Baby Great-tailed Grackle

Baby Grackle 2
Baby Great-tailed Grackle 2 | Quiscalus mexicanus
Baby Great-tailed Grackle 6 | Quiscalus mexicanus
Baby Great-tailed Grackle Prints
Baby Great-tailed Grackle 8 | Quiscalus mexicanus

Baby Great-tailed Grackle info via Wikipedia:

Great-tailed grackle
Quiscalus mexicanusMPCCA20061226-0567B.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Quiscalus
Species: Q. mexicanus
Binomial name
Quiscalus mexicanus
(JF Gmelin, 1788)
Quiscalus mexicanus.svg
Range of Quiscalus mexicanus

The great-tailed grackle or Mexican grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a medium-sized, highly social passerine bird native to North and South America. A member of the family Icteridae, it is one of ten extant species of grackle and is closely related to the boat-tailed grackle and the slender-billed grackle.[2] It is sometimes erroneously referred to as a "blackbird" in the southern United States,[3] although blackbirds belong to the genus Euphagus. Similarly, it is often called "cuervo" in areas of Mexico owing to its glossy black plumage, although it is not a member of the genus Corvus, nor even of the family Corvidae.



Great-tailed grackles are medium-sized birds (larger than starlings and smaller than crows; 38 cm (15 in)-46 cm (18 in)) with males weighing 203 g (7.2 oz)-265 g (9.3 oz) and females between 115 g (4.1 oz)-142 g (5.0 oz), and both sexes have long tails.[4] Males are iridescent black with a purple-blue sheen on the feathers of the head and upper body, while females are brown with darker wings and tail.[4] Adults of both sexes have bright yellow eyes, while juveniles of both sexes have brown eyes and brown plumage like females (except for streaks on the breast).[4] Great-tailed grackles, particularly the adult males, have a keel-shaped tail that they can fold vertically by aligning the two halves.[5]

The great-tailed grackle and boat-tailed grackle were considered the same species until genetic analyses distinguished them as two separate species.[6]

Distribution and habitat

Breeding display by male, CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica

Originally from Central and South America, great-tailed grackles expanded their breeding range by over 5500% by moving north into North America between 1880 and 2000, following urban and agricultural corridors.[7][8] Their current range stretches from northwest Venezuela and western Colombia and Ecuador in the south to Minnesota in the north, to Oregon, Idaho, and California in the west, to Florida in the east, with vagrants occurring as far north as southern Canada. Their habitat for foraging is on the ground in clear areas such as pastures,[4] wetlands and mangroves.[7]


Great-tailed grackles are noted for their diverse foraging habits. They extract larvae and insects from grassy areas; eat lizards, nestlings, and eggs; forage in freshly plowed land; remove parasites from cattle; and eat fruits (e.g., bananas, berries) and grains (e.g., maize, corn on the cob by opening the husks).[5] They turn over objects to search for food underneath, including crustaceans, insects, and worms, they hunt tadpoles and fish by wading into shallow water, and although they do not swim, they catch fish by flying close to the water's surface, and are even reported to dive a few inches into the water to retrieve a fish.[5] They are also known to pick dead insects off the license plates of parked cars,[9] and kill barn swallows while flying.[10]


Great-tailed grackles have an unusually large repertoire of vocalizations that are used year-round. Males use a wider variety of vocalization types, while females engage mostly in "chatter", however there is a report of a female performing the "territorial song".[4] Because of their loud vocalizations, great-tailed grackles are considered a pest species by some.[11]

A male Great-Tailed Grackle, making its distinctive call

They communally roost in trees or the reeds of wetlands at night and, during the breeding season, they nest in territories using three different mating strategies: 1) territorial males defend their territory on which many females place their nests and raise young, 2) residential males live in the larger colony but do not defend a territory or have mates, and 3) transient males stay for a few days before leaving the colony to likely move onto another colony.[12] Resident and transient males sire a small number of offspring through extra pair copulations with females on territories. Territorial males are heavier and have longer tails than non-territorial males, and both of these characteristics are associated with having more offspring.[12]

Grackles can solve Aesop's Fable tests - a problem involving a tube that is partially filled with water and a floating out of reach piece of food.[13] The problem is solved by dropping objects into the water to raise the level and bring the food within reach. They are also behaviorally flexible, changing their preferences quickly in response to changes in cognitive tasks.[13]

In culture

In Mexico, where it is known as the chanate or zanate, there is a legend that it has seven songs. "In the creation, the Zanate having no voice, stole its seven distinct songs from the wise and knowing sea turtle. You can now hear the Zanate's vocals as the Seven Passions (Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Joy, Sadness, and Anger) of life." Mexican artisans have created icons in clay, sometimes as whistles that portray the sea turtle with the zanate perched on its back.[7][citation needed]

