Racoon Skull 1 | Procyon lotor
Racoon Skull 2 | Procyon lotor

Racoon info via Wikipedia:

Temporal range: Pleistocene–Recent
Raccoon climbing in tree - Cropped and color corrected.jpg
California raccoon (P. l. psora), Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in California
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Procyon
Species: P. lotor
Binomial name
Procyon lotor
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Native range in red, introduced range in blue

Ursus lotor Linnaeus, 1758

The raccoon (/rəˈkn/ or US: /ræˈkn/ (About this sound listen), Procyon lotor), sometimes spelled racoon,[3] also known as the common raccoon,[4]North American raccoon,[5]northern raccoon,[6] colloquially as coon,[7] is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in) and a body weight of 5 to 26 kg (11 to 57 lb).[8] Its grayish coat mostly consists of dense underfur which insulates it against cold weather. Two of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for up to three years.[9] The diet of the omnivorous raccoon, which is usually nocturnal, consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates.

The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where some homeowners consider them to be pests. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across mainland Germany, France, Danmark, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Caucasia, and Japan.

Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders. Home range sizes vary anywhere from 3 hectares (7.4 acres) for females in cities to 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) for males in prairies. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young, known as "kits", are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersal in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas, hunting and vehicular injury are the two most common causes of death.


The mask of a raccoon is often interrupted by a brown-black streak that extends from forehead to nose.[10]

The word "raccoon" was adopted into English from the native Powhatan term, as used in the Colony of Virginia. It was recorded on John Smith's list of Powhatan words as aroughcun, and on that of William Strachey as arathkone.[11] It has also been identified as a reflex of a Proto-Algonquian root *ahrah-koon-em, meaning "[the] one who rubs, scrubs and scratches with its hands".[12]

Similarly, Spanish colonists adopted the Spanish word mapache from the Nahuatl mapachitli of the Aztecs, meaning "[the] one who takes everything in its hands".[13] In many languages, the raccoon is named for its characteristic dousing behavior in conjunction with that language's term for bear, for example Waschbär in German, orsetto lavatore in Italian, and araiguma (アライグマ) in Japanese. Alternatively, only the washing behavior might be referred to, as in Russian poloskun (полоскун, "rinser"). The colloquial abbreviation coon is used in words like coonskin for fur clothing and in phrases like old coon as a self-designation of trappers.[7][14] In the 1830s, the United States Whig Party used the raccoon as an emblem, causing them to be pejoratively known as 'coons' by their political opponents, who saw them as too sympathetic to African-Americans. Soon after that it became an ethnic slur,[15] especially in use between 1880 and 1920 (see coon song), and the term is still considered offensive.[16]


Skins of P. lotor and P. cancrivorus
Skulls of P. lotor and P. cancrivorus

In the first decades after its discovery by the members of the expedition of Christopher Columbus, who was the first person to leave a written record about the species, taxonomists thought the raccoon was related to many different species, including dogs, cats, badgers and particularly bears.[17]Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, placed the raccoon in the genus Ursus, first as Ursus cauda elongata ("long-tailed bear") in the second edition of his Systema Naturae (1740), then as Ursus Lotor ("washer bear") in the tenth edition (1758–59).[18][19] In 1780, Gottlieb Conrad Christian Storr placed the raccoon in its own genus Procyon, which can be translated as either "before the dog" or "doglike".[20][21] It is also possible that Storr had its nocturnal lifestyle in mind and chose the star Procyon as eponym for the species.[22][23]


Based on fossil evidence from Russia and Bulgaria, the first known members of the family Procyonidae lived in Europe in the late Oligocene about 25 million years ago.[24] Similar tooth and skull structures suggest procyonids and weasels share a common ancestor, but molecular analysis indicates a closer relationship between raccoons and bears.[25] After the then-existing species crossed the Bering Strait at least six million years later in the early Miocene, the center of its distribution was probably in Central America.[26]Coatis (Nasua and Nasuella) and raccoons (Procyon) have been considered to share common descent from a species in the genus Paranasua present between 5.2 and 6.0 million years ago.[27] This assumption, based on morphological comparisons of fossils, conflicts with a 2006 genetic analysis which indicates raccoons are more closely related to ringtails.[28] Unlike other procyonids, such as the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), the ancestors of the common raccoon left tropical and subtropical areas and migrated farther north about 2.5 million years ago, in a migration that has been confirmed by the discovery of fossils in the Great Plains dating back to the middle of the Pliocene.[29][27] Its most recent ancestor was likely Procyon rexroadensis, a large Blancan raccoon from the Rexroad Formation characterized by its narrow back teeth and large lower jaw.[30]


A Torch Key raccoon (P. l. incautus) in Cudjoe Key, Florida. Subspecies inhabiting the Florida Keys are characterized by their small size and very pale fur.

As of 2005, Mammal Species of the World recognizes 22 subspecies.[31] Four of these subspecies living only on small Central American and Caribbean islands were often regarded as distinct species after their discovery. These are the Bahamian raccoon and Guadeloupe raccoon, which are very similar to each other; the Tres Marias raccoon, which is larger than average and has an angular skull; and the extinct Barbados raccoon. Studies of their morphological and genetic traits in 1999, 2003 and 2005 led all these island raccoons to be listed as subspecies of the common raccoon in Mammal Species of the World's third edition. A fifth island raccoon population, the Cozumel raccoon, which weighs only 3 to 4 kg (6.6 to 8.8 lb) and has notably small teeth, is still regarded as a separate species.[32][33][34][35]

The four smallest raccoon subspecies, with a typical weight of 1.8 to 2.7 kg (4.0 to 6.0 lb), live along the southern coast of Florida and on the adjacent islands; an example is the Ten Thousand Islands raccoon (Procyon lotor marinus).[36] Most of the other 15 subspecies differ only slightly from each other in coat color, size and other physical characteristics.[37][38] The two most widespread subspecies are the eastern raccoon (Procyon lotor lotor) and the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon (Procyon lotor hirtus). Both share a comparatively dark coat with long hairs, but the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon is larger than the eastern raccoon. The eastern raccoon occurs in all U.S. states and Canadian provinces to the north of South Carolina and Tennessee. The adjacent range of the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon covers all U.S. states and Canadian provinces to the north of Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.[39]

The taxonomic identity of feral raccoons inhabiting Central Europe, Causasia and Japan is unknown, as the founding populations consisted of uncategorized specimens from zoos and fur farms.[40]


Skull with dentition: 2/2 molars, 4/4 premolars, 1/1 canines, 3/3 incisors
Baculum or penis bone
Lower side of front paw with visible vibrissae on the tips of the digits

Physical characteristics

Head to hindquarters, raccoons measure between 40 and 70 cm (16 and 28 in), not including the bushy tail which can measure between 20 and 40 cm (8 and 16 in), but is usually not much longer than 25 cm (10 in).[64][65][66] The shoulder height is between 23 and 30 cm (9 and 12 in).[67] The body weight of an adult raccoon varies considerably with habitat, making the raccoon one of the most variably sized mammals. It can range from 5 to 26 kilograms (10 to 60 lb), but is usually between 5 and 12 kilograms (10 and 30 lb). The smallest specimens live in southern Florida, while those near the northern limits of the raccoon's range tend to be the largest (see Bergmann's rule).[68] Males are usually 15 to 20% heavier than females.[69] At the beginning of winter, a raccoon can weigh twice as much as in spring because of fat storage.[70][71][72] The largest recorded wild raccoon weighed 28.4 kg (62.6 lb) and measured 140 cm (55 in) in total length, by far the largest size recorded for a procyonid.[73][74]

The most characteristic physical feature of the raccoon is the area of black fur around the eyes, which contrasts sharply with the surrounding white face coloring. This is reminiscent of a "bandit's mask" and has thus enhanced the animal's reputation for mischief.[75][76] The slightly rounded ears are also bordered by white fur. Raccoons are assumed to recognize the facial expression and posture of other members of their species more quickly because of the conspicuous facial coloration and the alternating light and dark rings on the tail.[77][78][79] The dark mask may also reduce glare and thus enhance night vision.[78][79] On other parts of the body, the long and stiff guard hairs, which shed moisture, are usually colored in shades of gray and, to a lesser extent, brown.[80] Raccoons with a very dark coat are more common in the German population because individuals with such coloring were among those initially released to the wild.[81] The dense underfur, which accounts for almost 90% of the coat, insulates against cold weather and is composed of 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.2 in) long hairs.[80]

The raccoon, whose method of locomotion is usually considered to be plantigrade, can stand on its hind legs to examine objects with its front paws.[82][83] As raccoons have short legs compared to their compact torso, they are usually not able either to run quickly or jump great distances.[84][85] Their top speed over short distances is 16 to 24 km/h (10 to 15 mph).[86][87] Raccoons can swim with an average speed of about 5 km/h (3 mph) and can stay in the water for several hours.[88][85] For climbing down a tree headfirst—an unusual ability for a mammal of its size—a raccoon rotates its hind feet so they are pointing backwards.[89][85] Raccoons have a dual cooling system to regulate their temperature; that is, they are able to both sweat and pant for heat dissipation.[90][91]

Raccoon skulls have a short and wide facial region and a voluminous braincase. The facial length of the skull is less than the cranial, and their nasal bones are short and quite broad. The auditory bullae are inflated in form, and the sagittal crest is weakly developed.[92] The dentition — 40 teeth with the dental formula: — is adapted to their omnivorous diet: the carnassials are not as sharp and pointed as those of a full-time carnivore, but the molars are not as wide as those of a herbivore.[93] The penis bone of males is about 10 cm (4 in) long and strongly bent at the front end.[94][95] Juvenile males are distinguished from mature males by the shape and extrusibility of their penis bones.[96][97][98] Seven of the thirteen identified vocal calls are used in communication between the mother and her kits, one of these being the birdlike twittering of newborns.[99][100][91]


The most important sense for the raccoon is its sense of touch.[101][102][103] The "hyper sensitive"[102] front paws are protected by a thin horny layer that becomes pliable when wet.[104][105] The five digits of the paws have no webbing between them, which is unusual for a carnivoran.[106] Almost two-thirds of the area responsible for sensory perception in the raccoon's cerebral cortex is specialized for the interpretation of tactile impulses, more than in any other studied animal.[107] They are able to identify objects before touching them with vibrissae located above their sharp, nonretractable claws.[82][103] The raccoon's paws lack an opposable thumb; thus, it does not have the agility of the hands of primates.[105][103] There is no observed negative effect on tactile perception when a raccoon stands in water below 10 °C (50 °F) for hours.[108]

Raccoons are thought to be color blind or at least poorly able to distinguish color, though their eyes are well-adapted for sensing green light.[109][110][111] Although their accommodation of 11 dioptre is comparable to that of humans and they see well in twilight because of the tapetum lucidum behind the retina, visual perception is of subordinate importance to raccoons because of their poor long-distance vision.[112][113][114] In addition to being useful for orientation in the dark, their sense of smell is important for intraspecific communication. Glandular secretions (usually from their anal glands), urine and feces are used for marking.[115][116][117] With their broad auditory range, they can perceive tones up to 50–85 kHz as well as quiet noises, like those produced by earthworms underground.[118][119]


Zoologist Clinton Hart Merriam described raccoons as "clever beasts", and that "in certain directions their cunning surpasses that of the fox." The animal's intelligence gave rise to the epithet "sly coon".[120] Only a few studies have been undertaken to determine the mental abilities of raccoons, most of them based on the animal's sense of touch. In a study by the ethologist H. B. Davis in 1908, raccoons were able to open 11 of 13 complex locks in fewer than 10 tries and had no problems repeating the action when the locks were rearranged or turned upside down. Davis concluded they understood the abstract principles of the locking mechanisms and their learning speed was equivalent to that of rhesus macaques.[121] Studies in 1963, 1973, 1975 and 1992 concentrated on raccoon memory showed they can remember the solutions to tasks for up to three years.[122] In a study by B. Pohl in 1992, raccoons were able to instantly differentiate between identical and different symbols three years after the short initial learning phase.[9]Stanislas Dehaene reports in his book The Number Sense raccoons can distinguish boxes containing two or four grapes from those containing three.[123] In research by Suzana Herculano-Houzel and other neuroscientists, raccoons have been found to be comparable to primates in density of neurons in the cerebral cortex, a neuroanatomical indicator of intelligence.[124][125]


Social behavior

Eastern raccoons (P. l. lotor) in a tree: The raccoon's social structure is grouped into what Ulf Hohmann calls a "three class society".

