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WHY BIRDS SING

Birds sing for many reasons: to advertise their presence to a mate,


to warn intruding birds away from their territory, and to convey
other kinds of important information to one another.
KEY FACTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
HOW BIRDS MAKE SOUNDS
Humans and other vertebrates
produce sounds from the lar-
ynx, which is at the top of the
windpipe. A bird's vocal organ,
the syrinx, is at the fork leading
from the windpipe to two bron-
chial tubes. The syrinx produces
higher-frequency sounds than
the human voice.
The structure of the syrinx
varies with the species. In some
songbirds it has five to nine pairs
of muscles attached to the bron-
chial tubes, regulating and con-
trolling sound. Sound is also
modified by three vibrating
membranes, as well as by the
windpipe, the mouth, and an
air sac in front of the windpipe.
The bird's size and shape, too,
can affect the sound it makes.
The common crane, for exam-
ple, can be heard about a mile
away, partly because its wind-
pipe can be up to five feet long.
Right: The common crane's calf is
loudest when the male is displaying
in mating season.
COMPLEXITY OF BIRD SONGS
Birds and people hear sounds of
similar frequencies, but birds are
probably less adept at hearing
low-frequency sounds. But
birds are better at distinguish-
ing sounds that are very close
together. What humans hear as
a single note of a bird's song can
actually be as many as 10 differ-
ent notes, each of which can be
heard distinctly by another bird.
Even the simplest song conveys
more information to birds than a
human listener could imagine.
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Left: The song
of the white-
throat and
other warblers
sounds very
intricate to
human ears.
When the song
is slowed down
mechanicalfYt
we hear the
many notes
contained in
even a short
song burst.
0160200481 PACKET 48
A birds song consists of a phrase or series of phrases
that is repeated over and over again in order to
convey a message. The musical patterns are so
complex that the human ear cannot detect their
intricacies. The sound may seem musical, like
the song of the blackbird, or harsh, like
the booming sound of the bittern.
~ KEEPING IN TOUCH
The most important way birds
communicate among them-
selves is by song, particularly in
forests, where they cannot easi-
ly see each other. One bird may
sing, "I'm over here. Where are
you?" and be answered byoth-
ers of its species. This type of
song helps keep a large flock
together. A different call will
rouse birds of the same species
to follow the caller.
Song also helps to distinguish
two species that look alike and
share the same habitat. For
example, the willow warbler's
musical song is made up of de-
scending notes, while the chiff-
chaff warbler has a monotonous
two-note call. These different
songs bring together birds of
the same species, ensuring suc-
cessful breeding.
A bird's alarm call is essential.
Some alarm calls of separate spe-
cies are alike, especially when
they warn of a predator that
threatens more than just one
species. Alarm calls in response
to a ground predator like a fox
differ from those that warn of an
airborne predator like a hawk.
During the breeding season,
birds sing to stake out their ter-
ritories and to attract mates.
Usually it is the male that sings,
but females of some species
sing in order to maintain a hold
on their own territories.
Many species sing only as the
breeding season approaches,
while others sing throughout
the season to reassure their
mates and to warn off rivals
from their territories. A court-
ship song can indicate the sex
of the singer and sometimes
left: To some people, the yellow-
hammer's song sounds like" a-little-
bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese. "
whether or not it has mated.
The male's song is often an-
swered by another male, and
people listening sometimes mis-
take it for a love duet between
male and female. Males and
females of certain tropical spe-
cies such as the boubou shrike
do sing to each other, however.
Song is more effective over a
larger area than a visual display.
Sometimes the two are com-
bined in a spectacular courtship
ritual such as that of the superb
Iyrebird of Australia.
Right: The male superb Iyrebird
puts on an elaborate visual and
aural courtship display.
left: Even
when reared
by another
species such
as the willow
warbler, the
cuckoo retains
its distinctive
song so other
cuckoos can
identify it.
~ HEARD BUT NOT SEEN
Many species, such as the black-
bird and the yellowhammer,
have song posts-high perches
or exposed branches from which
they can be seen and heard sing-
ing at intervals throughout the
day. Other birds, like the lark,
sing in flight.
Singing out in the open, as
the lark does, seems risky be-
cause the bird's location is then
revealed to predators. Some
naturalists think that the best
left: The usually quiet male bittern
"booms" noisily for a mate in mat-
ing season.
lark singers are making their
strength known to predatory
hawks with a message that says
"I'm too tough to chase."
Other birds, perhaps more
aware of danger, hide in thick
vegetation while singing, or, like
the whippoorwill, they sing at
night. The songs of these con-
cealed birds are often loud to
act as sound beacons.
Front cover: Geese keep in touch
with loud, honking calls when fly-
ing in formation.
Front insets: Robin chicks (left)
call noisily for food. A starling
(right) sings on a song post.
ANIMAL ADAPTATIONS TO
LIFE IN THE DARK
Humans and many other species are active primarily during daylight
hours and spend much of the night asleep. In contrast, noctumal
creatures are active mainly during the hours of darkness.
____
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS DURING THE DAY
Most nocturnal animals rest
during the day, but species like
the badger may emerge from
cover for short periods . Some
nocturnal animals, such as the
mouse, may feed during
the day if food is scarce. In hot
climates animals stay in bur-
rows, rock crevices, or thick
NIGHT SIGHT
Nocturnal animals usually
have large eyes to collect as
much light as possible. Owls
and nocturnal bush babies
have tubular eyes with a large
lens (the eye part that focuses
received light) and retina (a
light-sensitive membrane at
the back of the eye). The
owl's eyes face forward and
move only slightly in their
sockets, but the owl can
rotate its head almost 360
degrees to compensate.
A nocturnal animal retracts
I
the iris (the eye's colored part)
and dilates the pupil (the dark
part at the center of the iris) to
let in light. The light is reflected
back through the retina by the
tapetum, a layer of tissue that
undergrowth to escape the sun
and come out to feed during
the cool, moist dusk.
After grazing at night, the
hippopotamus keeps cool dur-
ing the day by staying in water,
returning to land briefly at mid-
day to bask in the sun. Its eyes,
ears, and nostrils are set on top
acts like a mirror. The reflected
light stimulates sense cells.
There are two types of sense
cells in the eye: rods and cones.
Rods are sensitive to low levels
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of its head, so the hippo can
remain almost submerged in
water for long periods.
The eyes of nocturnal ani-
mals are very sensitive to day-
light. Nocturnal reptiles and
amphibians have a nictitating
membrane, or third eyelid,
which draws across the eye
for protection. Cats and other
animals have a pupil that nar-
rows to a sl it to restrict light.
The huge eyes of the South
American douroucouli, or
night monkey, are so sensitive
to light that the animal can
go blind if it opens its eyes in
daylight for long periods.
Left: The hippopotamus wallows
throughout most of the day in
order to stay cool.
of light, while cones pick out
details in bright light and see
in color. The retinas of noctur-
nal animals such as bats have
no cones.