Statue of maria mulata in Cartagena

In Colombia, the species is called Maria mulata,[14] and is the official bird of Cartagena de Indias[citation needed]. Cartagena artist, Enrique Grau, had an affinity for these birds and because of his inspiration many Colombian monuments and artistic works were created in honor of its intelligence, adaptability, cheerfulness, sociability and collaborative tendencies, diligence, craftiness, and ability to take advantage of adversity.[15]

In Austin, Texas, it is commonly found congregating near the city's numerous food trucks.[16]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Quiscalus mexicanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Powell, A.F.L.A., F.K. Barker and S.M. Lanyon. 2008. A complete species-level phylogeny of the grackles (Quiscalus spp.), including the extinct Slender-billed Grackle, inferred from mitochondrial DNA. Condor 110:718-728.
  3. ^ "Eight Reasons Grackles are Awesome". Texas Monthly. Retrieved February 19, 2015. *
  4. ^ a b c d e Johnson & Peer (2001). The Birds of North America Online. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 
  5. ^ a b c Skutch, AF (1954). Life histories of Central American birds. Berkeley, CA: Cooper Ornithological Society. 
  6. ^ DaCosta; et al. (2008). "Historic genetic structuring and paraphyly within the Great-tailed Grackle". Condor. 110 (1): 170–177. doi:10.1525/cond.2008.110.1.170. 
  7. ^ a b c Wehtje, W (2003). "The range expansion of the great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus Gmelin) in North America since 1880". Journal of Biogeography. 30: 1593–1607. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2699.2003.00970.x. 
  8. ^ Peer, BD (2011). "Invasion of the Emperor's grackle". Ardeola. 58 (2): 405–409. doi:10.13157/arla.58.2.2011.405. 
  9. ^ Grabrucker & Grabrucker (2010). "Rare Feeding Behavior of Great-Tailed Grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) in the Extreme Habitat of Death Valley". The Open Journal of Ornithology. 3: 101–104. doi:10.2174/1874453201003010101. 
  10. ^ Clapp, RB (1986). "Great-tailed grackle kills barn swallow in flight". Wilson Bulletin. 98 (4): 614–615. 
  11. ^ "UT's war on grackles" (PDF). The Daily Texan. Retrieved January 6, 2013. * Hermes JJ (2005). UT's war on grackles. Daily Texan. section. 8A.
  12. ^ a b Johnson; et al. (2000). "Male mating strategies and the mating system of great-tailed grackles". Behavioral Ecology. 11 (2): 132–141. doi:10.1093/beheco/11.2.132. 
  13. ^ a b Logan, CJ (2016). "Behavioral flexibility and problem solving in an invasive bird". PeerJ. 4: 1975. doi:10.7717/peerj.1975. PMC 4860340Freely accessible. PMID 27168984. 
  14. ^ "Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) (Gmelin, JF, 1788)". Avibase: The World data bird base. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Cartagena La Heróica: María Mulata". Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Troublesome great-tailed grackle spreads north, west". Retrieved 14 August 2016. 

Further reading

  • Johnson, K., and B. D. Peer. 2001. Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus). In The Birds of North America, No. 576 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Ring-tailed Cat

Ring-tailed Cat 1
Ring-tailed Cat 1 | Bassariscus astutus
Ring-tailed Cat 2
Ring-tailed Cat 2 | Bassariscus astutus
Ring-tailed Cat 3
Ring-tailed Cat 3 | Bassariscus astutus
Ring-tailed Cat 4
Ring-tailed Cat 4 | Bassariscus astutus

Ring-tailed Cat info via Wikipedia:

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Bassariscus
Species: B. astutus
Binomial name
Bassariscus astutus
(Lichtenstein, 1830)
  • Bassariscus a. arizonensis
  • Bassariscus a. flavus
  • Bassariscus a. yumanensis
  • Bassariscus a. nevadensis
Ring-tailed Cat area.png
Ring-tailed cat range

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal of the raccoon family, native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat, miner's cat or bassarisk, and is also sometimes called a "civet cat" (after similar, though only distantly related, cat-like carnivores of Asia and Africa). The ringtail is sometimes called a cacomistle, though this term seems to be more often used to refer to Bassariscus sumichrasti.


