jay are recognized.
The Blue Jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing. The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots. Young are altricial, and are brooded by the female for 8–12 days after hatching. They may remain with their parents for one to two months.
The fox squirrel (or eastern fox squirrel, Bryant's fox squirrel) (Sciurus niger) is the largest species of tree squirrel native to North America. Despite the differences in size and coloration, they are sometimes mistaken for American Red Squirrels or Eastern Gray Squirrels in areas where both species co-exist.
The fox squirrel's natural range extends throughout the eastern United States, excluding New England, north into the southern prairie provinces of Canada, and west to the Dakotas, Colorado, and Texas. They have been introduced to both northern and southern California. While very versatile in their habitat choices, fox squirrels are most often found in forest patches of 40 hectares or less with an open understory, or in urban neighborhoods with trees. They thrive best among trees such as oak, hickory, walnut, and pine that produce winter-storable foods like nuts. Western range extensions in Great Plains regions such as Kansas are associated with riverine corridors of cottonwood. A subspecies native to several eastern US states is the Delmarva fox squirrel (S. n. cinereus).
Eastern fox squirrels are most abundant in open forest stands with little understory vegetation; they
The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a species of canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. It is the largest member of its family, with males averaging 43–45 kg (95–99 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to a German shepherd, or sled dog, but has a larger head, narrower chest, longer legs, straighter tail and bigger paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and is usually mottled gray in color, though it can range from nearly pure white, red, or brown to black.
Within the genus Canis, the gray wolf represents a more specialised and progressive form than its smaller cousins (the coyote and golden jackal), as demonstrated by its morphological adaptations to hunting large prey, its more gregarious nature and its highly advanced expressive behavior. It is a social animal, travelling in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair, accompanied by the pair's adult offspring. The gray wolf is typically an apex predator throughout its range, with only humans and tigers posing a serious threat to it. It feeds primarily on large ungulates, though it will also eat smaller animals,
The Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) is a jay between the North American Blue Jay and the Eurasian Jay in size. It is the only member of the genus Gymnorhinus, (monotypic). Its overall proportions are very Nutcracker-like and indeed this can be seen as convergent evolution as both birds fill similar ecological niches. The pinyon jay is a bluish-grey coloured bird with deeper head colouring and whitish throat with black bill, legs and feet.
This species occurs in western North America from central Oregon to northern Baja California and east as far as western Oklahoma though it wanders further afield out of the breeding season. It lives in foothills where the pinyon pines Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla occur.
This species is highly social, often forming very large flocks of 250 or more birds, and several birds always seem to act as sentries for the flock, watching out for predators while their companions are feeding. The seed of the Pinyon pine is the staple food but they supplement their diet with fruits and berries. Insects of many types are also eaten and sometimes caught with its feet.
The nest is always part of a colony but there is never more than one nest in a tree.
The Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) is a medium-sized New World blackbird, named after the ornithologist Thomas Mayo Brewer.
Adults have a pointed bill. Adult males have black plumage; the female is dark grey. The male has a bright yellow eye; the female's is dark. They resemble the eastern member of the same genus, the Rusty Blackbird; however, the Brewer's Blackbird has a shorter bill and the male's head is iridescent purple. This bird is often mistaken for the Common Grackle but has a shorter tail. The call is a sharp check which is also distinguishable. This bird is in a different family from the Eurasian Blackbird.
Their breeding habitat is open and semi-open areas, often near water, across central and western North America. The cup nest can be located in various locations: in a tree, in tall grass or on a cliff. They often nest in colonies.
These birds are often permanent residents in the west. Other birds migrate to the southeastern United States and Mexico. The range of this bird has been expanding east in the Great Lakes region.
They forage in shallow water or in fields, mainly eating seeds and insects, some berries. They sometimes catch insects in flight. They
The coyote (US /kaɪˈoʊtiː/ or /ˈkaɪ.oʊt/, UK /kɔɪˈjoʊteɪ/ or /kɔɪˈjoʊt/; Canis latrans), also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada. It occurs as far north as Alaska and all but the northernmost portions of Canada.