Left: The bush
baby sleeps
during the
daylight hours
and searches
for food at
night. By being
active at night,
it avoids com-
petition with
monkeys and
other primates
in its African
habitat.
0160200491 PACKET 49
Examples of creatures that are active in the dark
can be found among all forms of animal life, from
deep-sea fish to birds and bats. Various land-dwelling
animals have developed special adaptations so that they
can exploit the cool conditions, moisture, and protective
concealment that darkness brings. A few fish and insects
even have the ability to generate their own light.
NIGHTTIME SENSES
Animals that are active at night
have adapted to living in dim
light by improving their vision
or by developing other senses
to compensate for the low levels
of light. Even in species with
keen night vision, other senses
are important. The serval, a cat
with night-sensitive eyes, uses
its excellent hearing to detect
movement in the undergrowth
and to pinpoint prey. In addi-
tion to using their eyes to fly
and hunt in the dark, bats use
objects
by emitting high-frequency
Front cover:
The greater
horsehoe bat
hunts prey at
night using
radarlike
echolocation.
Front inset
left: The barn
owl has large
eyes that give it
exceptional
night vision.
Front inset
right: The edi-
ble, or Roman,
mail lives in
moist areas
and usually
emerges at
night to feed.
sound pulses and detecting the
echo. Snakes of the pit viper
family rely on two small organs
on their snouts to detect heat
given off by any warm-blooded
prey. Additional heat organs in
their mouths guide their strike.
The piranha uses its infrared
vision to locate prey in murky
rivers. Sharks and rays have sen-
sors that detect the electric im-
pulses generated by their prey's
muscle movements.
Below: The servaIs long, sensitive
whiskers help it to avoid obstacles
in the dark.
Left: Using its
keen vision,
the night jar
catches its
insect prey at
dusk or dawn.
During the day
it lies motion-
less on the
ground, cam-
ouflaged by
its mottled
plumage.
CREATING LIGHT IN THE DARK
In the dark ocean depths there
are creatures that can give off a
glow of light. Both the angler-
fish and the viperfish dangle a
luminous lure in front of them
to attract prey. The viperfish also
has well-developed eyes and an
array of lights along its flanks.
Fireflies and glowworms can
activate a chemical process in
the rear of their abdomens to
produce an effective light. The
female glowworm shines her
"torch" at night to attract males
during the breeding season.
Left: The firefly, a night-flying bee-
tle, can use its glow to signal a type
of Morse code.
Right: In the dark ocean depths the
squid can give off rippling patterns
of light and color.
WHY ANIMALS ARE NOCTURNAL
Some species find night condi-
tions preferable to those during
the day. Desert animals tend to
avoid the hot, dry daytime cli-
mate and feed at night when
the air is cooler and compara-
tively humid. They use dew to
counteract daytime water loss.
Moist air is also vital for soft-
bodied animals such as snails,
slugs, and worms. At night
they can come out to feed
without the danger of having
their body fluids evaporate.
The nocturnal habits of many
species are closely linked to feed-
ing. Birds such as woodcocks
and snipes feed mainly after
dusk, when their prey is most
active. They search for worms
and insects just below the soil's
surface with their long, probing
bills. But when the ground is
frozen in winter, the birds also
feed in daylight.
Left: The western tarsier is a twi-
light and nocturnal hunter with
keen sight and hearing.
Low levels of light at dawn and
dusk give species such as zebras
some protection from predators.
The animals' striped and spotted
coats break up their silhouettes
in dim light. But lions and other
big cats have adapted to hunting
when zebras and antelopes go
out into the open.
The presence of humans has
forced some animals to become
nocturnal. The European otter is
usually regarded as a nocturnal
species, but it is active during the
day in some remote islands off
Scotland, where it is not dis-
turbed by people.
By being active at different
times, animals are in less com-
petition for food, and resources
are exploited 24 hours a day.
Nocturnal and day-active ani-
mals usually have different food
sources, but there are excep-
tions. The great horned owl
hunts hares by night, while the
red-tailed hawk preys on the
same species during the day.
HOW REPTILES HUNT
Reptiles use a variety of skills when hunting for food. Some lie in
wait for hours until prey passes by. Others are active hunters,
stalking and catching prey in surprise attacks.
KEY FACTS
THE SNAKE AS HUNTER
All snakes hunt by themselves,
and most are passive hunters.
Species with camouflaged skin
lie in wait in locations where
prey is likely to pass by and
then strike before their pres-
ence is detected. Most snakes
are not fast enough to chase
prey. Species with good eye-
sight, such as whipsnakes and
sand snakes, are the excep-
tion. They flush out prey and
pursue it for a short distance
before killing it.
Most snakes use smell to
hunt. They have unique sen-
sory abilities that enable them
to "taste" the ai r. The snake's
flickering forked tongue car-
ries particles of scent from t he
air to a pouch in the roof of
the mout h. Known as Jacob-
Below: The venomous night adder
strikes its prey before swallowing
it headfirst.
son's organ, this pouch lets the
snake analyze scents.
Pit vipers and some pythons
have heat-sensitive pits on the
snout that can sense tempera-
ture changes of only a fraction
of a degree. These snakes can
detect the location of warm-
blooded prey and strike accu-
rately, even in total darkness.
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Above: The Indian python is a con-
strictor that kills prey as Jarge as a
hog deer by suffocation.
Venomous snakes usually
strike their prey and then fol-
low the dying animal until the
poison takes effect. Constric-
tors suffocate their victims,
while other snakes simply
swallow live prey whole.
0160200531 PACKET 53
In order to find food, reptiles put together information
from their various sensory organs. With this collected
information, they are able to judge both the distance
and direction of prey. Some reptiles, like chameleons,
have well-developed eyesight. Other reptiles, such as
pit vipers, possess heat-sensitive organs that can
detect the approach of warm-blooded prey.
~ CHOOSING PREY
Two main factors influence any
reptile's choice of prey. First,
prey must be readily available.
Second, the reptile must be
able to obtain it without too
much danger of being preyed
upon itself.
The relationship between
predator and prey reflects a
balance among the species
in an area. A predator rarely
Front cover: A
chameleon has
excellent vision
that makes it
an adept insect
hunter. Its eyes
swivel and
focus indepen-
dently of each
other.
Front inset
left: The komo-
do dragon
senses the pres-
ence of prey by
" tasting" the
air with its
forked tongue.
Front inset
right: As it
moves through
the wate" a
caiman finds
food by simply
half-opening its
mouth and
trapping fish.
benefits from becoming so
successful that it eliminates all
the breeding adults of a prey
species. The Puerto Rican liz-
ard is an exception to this rule.
It feeds voraciously on a wide
variety of prey and covers a
large range. Although it has
depleted some populations
of land snails, it has left other
prey species to thrive.