The ringtail is buff to dark brown in color with pale underparts. Ringtails have a pointed muzzle with long whiskers resembles that of a fox (which is appropriate in that its name means ‘clever little fox’) and its body resembles that of a cat. These animals are characterized by a long black and white "ringed" tail with 14–16 stripes,[2] which is the about the same length of its body. The claws are short, straight, and semi-retractable, and are perfect for climbing.[3]

Smaller than a house cat, it is one of the smallest extant procyonids (only the smallest in the olingo species group average smaller). Its body alone measures 30–42 cm (12–17 in) and its tail averages 31–44 cm (12–17 in) from its base. It typically weighs around 0.7 to 1.5 kg (1.5 to 3.3 lb).[4] The dental formula of Bassariscus astutus is = 40.[5]

Ringtails are primarily nocturnal, with large eyes and upright ears that make it easier for them to navigate and forage in the dark. It uses its long tail for balance, as it is an adept climber. The rings on its tail can also act as a distraction for predators. The white rings act as a target, so when the tail rather than the body is caught, the ringtail has a greater chance of escaping.[6]

Ringtails have occasionally been hunted for their pelts, but the fur is not especially valuable.


In areas with a bountiful source of water, as many as 50 ringtails/sq. mile have been found. Ranging from 50 to 100 acres, the territories of male ringtails occasionally intersect with several females [7] It has been suggested that ringtails utilize feces as a way to mark territory. In 2003, a study done in Mexico City found that ringtails tended to defecate in similar areas in a seemingly nonrandom pattern, mimicking that of other carnivores that utilized excretions to mark territories.[8] Ringtails prefer a solitary existence but may share a den or be found mutually grooming one another. They exhibit limited interaction except during the breeding season, which occurs in the early spring. Occasional prey to coatis, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, and mountain lions, the ringtail is rather adept at avoiding predators. The ringtail’s success in deterring potential predators is largely attributed to its ability to excrete musk when startled or threatened. The main predators of the ringtail are the Great Horned Owl and the Red-tailed Hawk.[7]

Range and habitat

The ringtail is found in the southwestern United States in southern Oregon, California, eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Nevada, Utah and Texas. In Mexico it ranges from the northern desert state of Baja California to Oaxaca. Its distribution overlaps that of B. sumichrasti in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Veracruz.[1] It has been reported to be living in western Louisiana, although no conclusive evidence has been found to support this. The ringtail is the state mammal of Arizona.

It is commonly found in rocky desert habitats, where it nests in the hollows of trees or abandoned wooden structures. The ringtail has been found throughout the Great Basin Desert, which stretches over several states (Nevada, Utah, California, Idaho, and Oregon) as well as the Sonoran desert in Arizona, and the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico. The ringtail also prefers rocky habitats associated with water, such as the riparian canyons, caves, or mine shafts.

The ankle joint is flexible and is able to rotate over 180 degrees, making it an agile climber. Their long tail provides balance for negotiating narrow ledges and limbs, even allowing them to reverse directions by performing a cartwheel. Ringtails also can ascend narrow passages by stemming (pressing all feet on one wall and their back against the other or pressing both right feet on one wall and both left feet on the other), and wider cracks or openings by ricocheting between the walls.[2]


Ringtail in Phoenix, Arizona

Much like the common raccoon, the ringtail is nocturnal and solitary. It is also timid towards humans and seen much less frequently than raccoons. Despite its shy disposition and small body size, the ringtail is arguably the most actively carnivorous species of procyonid, as even the closely related cacomistle eats a larger portion of fruits, insects and refuse.

Small vertebrates such as passerine birds, rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, lizards, frogs and toads are the most important foods during winters.[4] However, the ringtail is omnivorous, as are all procyonids. Berries and insects are important in the diet year-round, and become the primary part of the diet in spring and summer along with other fruit.[9]

Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, hawks and owls will opportunistically prey upon ringtails of all ages, though most predominantly younger, more vulnerable specimens.[4] They produce a variety of sounds, including clicks and chatters reminiscent of raccoons. A typical call is a very loud, plaintive bark. As adults, these mammals lead solitary lives, generally coming together only to mate.

Ringtails have been reported to exhibit fecal marking behavior as a form of intraspecific communication to define territory boundaries or attract potential mates.[10]


As an omnivore the ringtail enjoys a variety of foods in its diet, the majority of which is made up of animal matter. Insects and small mammals such as rabbits, mice, rats and ground squirrels being some examples of the ringtail's carnivorous tendencies. Occasionally the ringtail will also eat fish, lizards, birds, snakes and carrion. The ringtail also enjoys juniper, hack and black berries, persimmon, prickly pear, and fruit in general. They have even been observed partaking from hummingbird feeders, sweet nectar or sweetened water.[7] In one study the scat of ringtails located on the island of San Jose were analyzed. The results showed that the ringtail tended to prey on whatever was most abundant during each respective season. During the spring time the ringtail's diet consisted largely of insects, showing up in about 50% of the analyzed feces. Small rodents, snakes and some species of lizard were also present. Plant matter also presented in large amounts, around 59% of the collected feces contained some type of plant. The fruits Phaulothamnus, Lycium and Solanum were the most common. Characterized by their large amount of seeds, and ironwood leaves, these fleshy fruits were an obvious favorite of the ringtail.[11]