Studies in the 1990s by the ethologists Stanley D. Gehrt and Ulf Hohmann suggest that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behaviors and are not typically solitary, as was previously thought.[126][127] Related females often live in a so-called "fission-fusion society", that is, they share a common area and occasionally meet at feeding or resting grounds.[128][129] Unrelated males often form loose male social groups to maintain their position against foreign males during the mating season—or against other potential invaders.[130] Such a group does not usually consist of more than four individuals.[131][132] Since some males show aggressive behavior towards unrelated kits, mothers will isolate themselves from other raccoons until their kits are big enough to defend themselves.[133] With respect to these three different modes of life prevalent among raccoons, Hohmann called their social structure a "three class society".[134] Samuel I. Zeveloff, professor of zoology at Weber State University and author of the book Raccoons: A Natural History, is more cautious in his interpretation and concludes at least the females are solitary most of the time and, according to Erik K. Fritzell's study in North Dakota in 1978, males in areas with low population densities are solitary as well.[135]

The shape and size of a raccoon's home range varies depending on age, sex, and habitat, with adults claiming areas more than twice as large as juveniles.[136] While the size of home ranges in the inhospitable habitat of North Dakota's prairies lie between 7 and 50 km2 (3 and 20 sq mi) for males and between 2 and 16 km2 (1 and 6 sq mi) for females, the average size in a marsh at Lake Erie was 0.5 km2 (0.19 sq mi).[137] Irrespective of whether the home ranges of adjacent groups overlap, they are most likely not actively defended outside the mating season if food supplies are sufficient.[138] Odor marks on prominent spots are assumed to establish home ranges and identify individuals.[117] Urine and feces left at shared raccoon latrines may provide additional information about feeding grounds, since raccoons were observed to meet there later for collective eating, sleeping and playing.[139]

Concerning the general behavior patterns of raccoons, Gehrt points out that "typically you'll find 10 to 15 percent that will do the opposite"[140] of what is expected.

On an apple tree


Though usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources.[141][142] Its diet consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant material and 27% vertebrates.[143] Since its diet consists of such a variety of different foods, Zeveloff argues the raccoon "may well be one of the world's most omnivorous animals".[144] While its diet in spring and early summer consists mostly of insects, worms, and other animals already available early in the year, it prefers fruits and nuts, such as acorns and walnuts, which emerge in late summer and autumn, and represent a rich calorie source for building up fat needed for winter.[145][146] Contrary to popular belief, raccoons only occasionally eat active or large prey, such as birds and mammals. They prefer prey that is easier to catch, specifically fish, amphibians and bird eggs.[147] When food is plentiful, raccoons can develop strong individual preferences for specific foods.[71] In the northern parts of their range, raccoons go into a winter rest, reducing their activity drastically as long as a permanent snow cover makes searching for food impossible.[148]


Captive raccoons often douse their food before eating.

One aspect of raccoon behavior is so well known that it gives the animal part of its scientific name, Procyon lotor; "lotor" is neo-Latin for "washer". In the wild, raccoons often dabble for underwater food near the shore-line. They then often pick up the food item with their front paws to examine it and rub the item, sometimes to remove unwanted parts. This gives the appearance of the raccoon "washing" the food. The tactile sensitivity of raccoons' paws is increased if this rubbing action is performed underwater, since the water softens the hard layer covering the paws.[102][149] However, the behavior observed in captive raccoons in which they carry their food to water to "wash" or douse it before eating has not been observed in the wild.[150][151]Naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, believed that raccoons do not have adequate saliva production to moisten food thereby necessitating dousing, but this hypothesis is now considered to be incorrect.[152][150][153][149] Captive raccoons douse their food more frequently when a watering hole with a layout similar to a stream is not farther away than 3 m (10 ft).[153] The widely accepted theory is that dousing in captive raccoons is a fixed action pattern from the dabbling behavior performed when foraging at shores for aquatic foods.[154][155][153][149] This is supported by the observation that aquatic foods are doused more frequently. Cleaning dirty food does not seem to be a reason for "washing".[153] Experts have cast doubt on the veracity of observations of wild raccoons dousing food.[156][157][158]


Raccoons usually mate in a period triggered by increasing daylight between late January and mid-March.[159][160][161] However, there are large regional differences which are not completely explicable by solar conditions. For example, while raccoons in southern states typically mate later than average, the mating season in Manitoba also peaks later than usual in March and extends until June.[161] During the mating season, males restlessly roam their home ranges in search of females in an attempt to court them during the three- to four-day period when conception is possible. These encounters will often occur at central meeting places.[162][163][164]Copulation, including foreplay, can last over an hour and is repeated over several nights.[165] The weaker members of a male social group also are assumed to get the opportunity to mate, since the stronger ones cannot mate with all available females.[166] In a study in southern Texas during the mating seasons from 1990 to 1992, about one third of all females mated with more than one male.[167] If a female does not become pregnant or if she loses her kits early, she will sometimes become fertile again 80 to 140 days later.[168][169][170]

An eastern raccoon (P. l. lotor) kit

After usually 63 to 65 days of gestation (although anywhere from 54 to 70 days is possible), a litter of typically two to five young is born.[171][172] The average litter size varies widely with habitat, ranging from 2.5 in Alabama to 4.8 in North Dakota.[173][174] Larger litters are more common in areas with a high mortality rate, due, for example, to hunting or severe winters.[175][174] While male yearlings usually reach their sexual maturity only after the main mating season, female yearlings can compensate for high mortality rates and may be responsible for about 50% of all young born in a year.[176][177][178] Males have no part in raising young.[131][179][180] The kits (also called "cubs") are blind and deaf at birth, but their mask is already visible against their light fur.[181][182] The birth weight of the about 10 cm (4 in)-long kits is between 60 and 75 g (2.1 and 2.6 oz).[182] Their ear canals open after around 18 to 23 days, a few days before their eyes open for the first time.[183] Once the kits weigh about 1 kg (2 lb), they begin to explore outside the den, consuming solid food for the first time after six to nine weeks.[184][185] After this point, their mother suckles them with decreasing frequency; they are usually weaned by 16 weeks.[186] In the fall, after their mother has shown them dens and feeding grounds, the juvenile group splits up.[187][188] While many females will stay close to the home range of their mother, males can sometimes move more than 20 km (12 mi) away.[189][190] This is considered an instinctive behavior, preventing inbreeding.[191][192] However, mother and offspring may share a den during the first winter in cold areas.[188]

Life expectancy

Young Florida raccoon (P. l. elucus) crossing a road

Captive raccoons have been known to live for more than 20 years.[75] However, the species' life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years, depending on the local conditions in terms of traffic volume, hunting, and weather severity.[193] It is not unusual for only half of the young born in one year to survive a full year.[176][194] After this point, the annual mortality rate drops to between 10% and 30%.[176] Young raccoons are vulnerable to losing their mother and to starvation, particularly in long and cold winters.[195] The most frequent natural cause of death in the North American raccoon population is distemper, which can reach epidemic proportions and kill most of a local raccoon population.[196] In areas with heavy vehicular traffic and extensive hunting, these factors can account for up to 90% of all deaths of adult raccoons.[197] Due to a broad range of range overlap with these predators, the most important natural predators of the raccoon are bobcats, coyotes, and great horned owls, the latter mainly preying on young raccoons but capable of killing adults in some cases.[198][199][200][201][202][203] In Florida, they have been reported to fall victim to larger carnivores like American black bear and cougars and these species may also be a threat on occasion in other areas.[204][205][206] Also in the southeast, they are among the favored prey for adult American alligators.[207][208] On occasion, both bald and golden eagles will prey on raccoons.[209][210] In rare cases of overlap, they may fall victim from carnivores ranging from species averaging smaller than themselves such as fishers to those as large and formidable as jaguars in Mexico.[211][212] In their introduced range in the former Soviet Union, their main predators are wolves, lynxes and eagle owls.[213] However, predation is not a significant cause of death, especially because larger predators have been exterminated in many areas inhabited by raccoons.[214]


Mississippi Delta raccoon (P. l. megaloudus) searching for food on a lake shore


Although they have thrived in sparsely wooded areas in the last decades, raccoons depend on vertical structures to climb when they feel threatened.[215][216] Therefore, they avoid open terrain and areas with high concentrations of beech trees, as beech bark is too smooth to climb.[217]Tree hollows in old oaks or other trees and rock crevices are preferred by raccoons as sleeping, winter and litter dens. If such dens are unavailable or accessing them is inconvenient, raccoons use burrows dug by other mammals, dense undergrowth or tree crotches.[218][219] In a study in the Solling range of hills in Germany, more than 60% of all sleeping places were used only once, but those used at least ten times accounted for about 70% of all uses.[220] Since amphibians, crustaceans, and other animals around the shore of lakes and rivers are an important part of the raccoon's diet, lowland deciduous or mixed forests abundant with water and marshes sustain the highest population densities.[221][222] While population densities range from 0.5 to 3.2 animals per square kilometer (1.3 to 8.3 animals per square mile) in prairies and do not usually exceed 6 animals per square kilometer (15.5 animals per square mile) in upland hardwood forests, more than 20 raccoons per square kilometer (51.8 animals per square mile) can live in lowland forests and marshes.[221][223]

Distribution in North America

An albino Florida raccoon (P. l. elucus) in Virginia Key, Florida

Raccoons are common throughout North America from Canada to Panama, where the subspecies Procyon lotor pumilus coexists with the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus).[224][225] The population on Hispaniola was exterminated as early as 1513 by Spanish colonists who hunted them for their meat.[226] Raccoons were also exterminated in Cuba and Jamaica, where the last sightings were reported in 1687.[227] When they were still considered separate species, the Bahamas raccoon, Guadeloupe raccoon and Tres Marias raccoon were classified as endangered by the IUCN in 1996.[228]

There is archeological evidence that in pre-Columbian times raccoons were numerous only along rivers and in the woodlands of the Southeastern United States.[229] As raccoons were not mentioned in earlier reports of pioneers exploring the central and north-central parts of the United States,[230] their initial spread may have begun a few decades before the 20th century. Since the 1950s, raccoons have expanded their range from Vancouver Island—formerly the northernmost limit of their range—far into the northern portions of the four south-central Canadian provinces.[231] New habitats which have recently been occupied by raccoons (aside from urban areas) include mountain ranges, such as the Western Rocky Mountains, prairies and coastal marshes.[232] After a population explosion starting in the 1940s, the estimated number of raccoons in North America in the late 1980s was 15 to 20 times higher than in the 1930s, when raccoons were comparatively rare.[233]Urbanization, the expansion of agriculture, deliberate introductions, and the extermination of natural predators of the raccoon have probably caused this increase in abundance and distribution.[234]