~ HUNTI NG IN WATER
Left: A gecko
uses fairly un-
sophisticated
methods of
hunting. It
either sits and
waits until an
insect passes
close enough to
catch, or it
stalks its prey.
Members of the crocodilian prey in a powerful lunge, the
family-alligators, caimans, crocodile drags it into the wa-
crocodiles, and gavials-have ter, jams the carcass under a
fat deposits along their backs submerged log and lets it rot
and tails that let them go for before eating it.
long periods without eating. Flesh-eating turtles catch fish
Crocodilians that have nar- and crustaceans in the water.
row snouts, such as the Afri- The alligator snapping turtle
can slender-snouted crocodile, has a fleshy lure in its mouth. It
hunt by moving slowly through wiggles the lure to entice fish
the water with their mouths into its mouth and then snaps
open to catch fish and crabs. its jaws shut.
Species with heavy snouts, like Rear-fanged snakes are well
the Nile crocodile, ambush adapted for hunting in water.
their prey. They have strong They have nostrils on top of
jaws and can subdue large ani- the snout that enable them to
mals, even buffaloes and ze- swim half-submerged. When
bras. They prey mainly on t he snakes dive, valves in the
mammals that drink at the nose close so they can swim
river's edge. After seizing the
Left: The alligator snapping turtle
has a pinkish, wormlike lure in its
mouth that entices fish.
underwater.
Right: The fer-de-lance uses heat-
sensitive pits in its snout to detect
warm-blooded prey.
~ LIZARD HUNTERS
Many lizards, including sand
lizards and geckos, prey on
insects.They may hunt both
passively and actively. As a pas-
sive hunter, a gecko visits sites
where insects are likely to gath-
er, especially sites where flow-
ering plants are plentiful. It
simply waits for prey to pass,
then snaps it up.
Lizards also hunt actively,
especially when food is scarce.
A lizard sees or smells prey and
then stalks it. Geckos usually
approach prey slowly and then
make a quick strike when they
get close enough.
The chameleon has excellent
eyesight and can seize moving
prey with speed and accuracy.
While resting on a branch, it
Left: A chameleon takes only four-
hundredths of a second to extend
and retract its tongue.
will spot an insect, small bird,
or lizard and then stalk it, mov-
ing carefully along the branch.
Its feet are adapted for grasp-
ing, and its tail coils around the
branch for balance. The cha-
meleon can swivel its eyes in-
dependently of each other,
both up and down and side-
ways. So it can keep one eye
on its prey and watch for pred-
ators at the same time.
The chameleon can catch
prey at considerable distances
from its body. Once it is within
striking distance, the chame-
leon focuses both eyes on the
prey, calculates the prey's posi-
tion, then shoots out its tongue
with lightning speed. A sticky
pad at the tip of its tongue
grasps and holds the victim
while the tongue retracts and
hauls in the meal.
Left: The Nile
crocodile first
drags its prey
into deep water
to drown it.
Then it tears
the body into
small pieces by
twisting the
carcass in its
massive jaws.
THE TRUE SEAL FAMILY
The true seal family contains 10 genera with 19 species. Unlike the
closely related fur seals, true seals do not have external ears, and
their flippers cannot support their body weight on land.
KEY FACTS
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF TRUE SEALS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Build: A true seal has a torpedo-
shaped body with backward-
pointing forelimbs and flippers
for forefeet. Its flippers have
five clawed digits. It has no ex-
ternal ear flaps but can close its
ear openings underwater.
Coat: A true seal's skin is cov-
ered with fine hair. Underneath
is a layer of fat several inches
thick to protect against cold.
Right: The southern elephant seal's
backward-pointing rear flippers are
of little use on land.
Mobility: A true seal propels it-
self easily through water but is
clumsy on land. Some species
drag themselves along the land
with their forelimbs.
Sensory perception: A true seal
has good eyesight and hearing
but a poor sense of smell.
Left: The com-
mon, or harbor,
seal has five
digits on its fore
flippers. Each
digit possesses
a claw to im-
prove the seal's
grip when it
moves about
on ice.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRUE SEALS AND FUR SEALS
All seals belong to the suborder true and fur seals is in their skel-
Pinnipedia. True seals are classi- etons. True seals have short front
fied in the family Phocidae, while flippers and backward-pointing
fur seals and sea lions are in the hind limbs that cannot propel
family Otariidae. The two seal them on land. Most species
families are easy to distinguish move clumsily on land, anchor-
because fur seals have small ex- ing the front of the body and
ternal ears and true seals do not. drawing the rear toward it, then
The main difference between anchoring the hindquarters and
DID YOU KNOW?
Like a land mammal, a seal The Baikal and Caspian seals
has four limbs, but all bones are probably descended from
above the ankle are hidden the ringed seal, which entered
inside its body. Lake Baikal and the Caspian Sea
Most seals have a number of when they were linked to the
stones in their stomachs. The ocean, millions of years ago.
stones seem to be swallowed The Baikal is the smallest true
deliberately, but their function seal, growing to only four and a
is not known. half feet.
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Teeth: The number and shape
of the teeth vary with the spe-
cies. Most pups develop their
permanent teeth by three
months of age.
Communication: Seals use
cries to communicate. Males
threaten each other with barks
and roars.
squeezing the front forward.
Fur seals move more easily on
land, bringing their hind limbs
forward beneath their body as
they shift their weight forward.
As its name implies, a fur seal
has a thick fur coat protected
by guard hairs, whereas a true
seal has a shorter coat.
One Weddell seal dove over
1,900 feet-the deepest dive
on record by a true seal. Most
seals hunt for food at less than
300 feet.
A ringed seal that was cap-
tured off Baffin Island in Cana-
da in 1954 is known to have
lived 43 years.
0160200651 PACKET 65
The true seals, which belong to the family Phocidae,
spend most of their life in the sea. Some live in coastal
waters, others inhabit the deep oceans, and one species
even lives in a freshwater lake. Seals are perfectly adapted
to an aquatic environment, but at the same time they
are air-breathing, warm-blooded mammals.
~ EVOLUTION
The evolution of seals is a mys-
tery. The earliest known fossils of
these pinnipeds (fin-footed ani-
mals) are from the Miocene pe-
riod, 5 million to 22.5 million
years ago. Most fossil skeletons
are similar to those of modern
seals, but one species had a tail
~ HABITS
True seals spend most of their
time at sea, often out of sight
of land. A young seal can swim
soon after birth. Adults come
ashore to molt, breed, or doze.
Adult seals live in small groups
that may increase when food is
Front cover:
Until a month
after its birth, a
harp seal pup
has a white
coat for which
it is hunted.
Front inset
left: Unlike fur
seals, true seals
do not have
external ears,
but their hear-
ing is just as
acute.
Front inset
right: 5eals
occasionally
give birth to
twins.
and limbs long enough to walk.