Ringtails mate in the spring. The gestation period is 45–50 days, during which the male will procure food for the female. There will be 2–4 cubs in a litter. The cubs open their eyes after a month, and will hunt for themselves after four months. They reach sexual maturity at ten months. The ringtail's lifespan in the wild is about seven years.[12]


Ringtail in Phoenix, Arizona

The ringtail is said to be easily tamed, and can make an affectionate pet and effective mouser. Miners and settlers once kept pet ringtails to keep their cabins free of vermin; hence, the common name of "miner's cat" (though in fact the ringtail is no more a cat than it is civet).[13] The ringtails would move into the miners' and settlers' encampments and become accepted by humans in much the same way that some early domestic cats were theorized to have done. At least one biologist in Oregon[who?] has joked that the ringtail is one of two species – the domestic cat and the ringtail – that thus "domesticated humans" due to that pattern of behavior.

Often a hole was cut in a small box and placed near a heat source (perhaps a stove) as a dark, warm place for the animal to sleep during the day, coming out after dark to rid the cabin of mice.


  1. ^ a b Timm, R.; Reid, F. & Helgen, K. (2008). "Bassariscus astutus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved January 26, 2009. 
  2. ^ Lu, Julie. "The Biogeography of Ringtailed Cats". San Francisco University. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Poglayen-Neuwall, Ivo; Toweill, Dale E. (1988). "Bassariscus astutus" (PDF). Mammalian Species (327): 1. doi:10.2307/3504321. 
  4. ^ a b c Hunter, Luke (2011) Carnivores of the World, Princeton University Press, ISBN 9780691152288
  5. ^ Stangl, Frederick B.; Henry- Langston, Sarah; Lamar, Nicholas; Kasper, Stephen (2014). "Sexual Dimorphism in the Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) from Texas". Natural Science Research Laboratory. 328. 
  6. ^ Bibliography Gilbert, Bil. "Ringtails." Smithsonian 08 2000: 65-70. ProQuest. Web. 2 Apr. 2015 .
  7. ^ a b c Gilbert, Bil. "Ringtails." Smithsonian 08 2000: 65-70. ProQuest. Web. 2 Apr. 2015 .
  8. ^ Barja I, List R. 2006. Faecal marking behaviour in ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) during the non-breeding period: Spatial characteristics of latrines and single faeces. Chemoecology. 16: 219–222.
  9. ^ Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus). Retrieved on April 17, 2013.
  10. ^ Barja, Isabel; List, Rurik (2006-12-01). "Faecal marking behaviour in ringtails (Bassariscus astutus) during the non-breeding period: spatial characteristics of latrines and single faeces". CHEMOECOLOGY. 16 (4): 219–222. doi:10.1007/s00049-006-0352-x. ISSN 0937-7409. 
  11. ^ Rodríguez-Estrella, Ricardo, Angel Rodríguez Moreno, and Karina G. Tam. "Spring Diet of the Endemic Ring-tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus insulicola) Population on an Island in the Gulf of California, Mexico." Journal of Arid Environments. 2nd ed. Vol. 44. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 241-46. Print.
  12. ^ Postanowicz, Rebecca. "Ringtailed Cat". Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved March 6, 2007. 
  13. ^ Ringtails in Redwood Park

Further reading

  • Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). Walker's Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-8032-7

External links


Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned hummingbird 1
Black-chinned hummingbird 1 | Archilochus alexandri
Black-chinned hummingbird 3
Black-chinned hummingbird 3 | Archilochus alexandri
Black-chinned hummingbird 7 | Archilochus alexandri

Black-chinned Hummingbird info via Wikipedia:

Black-chinned hummingbird
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Archilochus
Species: A. alexandri
Binomial name
Archilochus alexandri
(Bourcier & Mulsant, 1846)
Black-Chinned Hummingbird Range.png
Global range     Year-Round Range     Summer Range     Winter Range

The black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is a small hummingbird. It is an extremely adaptable bird, occupying a broad range of habitats.[2]

They are migratory and spend most of the winter in Mexico.


A hybrid between this species and Anna's hummingbird was called "Trochilus" violajugulum. The black-chinned hummingbird is also known to hybridize with Costa's hummingbird.