Currently, 19 subspecies are recognized, with 16 in Canada, Mexico and the United States, and three in Central America. Unlike the related gray wolf, which is Eurasian in origin, evolutionary theory suggests the coyote evolved in North America during the Pleistocene epoch 1.81 million years ago (mya) alongside the dire wolf. Although not closely related, the coyote evolved separately to fill roughly the same ecological niche in the Americas that is filled in Eurasia and Africa by the similarly sized jackals. Unlike the wolf, the coyote's range has expanded in the wake of human civilization, and coyotes readily reproduce in metropolitan areas.
The name "coyote" is borrowed from Mexican Spanish coyote, ultimately derived from the Nahuatl word cóyotl. Its scientific name, Canis latrans, means "barking dog" in
The Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is a medium-sized plover.
Adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands. The rump is tawny orange. The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. They have an orange-red eyering. The chicks are patterned almost identically to the adults, and are precocial — able to move around immediately after hatching. The Killdeer frequently uses a "broken wing act" to distract predators from the nest. It is named onomatopoeically after its cry.
The range of the Killdeer spreads across the Western Hemisphere. In the summer, Killdeer live as far north as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, the Yukon, Quebec, as well as the southern parts of the U.S. state of Alaska. Killdeer hold a year-round presence across the southern half of the United States and parts of Peru. The Killdeer winters throughout Central America. Although Killdeer are considered shorebirds, they often live far from water. They live in grassland habitats such as fields, meadows, and pastures. The nest itself is merely a shallow depression or bowl in the ground, fringed by some stones and blades of grass. The precious nest is well
The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent, found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11 and 31 lb). The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur.
The river otter, a member of the weasel family, is equally versatile in the water and on land. It establishes a burrow close to the water's edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young.
North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported, as well.
The range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat
The Sharp-tailed Grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus (previously: Tetrao phasianellus), is a medium-sized prairie grouse. It is also known as the sharptail, and is known as "fire grouse" or "fire bird" by Native American Indians due to their reliance on brush fires to keep their habitat open.
The Greater Prairie-chicken, Lesser Prairie-chicken, and Sharp-tailed Grouse make up the genus Tympanuchus, a genus of grouse found only in North America. The full scientific name of the sharp-tailed grouse is Tympanuchus phasianellus. Six extant and one extinct subspecies of Sharp-tailed Grouse have been described:
Adults have a relatively short tail with the two central (deck) feathers being square-tipped and somewhat longer than their lighter, outer tail feathers giving the bird its distinctive name. The plumage is mottled dark and light browns against a white background, they are lighter on the underparts with a white belly uniformly covered in faint "V"-shaped markings. These markings distinguish sharp-tailed grouse from lesser and greater prairie chickens which are heavily barred on their underparts(Connelly et al. 1998). Adult males have a yellow comb over their eyes and a violet display
Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii) is a small songbird (passerine) in the family Motacillidae that breeds in the short- and mixed-grass prairies of North America. Migratory, it spends the winters in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Sprague's Pipits are unique among songbirds in that they sing high in the sky, it is more often identified by its distinctive descending song heard from above then it is seen on the ground. Males and females are cryptically coloured and similar in appearance; they are a buffy brown with darker streaking, slender bills and pinkish to yellow legs. Sprague's Pipit summer habitat is primarily native grasslands in the north central prairies of the United States and Canada.
Found in mixed or short grass prairie throughout the central northern Great Plains of North America. In Canada, Sprague's Pipit breed in southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and southwest Manitoba. In the United States, they breed in northeastern and central Montana, western and central North Dakota, northwest South Dakota, and in the Red River Valley of Minnesota.
Sprague's Pipits winter in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. In the United states it
The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a passerine bird. It is the only member of the shrike family endemic to North America; the related Northern Shrike (L. excubitor) occurs north of its range but also in the Palearctic.