Distribution outside North America

As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, the raccoon is now distributed in several European and Asian countries. Sightings have occurred in all the countries bordering Germany, which hosts the largest population outside of North America.[235] Another stable population exists in northern France, where several pet raccoons were released by members of the U.S. Air Force near the Laon-Couvron Air Base in 1966.[236] Furthermore, raccoons have been known to be in the area around Madrid since the early 1970s. In 2013 the city authorized "the capture and death of any specimen".[237] It is also present in Italy, with one reproductive population in Lombardy.[238]

About 1,240 animals were released in nine regions of the former Soviet Union between 1936 and 1958 for the purpose of establishing a population to be hunted for their fur. Two of these introductions were successful — one in the south of Belarus between 1954 and 1958, and another in Azerbaijan between 1941 and 1957. With a seasonal harvest of between 1,000 and 1,500 animals, in 1974 the estimated size of the population distributed in the Caucasus region was around 20,000 animals and the density was four animals per square kilometer (10 animals per square mile).[239]

Distribution in Japan

In Japan, up to 1,500 raccoons were imported as pets each year after the success of the anime series Rascal the Raccoon (1977). In 2004, the descendants of discarded or escaped animals lived in 42 of 47 prefectures.[240][241][242] The population of raccoons in Japan grew from 17 prefectures in 2000 to all 47 prefectures in 2008.[243] It is estimated that raccoons cause thirty million yen of agricultural damage on Hokkaido alone.[244]

Distribution in Germany: Raccoons killed or found dead by hunters in the hunting years 2000–2001, 2001–2002 and 2002–2003 in the administrative districts of Germany

Distribution in Germany

In Germany—where the raccoon is called the Waschbär (literally, "wash-bear" or "washing bear") due to its habit of "dousing" food in water—two pairs of pet raccoons were released into the German countryside at the Edersee reservoir in the north of Hesse in April 1934 by a forester upon request of their owner, a poultry farmer.[245] He released them two weeks before receiving permission from the Prussian hunting office to "enrich the fauna."[246] Several prior attempts to introduce raccoons in Germany were not successful.[247][248] A second population was established in eastern Germany in 1945 when 25 raccoons escaped from a fur farm at Wolfshagen (today district of Altlandsberg), east of Berlin, after an air strike. The two populations are parasitologically distinguishable: 70% of the raccoons of the Hessian population are infected with the roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, but none of the Brandenburgian population has the parasite.[249] The estimated number of raccoons was 285 animals in the Hessian region in 1956, over 20,000 animals in the Hessian region in 1970 and between 200,000 and 400,000 animals in the whole of Germany in 2008.[196][247] By 2012 it was estimated that Germany now had more than a million raccoons.[250]

The raccoon was a protected species in Germany, but has been declared a game animal in 14 states since 1954.[251] Hunters and environmentalists argue the raccoon spreads uncontrollably, threatens protected bird species and supersedes domestic carnivorans.[81] This view is opposed by the zoologist Frank-Uwe Michler, who finds no evidence a high population density of raccoons has negative effects on the biodiversity of an area.[81] Hohmann holds that extensive hunting cannot be justified by the absence of natural predators, because predation is not a significant cause of death in the North American raccoon population.[252]

Distribution in the former USSR

Experiments in acclimatising raccoons into the USSR began in 1936, and were repeated a further 25 times until 1962. Overall, 1,222 individuals were released, 64 of which came from zoos and fur farms (38 of them having been imports from western Europe). The remainder originated from a population previously established in Transcaucasia. The range of Soviet raccoons was never single or continuous, as they were often introduced to different locations far from each other. All introductions into the Russian Far East failed; melanistic raccoons were released on Petrov Island near Vladivostok and some areas of southern Primorsky Krai, but died. In Middle Asia, raccoons were released in Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad Province, though they were later recorded as "practically absent" there in January 1963. A large and stable raccoon population (yielding 1000–1500 catches a year) was established in Azerbaijan after an introduction to the area in 1937. Raccoons apparently survived an introduction near Terek, along the Sulak River into the Dagestani lowlands. Attempts to settle raccoons on the Kuban River's left tributary and Kabardino-Balkaria were unsuccessful. A successful acclimatization occurred in Belarus, where three introductions (consisting of 52, 37 and 38 individuals in 1954 and 1958) took place. By January 1, 1963, 700 individuals were recorded in the country.[253]

Urban raccoons

On the roof of a house in Albertshausen, Germany

Due to its adaptability, the raccoon has been able to use urban areas as a habitat. The first sightings were recorded in a suburb of Cincinnati in the 1920s. Since the 1950s, raccoons have been present in metropolitan areas like Washington, DC, Chicago, and Toronto.[254] Since the 2010s, a nuisance population of raccoons has been present in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[255] Since the 1960s, Kassel has hosted Europe's first and densest population in a large urban area, with about 50 to 150 animals per square kilometer (130 to 390 animals per square mile), a figure comparable to those of urban habitats in North America.[254][256] Home range sizes of urban raccoons are only 3 to 40 hectares (7.5 to 100 acres) for females and 8 to 80 hectares (20 to 200 acres) for males.[257] In small towns and suburbs, many raccoons sleep in a nearby forest after foraging in the settlement area.[254][258] Fruit and insects in gardens and leftovers in municipal waste are easily available food sources.[259] Furthermore, a large number of additional sleeping areas exist in these areas, such as hollows in old garden trees, cottages, garages, abandoned houses, and attics. The percentage of urban raccoons sleeping in abandoned or occupied houses varies from 15% in Washington, DC (1991) to 43% in Kassel (2003).[258][256]


Raccoon roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis larvae

Raccoons can carry rabies, a lethal disease caused by the neurotropic rabies virus carried in the saliva and transmitted by bites. Its spread began in Florida and Georgia in the 1950s and was facilitated by the introduction of infected individuals to Virginia and North Dakota in the late 1970s.[260] Of the 6,940 documented rabies cases reported in the United States in 2006, 2,615 (37.7%) were in raccoons.[261] The U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as local authorities in several U.S. states and Canadian provinces, has developed oral vaccination programs to fight the spread of the disease in endangered populations.[262][263][264] Only one human fatality has been reported after transmission of the rabies virus strain commonly known as "raccoon rabies".[265] Among the main symptoms for rabies in raccoons are a generally sickly appearance, impaired mobility, abnormal vocalization, and aggressiveness.[266] There may be no visible signs at all, however, and most individuals do not show the aggressive behavior seen in infected canids; rabid raccoons will often retire to their dens instead.[81][249][266] Organizations like the U.S. Forest Service encourage people to stay away from animals with unusual behavior or appearance, and to notify the proper authorities, such as an animal control officer from the local health department.[267][268] Since healthy animals, especially nursing mothers, will occasionally forage during the day, daylight activity is not a reliable indicator of illness in raccoons.[141][142]

Unlike rabies and at least a dozen other pathogens carried by raccoons, distemper, an epizootic virus, does not affect humans.[269][270] This disease is the most frequent natural cause of death in the North American raccoon population and affects individuals of all age groups.[196] For example, 94 of 145 raccoons died during an outbreak in Clifton, Ohio, in 1968.[271] It may occur along with a following inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), causing the animal to display rabies-like symptoms.[260] In Germany, the first eight cases of distemper were reported in 2007.[196]

Some of the most important bacterial diseases which affect raccoons are leptospirosis, listeriosis, tetanus, and tularemia. Although internal parasites weaken their immune systems, well-fed individuals can carry a great many roundworms in their digestive tracts without showing symptoms.[272][270] The larvae of the roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, which can be contained in the feces and seldom causes a severe illness in humans, can be ingested when cleaning raccoon latrines without wearing breathing protection.[273]

While not endemic, the worm Trichinella does infect raccoons,[274] and undercooked raccoon meat has caused trichinosis in humans.[275]

Trematode Metorchis conjunctus can also infect raccoons.[276]

Raccoons and humans


A skunk and a California raccoon (P. s. psora) share cat food morsels in a Hollywood, California, back yard

The increasing number of raccoons in urban areas has resulted in diverse reactions in humans, ranging from outrage at their presence to deliberate feeding.[277] Some wildlife experts and most public authorities caution against feeding wild animals because they might become increasingly obtrusive and dependent on humans as a food source.[278] Other experts challenge such arguments and give advice on feeding raccoons and other wildlife in their books.[279][280] Raccoons without a fear of humans are a concern to those who attribute this trait to rabies, but scientists point out this behavior is much more likely to be a behavioral adjustment to living in habitats with regular contact to humans for many generations.[281][249] Raccoons usually do not prey on domestic cats and dogs, but individual cases of killings have been reported.[282] Attacks on pets may also target their owners.[283]

A Florida raccoon (P. l. elucus) in the Florida Everglades approaches a group of humans, hoping to be fed.

While overturned waste containers and raided fruit trees are just a nuisance to homeowners, it can cost several thousand dollars to repair damage caused by the use of attic space as dens.[284] Relocating or killing raccoons without a permit is forbidden in many urban areas on grounds of animal welfare. These methods usually only solve problems with particularly wild or aggressive individuals, since adequate dens are either known to several raccoons or will quickly be rediscovered.[268][175][285] Loud noises, flashing lights and unpleasant odors have proven particularly effective in driving away a mother and her kits before they would normally leave the nesting place (when the kits are about eight weeks old).[268][286] Typically, though, only precautionary measures to restrict access to food waste and den sites are effective in the long term.[268][287][288]

Among all fruits and crops cultivated in agricultural areas, sweet corn in its milk stage is particularly popular among raccoons.[289][290] In a two-year study by Purdue University researchers, published in 2004, raccoons were responsible for 87% of the damage to corn plants.[291] Like other predators, raccoons searching for food can break into poultry houses to feed on chickens, ducks, their eggs, or food.[268][143][292]

Since raccoons in high mortality areas have a higher rate of reproduction, extensive hunting may not solve problems with raccoon populations. Older males also claim larger home ranges than younger ones, resulting in a lower population density.

Mythology, arts, and entertainment

Stylized raccoon skin as depicted on the Raccoon Priests Gorget found at Spiro Mounds

In the mythology of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the raccoon is the subject of folk tales.[293] Stories such as "How raccoons catch so many crayfish" from the Tuscarora centered on its skills at foraging.[294] In other tales, the raccoon played the role of the trickster which outsmarts other animals, like coyotes and wolves.[295] Among others, the Dakota Sioux believe the raccoon has natural spirit powers, since its mask resembled the facial paintings, two-fingered swashes of black and white, used during rituals to connect to spirit beings.[296] The Aztecs linked supernatural abilities especially to females, whose commitment to their young was associated with the role of wise women in their society.[297]

The raccoon also appears in Native American art across a wide geographic range. Petroglyphs with engraved raccoon tracks were found in Lewis Canyon, Texas;[298] at the Crow Hollow petroglyph site in Grayson County, Kentucky;[299] and in river drainages near Tularosa, New Mexico and San Francisco, California.[300] A true-to-detail figurine made of quartz, the Ohio Mound Builders' Stone Pipe, was found near the Scioto River. The meaning and significance of the Raccoon Priests Gorget, which features a stylized carving of a raccoon and was found at the Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma, remains unknown.[301][302]

In Western culture, several autobiographical novels about living with a raccoon have been written, mostly for children. The best-known is Sterling North's Rascal, which recounts how he raised a kit during World War I. In recent years, anthropomorphic raccoons played main roles in the animated television series The Raccoons, the computer-animated film Over the Hedge, the live action film Guardians of the Galaxy (and the comics that it was based upon) and the video game series Sly Cooper.