As of 2011, it has the smallest known genome of all living amniotes, only 0.91 pg (910 million base pairs).[3]


The black-chinned hummingbird is 8.25 cm (3.25 in) long. Adults are metallic green above and white below with green flanks. Their bill is long, straight and very slender. The adult male has a black face and chin, a glossy purple throat band and a dark forked tail. The female has a dark rounded tail with white tips and no throat patch; they are similar to female ruby-throated hummingbirds. Juvenile plumage is similar to that of adult females, but with buff margins on the dorsal feathers. Juvenile males may also possess purple feathers on their throats.[4]

Young are born almost featherless, but obtain a complete set of feathers within three weeks of hatching. Juveniles can begin replacing their plumage in November, and acquire their first basic plumage between April and May. Molts will then occur annually, taking 7–8 months at the population level.[5]

Similar species to the black-chinned hummingbird include broad-tailed hummingbird, rufous hummingbird, calliope hummingbird, Allen's hummingbird, lucifer hummingbird, Anna's hummingbird, and Costa's hummingbird.[6]

Audio recording

Distribution and habitat

Black-chinned hummingbirds are found in most of the western United States, reaching north into Canada in Alberta and British Columbia, east to Oklahoma, and as far south as Mexico.[2] They can be found in mountains, woodlands, orchards, meadows, and chaparral habitats. Their breeding habitat is open, semiarid areas, usually near water in the western United States, northern Mexico, and southern British Columbia.

Behaviour and ecology

These birds feed on nectar from flowers using a long extendable tongue or catch insects on the wing. While collecting nectar, they also assist in plant pollination.

The males and females of this species use different habitats from one another for breeding territories.[7] Black-chinned hummingbirds can exhibit territorial behavior around feeders as well as at other small feeding sites, and become more defensive as the breeding season continues. However, if there are a large number of individuals in an area as well as multiple food sources, this species will exhibit very little territoriality. Unlike most passerines, the agonistic call of the black-chinned hummingbird is acoustically complex, with notes ordered in non-random patterns, and are even more complex than their songs.[8] This species also uses diving displays (40–60 ft (12–18 m) dives) for territory defense as well as courtship, producing a variety of tones as air passes through their feathers during the plunge.[9]

The female builds a well-camouflaged nest in a protected location in a shrub or tree using plant fibre, spider webs and lichens. Black-chinned hummingbirds prefer to nest 6–12 ft (1.8–3.7 m) above the ground, often on exposed horizontal branches below the canopy. Research also suggests that they may purposefully nest near the active nests of much larger, predatory birds, as a means of reducing nest predation. The larger predators are too large and slow to be interested in the hummingbird, but their presence will deter other birds that might be interested in the black-chinned hummingbird's eggs or newly hatched chicks.[10] This species lays 2 small (8 mm (0.31 in) in width) white eggs at a time, incubating them for a period of 12–16 days.

Because of their small size, they are vulnerable to insect-eating birds and animals.


Because of the black-chinned hummingbird's large range (236,000 km2 (91,000 sq mi)), large population size, and increasing trend in population (14.6% increase per decade), this species has been labeled as Least Concern.[1] Part of this increase is attributed to the increased popularity of hummingbird feeders and gardens.


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Archilochus alexandri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Baltosser, W.H.; Russell, S.M. (2000). Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri). The Birds of North America. Pittsburgh, PA, US: The Birds of North America Inc. 
  3. ^ Gregory, T.R. (2005). "Birds - Animal Genome Size Database". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Baldridge, Frank A. (April 1983). "Plumage Characteristics of Juvenile Black-chinned Hummingbirds" (PDF). The Condor. 85 (1): 102–103. doi:10.2307/1367900. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Baltosser, W.H. (April 1995). "Annual Molt in Ruby-Throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds" (PDF). The Condor. 97 (2): 484–491. doi:10.2307/1369034. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Black-chinned Hummingbird". The Audubon Society. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Berns, C.M.; Adams, D.C. (July 2010). "Bill Shape and Sexual Shape Dimorphism between Two Species of Temperate Hummingbirds: Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (A. Colubris)". The Auk. 127 (3): 626–635. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.09213. JSTOR 10.1525/auk.2010.09213. 
  8. ^ Rusch, K.M.; Pytte, C.L.; Ficken, M.S. (July 1996). "Organization of Agonistic Vocalizations in Black-chinned Hummingbirds" (PDF). The Condor. 98 (3): 557–566. doi:10.2307/1369568. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Feo, T.J.; Clark, C.J. (October 2010). "The Displays and Sonations of the Black-chinned Hummingbird (Trochilidae: Archilochus alexandri)". The Auk. 127 (4): 787–796. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.09263. JSTOR 10.1525/auk.2010.09263. 
  10. ^ Greeney, H.F.; Wethington, S.M. (December 2009). "Proximity to Active Accipiter Nests Reduces Nest Predation of Black-chinned Hummingbirds". The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 121 (4): 809–812. doi:10.1676/08-174.1. JSTOR 20616992. 