The bird has a large hooked bill; the head and back are grey and the underparts white. The wings and tail are black, with white patches on the wings and white on the outer tail feather. The black face mask extends over the bill, unlike that of the similar but slightly larger Northern Shrike.
The bird breeds in semi-open areas in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Canadian prairie provinces, south to Mexico. It nests in dense trees and shrubs. The female lays 4 to 8 eggs in a bulky cup made of twigs and grass. There is an increase in average clutch size as latitude increases.
The shrike is a permanent resident in the southern part of the range; northern birds migrate further south.
The bird waits on a perch with open lines of sight and swoops down to capture prey. Its food is large insects and lizards . Known in many parts as the "Butcher Bird," it impales its prey on thorns or barbed wire before eating it, because it does not have the talons of the larger
The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.
The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.
As its other common name suggests, the Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialised physical characteristics and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are usually recognized, one of which has recently been given full species status (see below). Despite its propensity to nest near water, the Osprey is not a sea-eagle.
The Osprey was one of the many species described by Carolus Linnaeus in his 18th-century
Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort or common wormwood) is one of several species in the genus Artemisia which have common names that include the word mugwort. This species is also occasionally known as felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, old Uncle Henry, sailor's tobacco, naughty man, old man or St. John's plant (not to be confused with St John's wort).
It is native to temperate Europe, Asia, northern Africa and Alaska and is naturalized in North America, where some consider it an invasive weed. It is a very common plant growing on nitrogenous soils, like weedy and uncultivated areas, such as waste places and roadsides.
It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing 1–2 m (rarely 2.5 m) tall, with a woody root. The leaves are 5–20 cm long, dark green, pinnate, with dense white tomentose hairs on the underside. The erect stem often has a red-purplish tinge. The rather small flowers (5 mm long) are radially symmetrical with many yellow or dark red petals. The narrow and numerous capitula (flower heads) spread out in racemose panicles. It flowers from July to September.
A number of species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) feed on the leaves and flowers; see List of
The Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is a medium-sized crepuscular or nocturnal bird, whose presence and identity are best revealed by its vocalization. Typically dark (grey, black and brown), displaying cryptic colouration and intricate patterns, this bird becomes invisible by day. Once aerial, with its buoyant but erratic flight, this bird is most conspicuous. The most remarkable feature of this aerial insectivore is its small beak belies the massiveness of its mouth. Some claim appearance similarities to owls. With its horizontal stance and short legs, the Common Nighthawk does not travel frequently on the ground, instead preferring to perch horizontally, parallel to branches, on posts, on the ground or on a roof. The males of this species may roost together but the bird is primarily solitary. The Common Nighthawk shows variability in territory size.
This caprimulguid has a large, flattened head with large eyes; facially it lacks rictal bristles. The Common Nighthawk has long slender wings that at rest extend beyond a notched tail. There is noticeable barring on the sides and abdomen, also white wing-patches.
The Common Nighthawk measures 22–25 cm in length, displays a wing
The Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) is a species of forest-dwelling grouse native to the Rocky Mountains in North America. It is closely related to the Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus), and the two were previously considered a single species, the Blue Grouse.
Adults have a long square tail, gray at the end. Adult males are mainly dark with a purplish throat air sac surrounded by white, and a yellow to red wattle over the eye during display. Adult females are mottled brown with dark brown and white marks on the underparts.
Their breeding habitat is the edges of conifer and mixed forests in mountainous regions of western North America, from southeastern Alaska and Yukon south to New Mexico. Their range is closely associated with that of various conifers. Their nest is a scrape on the ground concealed under a shrub or log.
They are permanent residents but move short distances by foot and short flights to denser forest areas in winter, with the odd habit of moving to higher altitudes in winter.