Seals probably descended
from the creodonts, predatory
mammals that flourished over
65 million years ago. True seals
may then have descended from
the earliest otters and fur seals
from the earliest bears.
plentiful. Females are grouped in
harems in the breeding season.
Most seals live in cold waters,
although a few, including the
northern elephant seal and some
monk seal species, live in tropi-
cal waters.
In many true seal species, the
male has one mate, but in some
seal species the male mates with
more than one female. A sexual-
ly mature elephant seal or gray
seal establishes a territory that is
inhabited by a harem of females.
A female seal has one pup each
year. She gives birth on the same
beach every year, often within
30 feet of the previous year's
spot. Breeding times vary from
species to species, but breeding
in a particular species always oc-
curs at the same time of year.
Left: The southern elephant seal is
the largest seal. The bull can grow
to 20 feet in length.
Left: Like oth-
er true seals,
the Hawaiian
monk seal is
a very good
swimmer, but
it moves slowly
and clumsily
on land.
The mother cares for the pup
until it can catch food for itself.
Seal milk is rich in fat, and after
feeding on its mother's milk, a
pup can survive for two weeks
while she is away catching food.
A female mates again two to
six weeks after giving birth. The
fertilized egg lies dormant and
does not develop for about
three months After the egg
starts to grow, the pregnancy
lasts about nine months, so
each birth occurs a year after
the previous one.
Right: A mother may identify her
pup by smelt even though most
seals have a poor sense of smell.
~ FOOD &: FEEDING
Seals eat a variety of seafood.
Fish, octopus, and shrimp are
popular prey, but different spe-
cies have their own preferences.
Leopard seals catch penguins
and also eat other seals. Ele-
phant seals, the giants of the
family, prefer to feed on rays
and small sharks.
Seals may dive deeply to find
their food. While a scuba div-
er can go down only 1 30 feet
in safety, seals can catch fish
at depths of 300 feet or more.
They avoid the illness called the
Left: During the mating season,
the male Weddell seal establishes
a territory under ice.
Left: The crab-
eater seal feeds
mostly on tiny
shrimplike ani-
mals called krill,
although it also
eats small crabs.
Found mostly
near pack ice, it
has the largest
population of
all seals.
bends (a buildup of nitrogen in
the blood caused by pressure
when diving) by descending
with a minimum of air in their
lungs. Also, a seal's heart slows
to as little as 10 percent of its
normal rate when it dives. This
conserves oxygen in the blood
for the brain and other organs.
On land, seals drink fresh wa-
ter, but some scientists believe
that seals may drink salt water
when at sea and that their kid-
neys help eliminate the salt. It
is also possible that true seals
do not drink seawater and in-
stead obtain moisture from
their food.
THE BEAR FAMIL V
- - --
'" .
The bear family contains the largest land-dwelling meat eater.
Yet, as a group, these well-known animals depend more on
fruits and vegetables than they do on animal flesh.
I
KEY FACTS
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF THE BEAR FAMILY
TEETH & CLAWS
A bears teeth reflect its mixed
diet of plants and meat. Its cheek
teeth, or carnassia/s, have lost the
ability to rip flesh. Its large, flat
back teeth are used for crushing.
A bear has sharp, nonretract-
able claws on the five toes of
each foot. It frequently uses
these claws to dig out insect
nests or small mammals hid-
ing in burrows.
SENSES
A bear is short-sighted, and its
sense of hearing is poor. But it
has a highly developed sense
of smell. A bear's nose is simi-
lar to a dog's, but it is always
wet. A bear gets information
about its surroundings by sniff-
ing the air.
COMMUNICATION
A bear communicates with
voice and body posture. The
position of a bear's ears may
also give a clue to its mood.
When one bear confronts
another bear, it lifts its head
aggressively and opens its
mouth to growl. It may also
stand on its hind legs to look
more imposing.
THE BEAR'S BUILD, COAT, AND MOVEMENT
DID YOU KNOW?
Plants make up 80 percent
of the grizzly bear's diet.
The polar bear is found far-
ther north than any other land
mammal except the Arctic fox.
Of all land mammals, it is the
best-equipped to stand cold.
The Kodiak bear, a North
American subspecies of the
Bears vary greatly in size, from
the 1 sun bear to the
l,300-pound grizzly bear. But
all bears have heavily built bod-
ies with short, muscular legs.
All bears have fur, but the tex-
ture varies among different ani-
mals. For example, the polar
bear has dense, insulating, yel-
lowish white fur, while the fur
of the sloth bear is long and
Left: The brown bear is good at
catching fish and often stands up
while fishing.
brown bear, measures up to 1 0
feet when standing.
Polar bears have been hunted
for their fur and meat since pre-
historic times.
At least nine bear genera and
dozens of bear species have
become extinct.
Although brown bears have
MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILpM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Above: The brown bear's combi-
nation of sharp and flat teeth suits
its varied diet.
shaggy. Most bears are a shade
of brown that blends in with
their wooded habitat.
Bears usually walk on the soles
of all four feet. Because they are
all bow-legged, bears have an
ambling, shuffling gait. When
necessary, a bear may break into
a trot or even a gallop. Bear cubs
and many adult bears can climb
trees and swim. The polar bear
is unique among mammals in
using only its forelegs to propel
itself through water.
been almost eliminated from
Europe, they are still the most
widespread of all bears.
Bears usually move slowly,
but they can reach speeds of
30 miles an hour.
Polar bears have been seen
in open seas 50 miles from the
nearest ice floe or land.
0160200501 PACKET 50
There are seven species of bears, grouped in three genera.
With the exception of the polar bear, which lives
in freezing arctic waters and on ice floes, bears live
mostly in the northern temperate regions of the world.
They are usually found in forested areas, where they
meet with a minimum of disturbance from
humans-their only enemy.
EVOLUTION
Bears are the most recently
evolved carnivores (meat eaters).
The dawn bear first appeared
about 20 million years ago. The
size of a small dog, it lived in
areas of Europe that had a sub-
tropical climate at the time. Like
foxes, raccoons, and dogs, the
dawn bear evolved from small
tree-climbing mammals called
1. Spectacled bear, Tremarcios
ornatus: 4 to 7 feet long. Lives in
the northern Andes Mountains of
South America.
miacids that lived 30 to 40 mil-
lion years ago.
As more species appeared,
bears gradually increased in size.
Some species became extinct,
notably the cave bear, which was
much larger than today's bears.
The most recently evolved bear
is the polar bear, which probably
appeared 70,000 years ago.
2. Sun bear, Helarctos malayanus: 3 to
feet. The smallest bear, this rare species
lives in tropical forests in Southeast Asia.
BREEDING
Bears are normally solitary, but
they come together to mate.
The mating season varies with
the species. Some species, such
as the sun bear, can breed at
any time. After mating, male
and female separate. The father
does not help raise the cubs.
Gestation lasts six to eight
months, depending on the

Bears usually have a home
range but are not territorial.