Coonskin cap

Hunting and fur trade

Automobile coat made out of raccoon fur (1906, U.S.)
Pen with climbing facilities, hiding places, and a watering hole (lower-left-side)

The fur of raccoons is used for clothing, especially for coats and coonskin caps. At present, it is the material used for the inaccurately named "sealskin" cap worn by the Royal Fusiliers of Great Britain.[303]Sporrans made of raccoon pelt and hide have sometimes been used as part of traditional Scottish highland men's apparel since the 18th Century, especially in North America. Such sporrans may or may not be of the "full-mask" type.[304] Historically, Native American tribes not only used the fur for winter clothing, but also used the tails for ornament.[305] The famous Sioux leader Spotted Tail took his name from a raccoon skin hat with the tail attached he acquired from a fur trader. Since the late 18th century, various types of scent hounds, called "coonhounds", which are able to tree animals have been bred in the United States.[306] In the 19th century, when coonskins occasionally even served as means of payment, several thousand raccoons were killed each year in the United States.[307][308] This number rose quickly when automobile coats became popular after the turn of the 20th century. In the 1920s, wearing a raccoon coat was regarded as status symbol among college students.[309] Attempts to breed raccoons in fur farms in the 1920s and 1930s in North America and Europe turned out not to be profitable, and farming was abandoned after prices for long-haired pelts dropped in the 1940s.[310][311] Although raccoons had become rare in the 1930s, at least 388,000 were killed during the hunting season of 1934/35.[309][312]

After persistent population increases began in the 1940s, the seasonal coon hunting harvest reached about one million animals in 1946/47 and two million in 1962/63.[313] The broadcast of three television episodes about the frontiersman Davy Crockett and the film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier in 1954 and 1955 led to a high demand for coonskin caps in the United States, although it is unlikely either Crockett or the actor who played him, Fess Parker, actually wore a cap made from raccoon fur.[314] The seasonal hunt reached an all-time high with 5.2 million animals in 1976/77 and ranged between 3.2 and 4.7 million for most of the 1980s. In 1982, the average pelt price was $20.[315] As of 1987, the raccoon was identified as the most important wild furbearer in North America in terms of revenue.[316] In the first half of the 1990s, the seasonal hunt dropped to 0.9 from 1.9 million due to decreasing pelt prices.[317]

While primarily hunted for their fur, raccoons were also a source of food for Native Americans and early American settlers.[318][319] According to Ernest Thompson Seton, young specimens killed without a fight are palatable, whereas old raccoons caught after a lengthy battle are inedible.[320] Raccoon meat was extensively eaten during the early years of California, where it was sold in the San Francisco market for $1–3 apiece.[321]American slaves occasionally ate raccoon at Christmas, but it was not necessarily a dish of the poor or rural. The first edition of The Joy of Cooking, released in 1931, contained a recipe for preparing raccoon, and US President Calvin Coolidge's pet raccoon Rebecca was originally sent to be served at the White House Thanksgiving Dinner.[322][323][324] Although the idea of eating raccoons seems repulsive to most mainstream consumers since they see them as endearing, cute, and/or vermin, several thousand raccoons are still eaten each year in the United States.[325][326][327][328]

Pet raccoons

Raccoons are sometimes kept as pets, which is discouraged by many experts because the raccoon is not a domesticated species. Raccoons may act unpredictably and aggressively and it is usually impossible to teach them to obey commands.[329][330] In places where keeping raccoons as pets is not forbidden, such as in Wisconsin and other U.S. states, an exotic pet permit may be required.[331][332] One notable raccoon pet was Rebecca, kept by US president Calvin Coolidge.[333]

Their propensity for unruly behavior exceeds that of captive skunks, and they are even less trustworthy when allowed to roam freely. Because of their intelligence and nimble forelimbs, even inexperienced raccoons are easily capable of unscrewing jars, uncorking bottles and opening door latches, with more experienced specimens having been recorded to open door knobs.[120] Sexually mature raccoons often show aggressive natural behaviors such as biting during the mating season.[329][334]Neutering them at around five or six months of age decreases the chances of aggressive behavior developing.[335] Raccoons can become obese and suffer from other disorders due to poor diet and lack of exercise.[336] When fed with cat food over a long time period, raccoons can develop gout.[337] With respect to the research results regarding their social behavior, it is now required by law in Austria and Germany to keep at least two individuals to prevent loneliness.[338][339] Raccoons are usually kept in a pen (indoor or outdoor), also a legal requirement in Austria and Germany, rather than in the apartment where their natural curiosity may result in damage to property.[338][339][329][340][341]

When orphaned, it is possible for kits to be rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild. However, it is uncertain whether they readapt well to life in the wild.[342] Feeding unweaned kits with cow's milk rather than a kitten replacement milk or a similar product can be dangerous to their health.[329][343]

Local and indigenous names

See also


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External links

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racoon


Wild Horse 1 | Equus ferus
Wild Horse 2 | Equus ferus

Wild Horse info via Wikipedia:

Wild horse
Equus ferus (wild horse) gallery.jpg
Top left: Equus ferus caballus (horses)
Top right: Equus ferus przewalskii (Przewalski's horse)

Below left: Equus ferus ferus (tarpan)
Below right: Equus ferus fossil from 9100 BC

Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Subgenus: Equus
Species: E. ferus
Binomial name
Equus ferus
Boddaert, 1785

The wild horse (Equus ferus) is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the modern domesticated horse (Equus ferus caballus) as well as the undomesticated tarpan (Equus ferus ferus, now extinct), and the endangered Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus przewalskii).[2] Przewalski's horse had reached the brink of extinction but was reintroduced successfully back into the wild.[3] The tarpan became extinct in the 19th century, though it is a possible ancestor of the domestic horse; it roamed the steppes of Eurasia at the time of domestication.[4][5][6][7][8] However, other subspecies of Equus ferus may have existed and could have been the stock from which domesticated horses are descended.[9] Since the extinction of the tarpan, attempts have been made to reconstruct its phenotype, resulting in horse breeds such as the Konik and Heck horse.[10][11] However, the genetic makeup and foundation bloodstock of those breeds is substantially derived from domesticated horses, so these breeds possess domesticated traits.

The term "wild horse" is also used colloquially in reference to free-roaming herds of feral horses such as the mustang in the United States,[12] the brumby in Australia,[13] and many others. These feral horses are untamed members of the domestic horse subspecies (Equus ferus caballus), not to be confused with the truly "wild" horse subspecies extant into modern times.

Subspecies and their history

E. ferus had several subspecies. Three survived into modern times:[14]

The latter two are the only never-domesticated "wild" groups that survived into historic times.[9] However, other subspecies of Equus ferus may have existed and could have been the stock from which domesticated horses are descended.[9]

Przewalski's horse

Przewalski's horse occupied the eastern Eurasian Steppes, perhaps from the Urals to Mongolia, although the ancient border between tarpan and Przewalski distributions has not been clearly defined.[15] Przewalski's horse was limited to Dzungaria and western Mongolia in the same period, and became extinct in the wild during the 1960s, but was reintroduced in the late 1980s to two preserves in Mongolia.[16] Although researchers such as Marija Gimbutas theorized that the horses of the Chalcolithic period were Przewalski's, more recent genetic studies indicate that Przewalski's horse is not an ancestor to modern domesticated horses.[17][18]

Przewalski's horse is still found today, though it is an endangered species and for a time was considered extinct in the wild.[19] Roughly 2000 Przewalski's horses are in zoos around the world.[20] A small breeding population has been reintroduced in Mongolia.[21][22] As of 2005, a cooperative venture between the Zoological Society of London and Mongolian scientists has resulted in a population of 248 animals in the wild.[23]

Przewalski's horse has some biological differences from the domestic horse; unlike domesticated horses and the tarpan, which both have 64 chromosomes, Przewalski's horse has 66 chromosomes due to a Robertsonian translocation.[24] However, the offspring of Przewalski and domestic horses are fertile, possessing 65 chromosomes.[25]

Evolution and taxonomy

Equus ferus fossil from 9100 BC found near Odense, at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen
Probable European wild horse coat colors[26]

The horse family Equidae and the genus Equus evolved in North America, before the species moved into the Eastern Hemisphere.[27] Studies using ancient DNA, as well as DNA of recent individuals, shows the presence of two closely related horse species in North America, the wild horse and Equus francisci, the "New World stilt-legged horse"; the latter is taxonomically assigned to various names.[7][28]

Currently, three subspecies that lived during recorded human history are recognized.[14] One subspecies is the widespread domestic horse (Equus ferus caballus),[14] as well as two wild subspecies: the recently extinct tarpan (E. f. ferus) and the endangered Przewalski's horse (E. f. przewalskii).[5][6][14]

Genetically, the pre-domestication horse, E. f. ferus, and the domesticated horse, E. f. caballus, form a single homogeneous group (clade) and are genetically indistinguishable from each other.[7][28][29][30] The genetic variation within this clade shows only a limited regional variation, with the notable exception of Przewalski's horse.[7][28][29][30] Przewalski's horse has several unique genetic differences that distinguish it from the other subspecies, including 66 instead of 64 chromosomes,[5][31] unique Y-chromosome gene haplotypes,[32] and unique mtDNA haplotypes.[33][19]

Besides genetic differences, osteological evidence from across the Eurasian wild horse range, based on cranial and metacarpal differences, indicates the presence of only two subspecies in postglacial times, the tarpan and Przewalski's horse.[9][34]

Scientific naming of the species

At present, the domesticated and wild horses are considered a single species, with the valid scientific name for the horse species being Equus ferus.[35] The wild tarpan subspecies is E. f. ferus, Przewalski's horse is E. f. przewalskii, and the domesticated horse is E. f. caballus.[36] The rules for the scientific naming of animal species are determined in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, which stipulates that the oldest available valid scientific name is used to name the species.[37] Previously, when taxonomists considered domesticated and wild horse two subspecies of the same species, the valid scientific name was Equus caballus Linnaeus 1758,[38] with the subspecies labeled E. c. caballus (domesticated horse), E. c. ferus Boddaert, 1785 (tarpan) and E. c. przewalskii Poliakov, 1881 (Przewalski's Horse).[39] However, in 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature decided that the scientific names of the wild species have priority over the scientific names of domesticated species, therefore mandating the use of Equus ferus for the horse, independent of the position of the domesticated horse.[40]

Feral horses

Semiferal horse in the Pentland Hills, Scotland: Though popularly called "wild" horses, feral and semiferal horses are not truly wild; since their ancestors were domesticated.