These birds forage on the ground, or in trees in winter. In winter, they mainly eat fir and douglas-fir needles, occasionally also hemlock and pine needles; in summer, other green
The eastern gray squirrel or grey squirrel (depending on region) (Sciurus carolinensis) is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus native to the eastern and midwestern United States, and to the southerly portions of the eastern provinces of Canada. The native range of the eastern gray squirrel overlaps with that of the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), with which it is sometimes confused, although the core of the fox squirrel's range is slightly more to the west.
A prolific and adaptable species, the eastern gray squirrel has been introduced to, and thrives in, several regions of the western United States. It has also been introduced to Britain, where it has spread across the country and has largely displaced the native red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris. In Ireland, the red squirrel has been displaced in several eastern counties, though it still remains common in the south and west of the country. There are concerns that such displacement might happen in Italy and that gray squirrels might spread from Italy to other parts of mainland Europe.
The genus, Sciurus, is derived from two Greek words, skia, meaning shadow, and oura, meaning tail. This name alludes to the squirrel sitting in the
Ericameria is a genus of shrubs in the Asteraceae or daisy family known by the common names goldenbush, rabbitbrush, turpentine bush, and rabbitbush. They are distributed in the arid western United States and northern Mexico. Bright yellow flowers adorn the plants in late summer. Ericameria nauseosa, (synonym Chrysothamnus nauseosus), is known for its production of latex.
This genus has a number of admirable landscape plants for heavily alkaline soils, but most species need extensive rejuvenation pruning every three years, making not ideal for common yards. Overwatering will kill the plants.
Ericameria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Schinia argentifascia, Schinia tertia, Schinia unimacula and Schinia walsinghami.
Wild rice (also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) is four species of grasses forming the genus Zizania, and the grain which can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in both North America and China. While it is now a delicacy in North America, the grain is eaten less in China, where the plant's stem is used as a vegetable.
Wild rice is not directly related to Asian rice (Oryza sativa), whose wild progenitors are O. rufipogon and O. nivara, although they are close cousins, sharing the tribe Oryzeae. It is also not the plant described as ζιζάνια (zizania) in the Parable of the Tares in the Bible, which is thought to be Lolium temulentum.
The plants grow in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams; often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The grain is eaten by dabbling ducks and other aquatic wildlife, as well as humans.
Three species of wild rice are native to North America:
One species is native to Asia:
Texas wild rice is in danger of extinction due to loss of suitable habitat in its limited range and to pollution. The pollen of Texas wild rice can only travel about 30 inches away from a parent
The American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae. New evidence has led the American Ornithologists' Union to move the heron family into the order Pelecaniformes (from Ciconiiformes).
It is a large, chunky, brown bird, very similar to the Eurasian Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), though slightly smaller. It is 58–85 cm (23–33 in) in length, with a 92–115 cm (36–45 in) wingspan and a body mass of 370–1,072 g (0.82–2.36 lb).
Although common in much of its range, the American Bittern is usually well-hidden in bogs, marshes and wet meadows. Usually solitary, it walks stealthily among cattails or bulrushes. If it senses that it has been seen, the American Bittern becomes motionless, with its bill pointed upward, causing it to blend into the reeds. It is most active at dusk. More often heard than seen, this bittern has a call that resembles a congested pump.
Like other members of the heron family, the American Bittern feeds in marshes and shallow ponds, dining on amphibians, fish, insects and reptiles.
This bittern winters in the southern United States and Central America. It summers throughout Canada and much of the United States. As a
Mergus is the genus of the typical mergansers, fish-eating ducks in the seaduck subfamily (Merginae). The Hooded Merganser, often termed Mergus cucullatus, is not of this genus but closely related. The other "aberrant" merganser, the Smew (Mergellus albellus), is phylogenetically closer to goldeneyes (Bucephala).