They may feed close together
on a rich food source such as
salmon or berries. They spend
their active periods foraging. In
some species the active period
is daytime; in others it is night.
Bears rest in a simple nest in a
tree or in a sheltered lair such
3. Sloth bear, Ursus
ursinus: 3 to 6 feet. Lives
in tropical forests of India
and Sri Lanka. Feeds pri-
marily on plants. Has long,
mobile lips and tongue for
eating termites and insects.
species. This time includes a
delayed implantation of the
egg. Once the embryo begins
to develop, its growth is rapid.
Bears that have a winter sleep
give birth during this time. Usu-
ally two cubs are born, and each
is about the size of a rat. Blind,
naked, and helpless, they stay in
the den for the winter, suckling
as a hollow in a dense thicket.
Bears in colder regions sleep
during the winter for up to
five months. The bear finds a
den or digs out a hollow in a
steep slope and lines it with
grasses, leaves, and moss for
warmth. The winter sleep
coincides with the seasonal
shortage of food. Since polar
4. Polar bear, Ursus maritimus:
6 to 8 feet. Lives in the seas of the north-
ern polar region. It feeds mainly
on seals.
from their mother as she dozes.
When the mother emerges in
spring, the cubs are fully furred
and active. They learn survival
skills by accompanying her on
foraging trips. The cubs usually
spend the next winter with their
mother and leave her in spring.
They become sexually mature
between three and six years old.
bears do not suffer from such
shortages, they are less likely
to make sleeping dens. But
pregnant females or mothers
with young cubs may have
dens beneath the snow.
Although they do not truly
hibernate, bears save energy
by staying warm and sheltered
during winter.
6. Black bear, Ursus americanus:
4 to 6 feet. Inhabits any type of wood-
land in North America. This species
is largely vegetarian, but it may eat
any food it comes across.
7. Asian black bear, Ursus
thibetanus: to feet. This forest
inhabitant spends much of its time
in trees. Eats insects such as ants, as
well as fruit and berries.
5. Brown bear, Ursus arctos: to 10
feet. Several subspecies, including griz-
zly, Kodiak, and European brown.
FOOD &: FEEDING
Only the polar bear has a diet
that is mainly animal flesh. All
other bears eat a variety of
foods, including seeds, roots,
nuts, and berries. A bear may
dig with its paws or gather
food with its lips.
Most bears eat small rodents
and mammals, but few actively
hunt them. Polar bears are the
most active hunters, usually
seeking out and killing seals.
All bears like honey and may
break open a bees' nest to find
it. The sloth bear raids termite
nests, sucking up the insects and
larvae with its funnellike lips.
Front cover: A cub stays with its
mother for at least two years.
Front inset left: The polar bear's
feet are adapted for swimming.
Front inset right: The sun bear is
also called the Malayan sun bear.
THE DEVELOPMENT
OF AMPHIBIANS
Millions of years ago, amphibians were the first vertebrates to
leave the water and live on dry land. Today they still have many
characteristics of their water-dwelling ancestors.
KEY FACTS
BREEDING ADAPTATIONS
Frogs and salamanders are typ-
ical amphibians that lay their
eggs in water. Their tadpolelike
larvae metamorphose into
adults that can live on land.
Other amphibian species
have developed different ways
of breeding, reflecting habitat
and the degree to which they
have adapted to life on land.
For example, for amphibians
living in mountainous areas,
fast-flowing rivers are often
NEOTENY
Some salamanders whose lar-
vae develop in water may lack
the hormone thyroxine, which
triggers metamorphosis, and
they become trapped in the
larval stage. This situation is
called neoteny (pronounced
nee-AH-ten-ee) or the "Peter
Pan Syndrome."
For example, the Mexican
axolotl can reach sexual matu-
DID YOU KNOW?
The paradoxical frog tad-
pole can be up to four times
as long as the adult.
Mudpuppy larvae can take
five years to metamorphose.
Right: Fiji tree frogs lay eggs from
which a fully formed adult hatches.
unsafe for the development of
young, so they may not have a
larval stage in the water.
Some tailed amphibians lay
eggs on land. Others do not
even lay eggs. The eggs devel-
op inside the female alpine sal-
amander, and she gives birth
to fully formed miniature adults.
Gastric (stomach) brooding
frogs and ovoviviparous (Iive-
left: Newborn
alpine sala-
manders look
like tiny ver-
sions of their
parents.
Right: The gas-
tric brooding
frog "vomits"
its live young.
rity as a larva and does not
need to develop further. But if
it is fed thyroxine, the axolotl
Instead of drinking water,
most amphibians absorb it
through their skin.
Many amphibians tunnel
underground to avoid temper-
MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A
bearing) toads also give birth
to live young that resemble
fully metamorphosed adults.
will metamorphose into an
adult form that resembles the
tiger salamander.
Left: If it is fed
the growth
hormone thy-
roxine, the
tadpolelike
Mexican
axolotl grows
to resemble a
salamander.
ature extremes. One Siberian
salamander was found alive
46 feet underground.
All amphibians are freshwa-
ter species; none are marine.
0160200471 PACKET 47
Amphibians reproduce and their young develop
in a variety of ways. Some salamanders give birth
to miniature adults, while most frogs and toads
undergo a complete bodily transformation from larva
to adult, called metamorphosis. Other frogs carry eggs
or tadpoles on their backs. Some frogs even "vomit"
live young that have developed in their stomachs.
~ AMPHIBIAN EVOLUTION
Early amphibians, such as Ich-
thyostega, first appeared 400
million years ago. It is generally
accepted that they evolved from
lobe-finned fish, as these fish had
fleshy fins containing bones simi-
lar to those found in the fore-
limbs of early amphibians.
Lobe-finned fish probably
lived in warm, shallow waters
that were low in oxygen, which
made it advantageous to gain
the ability to breathe air through
the skin or through primitive
lungs. Once these "fish" could
survive on dry land, they also
gained freedom from aquatic
predators.
In their new habitat the early
amphibians quickly increased
Right: The
poison-arrow
frog carries its
tadpoles to a
moist site to
develop.
Front inset
left: The tiger
salamander
lives in water or
on land.
Front inset
right: A male
midwife toad
carries eggs on
his back.
their numbers, reaching a peak
around 300 million years ago.
The first branchiosaurs (fossil tad-
poles) date back to this period.
As more specialized land ani-
mals evolved, amphibians de-
clined, and today only about
4,100 species remain. These are
contained within three orders:
tailed amphibians, frogs and
toads, and caecilians (tropical
limbless amphibians resembl-
ing worms).
Modern amphibians usually
live on land, but the larvae of
many species still develop in
water. All amphibians have soft,
nonscaly skin from which mois-
ture may be quickly lost, so most
live in moist habitats near water.
left: Fossil evi-
dence suggests
that caecilians
once had limbs
and a tail used
for swimming.