Horses that live in an untamed state but have ancestors that have been domesticated are not truly "wild" horses; they are feral horses.[41] For instance, when the Spanish reintroduced the horse to the Americas, beginning in the late 15th century,[42] some horses escaped, forming feral herds; the best-known being the mustang.[43] Similarly, the brumby descended from horses strayed or let loose in Australia by English settlers.[44] Isolated populations of feral horses occur in a number of places, including Portugal, Scotland, New Zealand and a number of barrier islands along the Atlantic coast of North America from Sable Island off Nova Scotia, to Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia.[45] Even though these are often referred to as "wild" horses, they are not truly "wild" in the biological sense of having no domesticated ancestors.[41]

In 1995, British and French explorers discovered a new population of horses in the Riwoche Valley of Tibet, unknown to the rest of the world, but apparently used by the local Khamba people.[46] It was speculated that the Riwoche horse might be a relict population of wild horses,[47] but testing did not reveal genetic differences with domesticated horses,[48] which is in line with news reports indicating that they are used as pack and riding animals by the local villagers.[49] These horses only stand 12 hands (48 inches, 122 cm) tall and are said to resemble the images known as "horse no 2" depicted in cave paintings alongside images of Przewalski's horse.[48]

See also



  1. ^ Boyd, L. & King, S. R. B. (2011). "Equus ferus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Grubb, P. (2005). "Order Perissodactyla". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 630–631. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ Goldman, Jason G. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Przewalski's Horses". Scientific American Blog Network. 
  4. ^ "The First Horses: The Przewalskii and Tarpan Horses", The legacy of the horse, International Museum of the Horse, archived from the original on October 30, 2007, retrieved 2009-02-18 
  5. ^ a b c Groves, Colin P. (1994). Boyd, Lee and Katherine A. Houpt, ed. The Przewalski Horse: Morphology, Habitat and Taxonomy. Przewalski's Horse: The History and Biology of an Endangered Species. Albany, New YorkColin P. Groves: State University of New York Press. 
  6. ^ a b Kavar, Tatjana; Peter Dovč (2008). "Domestication of the horse: Genetic relationships between domestic and wild horses". Livestock Science. 116: 1–14. doi:10.1016/j.livsci.2008.03.002. 
  7. ^ a b c d Weinstock, J.; et al. (2005). "Evolution, systematics, and phylogeography of Pleistocene horses in the New World: a molecular perspective". PLoS Biology. 3 (8): e241. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030241. PMC 1159165Freely accessible. PMID 15974804. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  8. ^ Bowling, Ann T.; Anatoly Ruvinsky (2000). "Genetic Aspects of Domestication, Breeds and Their Origin". In Ann T. Bowling; Anatoly Ruvinsky. The Genetics of the Horse. CABI Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85199-429-1. 
  9. ^ a b c d Colin Groves, 1986, "The taxonomy, distribution, and adaptations of recent Equids," In Richard H. Meadow and Hans-Peter Uerpmann, eds., Equids in the Ancient World, volume I, pp. 11-65, Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag.
  10. ^ "Tarpan or Heck Horse". horsehints.org. 
  11. ^ "Rare horse breed proves crucial to delicate ecosystem - Features". Horsetalk.co.nz. 2012-06-01. 
  12. ^ "Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary". Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. 
  13. ^ "The Brumbies – Australian Wild Horses › Wild Horses and Mustangs .com". www.wildhorsesandmustangs.com. 
  14. ^ a b c d Don E. Wilson; DeeAnn M. Reeder, eds. (2005). "Equus caballus". Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. 
  15. ^ Bunker, Emma C.; Watt, James C. Y.; Sun, Zhixin; N.Y.), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York (2002). Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other New York Collections. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780300096880. 
  16. ^ WAZA. "Overview : WAZA : World Association of Zoos and Aquariums". www.waza.org. 
  17. ^ Wallner, B.; Brem, G.; Müller, M.; Achmann, R. (2003). "Fixed nucleotide differences on the Y chromosome indicate clear divergence between Equus przewalskii and Equus caballus". Animal Genetics. 34 (6): 453–456. doi:10.1046/j.0268-9146.2003.01044.x. PMID 14687077. 
  18. ^ Lindgren, G.; Backström, N.; Swinburne, J.; Hellborg, L.; Einarsson, A.; Sandberg, K.; Cothran, G.; Vilà, C.; Binns, M.; Ellegren, H. (2004). "Limited number of patrilines in horse domestication". Nature Genetics. 36 (4): 335–336. doi:10.1038/ng1326. PMID 15034578. 
  19. ^ a b "Equus ferus ssp. przewalskii (Asian Wild Horse, Mongolian Wild Horse, Przewalski's Horse)". www.iucnredlist.org. 
  20. ^ Gallagher, Paige Williams , Sean. "The Remarkable Comeback of Przewalski's Horse". Smithsonian. 
  21. ^ "Przewalski's Horse". si.edu. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  22. ^ "Endangered Przewalski's Horses Back On Russian Steppe". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 
  23. ^ "An extraordinary return from the brink of extinction for worlds last wild horse" ZSL Living Conservation, December 19, 2005.
  24. ^ Chowdhary, Bhanu P. (2013-01-22). Equine Genomics. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118522127. 
  25. ^ The American Museum of Natural History When Is a Wild Horse Actually a Feral Horse?
  26. ^ http://www.pnas.org/content/108/46/18626.full.pdf
  27. ^ "Equus caballus [ISC] (horse)". www.cabi.org. 
  28. ^ a b c Orlando, L.; et al. (2008). "Ancient DNA Clarifies the Evolutionary History of American Late Pleistocene Equids". Journal of Molecular Evolution. 66 (5): 533–538. doi:10.1007/s00239-008-9100-x. PMID 18398561. 
  29. ^ a b Cai, Dawei; Zhuowei Tang; Lu Han; Camilla F. Speller; Dongya Y. Yang; Xiaolin Ma; Jian'en Cao; Hong Zhu; Hui Zhou (2009). "Ancient DNA provides new insights into the origin of the Chinese domestic horse". Journal of Archaeological Science. 36 (3): 835–842. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.11.006. 
  30. ^ a b Vilà, Carles; Jennifer A. Leonard; Anders Götherström; Stefan Marklund; Kaj Sandberg; Kerstin Lidén; Robert K. Wayne; Hans Ellegren (2001). "Widespread Origins of Domestic Horse Lineages". Science. 291 (5503): 474–477. doi:10.1126/science.291.5503.474. PMID 11161199. 
  31. ^ Benirschke, Poliakoff K.; N. Malouf; R. J. Low; H. Heck (16 April 1965). "Chromosome Complement: Differences between Equus caballus and Equus przewalskii". Science. 148 (3668): 382–383. doi:10.1126/science.148.3668.382. PMID 14261533. 
  32. ^ Lau, Allison; Lei Peng; Hiroki Goto; Leona Chemnick; Oliver A. Ryder; Kateryna D. Makova (2009). "Horse Domestication and Conservation Genetics of Przewalski's Horse Inferred from Sex Chromosomal and Autosomal Sequences". Mol. Biol. Evol. 26 (1): 199–208. doi:10.1093/molbev/msn239. PMID 18931383. 
  33. ^ Jansen, Thomas; Peter Forster; Marsha A. Levine; Hardy Oelke; Matthew Hurles; Colin Renfrew; Jürgen Weber & Klaus Olek (August 6, 2002). "Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 99 (16): 10905–10910. doi:10.1073/pnas.152330099. PMC 125071Freely accessible. PMID 12130666. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  34. ^ Eisenmann, Vera (1998). "Quaternary Horses: possible candidates to domestication". The Horse: its domestication, diffusion and role in past communities. Proceedings of the XIII International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, Forli, Italia, 8–14 September 1996. 1. ABACO Edizioni. pp. 27–36. 
  35. ^ Mills, Daniel S.; Nankervis, Kathryn J. (2013-05-20). Equine Behaviour: Principles and Practice. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 1118708067. 
  36. ^ International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (2003). "Usage of 17 specific names based on wild species which are pre-dated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Opinion 2027 (Case 3010)". Bull. Zool. Nomencl. 60 (1): 81–84. 
  37. ^ "Principles of nomenclature of zoological taxa". www.insecta.bio.spbu.ru. 
  38. ^ Linnaeus, Carolus (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae :secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae (Laurentii Salvii). p. 73. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  39. ^ Bunzel-Drüke, Margret. "Ecological substitutes for Wild horse and Aurochs" (PDF). Natur- und Kulturlandschaft, Höxter/Jena 2001, Band 4: 10. 
  40. ^ "The naming of wild animal species and their domestic derivates (PDF Download Available)". ResearchGate. 
  41. ^ a b "Are There Still Wild Horses?". 
  42. ^ Luís, Cristina; et al. (2006). "Iberian Origins of New World Horse Breeds". Journal of Heredity. 97 (2): 107–113. doi:10.1093/jhered/esj020. PMID 16489143. 
  43. ^ Rittman, Paul. "Spanish Colonial Horse and the Plains Indian Culture" (PDF). Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  44. ^ Nimmo, D. G.; Miller, K. K. (2007). "Ecological and human dimensions of management of feral horses in Australia: A review". Wildlife Research. 34: 408–417. doi:10.1071/WR06102. 
  45. ^ "Wildlife". Cumberland Island. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  46. ^ Simons, Marlise (1995-11-12). "A Stone-Age Horse Still Roams a Tibetan Plateau". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  47. ^ Dohner, Janet Vorwald (2001). "Equines: Natural History". In Dohner, Janet Vorwald. Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds. Topeka, KS: Yale University Press. pp. 400–401. ISBN 978-0-300-08880-9. 
  48. ^ a b Peissel, Michel (2002). Tibet: the secret continent. Macmillan. p. 36. ISBN 9780312309534. 
  49. ^ Humi, Peter (17 November 1995). "Tibetan discovery is 'horse of a different color'". CNN. Retrieved 2009-09-09. 


  • Equid Specialist Group 1996. Equus ferus. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 May 2006 from http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php?species=41763.
  • Moelman, P.D. 2002. Equids. Zebras, Assess and Horses. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  • Ronald M. Nowak (1999), Walker’s Mammals of the World (6th ed.), Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-5789-9, LCCN 98023686 
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_horse

Longnose Gar


Longnose Gar | Lepisosteus osseus

Longnose Gar info on Wikipedia:

Longnose gar
Longnose gar, Boston Aquarium.JPG
At the New England Aquarium
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Lepisosteiformes
Family: Lepisosteidae
Genus: Lepisosteus
Species: L. osseus
Binomial name
Lepisosteus osseus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) is a primitive ray-finned fish of the gar family. It is also known as the needlenose gar. L. osseus is found along the east coast of North and Central America in freshwater lakes and as far west as Kansas and Texas and southern New Mexico. The gar have been present in North America for about 100 million years.[4]


Fossils have been found in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America dating back 100 million years. Currently, longnose gar are found in Central America, Cuba, North America, and the Isles of Pines.[5] Longnose gar are frequently found in fresh water in the eastern half of the United States, but some gar were found in salinities up to 31 ppt.[6] Their microhabitats consist of areas near downed trees, stone outcrops, and vegetation.[7] The decline of their population is mainly due to human manipulation of aquatic systems.


The most common prey of the longnose gar is small fish and occasionally insects and small crustaceans, and mostly feed at night.[8] Their main competitors are other gar of their own species, as well as other types of gar. Larger gar have been known to feed on smaller gar, as well.[9] Longnose gar were a main source of food for Native Americans and early colonists. The first settlers at Jamestown, Virginia, dined on this fish through their harsh early years.[10] Today, gar is more of sport fish, but their meat is surprisingly tasty. Predation is not a problem on adult longnose gar, but they are vulnerable to other gar predation when they are young, including adult longnose gar. L. osseus is carnivorous; for example, their diet consists of sunfish, catfish, and crayfish in their Texas range.[9] Sexual maturity for males is reached between three and four years of age, and females at six years of age. Sex ratios are in favor of the males in the early life stages until about 10 years, then switches in favor of females. Females hold an average clutch size of about 27,000 eggs. Their eggs are very toxic to terrestrial vertebrates, but other piscivorous fish could tolerate the toxins.[11]

Life history

Longnose gar have an average lifespan of 15–20 years with a maximum reported age of 39. This long lifespan allows the female to sexually mature around six years old. Males mature sexually as soon as two years of age. Longnose gars are sexually dimorphic; the females are larger than the males in body length, weight, and fin length. They generally have a clutch size close to 30,000, depending on the weight to length ratio of the females; larger females bear larger clutch sizes. They spawn in temperatures close to 20 °C in late April and early July.[11] Eggs have a toxic, adhesive coating to help them stick to substrates, and they are deposited onto stones in shallow water, rocky shelves, vegetation, or smallmouth bass nests.[12] Their hatch time is seven to 9 days; young gar stay in vegetation during the first summer of life.[8] Longnose gar reach an average length of 28-48 in (0.71-1.2 m) with a maximum length of about 6 ft (1.8 m) and 55 lb (25 kg) in weight.