Although they are seaducks, most of the mergansers prefer riverine habitats, with only the Red-breasted Merganser being common at sea. These large fish-eaters typically have black-and-white, brown and/or green hues in their plumage, and most have shomewhat shaggy crests. All have serrated edges to their long and thin bills that help them grip their prey. Along with the Smew and Hooded Merganser, they are therefore often known as "sawbills". The goldeneyes, on the other hand, feed mainly on mollusks, and therefore have a more typical duck-bill. They are also classified as "divers" because they go completely under-water in looking for food. In other traits, however, the genera Mergus, Lophodytes, Mergellus, and Bucephala are very similar; uniquely among all Anseriformes, they do not have notches at the hind margin of their sternum, but holes surrounded by bone.
The Whooping Crane (Grus americana), is the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its whooping sound. Along with the Sandhill Crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America. The Whooping Crane's lifespan is estimated to be 22 to 24 years in the wild. After being pushed to the brink of extinction by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat to just 21 wild and two captive Whooping Cranes by 1941, conservation efforts have led to a limited recovery. As of 2011, there are an estimated 437 birds in the wild and more than 165 in captivity.
An adult Whooping Crane is white with a red crown and a long, dark, pointed bill. Immature Whooping Cranes are cinnamon brown. While in flight, their long necks are kept straight and their long dark legs trail behind. Adult Whooping Cranes' black wing tips are visible during flight.
The species can stand up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) and have a wingspan of 2.3 meters (7.5 feet). Males weigh on average 7.3 kg (16 lb), while females weigh 6.2 kg (14 lb) on average (Erickson, 1976). The body length averages about 132 cm (52 in). The standard linear measurements of the Whooping cranes are a wing chord length of
Anemone canadensis (Canada anemone, round-headed anemone, meadow anemone, crowfoot) is a herbaceous perennial native to moist meadows, thickets, streambanks, and lakeshores in North America, spreading rapidly by underground rhizomes, valued for its white flowers.
Shoots with deeply divided and toothed basal leaves grow from caudices on long, thin rhizomes.
Flowers with about 5 sepals and numerous stamens bloom from late spring to summer on stems above a cluster of leaves.
Seeds are achenes, borne in a small dense head.
In former times it was used medically by North American Indigenous peoples as an astringent and as a styptic for wounds, sores, nosebleeds, and as an eyewash. The root was respected by Plains tribes and used for many ailments.
It is likely that most Anemones contain the caustic irritants of the Ranunculaceae family.
The Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) is a small brood parasitic icterid of temperate to subtropical North America. They are permanent residents in the southern parts of their range; northern birds migrate to the southern United States and Mexico in winter, returning to their summer habitat around March or April.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is typical for an icterid in general shape but is distinguished by a finch-like head and beak and is smaller than most icterids. The adult male is iridescent black in color with a brown head. The adult female is slightly smaller and is dull grey with a pale throat and very fine streaking on the underparts. The total length is 16–22 cm (6.3–8.7 in) and the average wingspan is 36 cm (14 in). Body mass can range from 30–60 g (1.1–2.1 oz), with females averaging 38.8 g (1.37 oz) against the males' average of 49 g (1.7 oz).
They occur in open or semi-open country and often travel in flocks, sometimes mixed with Red-winged Blackbirds (particularly in spring) and Bobolinks (particularly in fall), as well as Common Grackle or European Starlings. These birds forage on the ground, often following grazing animals such as horses and cows to catch insects
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend and camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about 25–36 in (63–91 cm) long, with an 8–10 in (20–25 cm) long tail. Weighing between 12–35 lb (5.4–16 kg), they are rounded, large and slow. Porcupines come in various shades of brown, grey, and the unusual white. Porcupines' spiny protection resembles that of the unrelated erinaceomorph hedgehogs and monotreme echidnas.
The common porcupine is a herbivore. It eats leaves, herbs, twigs and green plants like skunk cabbage and clover and in the winter it may eat bark. The North American porcupine often climbs trees to find food. The African porcupine is not a climber and forages on the ground. It is mostly nocturnal, but will sometimes forage for food in the day. Porcupines have become a pest in Kenya and are eaten as a delicacy.
The name porcupine comes from Middle French porc espin (spined pig). A regional American name for the animal is quill pig.