They evolved
wormlike bod-
ies as an adap-
tation to life on
dry land.
left: The
mudpuppy has
large external
gills that help
it breathe
underwater.
Right: The
female marsu-
pial frog has a
birth pouch on
her back that
opens to release
several live
young.
~ METAMORPHOSIS
In the northern hemisphere,
the spawn (eggs) of most
frogs and toads are laid in
water, and the larvae devel-
op there. The female lays the
spawn in a large mass or in
strings, which the male then
fertilizes. Some amphibians
lay thousands of eggs, since
most larvae fall prey to larg-
er amphibians, fish, and even
other tadpoles.
Each egg contains yolk to
nourish the developing em-
bryo and is usually covered in
jelly to prevent the egg from
drying out and to discourage
predators. When sufficiently
developed, the larva hatches
into the water. Its muscle
structure is similar to that of
a fish, and it swims by sweep-
ing its tail from side to side.
A larva that feeds on aquatic
plants breathes through inter-
nal gills like those of fish. But
a flesh-eating larva that swal-
lows its prey whole often has
external gills on the back and
left: A female tree frog Jays her
eggs on a leaf while the smaller
male fertilizes them.
sides of its head, where they
are less likely to be damaged.
All amphibian larvae also
breathe through their skin
and the mucous membranes
in their mouths.
Once the larva reaches a
certain size, a growth hor-
mone called thyroxine is pro-
duced by the thyroid gland
and triggers metamorphosis.
In the common frog tadpole
the first visible change is the
development of hind legs, fol-
lowed by forelegs. Then the
tail begins to shrink. The tad-
pole loses its horny teeth, its
mouth widens, and its eyes
enlarge so it can see on land . .
Internally the changes are just
as radical: the tadpole's gills
are replaced by lungs and its
intestines shrink, ready for the
more flesh-based diet of an
adult frog .
The length of metamorpho-
sis depends on the species
and on external factors such
as the availability of food and
water temperature. The frog
tadpole usually takes about
12 weeks to develop into an
adult frog.
THE DOG FAMILY
The dog family, Canidae, includes over 30 different species. The gray
wolf and the red fox are two typical species. They are among the
most widespread and successful of all flesh-eating mammals.
KEY FACTS
Communication: Canids use
postures and facial expressions
to maintain pack hierarchies.
Their calls range from whines to
howls. They also communicate
with scent: By urinating on a
rock or bush, a dog leaves infor-
mation about species, sex, ma-
turity, and the time it passed by.
Forepaw: Five toes,
including a thumb-
like dew claw.
High-mounted
stopper pad.
Hind paw:
Right: Like
most can ids,
the American
coyote uses
growls, high-
pitched whines,
or loud howls
to communi-
cate with other
individuals.
Four claws.
TEETH AND SENSORY PERCEPTION
Teeth: Most canids have small incisors
and large, sharp canine teeth. The
front cheek teeth are flattish for grind-
ing. The sharp back teeth can cut
bone and flesh. This combination
of teeth permits a varied diet.
Sense of smell: Excellent and
vital. In most species, it is at least
twice as good as that of humans. It is
used to track prey, find partners, and
identify individuals and territories.
DID YOU KNOW?
Paws: Cushioned
by leathery
pads. Nail-like,
non retractable
claws help to
provide grip.
They also enable
certain can ids to
burrow and others
to dig out prey.
The raccoon dog is the only
dog species that hibernates. It
spends the harsh winters of its
east Asian homeland alone in
its den with its body tempera-
ture reduced to conserve ener-
gy. It is also the only species of
dog that never seems to bark.
coyotes, gray wolves, and do-
mestic dogs, can interbreed and
produce fertile offspring.
Some dog species, including
Pups known as poojas have
been bred from a jackal and a
poodle. In one litter, some poo-
jas inherited the jackal's "lan-
guage," while others knew only
the language of the domestic
MCMXCVIIMP BV/IMP INC. WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Build: The smallest canid is the
fennec fox, which is only nine
inches high. At the other end of
the range, the gray wolf may
reach a height of three feet at
the shoulder. These variations in
build reflect the different canids'
physical adaptations to their di-
verse habitats.
Hearing: Very sharp; can detect
high-pitched sound. Usually the
ear flaps can be angled to lo-
cate a sound source. They
help give off body heat.
Eyesight: Keen, but inferi-
or to smell and hearing.
Can ids probably have some
color vision. The eye whites are
usually covered by the lids, ex-
posing only the colored iris.
dog. As a result, these pups
from the same litter were not
able to communicate.
There is some debate about
when the dog was first domes-
ticated. The oldest verifiable
remains of domesticated dogs
are 9,500 years old and were
found in England.
US P 6001 12 052 PACKET 52
The dog family is characterized by species that
~ HABITS
are intelligent, adaptable, and opportunistic. These
Members of the dog family,
known as can ids, are found
worldwide. Dogs are active at
all times of day. Although they
are adapted for pursuing prey
through open country, most
exploit many food sources.
animals' flexibility is one reason for their success in a
wide range of habitats. Although some dogs are solitary
animals, many are very sociable. By banding together
and living in well-structured societies, dogs are able to
Some canid species have very
flexible social organizations. The
gray wolf, for example, may be
tackle large prey and provide security for their young.
~ ORIGINS
Canids first appeared in North
America 36 million years ago.
Over the next 20 million years,
42 genera evolved, spreading to
Eurasia. Dogs started to inhabit
Southeast Asia, Africa, and South
America only about 600,000
years ago. Settlers brought their
domesticated dogs with them
to Australia, New Guinea, and
Madagascar. The ancestors of
dogs like the Australian dingo
soon became wild and spread
through the land.
Although dogs are still wide-
spread, the number of genera
has fallen to 10. The largest
genus is Vulpes, which includes
the red fox. The next largest,
Canis, includes the wolf, coyote,
and domestic dog.
The dog family also has seven
single-species genera. These in-
clude the badgerlike bush dog
and the raccoon dog, which-
true to its name-looks more
like a raccoon than a dog.
1. African hunting dog, Lycaon
pictus: This pack-living dog is re-
nowned for its prowess in hunting
prey such as gazelles. It can sustain
a speed of 30 miles an hour for sev-
eral minutes. This species is ex-
tremely social , but the sexes
establish separate hierarchies.
2. Gray wolf, Canis /upus:The adapt-
ability of the gray wolf has prevented
it from being wiped out by humans.
Although it is very social , it can also
live in single pairs if warranted by the
terrain and other conditions. It is
thought that all domestic dogs are
descended from the gray wolf.
3. Domestic dog, Canis
familiaris: There are several
breeds worldwide. The Shetland
sheepdog, or "Sheltie," is shown
here. This breed was first used as
a work dog in the Shetland Islands,
where its size suited the rugged envi-
ronment. It is now bred as a pet.
solitary or live in a highly ordered
pack of five to eight animals de-
pending on the terrain, season,
and food supply. This flexibility
has enabled the wolf to survive
despite persecution by humans.