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shovler Print, Gyotaku style
Northern Shovler 1 |  Anas clypeata


Northern Shoveler 4 | Anas clypeata


Northern Shoveler 8 | Anas clypeata

Northern Shoveler Duck Print 10
Northern Shoveler 10 | Anas clypeata

Northern Shovler info via Wikipedia:

Northern shoveler
Northern shoveler Steve Sinclair outreach use only (19838806616).jpg
Northern Shoveler-Anas clypeata female.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Spatula
Species: S. clypeata
Binomial name
Spatula clypeata
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Anas clypeata distribution map.png
Range distribution of Northern shoveler
blue : breeding area (summer)
red : nonbreeding area (winter)
Anas clypeata dis.PNG
European distribution.      Summer only range     All-year range     Winter only range

Anas clypeata Linnaeus, 1758

The northern shoveler (/ˈʃʌvələr/; Spatula clypeata), known simply in Britain as the shoveler, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America,[2] wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon.[3][4]

The Northern shoveler is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.[5] The conservation status of this bird is Least Concern.[1]


The northern shoveler was first formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae. He introduced the binomial name Anas clypeata.[6] A molecular phylogentic study comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences published in 2009 found that the genus Anas, as then defined, was non-monophyletic.[7] The genus was subsequently split into four monophyletic genera with ten species including the northern shoveler moved into the resurrected genus Spatula.[8] This genus had been originally proposed by the German zoologist Friedrich Boie in 1822.[9][10] The name Spatula is the Latin for a "spoon" or "spatula". The specific epithet is derived from Latin clypeata, "shield-bearing" (from clypeus, "shield").[11]

No living subspecies are accepted today. Fossil bones of a very similar duck have been found in Early Pleistocene deposits at Dursunlu, Turkey. It is unresolved, however, how these birds were related to the northern shoveler of today; i.e., whether the differences noted were due to being a related species or paleosubspecies, or attributable to individual variation.[12]


In flight Northern shoveler Male in Chilika Lake
Northern shoveler in Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge
Female stretching after bathing in Kolkata

This species is unmistakable in the northern hemisphere due to its large spatulate bill. The breeding drake has an iridescent dark green head,[13] white breast and chestnut belly and flanks. In flight, pale blue forewing feathers are revealed, separated from the green speculum by a white border. In early fall the male will have a white crescent on each side of the face.[4] In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake resembles the female.

The female is a drab mottled brown like other dabblers,[13] with plumage much like a female mallard, but easily distinguished by the long broad bill, which is gray tinged with orange on cutting edge and lower mandible.[4] The female's forewing is gray.

They are 48 cm (19 in) long and have a wingspan of 76 cm (30 in) with a weight of 600 g (1.3 lb).[3]


In flight
Large groups of northern shovelers swim rapidly in circles to collect food from the surface by creating a funnel effect.

Northern shovelers feed by dabbling for plant food, often by swinging its bill from side to side and using the bill to strain food from the water. They use their highly specialized bill (from which their name is derived) to forage for aquatic invertebrates – a carnivorous diet. Their wide-flat bill is equipped with well-developed lamellae – small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water's surface. This adaptation, more specialized in shovelers, gives them an advantage over other puddle ducks, with which they do not have to compete for food resources during most of the year. Thus, mud-bottomed marshes rich in invertebrate life are their habitat of choices.[13]

The shoveler prefers to nest in grassy areas away from open water. Their nest is a shallow depression on the ground, lined with plant material and down. Hens typically lay about nine eggs. The drakes are very territorial during breeding season and will defend their territory and partners from competing males. Drakes also engage in elaborate courtship behaviors, both on the water and in the air; it is not uncommon for a dozen or more males to pursue a single hen. Despite their stout appearance, shovelers are nimble fliers.[13]

This is a fairly quiet species. The male has a clunking call, whereas the female has a Mallard-like quack.