A porcupine is any of 29 species of rodent belonging to
The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. It is non-migratory.
The Ruffed Grouse is frequently referred to as a "partridge". This is technically wrong—partridges are unrelated phasianids, and in hunting may lead to confusion with the Grey Partridge; it is a bird of woodlands, not open areas.
The Ruffed Grouse is also the state bird of Pennsylvania.
These chunky, medium-sized birds weigh from 450–750 g (0.99–1.7 lb), measure from 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in) in length and span 50–64 cm (20–25 in) across their short, strong wings. Ruffed Grouse have two distinct morphs, grey and brown. In the grey morph, the head, neck and back are grey-brown; the breast is light with barring. There is much white on the underside and flanks, and overall the birds have a variegated appearance; the throat is often distinctly lighter. The tail is essentially the same brownish grey, with regular barring and a broad black band near the end ("subterminal"). Brown-morph birds have tails of the same color and pattern, but the rest of the plumage is much more brown, giving the appearance of a more uniform bird with
Tarragon, dragon's-wort, French tarragon, Russian tarragon, silky wormwood, or wild tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a perennial herb in the family Asteraceae related to wormwood. Corresponding to its species name, a common term for the plant is "dragon herb". It is native to a wide area of the Northern Hemisphere from easternmost Europe across central and eastern Asia to India, western North America, and south to northern Mexico. The North American populations may, however, be naturalized from early human introduction.
Tarragon grows to 120–150 cm tall, with slender branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 2–8 cm long and 2–10 mm broad, glossy green, with an entire margin. The flowers are produced in small capitulae 2–4 mm diameter, each capitulum containing up to 40 yellow or greenish-yellow florets. (French tarragon, however, seldom produces flowers.)
French tarragon is the variety generally considered best for the kitchen, but is difficult to grow from seed. It is best cultivated by root division. It is normally purchased as a plant, and some care must be taken to ensure that true French tarragon is purchased. A perennial, it normally goes dormant in winter. It likes a
The Eastern Whip-poor-will, (Antrostomus vociferus), is a medium-sized (22–27 cm) nightjar bird from North and Central America. The whip-poor-will is commonly heard within its range, but less often seen because of its superior camouflage. It is named onomatopoeically after its song.
These medium-sized nightjars measure 22–27 cm (8.7–11 in) in length, span 45–50 cm (18–20 in) across the wings and weigh 42–69 g (1.5–2.4 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 14.7 to 16.9 cm (5.8 to 6.7 in), the tail is 10.5 to 12.8 cm (4.1 to 5.0 in), the bill is 1 to 1.4 cm (0.39 to 0.55 in) and the tarsus is 1.5 to 1.8 cm (0.59 to 0.71 in). Adults have mottled plumage: the upperparts are grey, black and brown; the lower parts are grey and black. They have a very short bill and a black throat. Males have a white patch below the throat and white tips on the outer tail feathers; in the female, these parts are light brown.
This bird is sometimes confused with the related Chuck-will's-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis) which has a similar but lower-pitched and slower call.
Their habitat is deciduous or mixed woods across western, central and southeastern Canada, eastern United States, and
The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is a North American badger, somewhat similar in appearance to the European badger. It is found in the western and central United States, northern Mexico and central Canada, as well as in certain areas of southwestern British Columbia.
Their habitat is typified by open grasslands with available prey (such as mice, squirrels, and groundhogs). They prefer areas with sandy loam soils where they can dig more easily for their prey, such as prairie regions.
In Mexico, this animal is sometimes called tlalcoyote. The Spanish word for badger is tejón, but in Mexico this word is also used to describe the coati. This can lead to confusion as both coatis and badgers are found in Mexico.
The American badger is a member of the Mustelidae, a diverse family of carnivorous mammals that also includes the weasel, ferret, and wolverine. The American badger belongs to the Taxidiinae, one of three subfamilies of badgers - the other two being the Melinae (9 species, including the Eurasian badger) and the Mellivorinae (honey badger). The American badger's closest relative is the prehistoric Chamitataxus.