For golden jackals, pair-bonding
is crucial to survival, especially
when there are pups. The adults
hunt together and pair for life.
~ BREEDING
Wild can ids breed once a year,
while domestic dogs are in estrus
(breeding condition) twice a year.
Females use scent and body pos-
ture to show their readiness to
breed. Scent is most valuable to
solitary can ids, who must find
partners in the breeding season.
In a dog pack, usually only the
~ FOOD &: HUNTING
Although diet varies depending
on the species, all dogs seek ani-
mal prey. African wild dogs hunt
in packs of up to 30, ambushing
prey like impalas and gazelles.
They can bring down an animal
as large as a zebra by chasing it
until it is exhausted.
By contrast, the more solitary
red fox may live almost entirely
dominant pair breeds. In some
packs, other females do not even
come into estrus. Nonbreeding
dogs provide food and take care
of the young.
Females give birth after seven
to ten weeks, often in under-
ground dens. Litters typically
contain two to six young, but
4. Bush dog, Speothos venaticus:
This social species looks more like a
bear than a dog. It lives in bush and
tropical rainforests, where its com-
pact body lets it move through dense
vegetation. It hunts in groups and is a
good swimmer. It is threatened by
habitat destruction.
5. Red fox, Vu/pes vu/pes:The most
adaptable of all the foxes, it has accli-
mated itself to a vast range of habi-
tats, including urban areas. It lives
with others but hunts alone.
on apples, berries, and rosehips
during the fall. The bat-eared
fox eats harvester termites, lo-
cating them by sound with its
huge ears.
Front cover: The gray wolf may be
solitary or social.
Front insets: The red fox (left) has
a vast distribution. The raccoon
dog (right) is a primitive canid.
some species have up to 20
young. The young are usually
weaned in a few months.
The young of solitary species
are well cared for by both the
male and female. Having one
well-nurtured litter each year en-
sures a high survival rate and is
key to the dog family's success.
6. Crab-eating fox, Dusicyon
vetu/us: Also known as the savannah
fox, this canid has a wide distribution
in northern South America. Its varied
diet includes fruit, insects,
frogs, carrion, refuse-
and crabs.
,\\:CARD38
WHY MAMMALS FIGHT
Mammals usually fight as a last resort. They prefer to settle
disputes with a ritualized show of aggression, intended to deter
adversaries from engaging in physical combat.
KEY FACTS
THE RHINO'S RITUALIZED FIGHT
Most mammals try to settle con-
flicts without fighting, which is a
waste of their energy. Conflicts
between males frequently occur
among large grazing animals like
the white rhino that have well-
defined territories. But these ani-
mals have herd structures and
ritualized threat displays that
help them avoid actual combat.
Male rhinos fall into two cate-
gories: dominant bulls and sub-
ordinate bulls. A dominant bull
possesses a territory of up to one
square mile. He tolerates several
subordinate males in his territory
but not another dominant male.
If two dominant males meet
on the edges of their territories,
they defend their ground with
DID YOU KNOW?
Brown rats live in groups
that have a common scent.
Group members are not very
aggressive toward each other,
but they can identify an out-
sider by its different scent, and
they attack the intruding rat.
Hyenas fight over prey. They
will attack and even eat young
hyenas that try to snatch food.
On the inside of his ankle,
a harmless, ritualized display.
Facing each other with lowered
heads, they swing their horns,
slash at plants, pace back and
forth, and spray the ground with
urine. Usually the display ends
Left: Hissing,
growling, and-
spitting, along
with a show of
teeth, are usu-
ally enough to
settle disputes
between tigers,
which are soli-
tary, unsociable
creatures.
the male duckbill platypus has a
spur that is connected to a poi-
son gland. The spur is used to
subdue prey. It may also be
used in defense and, perhaps,
to arouse the female.
Aggression is not associated
only with males. In a troop of
talapoin monkeys, the domi-
nant females are most likely
to mate and reproduce. These
MCMXCII IMP BVIIMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILE'M PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Above: White rhinos use a ritual-
ized and usually harmless display
to establish social rank.
with one male retreating, espe-
cially if he realizes from the scent
of his opponent's urine that the
latter is a particularly dominant
male. If neither male retreats, the
rhinos may lock horns and wres-
tle. In extreme cases, they charge
and strike horns with a crash.
If a dominant male enters an-
other rhino's territory, a more se-
rious confrontation occurs. The
resident male charges at the in-
truder and drives him off, usually
with little resistance.
high-ranking females harass
junior females, causing such
stress that the subordinates
fail to ovulate and have fewer
young. Young animals may
be driven from the group as
a result of this aggression.
Lions are the only social cat
species, but they often fight to
the death over possession of a
mate or a territory.
0160200591 PACKET 59
Often a mammal must fight to establish rank, defend
a territory, or win possession of a mate. Such conflicts
may be essential elements of the animal's lifestyle.
Usually, the fights occur between members of the same
species. Fights that occur between mammals of different
species are generally over competition for food. Or they
are fights for survivaJ...-between prey and predator.
""IIIIIIIIIIII WEAPONS & PHYSIQUE
An animal's teeth and claws may
serve as weapons in a fight, but
they are primarily used for other
purposes such as grooming, dig-
ging, and tearing food. For ex-
ample, a lion's claws, teeth, and
strong jaws are adapted for tear-
ing food rather than fighting.
Nonpredatory animals have
horns, tusks, or antlers that seem
like real weapons. But these too
are used primarily for other pur-
poses. Antelope use their horns
to fend off predators, and feed-
ing elephants break off branches
with their tusks. The walrus's
tusks can pierce an opponent's
Front cover:
Hippos fight to
defend mating
territories or in
self-defence
against a per-
ceived threat.
Front inset left:
A lion displays
its canine teeth
to threaten an
aggressor.
Front inset
right: Elephants
rarely engage in
physical com-
bat, since they
could suffer
fatal injuries.
blubber, but they are used main-
ly to get shellfish from seabeds.
Most deer use their antlers to
establish territorial or mating
rights. A stag's intimidating look-
ing antlers may discourage a rival
from fighting, but they are used
in combat if a fight breaks out.
The bodies of many mammals
are adapted for fighting. Animals
that clash head-on, such as the
bighorn sheep and the musk ox,
have thickened foreheads to pro-
tect their brains. Pig species have
facial warts or shieldlike hides on
their forequarters in order to de-
flect tusk blows.
""IIIIIIIIIIII TERRITORY & MATES
At the onset of the breeding sea-
son, the largest, most dominant
red deer stags take possession
of a territory and a group of fe-
males. The stag's neck thickens
and he acquires a deep, roaring
voice with which to challenge
rivals that intrude on his territory.
If roaring and posturing do not
deter a rival, a fight will develop.
Since the resident stag is on his
home ground, he has a psycho-
logical advantage over the new-
comer and usually wins the fight,
unless he is very old or injured.