Currently, no management of this species is being conducted, nor is it federally listed as endangered, although some states have reported it as threatened (South Dakota, Delaware, and Pennsylvania).[13] In the early 1900s, longnose gar were considered as destructive and worthless predators. Many people feared them based on their spooky appearance of a long mouth filled with teeth and armor-like scales, as well as their diet of anything that would fit in their mouths. Soon after this characterization, gar population reduction methods were established. Their declining populations are due to overfishing, habitat loss, dams, road construction, pollution, and other human-caused destruction of the aquatic systems. Overfishing is more of a trophy fish than for food; people find their meat to have a mild but tasty flavor. Because of their long lifespans and older sexual maturity age, factors affecting their reproduction is an issue in preserving them.[14] Overfishing is a large issue for this fish, especially when the fish have not reached sexual maturity due to the female not peaking sexual maturity until about six years of age.[14][15]


  1. ^ NatureServe (2015). "Lepisosteus osseus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 4.1 (4.1). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  2. ^ Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (2017). "Lepisosteidae". FishBase version (02/2017). Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "Lepisosteidae" (PDF). Deeplyfish- fishes of the world. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  4. ^ McGrath, P.E., E.J. Hilton (2011). Sexual dimorphism in longnose gar Lepisosteus osseus. Journal of Fish Biology 80(2)335-345.
  5. ^ Wiley, E.O. (1976). The phylogeny and biogeography of fossil and recent gars (Actinopterygii: Lepisosteidae). Miscellaneous Publication, University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History 64.
  6. ^ Uhler, P.R. & O. Lugger. (1876). List of fishes of Maryland. Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries of Maryland, to the General Assembly
  7. ^ Suttkus, R.D. (1963). Order Lepisostei. In: Fishes of the Western North Atlantic, Memoir 1, Part Three, of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research (H. B. Bigelow, C. M. Cohen, G. W. Mead, D. Merriman, Y. H. Olsen, W. C. Schroeder, L. P. Schultz, and J. Tee-Van, eds.), pp. 61-88. New Haven, CT: Yale University.
  8. ^ a b Haase, B.L. (1969). An ecological life history of the longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus (Linnaeus), in Lake Mendota and in several other lakes of southern Wisconsin. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.
  9. ^ a b Bonham, Kelshaw. (1941). Food of gars in Texas. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 70(1):356-362.
  10. ^ Straube, B. and N. Luccketti. (1996). Jamestown rediscovery 1995 interim report. November 2006. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, 55 p.
  11. ^ a b Netsh, Norval F., Arthur Witt Jr. (1962). Contributions to the Life History of the Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) in Missouri. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 91(3):251-262.
  12. ^ Beard, J. (1889). On the early development of Lepidosteus osseus. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 46:108-118.
  13. ^ Johnson, Brian L., Douglas B. Noltie. (1997). Demography, Growth, and Reproductive Allocation in Stream-Spawning Longnose Gar. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 126:438-466.
  14. ^ a b Alfaro, Roberto Mendoza, et al. (2008). Gar biology and culture: status and prospects. Aquaculture Research 39:748-763
  15. ^ Spitzer, Mark (2010). Season of the Gar: Adventures in Pursuit of America's Most Misunderstood Fish. U. of Arkansas Press.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longnose_gar

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

 Northern Mockingbird 1 | Mimus polyglottus

Northern Mockingbird 2

Northern Mockingbird 2 | Mimus polyglottus

Northern Mockingbird info on Wikipedia:

Northern mockingbird
Mimus polyglottos adult 02 cropped.jpg
An adult northern mockingbird in New Hampshire
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Mimidae
Genus: Mimus
Species: M. polyglottos
Binomial name
Mimus polyglottos
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Northern Mockingbird-rangemap.gif
Northern mockingbird range      Breeding range     Year-round range

The northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is the only mockingbird commonly found in North America. This bird is mainly a permanent resident, but northern birds may move south during harsh weather. This species has rarely been observed in Europe. This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturæ in 1758 as Turdus polyglottos. The northern mockingbird is known for its mimicking ability, as reflected by the meaning of its scientific name, 'many-tongued mimic.' The northern mockingbird has gray to brown upper feathers and a paler belly. Its tail and wings have white patches which are visible in flight.[2]

The northern mockingbird is an omnivore. It eats both insects and fruits. It is often found in open areas and forest edges but forages in grassy land. The northern mockingbird breeds in southeastern Canada, the United States, northern Mexico, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Greater Antilles. It is replaced further south by its closest living relative, the tropical mockingbird. The Socorro mockingbird, an endangered species, is also closely related, contrary to previous opinion. The northern mockingbird is listed as of Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The northern mockingbird is known for its intelligence. A 2009 study showed that the bird was able to recognize individual humans, particularly noting those who had previously been intruders or threats. Also birds recognize their breeding spots and return to areas in which they had greatest success in previous years. Urban birds are more likely to demonstrate this behavior. Finally, the mockingbird is influential in United States culture, being the state bird of five states, appearing in book titles, songs and lullabies, and making other appearances in popular culture.


Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus first described this species in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Turdus polyglottos.[3] Its current genus name, Mimus is Latin for "mimic" and the specific polyglottos, is from Ancient Greek poluglottos, "harmonious", from polus, "many", and glossa, "tongue",[4] representing its outstanding ability to mimic various sounds.[5] The northern mockingbird is considered to be conspecific with the tropical mockingbird (Mimus gilvus).[6]

This species is categorized as the northern mockingbird as the closest living relative to M. gilvus.[7][8]


There are three recognized subspecies for the northern mockingbird.[9][10] There have been proposed races from the Bahamas and Haiti placed under the orpheus section.[10]


The northern mockingbird is a medium-sized mimid that has long legs and tail.[11] Males and females look alike.[12] Its upper parts are colored gray, while its underparts have a white or whitish-gray color.[13] It has parallel wing bars on the half of the wings connected near the white patch giving it a distinctive appearance in flight.[13] The black central rectrices and typical white lateral rectrices are also noticeable in flight.[13] The iris is usually a light green-yellow or a yellow, but there have been instances of an orange color.[9] The bill is black with a brownish black appearance at the base.[9] The juvenile appearance is marked by its streaks on its back, distinguished spots and streaks on its chest, and a gray or grayish-green iris.[9]

Northern mockingbirds measure from 20.5 to 28 cm (8.1 to 11.0 in) including a tail almost as long as its body. The wingspan can range from 31–38 cm (12–15 in) and body mass is from 40–58 g (1.4–2.0 oz). Males tend to be slightly larger than females.[14][15] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 10 to 12 cm (3.9 to 4.7 in), the tail is 10 to 13.4 cm (3.9 to 5.3 in), the culmen is 1.6 to 1.9 cm (0.63 to 0.75 in) and the tarsus is 2.9 to 3.4 cm (1.1 to 1.3 in).[9]

The northern mockingbird's lifespan is observed to be up to 8 years, but captive birds can live up to 20 years.[16]

Distribution and habitat

The mockingbird's breeding range is from Maritime provinces of Canada westwards to British Columbia, practically the entire Continental United States south of the northern Plains states and Pacific northwest, and the majority of Mexico to eastern Oaxaca and Veracruz.[9] The mockingbird is generally a year-round resident of its range, but the birds that live in the northern portion of its range have been noted further south during the winter season.[13] Sightings of the mockingbird have also been recorded in Hawaii (where it was introduced in the 1920s),[17] southeastern Alaska,[18] and twice as transatlantic vagrants in Britain.[13] The mockingbird is thought to be at least partly migratory in the northern portions of its range, but the migratory behavior is not well understood.[17]

In the nineteenth century, the range of the mockingbird expanded northward towards provinces such as Nova Scotia and Ontario and states such as Massachusetts, although the sightings were sporadic. Within the first five decades of the twentieth century, regions that received an influx of mockingbirds were Maine, Vermont, Ohio, Iowa, and New York.[17] In western states such as California, the population was restricted to the lower Sonoran regions but by the 1970s the mockingbirds was residential in most counties.[17] Islands that saw introductions of the mockingbird include Bermuda (in which it failed), Barbados, St. Helena, Socorro Island, the Cayman Islands and Tahiti.[17][19]

The mockingbird's habitat varies by location, but it prefers open areas with sparse vegetation. In the eastern regions, suburban and urban areas such as parks, gardens are frequent residential areas. It has an affinity for mowed lawns with shrubs within proximity for shade and nesting.[13][17] In western regions, desert scrub, chaparral are among its preferred habitats When foraging for food, it prefers short grass.[13] This bird does not nest in densely forested areas,[9][20] and generally resides in the same habitats year round.[17]



The northern mockingbird is an omnivore. The birds' diet consists of arthropods, earthworms, berries, fruits, seeds, and seldom, lizards.[9] Mockingbirds can drink from puddles, river and lake edges, or dew and rain droplets that amass onto plants.[13] Adult mockingbirds also have been seen drinking sap from the cuts on recently pruned trees.[13] Its diet heavily consists of animal prey during the breeding season, but takes a drastic shift to fruits during the fall and winter.[13] The drive for fruits amid winter has been noted for the geographic expansion of the mockingbird, and in particular, the fruit of Rosa multiflora, a favorite of the birds, is a possible link.[9][13] Mockingbirds also eat garden fruits such as tomatoes, apples, and berries.[21][22]


These birds forage on the ground or in vegetation; they also fly down from a perch to capture food.[13] While foraging, they frequently spread their wings in a peculiar two-step motion to display the white patches. There is disagreement among ornithologists over the purpose of this behavior, with hypotheses ranging from deceleration to intimidation of predators or prey.[23][24]


Both the male and female of the species reach sexual maturity after 1 year of life. The breeding season occurs in the spring and early summer.[11] The males arrive before the beginning of the season to establish their territories. The males use a series of courtship displays to attract the females to their sites.[11] They run around the area either to showcase their territory to the females or to pursue the females. The males also engage in flight to showcase their wings.[11] They sing and call as they perform all of these displays. The species can remain monogamous for many years, but incidents of polygyny and bigamy have been reported to occur during the bird's lifetime.[25][26]

The northern mockingbird pairs hatch about 2 to 4 broods a year.[11] In one breeding season, the northern mockingbird lays an average of 4 eggs. They hatch after about 11 to 14 days of incubation. After about 10 to 15 days of life, the offspring become independent.[11]

Both the male and female are involved in the nest building.[27] The male does most of the work, while the female perches on the shrub or tree where the nest is being built to watch for predators. The nest is built approximately three to ten feet above the ground.[27] The outer part of the nest is composed of twigs, while the inner part is lined with grasses, dead leaves, moss, or artificial fibers. The eggs are a light blue or greenish color and speckled with dots.[14] The female lays three to five eggs, and she incubates them for nearly two weeks. Once the eggs are hatched, both the male and female will feed the chicks.[27]

The birds aggressively defend their nests and surrounding areas against other birds and animals.[27] When a predator is persistent, mockingbirds from neighboring territories may be summoned by distinct calls to join the defense. Other birds may gather to watch as the mockingbirds harass the intruder. In addition to harassing domestic cats and dogs that they consider a threat,[11] mockingbirds will at times target humans. The birds are unafraid and will attack much larger birds, even hawks. One incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma involving a postal carrier resulted in the distribution of a warning letter to residents.[28]