Recognized subspecies include: Taxidea taxus jacksoni, found in the
The (North) American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American black bear is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to the species' widespread distribution and a large global population estimated to be twice that of all other bear species combined. Along with the brown bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern bear species not considered globally threatened with extinction by the IUCN. American black bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears, a behavior common to many species of bears.
The word baribal is used as a name for the black bear in Spanish, French, Italian and German. Although the root word is popularly written as being from an unspecified Native American language, there is no evidence for this.
Although they all live in North
The Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) is a large North American shorebird of the family Scolopacidae. This species was also called "sicklebird" and the "candlestick bird". The species is native to central and western North America. In the winter, the species migrates southwards, as well as towards the coastline.
The Long-billed Curlew is the largest nesting or regularly-occurring sandpiper in North America. It is 50–65 cm (20–26 in) long, 62–90 cm (24–35 in) across the wing and weighs 490–950 g (1.1–2.1 lb). Its extremely long bill measures 11.3–21.9 cm (4.4–8.6 in), and rivals the bill of the larger-bodied Far Eastern Curlew as the longest bill of any shorebird. Adults have a very long bill curved downwards, a long neck and a small head. The neck and underparts are a light cinnamon, while the crown is streaked with brown. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, the female having a much longer bill than the male.
Their breeding habitat is grasslands in west-central North America. The species displays an elaborate courtship dance during breeding season. Fast and looping display flights are also common. A small hollow is lined with various weeds and grasses to serve as the
The Mallard ( /ˈmælɑrd/ or /ˈmælərd/) or Wild Duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae.
The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly, while the females have mainly brown-speckled plumage. Mallards live in wetlands, eat water plants and small animals, and are gregarious. This species is the ancestor of most breeds of domestic ducks.
The Mallard was one of the many bird species originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work, Systema Naturae, and still bears its original binomial name.
"Mallard" is derived from the Old French malart or mallart "wild drake", although its ultimate derivation is unclear. It may be related to an Old High German masculine proper name Madelhart, clues lying in the alternate English forms "maudelard" or "mawdelard".
Mallards frequently interbreed with their closest relatives in the genus Anas, such as the American Black Duck, and also with species more distantly related, for
The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a medium-sized member of the woodpecker family. It is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and is one of the few woodpecker species that migrate. There are over 100 common names for the Northern Flicker. Among them are: Yellowhammer, clape, gaffer woodpecker, harry-wicket, heigh-ho, wake-up, walk-up, wick-up, yarrup, and gawker bird. Many of these names are attempts at imitating some of its calls.
The Northern Flicker is part of the genus Colaptes which encompasses 12 New-World woodpeckers. There are two living and one extinct subspecies of C. auratus species. The existing sub-species were at one time considered separate species but they commonly interbreed where ranges overlap and are now considered one species by the American Ornithologists Union. Whether or not they are separate species is a well-known example of the species problem.
Adults are brown with black bars on the back and wings. A mid-to-large-sized woodpecker, it measures 28–36 cm (11–14 in) in length and 42–54 cm (17–21 in) in wingspan. The body mass can vary from 86 to 167 g (3.0 to 5.9 oz). Among standard scientific
The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a small sand-colored, sparrow-sized shorebird that nests and feeds along coastal sand and gravel beaches in North America. The adult has yellow-orange legs, a black band across the forehead from eye to eye, and a black ring around the neck. This chest band is usually thicker in males during the breeding season, and it's the only reliable way to tell the sexes apart. It is difficult to see when standing still as it blends well with open, sandy beach habitats. It typically runs in short starts and stops.
There are 2 subspecies of Piping Plovers: the eastern population is known as Charadrius melodus melodus and the mid-west population is known as Charadrius melodus circumcinctus. The bird's name is derived from its plaintive bell-like whistles which are often heard before the bird is visible.