Habitat and range

Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

This is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some emergent vegetation. It breeds in wide areas across Eurasia, western North America and the Great Lakes region of the United States.[14]

This bird winters in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, northern South America, Malay Archipelago,[2]Japan[15] and other areas. Those wintering in the Indian Subcontinent make the taxing journey over the Himalayas, often taking a break in wetlands just south of the Himalaya before continuing further south to warmer regions. In North America it winters south of a line from Washington to Idaho and from New Mexico east to Kentucky, also along the Eastern Seaboard as far north as Massachusetts.[3][4] In the British Isles, home to more than 20% of the North Western European population, it is best known as a winter visitor, although it is more frequently seen in southern and eastern England, especially around the Ouse Washes, the Humber and the North Kent Marshes, and in much smaller numbers in Scotland and western parts of England. In winter, breeding birds move south, and are replaced by an influx of continental birds from further north. It breeds across most of Ireland, but the population is very difficult to assess.

It is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range. It has occasionally been reported as a vagrant as far south as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.[16] It is not as gregarious as some dabbling ducks outside the breeding season and tends to form only small flocks. Among North America's duck species, northern shovelers trail only mallards and blue-winged teal in overall abundance. Their populations have been healthy since the 1960s, and have soared in recent years to more than 5 million birds (2015), most likely because of favorable breeding, migration, and wintering habitat conditions.[13]



  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Spatula clypeata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Clements, James (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 
  3. ^ a b c Floyd, T. (2008). Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America. NY: Harper Collins. 
  4. ^ a b c d Dunn, J.; Alderfer, J. (2006). National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (5th ed.). 
  5. ^ "Anas clypeata". Agreement on the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). AEWA. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Volume 1 (in Latin) (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 124. 
  7. ^ Gonzalez, J.; Düttmann, H.; Wink, M. (2009). "Phylogenetic relationships based on two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in Anatidae". Journal of Zoology. 279: 310–318. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00622.x. 
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Screamers, ducks, geese & swans". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 July 2017. 
  9. ^ Boie, Friedrich (1822). "Generalübersicht". Isis von Oken (in German). Col 564. 
  10. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 460. 
  11. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 111, 361. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  12. ^ Louchart, Antoine; Mourer-Chauviré, Cécile; Guleç, Erksin; Howell, Francis Clark; White, Tim D. (1998). "L'avifaune de Dursunlu, Turquie, Pléistocène inférieur: climat, environnement et biogéographie" [The avifauna of Dursunlu, Turkey, Lower Pleistocene: climate, environment and biogeography]. Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Série IIA (in French). 327 (5): 341–346. doi:10.1016/S1251-8050(98)80053-0. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Northern Shoveler". Ducks Unlimited. 
  14. ^ Birds of Eden - Northern Shoveler Retrieved March 2, 2017
  15. ^ Brazil, Mark Ducking out for a nature moment October 20, 1999 Japan Times Retrieved March 2, 2017
  16. ^ BirdLife species factsheet for Spatula clypeata

Goat Skulls


Goat Skull 1
Goat Skull 1


Goat Skull 2
Goat Skull 2


Goat Skull 3
Goat Skull 3

Goat info via Wikipedia:

Temporal range: 2.6–0 Ma
Siberian Ibex.jpg
Female and male Siberian ibex at the Berlin Zoological Garden
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Caprinae
Tribe: Caprini
Genus: Capra
Linnaeus, 1758

See text.

Capra range map2.jpg
Approximate range of the Capra species

Capra is a genus of mammals, the goats, composed of up to nine species, including the wild goat, the markhor, and several species known as ibex. The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a domesticated subspecies of the wild goat (Capra aegagrus). Evidence of goat domestication dates back more than 8,500 years.

Wild goats are animals of mountain habitats. They are very agile and hardy, able to climb on bare rock and survive on sparse vegetation. They can be distinguished from the genus Ovis, which includes sheep, by the presence of scent glands close to the feet, in the groin, and in front of the eyes, and the absence of other facial glands, and by the presence of a beard in the males, and of hairless calluses on the knees of the forelegs.[1]

The Rocky Mountain goat is in a separate genus, Oreamnos.


Male Nubian ibex
Caprine heart.

All members of the Capra genus are bovids (members of the family Bovidae), and more specifically caprids (subfamily Caprinae). As such they are ruminants, meaning they chew the cud, and have four-chambered stomachs which play a vital role in digesting, regurgitating, and redigesting their food.