Sexual selection

Adult mockingbirds have solid pale grey or buff breasts, juveniles mottled

Northern mockingbirds are famous for their song repertoires. Studies have shown that males sing songs at the beginning of breeding season to attract females.[29] Unmated males sing songs in more directions and sing more bouts than mated males. In addition, unmated males perform more flight displays than mated males.[13] The mockingbirds usually nest several times during one breeding season.[30] Depending on the stage of breeding and the mating status, a male mockingbird will vary his song production. The unmated male keeps close track of this change. He sings in one direction when he perceives a chance to lure a female from the nest of the mated male.[29] Unmated males are also more likely to use elevated perches to extend his songs to a further range.[29] Though the mockingbirds are socially monogamous, mated males have been known to sing to attract additional mates.[25]

An observational study by Logan demonstrates that the female is continuously evaluating the quality of the male and his territory.[31] The assessment is usually triggered by the arrival of a new male in a neighboring territory at the beginning of a new breeding season. In those cases, the mated female is constantly seen flying over both the original and the new male’s territory, evaluating the qualities of both territories and exchanging calls with both males.[31] The social mate displays aggressive behaviors towards the female, while the new male shows less aggression and sings softer songs.[31] At the same time, both the mated male and the new male will fly over other territories to attract other females as well. Divorce, mate switching and extra-pair matings do occur in northern mockingbirds.[13][31]

Sex allocation

Northern mockingbirds adjust the sex ratio of their offspring according to the food availability and population density. Male offspring usually require more parental investment. There is therefore a bias for bearing the costlier sex at the beginning of a breeding season when the food is abundant.[32] Local resource competition predicts that the parents have to share the resources with offspring that remain at the natal site after maturation. In passerine birds, like the northern mockingbird, females are more likely to disperse than males.[33] Hence, it is adaptive to produce more dispersive sex than philopatric sex when the population density is high and the competition for local resources is intense. Since northern mockingbirds are abundant in urban environments, it is possible that the pollution and contamination in cities might affect sexual hormones and therefore play a role in offspring sex ratio.[34]


Northern mockingbirds are socially monogamous. The two sexes look alike except that males are a little larger in size than females. Mutual mate choice is exhibited in northern mockingbirds.[35] Both males and females prefer mates that are more aggressive towards intruders, and so exhibit greater parental investment. However, males are more defensive of their nests than females. In a population where male breeding adults outnumber female breeding adults, females have more freedom in choosing their mates.[35] In these cases, these female breeders have the option of changing mates within a breeding season if the first male does not provide a high level of parental care, which includes feeding and nest defense.[36] High nesting success is associated with highly aggressive males attacking intruders in the territory, and so these males are preferred by females.[36]

Parental care

Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

Northern mockingbirds are altricial, meaning that, when hatched, they are born relatively immobile and defenseless and therefore require nourishment for a certain duration from their parents. The young have a survival bottleneck at the nestling stage because there are higher levels of nestling predation than egg predation. The levels of belligerence exhibited by parents therefore increase once eggs hatch but there is no increase during the egg stage.[35]

Eggs in a nest

A recent study shows that both food availability and temperature affect the parental incubation of the eggs in northern mockingbirds. Increasing food availability provides the females with more time to care for the nest and perform self-maintenance. Increasing temperature, however, reduces the time the females spend at the nest and there is increased energy cost to cool the eggs. The incubation behavior is a trade-off among various environmental factors.[37]

Mockingbird nests are also often parasitized by cowbirds. The parents are found to reject parasitic eggs at an intermediate rate.[38] A recent study has shown that foreign eggs are more likely to be rejected from a nest later in the breeding season than from earlier in a breeding season. Early nesting hosts may not have learned the pattern and coloration of their first clutch yet, so are less likely to reject foreign eggs. There is also a seasonal threshold in terms of the overlap between the breeding seasons of the northern mockingbirds and their parasites. If the breeding season of the parasites starts later, there is less likelihood of parasitism. Hence, it pays the hosts to have relatively lower sensitivity to parasitic eggs.[39]

Song and calls

Songs and calls
Calling during spring

Although many species of bird imitate the vocalizations of other birds, the northern mockingbird is the best known in North America for doing so. Among the species and vocalizations imitated are Carolina wren, northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, eastern towhee, house sparrow, wood thrush and eastern bluebird songs, calls of the northern flicker and great crested flycatcher, jeers and pumphandles of the blue jay, and alarm, chups, and chirrs of the American robin.[40][41] It imitates not only birds, but also other animals such as cats, dogs, frogs, crickets and sounds from artificial items such as unoiled wheels and even car alarms. As convincing as these imitations may be to humans, they often fail to fool other birds, such as the Florida scrub-jay.[42]

The northern mockingbird's mimicry is likely to serve as a form of sexual selection through which competition between males and female choice influence a bird's song repertoire size.[42] A 2013 study attempted to determine model selection in vocal mimics, and the data suggested that mimicry in the mockingbird resulted from the bird being genetically predisposed to learning vocalizations with acoustic characteristics such as an enlarged auditory template.[40]

Both male and female mockingbirds sing, with the latter being generally quieter and less vocal. Male commencement of singing is in late January to February and continues into the summer and the establishing of territory into the fall. Frequency in female singing is more sporadic, as it sings less often in the summer and fall, and only sings when the male is away from the territory.[13] The mockingbird also possesses a large song repertoire that ranges from 43 to 203 song types and the size varies by region. Repertoire sizes ranged from 14 to 150 types in Texas, and two studies of mockingbirds in Florida rounded estimates to 134 and 200, approximately.[13] It continually expands its repertoire during its life,[13] though it pales in comparison to mimids such as the brown thrasher.[43]

There are four recognized calls for the mockingbird: the nest relief call, hew call, chat or chatburst, and the begging call.[13] The hew call is mainly used by both sexes for potential nest predators, conspecific chasing, and various interactions between mates. The differences between chats and chatbursts are frequency of use, as chats are year-round, and chatbursts occur in the fall.[13] Another difference is that chatbursts appear to be used in territorial defense in the fall, and the chats are used by either sex when disturbed.[13] The nest relief and begging calls are only used by the males.[13]


A laboratory observation of 38 mockingbird nestlings and fledglings (thirty-five and three, respectively) recorded the behavioral development of young mockingbirds. Notable milestones included the eyes opening, soft vocalizations, begging, and preening began within the first six days of life. Variation in begging and more compact movements such as perching, fear crouching, and stretching appeared by the ninth day. Wing-flashing, bathing, flight, and leaving the nest happened within seventeen days (nest leaving occurred within 11 to 13 days). Improvements of flight, walking and self-feeding took place within forty days. Agonistic behavior increased during the juvenile stages, to the extent of one of two siblings living in the same area was likely killed by the other.[44]

Predation and threats

Riding a red-tailed hawk

Adult mockingbirds can fall victim to birds of prey such as the great horned owl, screech owl and sharp-shinned hawk, though their tenacious behavior makes them less likely to being captured. Scrub-jays also have killed and eaten mockingbirds. Snakes rarely capture incubating females. Fledgelings have been prey to domestic cats, red-tailed hawks, and crows. Eggs and nestlings are consumed by blue jays, fish crows and American crows, red-tailed hawks, swallow-tailed kites, snakes, squirrels, and cats. Blowfly larvae and Haemoproteus have been found in Florida and Arizona populations, respectively.[17]

Winter storms limit the expansion of mockingbirds in its range. The storms have played a role in the declining of the Ohio populations (where it has since recovered), Michigan, Minnesota and likely in Quebec. Dry seasons also affect the mockingbird populations in Arizona.[17]


In a paper published in 2009, researchers found that mockingbirds were able to recall an individual human who, earlier in the study, had approached and threatened the mockingbirds' nest. Researchers had one participant stand near a mockingbird nest and touch it, while others avoided the nest. Later, the mockingbirds recognized the intruder and exhibited defensive behavior, while ignoring the other individuals.[45]

Adaptation to urban habitats

A Northern Mockingbird on top of a Duke University Hospital sign reading "Duke medicine is 100% tobacco-free INSIDE AND OUTSIDE" in Durham, North Carolina
In the urban habitat at Durham, North Carolina

The northern mockingbird is a species that is found in both urban and rural habitats. There are now more northern mockingbirds living in urban habitats than non-urban environments, so they are consequently known as an urban-positive species.[46] Biologists have long questioned how northern mockingbirds adapt to a novel environment in cities, and whether they fall into the typical ecological traps that are common for urban-dwelling birds.[46] A comparative study between an urban dwelling population and a rural dwelling one shows that the apparent survival is higher for individuals in the urban habitats. Lower food availability and travel costs may account for the higher mortality rate in rural habitats.[47] Urban birds are more likely to return to the nest where they had successfully bred the previous year and avoid those where breeding success was low. One explanation for this phenomenon is that urban environments are more predictable than non-urban ones, as the site fidelity among urban birds prevents them from ecological traps.[47] Mockingbirds are also able to utilize artificial lighting in order to feed nestlings in urban areas such as residential neighborhoods into the night in contrast to those that do not nest near those areas.[48] The adaptation of mockingbirds in urban habitats has led it to become more susceptible to lead poisoning in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. populations.[17]

In culture

Painting by John James Audubon

It also features in the title and central metaphor of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. In that novel, mockingbirds are portrayed as innocent and generous, and two of the major characters, Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie, say it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because "they don't do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us."[49]

"Hush, Little Baby" is a traditional lullaby, thought to have been written in the Southern United States, its key first lines, "Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring."

The song of the northern mockingbird inspired many classic American folk songs of the mid-19th century, such as "Listen to the Mocking Bird".[50]

Mockin' Bird Hill is a popular song best known through recordings by Patti Page, Donna Fargo, and by Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1951.