Total population is currently estimated at about 6,410 individuals. A preliminary estimate showed 3,350 birds in 2003 on the Atlantic Coast alone, 52% of the total. The population has been increasing since 1991.
Their breeding habitat includes beaches or sand flats on the Atlantic coast, the shores of the Great Lakes, and in the mid-west of Canada and the
The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a bird of prey, one of three species colloquially known in the United States as the "chickenhawk," though it rarely preys on standard sized chickens. It breeds throughout most of North America, from western Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies, and is one of the most common buteos in North America. Red-tailed Hawks can acclimate to all the biomes within its range. There are fourteen recognized subspecies, which vary in appearance and range. It is one of the largest members of the genus Buteo in North America, typically weighing from 690 to 1600 grams (1.5 to 3.5 pounds) and measuring 45–65 cm (18 to 26 in) in length, with a wingspan from 110 to 145 cm (43 to 57 in). The Red-tailed Hawk displays sexual dimorphism in size, with females averaging about 25% heavier than males
The Harlan's Hawk (B. j. harlani), often considered a separate species, is treated below in the Taxonomy section.
The Red-tailed Hawk occupies a wide range of habitats and altitudes, including deserts, grasslands, coniferous and deciduous forests, tropical rainforests, agricultural fields and urban areas. It lives throughout the North
The Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird references habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills in the American Midwest. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the Lesser Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis canadensis), with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.
Adults are gray overall; during breeding, the plumage is usually much worn and stained, particularly in the migratory populations, and looks nearly ochre. The average weight of the larger male is 4.57 kg (10.1 lb), while the average weight of females is 4.02 kg (8.9 lb), with a range of 2.7 to 6.7 kg (6.0 to 15 lb) across the subspecies. The Sandhill Crane has a red forehead, white cheeks and a long dark pointed bill. Its long dark legs trail behind in flight, and the long neck is kept straight in flight. Immature birds have reddish brown upperparts and gray underparts. The sexes look alike. Size varies among the different subspecies. Additionally the average height of these birds is around 80 to 120 cm (2.6 to 3.9 ft). The standard linear
The western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans) is a species of colubrid snake. Seven subspecies are currently recognized.
It is found in southwestern Canada and the western United States.
Most western terrestrial garter snakes have a yellow, light orange, or white dorsal stripe, accompanied by two stripes of the same color, one on each side. Some varieties have red or black spots between the dorsal stripe and the side stripes. It is an immensely variable species, and even the most experienced herpetologists have trouble when it comes to identification. They are medium-sized snakes, usually 46-104 cm (18-41 inches).
Thamnophis elegans often inhabits coniferous forests, is relatively aquatic, and is found at altitudes of up to 13,000 feet (3,962 metres).
It will eat just about everything it can find, and is one of only two garter snakes known to cannibalize.
The western terrestrial garter snake does not lay eggs, but instead is ovoviviparous, which is characteristic of natricine snakes. Broods of 8-12 young are born in August and September.
The Willet (Tringa semipalmata), formerly in the monotypic genus Catoptrophorus as Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, is a large shorebird in the sandpiper family. It is a good-sized and stout scolopacid, the largest of the shanks. Its closest relative is the Lesser Yellowlegs, a much smaller bird with a very different appearance apart from the fine, clear, and dense pattern of the neck, which both species show in breeding plumage.
Adults have gray legs and a long, straight, dark and stout bill. The body is dark gray above and light underneath. The tail is white with a dark band at the end. The distinctive black and white pattern of the wings is a common sight along many North American coastal beaches.
Two subspecies (which may actually be different species) have very different breeding habitats and ranges. The Eastern Willet breeds in coastal saltmarshes from Nova Scotia to Mexico and the Caribbean. It winters on the Atlantic coast of South America. The Western Willet breeds in freshwater prairie marshes in western North America. It winters on both coasts, from the mid-Atlantic states south to at least Brazil on the Atlantic, and from Oregon south to Peru on the Pacific.
Willets nest on