The genus has sometimes been taken to include Ovis (sheep) and Ammotragus (Barbary sheep),[2] but these are usually regarded as distinct genera, leaving Capra for goats and ibexes. In this smaller genus, some authors have recognized only two species, the markhor on one side and all other forms included in one species on the other side.[3] Today, nine species are usually accepted:[4]

The goats of the genus Capra have complex systematic relationships, which are still not completely resolved. Recent studies based on mitochondrial DNA suggest that the Siberian ibex and the Nubian ibex represent distinct species, which are not very closely related to the physically similar Alpine ibex. The Alpine ibex forms a group with the Spanish ibex. The West Caucasian tur appears to be more closely related to the wild goat than to the East Caucasian tur. The markhor is relatively little separated from other forms—previously it had been considered to be a separate branch of the genus.[5]

Almost all wild goat species are allopatric (geographically separated)—the only geographical overlaps are the wild goat (Capra hircus) with the East Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica cylindricornis), and the markhor (Capra falconeri) with the Siberian ibex (Capra siberica). In both cases, the overlapping species do not usually interbreed in the wild, but in captivity, all Capra species can interbreed, producing fertile offspring.[6]

Species and subspecies

Capra caucasica1.JPG Capra caucasica West Caucasian tur
Capra cylindricornis 2.JPG Capra cylindricornis East Caucasian tur
Markhor.jpg Capra falconeri Markhor
Bezoarziege.jpg Capra aegagrus Wild goat
Gorges du Verdon Goat-Rove-black 0253.jpg Capra (aegagrus) hircus Domestic goat
Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica) 01.JPG Capra sibirica Siberian ibex
Cabra d.jpg Capra pyrenaica Spanish ibex
Capra walie.jpg Capra walie Walia ibex
SteinbockGabinten.jpg Capra ibex Alpine ibex
Nubian Ibex in Negev.JPG Capra nubiana Nubian ibex

Domestication and uses

Goats used for natural weed control
Ibex securely climbing rocky slope

Along with sheep, goats were among the first domesticated animals. The domestication process started at least 10,000 years ago in what is now northern Iran.[7] Easy human access to goat hair, meat, and milk were the primary motivations. Goat skins were popularly used until the Middle Ages for water and wine bottles when traveling and camping, and in certain regions as parchment for writing.

In ancient history

Capra in Andalusia

Evidence of the ibex is widely present in the archaeological record, particularly in the Near East and Mediterranean regions. Ibex motifs are very common on cylinder seals and pottery, both painted and embossed. Excavations from Minoan Crete at Knossos, for example, have yielded specimens from about 1800 BC, including one cylinder seal depicting an ibex defending itself from a hunting dog.[8] From the similar age a gold jewelry ibex image was found at the Akrotiri archaeological site[9] on Santorini in present-day Greece.

An Iron Age Capra ibex specimen was recovered at the Aq Kupruk archaeological site in present-day Afghanistan, illustrating either domestication or hunting of the ibex by these early peoples.[clarification needed] However, archaeological records of ibex can be difficult to separate from those of domestic goats.[10] A 4,000-year-old rock drawing of an ibex deer, complete with long curled horns, was discovered near Khomeyn, Iran.[11]


  1. ^ Parrini, F.; et al. (2009). "Capra ibex (Artiodactyla: Bovidae)". Mammalian Species. 830: 1–12. doi:10.1644/830.1. 
  2. ^ Ansell, W. F. H. 1972. Order Artiodactyla. Part 15. Pp. 1–84, in The mammals of Africa: An identification manual (J. Meester and H. W. Setzer, eds.) [issued 2 May 1972]. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., not continuously paginated. (quoted in Grubb, P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. )
  3. ^ Haltenorth, T. 1963. Klassifikation der Säugetiere: Artiodactyla I. Handbuch der Zoologie, 8(32):1–167 (quoted in Grubb, P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. )
  4. ^ Nathalie Pidancier, Steve Jordan, Gordon Luikart, Pierre Taberlet: Evolutionary history of the genus Capra (Mammalia, Artiodactyla): Discordance between mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40 (2006) 739–749 online
  5. ^ Phylogenetic Reconstructions in the Genus Capra (Bovidae, Artiodactyla) Based on the Mitochondrial DNA Analysis. Russian Journal of Genetics, 2007, Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 181–189. online
  6. ^ V. G. Heptner: Mammals of the Sowjetunion Vol. I UNGULATES. Leiden, New York, 1989 ISBN 90-04-08874-1
  7. ^ Melinda A. Zeder, Brian Hesse: The Initial Domestication of Goats (Capra hircus) in the Zagros Mountains 10,000 Years Ago. Science 24 March 2000: Vol. 287. no. 5461, pp. 2254–2257 online abstract
  8. ^ C. Michael Hogan, Knossos fieldnotes, Modern Antiquarian (2007)
  9. ^ M. Uda, G. Demortier, I. Nakai, X-rays for archaeology, 2005, Springer, ISBN 1-4020-3580-2
  10. ^ Pam J. Crabtree, Douglas V. Campana, Kathleen Ryan, Early Animal Domestication and Its Cultural Context, 1989, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology ISBN 0-924171-96-0
  11. ^

External links



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