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, had a pet mockingbird named "Dick".[51][52]

State bird

The northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas,[53] and formerly the state bird of South Carolina.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Mimus polyglottos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
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  3. ^ (in Latin) Linnaeus, C (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). p. 169. T. obscure cinereus, subtus pallide cinereus, macula alarum albida 
  4. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 255, 313. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  5. ^ Tveten, J. (2004). Our Life with Birds : A Nature Trails Book (1st ed.). College Station: Texas A & M University Press. p. 234. ISBN 1-58544-380-8. 
  6. ^ Check-list of North American Birds. American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. 
  7. ^ Hunt, Jeffrey S.; Bermingham, E.; Ricklefs, R. E. (2001). "Molecular systematics and biogeography of Antillean thrashers, tremblers, and mockingbirds (Aves: Mimidae)". Auk. 118 (1): 35. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[0035:MSABOA]2.0.CO;2. 
  8. ^ Barber, B. R.; Martínez-Gómez, J. E.; Peterson, A. T. (2004). "Systematic position of the Socorro mockingbird Mimodes graysoni". Journal of Avian Biology. 35 (3): 195. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2004.03233.x. 
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  14. ^ a b "Northern Mockingbird". The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Dunning Jr., J. B. (1993). CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses. Boca Raton,: CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5. 
  16. ^ "Northern Mockingbird". Wildlife. National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Birds of North America Online: Northern Mockingbird". 
  18. ^ "The AOU Check-list of North American Birds, 7th Edition:Incertae Sedis – Mimidae". The Auk. 7: 416–522. 1998. 
  19. ^ Brewer, David (2001). Wrens, Dippers, and Thrashers. Yale University Press. pp. 212–13. ISBN 0-300-09059-5. 
  20. ^ Corman, T. E.; Wise-Gervais, C. (2005). Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 444–447. ISBN 0-8263-3379-6. 
  21. ^ "Protecting Your Tomatoes From Mockingbirds - Vegetable Gardener". 
  22. ^ "Attracting Mockingbirds to Your Backyard Garden". 
  23. ^ Horwich, R.H. (1965). "An Ontogeny of Wing-flashing in the Mockingbird with Reference to Other Behaviors" (PDF). The Wilson Bulletin. 3. 77: 264–281. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Dhondt, André A.; Kaylan M. Kemink (2008). "Wing-flashing in Northern mockingbirds: anti-predator defense?". Journal of Ethology. 26 (3): 361–365. doi:10.1007/s10164-007-0070-z. 
  25. ^ a b Derrickson, Kim C. (1989). "Bigamy In Northern Mockingbirds: Circumventing Female-Female Aggression'" (PDF). The Condor. 91 (3): 728–732. doi:10.2307/1368130. 
  26. ^ Breitwisch, Randall; Ritter, Ronald C.; Julia Zaias (1986). "Parental Behavior of a Bigamous Male Northern Mockingbird" (PDF). Auk: 424–427. 
  27. ^ a b c d Mobley, Jason A. (2009). Birds of the World. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 426–7. ISBN 978-0-7614-7775-4. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  28. ^ Overall, Michael (22 July 2007). "Wild bird warning:Mockingbird stalks mail carrier". Tulsa World. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  29. ^ a b c Breitwisch, R.; Whitesides, G.H. (1987). "Directionality of singing and non-singing behavior of mated and unmated Northern Mockingbirds, Mimus polyglottos". Animal Behaviour. 35 (2): 331–339. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(87)80256-7. 
  30. ^ Logan, C.A. (1983). "Reproductively dependent song cyclicity in mated male mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos)". Auk. 100: 404–413. 
  31. ^ a b c d Logan, C.A. (1997). "Mate-reassessment in an Already-mated Female Northern Mockingbird". The Chat. 2. 61: 108–112. 
  32. ^ Schrand, B.E.; Stobart, C.C.; Engle, D.B.; Desjardins, R.B.; Farnsworth, G.L. (2011). "Nestling Sex Ratios in Two Populations of Northern Mockingbirds". Southeastern Naturalist. 2. 10 (2): 365–370. doi:10.1656/058.010.0215. 
  33. ^ Clarke, A.L.; Saether, B.E.; Roskaft, E. (1997). "Sex biases in avian dispersal: A reappraisal". Oikos. 79 (3): 429–438. doi:10.2307/3546885. 
  34. ^ Erikstad, K.E.; Bustnes, J.O.; Lorentsen, S.; Reiertsen, T.K. (2009). "Sex ratio in Lesser Black-backed Gull in relation to environmental pollutants" (PDF). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 63 (6): 931–938. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0736-3. 
  35. ^ a b c Breitwisch, R. (1988). "Sex differences in defense of eggs and nestlings by Northern Mockingbirds, Mimus polyglottos". Animal Behaviour. 36: 62–72. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(88)80250-1. 
  36. ^ a b Breitwisch, R. (1986). "Parental Investment by the Northern Mockingbird: Male and Female Roles in Feeding Nestlings" (PDF). The Auk. 103: 152–159. 
  37. ^ Londoño, G.A.; Levey, D.J.; Robinson, S.K. (2008). "Effects of temperature and food on incubation behavior of the northern mocking bird, Mimus polyglottos". Animal Behaviour. 76 (3): 669–677. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.05.002. 
  38. ^ Peer, B.D.; Ellison, K.S.; Sealy, S.G. (2002). "Intermediate frequencies of egg ejection by Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) sympatric with two cowbird species". The Auk. 3. 119: 855–858. JSTOR 4089988. 
  39. ^ Quinn, J.; Tolson, K.M. (2009). "Proximate mechanisms of parasite egg rejection by northern mockingbirds". The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 1. 121: 180–183. doi:10.1676/08-015.1. 
  40. ^ a b Gammon, David E. (2013). "How is model selection determined in a vocal mimic?: Tests of five hypotheses". Behaviour. 150 (12): 1375–1397. doi:10.1163/1568539X-00003101. 
  41. ^ Gammon, David E.; Altizer, Carly E. (2011). "Northern Mockingbirds produce syntactical patterns of vocal mimicry that reflect taxonomy of imitated species". Journal of Field Ornithology. 82 (2): 158–164. doi:10.1111/j.1557-9263.2011.00318.x. 
  42. ^ a b Owen-Ashley, N. T.; Schoech, S. J.; Mumme, R. L. (2002). "Context-specific response of Florida scrub-jay pairs to Northern Mockingbird vocal mimicry". The Condor. 104 (4): 858–865. doi:10.2307/1370710. 
  43. ^ Eastman, John (2015). Birds Nearby: Getting to Know 45 Common Species of Eastern North America. Stackpole Books. p. 35. ISBN 9780811714846. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  44. ^ Horwich, Robert H. (1969). "Behavioral Ontogeny of the Mockingbird". The Wilson Bulletin. 81 (1): 87–93. doi:10.2307/415980. 
  45. ^ Levey, D.J.; Londoño, G. A.; Ungvari-Martin, J.; Hiersoux, M.R.; Jankowski, J.E.; Poulsen, J.R.; Stracy, C.M.; Robison, S.K. (2009). "Urban mockingbirds quickly learn to identify individual humans". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 22. 106 (22): 8959–8962. doi:10.1073/pnas.0811422106. PMC 2690012Freely accessible. PMID 19451622. 
  46. ^ a b Stracy, C.M.; Robinson, S.K. (2012). "Are urban habitats ecological traps for a native songbird? Season-long productivity, apparent survival, and site fidelity in urban and rural habitats". Journal of Avian Biology. 43: 50–60. doi:10.1111/j.1600-048X.2011.05520.x. 
  47. ^ a b Chamberlain, D.E.; Cannon, A.R.; Toms, M.P.; Leech, D.I.; Hatchwell, B.J.; Gaston, K.J. (2009). "Avian productivity in urban landscape: a review and meta-analysis". Ibis. 151: 1–18. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2008.00899.x. 
  48. ^ Stracey, Christine M.; Wynn, Brady; Robinson, Scott K. (2014). "Light Pollution Allows the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) to Feed Nestlings After Dark". Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 126: 366–9. doi:10.1676/13-107.1. 
  49. ^ Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird (50th Anniversary (2010) ed.). HarperCollins. p. 148. ISBN 0-06-174352-6. 
  50. ^ Herder, Ronald (1997). 500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics. Dover Publications. p. 195. ISBN 048629725X. 
  51. ^ Life in the White House: Life in the State Dining Room from Whitehouse.Gov Accessed April 10, 2008
  52. ^ Bernstein, R. B. (2005). Thomas Jefferson. Oxford University Press. p. 140. ISBN 0-19-518130-1. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  53. ^ "Northern mockingbird." Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on March 13, 2010.

External links

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Mockingbird

Gull feathers

Gull Feathers | Larus sp.

This print was created simply by applying india ink to the feather and pressing it onto paper. The feathers are from an unknown sea gull species. The pattern was created in an effort to create at least one perfect print by repeating and the pressing over and over again. This time, the repeated print was retained for a unique pattern of alternating feathers lines.

Gull info on Wikipedia:

Larus argentatus ad.jpg
Herring gull
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Subfamily: Larinae
Genus: Larus
Linnaeus, 1758

See list

Larus is a large genus of gulls with worldwide distribution (although by far the greatest species diversity is in the Northern Hemisphere). The genus name is from Ancient Greek laros (λάῥος) or Latin Larus which appears to have referred to a gull or other large seabird.[1]

Many of its species are abundant and well-known birds in their ranges. Until about 2005–2007, most gulls were placed in this genus, but this arrangement is now known to be polyphyletic, leading to the resurrection of the genera Ichthyaetus, Chroicocephalus, Leucophaeus, and Hydrocoloeus (this last had been recognized more often than the other genera) for several species traditionally included in Larus.

They are in general medium to large birds, typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet.

The taxonomy of the large gulls in the herring and lesser black-backed complex is very complicated, different authorities recognising between two and eight species.

Systematics and evolution

List of species in taxonomic order

A herring gull (front) and a lesser black-backed gull (behind) in Norway: two species with clear differences.

Fossils of Larus gulls are known from the Middle Miocene, c.20-15 mya; allocation of earlier fossils to this genus is generally rejected nowadays. Biogeography of the fossil record suggests that the genus evolved in the northern Atlantic and spread globally during the Pliocene, when species diversity seems to have been highest as with most seabirds.

  • Larus sp. (Grund Middle Miocene of Austria)
  • Larus sp. (Middle Miocene of Romania) [2]
  • Larus sp. (Late? Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, USA) - several species [2]
  • Larus elmorei (Bone Valley Early/Middle Pliocene of SE USA)
  • Larus lacus (Pinecrest Late Pliocene of SE USA)
  • Larus perpetuus (Pinecrest Late Pliocene of SE USA)
  • Larus sp. (San Diego Late Pliocene of SW USA)
  • Larus oregonus (Late Pliocene - Late Pleistocene of WC USA)
  • Larus robustus (Late Pliocene - Late Pleistocene of WC USA)
  • Larus sp. (Lake Manix Late Pleistocene of W USA)

"Larus" raemdonckii (Early Oligocene of Belgium) is now at least tentatively believed to belong in the procellariiform genus Puffinus. "L." elegans (Late Oligocene?/Early Miocene of St-Gérand-le-Puy, France) and "L." totanoides (Late Oligocene?/Early Miocene of SE France) are now in Laricola, while "L." dolnicensis (Early Miocene of Czech Republic) was actually a pratincole; it is now placed in Mioglareola.

The Early Miocene "Larus" desnoyersii (SE France) and "L." pristinus (John Day Formation, Willow Creek, USA) probably do not belong in this genus; the former may be a skua (Olson, 1985).

Ring species

The Larus gulls interbreed in a ring around the arctic
(1 : Larus argentatus argentatus, 2: Larus fuscus sensu stricto, 3 : Larus fuscus heuglini, 4 : Larus argentatus birulai, 5 : Larus argentatus vegae, 6 : Larus argentatus smithsonianus, 7 : Larus argentatus argenteus)

The circumpolar group of Larus gull species has often been cited as a classic example of the ring species. The range of these gulls forms a ring around the North Pole. The European herring gull, which lives primarily in Great Britain, can hybridize with the American herring gull (living in North America), which can also interbreed with the Vega or East Siberian herring gull, the western subspecies of which, Birula's gull, can hybridize with Heuglin's gull, which in turn can interbreed with the Siberian lesser black-backed gull (all four of these live across the north of Siberia). The last is the eastern representative of the lesser black-backed gulls back in northwestern Europe, including Great Britain. However, the lesser black-backed gulls and herring gull are sufficiently different that they cannot interbreed; thus the group of gulls forms a continuum except in Europe where the two lineages meet. However, a recent genetic study has shown that this example is far more complicated than presented here, and probably does not constitute a true ring species.[3]


  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  2. ^ a b Olson, Storrs L. (1985): Section X.D.2.j. Laridae. In: Farner, D.S.; King, J.R. & Parkes, Kenneth C. (eds.): Avian Biology 8: 181-182. Academic Press, New York.
  3. ^ Liebers, Dorit; de Knijff, Peter & Helbig, Andreas J. (2004): The herring gull complex is not a ring species[permanent dead link]. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 271(1542): 893-901. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2679 Electronic Appendix[permanent dead link]
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larus
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