Perhaps the least known and most vulnerable species of bear is the Malayan Sun Bear or Honey Bear, Helarctos malayanus. This species grows to be only about half the size of black bears and lives in southeast Asia. They eat mostly insects, honey, and fruit, but will also eat small reptiles and rodents as well as eggs and a few plants such as sugar cane. Each sun bear has a unique lighter patch of fur on its chest, making it relatively easy to distinguish between individuals.
Killdeers are so well known that they almost need no introduction. These medium-sized plovers are well-known for their unique “kill-DEER, kill-DEER!” call and their distracting display, pretending to have a broken wing to lure potential predators away from its nest on the ground. Find out something new about this species or other bird species using the links below — and let this post serve as a gateway for all your bird species wonderings. The last 7 are great for learning about all types of nature topics! 😀
With oily fur to shed the water with a shake, the water shrew (Sorex palustris) can live a life that few other insect eaters can maintain. These little guys can dive underwater and hunt for insect larvae and small fish, then swim back to the surface and nibble on worms, snails, and even mushrooms. Water shrews are so light and bouyant that they must paddle hard just to stay submerged. They live mostly in mountain streams and nest in logs or underground burrows.
The Green Spore Parasol mushroom, Chlorophyllum molybdites, is poisonous and can often grow in backyards and forest “fairy rings”. Watch the video and explore the links below to educate yourself and your loved ones about this common fungi.
Smilax species are shrubby vines that can climb up trees using curly tendrils and hooked thorns. Many are evergreen, and 20 species are found in North America north of Mexico. Of these, the most common are catbriers or greenbriers. Sarsaparilla is a medicinal plant native to Mexico. Its common name means “little bramble vine”. Click the links below to learn more about this useful species.
The honey locust tree, Gleditsia triacanthos, is easily identified by its combination of thorns, long narrow compound leaves, and long curly seedpods. Found in the eastern United States, this species is actually a legume, in the family Fabaceae. Its long seedpods resemble beans and peas, which are more familiar legumes. Honey locust pods start out green and eventually turn crisp and dark brown, growing up to about 7 inches long. The pods are sometimes eaten by livestock, which digest the pulp and excrete the seeds. Thorns are found on both the trunk and branches of this tree species, again starting out green, but then turning red, and eventually grey. Leaves of honey locust are pinnately divided, similar to mesquite and acacia.
Fennec foxes are the smallest species in the canine family, only about 8 inches at the top of their shoulder, body about 12 inches long, tail a bit longer… and ears about 6 inches long — up to half the length of its body! Of course, these ears help them hunt, but they also release heat into the air to keep the fox cooler. Their tiny feet are also well padded with hair to protect against hot desert sand. Their coat is roughly the color of sand to help them stay camouflaged in their Sahara desert home. Fennecs live in groups of about 10, digging interconnected burrows at the base of stable sand dunes lined with at least some vegetation. They tend to stay in their dens during the hot desert day, doing most of their hunting at night when it is cooler. Fennecs eat a wide variety of insects, small mammals, and some plant materials such as roots and berries. Click the links below the pic to see so many more cute pics, and to learn more about the world’s smallest fox!
The most famous of the cobras, and the world’s longest venomous snake, is the Indian Cobra (Naja naja). This is the famous “spectacled cobra” seen in snake charmer acts and is responsible for some 10,000 deaths each year. When alarmed, this snake fans out its long, flexible neck ribs to create its iconic “hood”. Indian cobras eat birds, rodents, and reptiles including other snakes. They often hunt in rice paddies and in other cultivated areas — even inside human settlements. Watch the video below to see one cobra that has decided to stick around in one family’s backyard.
Can you believe it?! When an empty shell washes ashore, it triggers the local wild hermit crabs to perform one of nature’s craziest routines: They eventually line up from largest to smallest, and once in place without any significant gaps in sizing, they go down the line, moving into their new homes. The largest takes his new empty shell, the next largest takes his, and down the line until everyone has a new home. What a sense of humor our Creator has! 😀
If they COULD read, dragonflies would do it almost 4 times as fast as we can! Their reaction time is so fast, they can fly out to catch something they see before we would even register any sight. Watch the short video below to learn more about the dragonfly’s super sense.
Up in the rugged, unforgiving mountains of Scotland, can any wildlife make a living? This BBC free full-length documentary film is presented on YouTube by AnimalLife. In these Scottish hills, we see that red deer and pine martens join many hardy bird species such as black-throated divers, hooded crows, ptarmigans, and reintroduced sea eagles. Follow a family of divers from a late second laying to the fledging and beyond. And follow the migration of salmon to the highest points in the river. At the end of the film is an entertaining filming diary.
“Satoyama is a place where nature and people exist in harmony, where people make a sustainable living from the land“. This is the opening statement in a 10 minute video presented by the United Nations University, linked to below the YouTube video shown. A full-length documentary on the same topic, presented by BBC and narrated by David Attenborough, is featured here:
Leave it to Beavers is a full length, free movie on YouTube, posted by AnimalLife. This documentary is 48 minutes long and full of fun scenes and interesting information on beavers and their effect on the enironment. Very entertaining! 😀
In the snowy winter, a beaver must work to keep a hole in the ice. He is cranky and slow-moving. The otter, on the other hand, is having fun sliding down hills and pestering the beaver! Watch this fun little video for a peek into the interaction between these two species in the dead of winter.
Common Cotton Grass, Eriophorum angustifolium, is found in the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. The fluffy white seedheads cannot be used to make clothing like cotton, but it has been used in wound dressings (padding) and as pillow stuffing. This species of cotton grass has translucent pink roots that have been used as an astringent and to treat digestive troubles.
The tiny Australian marsupial Western Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus concinnus) is unique among its relatives in that it has a cinnamon colored coat (rather than grey) and bright white underside. The females carry up to 6 young in their pouch, weaning them after 50 days and miraculously giving birth to the next litter just 2 days later! Amazingly, the mother’s teats shrink during the 2 day period and the milk changes to include more colostrum. As adults, these southern Australian marsupials eat nectar and pollen. Their long prehensile tails are covered with scales rather than hair and help them dangle from plant stems to reach their food sources.
I love liverworts! There are almost 9000 different species in the liverwort division of the plant kingdom, Marchantiophyta. Most hug the ground or other substrate they are growing on, but there are many, many varieties to keep the botanical mind guessing. Some day, I would love to create my own little bryophyte garden — tiny plants like mosses and liverworts. What fun! Add a few little frogs or sallies, insects, worms, a misting system… and you have your own little microhabitat! 😀
Parrots: Majestic Birds is a free full-length documentary presented by Nature’s Beauty on YouTube. Discover black cockatoos along with what feature distinguishes a parrot as a cockatoo. Learn about a unique species of tree cavity nesting parrot that features green polygamous males and bright red females. See what animals share disappearing waterholes with parrots, in a land where it can go a decade without rain.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic have teamed up for a project in New Guinea (in the Asian Pacific) to research all 39 species of the birds of paradise. Cornell scientist Ed Scholes and Nat Geo photographer Tim Laman have spent nearly a decade photographing and studying the crazy plumage and displays of these extremely unique species. Watch an overview of the project in the video below, and use the link to explore the project website.