The bull elephant seal also de-
fends a territory and a harem of
females. He rears up to his full
height of 8 to 1 0 feet, roars, and
lunges at his opponent.
""IIIIIIIIIIII THE PECKING ORDER
Mammals that live in groups
must establish their place in
the society. Some species use
aggressive challenges to estab-
lish social hierarchy, and the
winner then dominates the
loser. These challenges are usu-
ally ritualized and rarely fatal.
When a conflict arises in a
pack of wolves, the challengers
snarl, raise their hackles, and
curl their lips to display their
teeth. One usually backs off,
but if a fight occurs, it is usually
Left: An elephant seal's teeth are
capable of tearing hunks of flesh
from an opponent.
fairly brief. The loser rolls on his
back to present his vulnerable
underbelly. Rather than attack-
ing, the winner accepts this ges-
ture of submission and ends
the fight.
A wolf may also show sub-
mission by licking and nuzzling
the lips of a dominant wolf. All
wolves rely on other pack mem-
bers for survival, so these rituals
help to reinforce the pecking
order without the wolves hav-
ing to resort to violence.
Right: Bull elephants frequently
engage in gentle combat to estab-
lish the herd hierarchy.
""IIIIIIIIIIII SELF-DEFENSE
For swift-running or climbing
mammals, flight is often the best
defense. But when flight is not
possible, weapons are used.
The oryx points its spearlike
horns at an attacking big cat or
a hyena. Surrounded by lions, a
buffalo strikes out with its horns
and hooves, which are deadly
weapons. Skunks and zorillas de-
ter attackers with a foul-smelling
spray so that they can make a
quick escape.
Close-knit groups come to the
Left: The fight is over once prey has
been caught, since a predator is
quick to subdue its victim.
Left: The red
deer's antlers
can inflict a
fatal wound,
but a contest
usually turns
into a test of
strength. The
outcome of this
shoving match
will decide who
wins the right
to mate.
aid of their members. A baboon
caught by a predator such as a
leopard may be released when
the baboon troop comes to the
victim's defense. The troop will
shriek, bark, and even bite the
leopard until it releases its prey.
Adults with defenseless young
can be very aggressive. It is not
unusual for a female brown bear
to defend her cubs against an
attack by the father, who sees
them as a meal. If attacked by
wolves, adult musk oxen form
a protective ring around their
young and lower their massive
heads as a barricade.
"'CARD 39
BIRD SOCIETIES
Bird societies may contain hundreds, even thousands, of individual
birds. Although the societies differ greatly, they all benefit the
many birds that make up the community.
KEY FACTS
SOCIAL VARIATION AMONG AFRICAN WEAVERBIRDS
Many African weavers are very
social, often living in mixed flocks
of several weaver species. Out-
side the breeding season, mixed
flocks may congregate by the
thousands to feed. During t his
I period, the male and female
have almost identical nonde-
script brown plumage. The indi-
vidual's safety within the society
depends on not being noticed.
Mixed colonies of several weav-
er species are established at the
onset of the breeding season.
The individual's needs within the
bird society now change. The
male can no longer afford to be
inconspicuous because he must
attract a mate. In order to do so,
he acquires a striking breeding
plumage-usually black and
yellow. He must now take his
chances with predators that are
~ -
I ?n
l
,? YOU KNOW?
I -Birds tend to imitate their
neighbors when they see them
I preening, mating, or engaging
I in displays.
I
-The male greater rhea from
South America gathers a har-
em of 15 females. The females
I lay their eggs in a single nest.
attracted to the nesting site. Ad-
vertising a nest, forming a pair,
and rearing young become pri-
orities in the male's life.
Some African weaverbird col-
onies have more than a thou-
Left: The red-
billed quelea
is a species of
weaver that
forms huge
flocks outside
the breeding
season and
large colonies
when nesting.
The male then tends the nest,
while the females move on to
another male.
- According to records, 25 roosts
in Tennessee and Kentucky were
found to contain over one mil-
lion birds each.
- The most abundant bird in the
MCMXCII IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
Left: Outside
the breeding
season, a male
African weaver-
bird has fairly
nondescript
plumage. But
at the onset of
the breeding
season, he
acquires a strik-
ing set of feath-
ers in order to
attract a mate.
The courtship
displays used
by the males
vary with the
species.
sand nests-all very close togeth-
er. The different species within a
colony often look similar. To en-
sure that they mate with their
own species, males have evolved
various behavior patterns in or-
der to attract females.
In some species the male weav-
er builds the nest and advertises
it with a song flight or by hang-
ing upside down in the entrance.
In other species the male chases
the female, then builds the nest
after mating. In still other species
males gather at a communal dis-
play area, or lek, to compete for
the females' attention.
world is probably the red-billed
quelea of Africa. Feeding flocks
regularly number more than
one mill ion. Attempts to con-
trol this agricultural pest have
killed over 1 00 million birds in a
single year, but the overall pop-
ulation remains unaffected.
0160200571 PACKET 57
The benefits of living within a compact society vary
from one species of bird to the next. Some birds find
it advantageous to spend their entire lives within a
close-knit community. Other birds go off on their own
but gather at certain times of the day to feed or roost.
Still other species come together only at particular
seasons in order to mate or to migrate.

About 15 percent of all bird spe-
cies nest in colonies. In some
cases colonies form in locations
where suitable habitat is limited,
but there is enough food near-
by for many birds. The gannet
nests in huge colonies on rocky
islands in the North Atlantic,
where the rich ocean waters
provide the colonies with an
abundance of food.
Mixed colonies of different
species may be advantageous
because stronger species can
protect weaker individuals. Col-
Right: Great blue herons nest in
treetops-often at heights of up
to 730 feet.
Front cover:
Gannets make
the best use of
limited space
by nesting in
dense colonies.
Front insets: It
is beneficial for
griffon vultures
(left) to feed
together. If one
finds carrion,
they all eat.
The emperor
penguin (right)
lives in huge
colonies in
Antarctica.
onies also help provide protec-
tion from predators in instances
where a single bird might be
unable to drive off an intruder.
In a treetop colony of herons or
rooks, the older breeding pairs
frequently nest in the center of
the colony, where they are pro-
tected by the younger birds in
the outer ring.
FOOD & FEEDING
Many bird species feed in groups
when there is an abundance of
food in a limited space. Curlews
gather on the tidal mud to feed
on shellfish during the relatively
short period of low tide. In the
fall thrushes may congregate
around fallen fruit in an orchard.
At times group activity makes
it easier to obtain food. Flocks of
Starlings, blackbirds, and other
species that feed in groups usu-
ally roost communally when
they are not breeding. Mixed
roosts of thrushes and finches
are often found in woodland
sites. Roosting flocks generally
find safety in numbers, while
birds that roost alone are more
likely to be preyed upon.
Birds that feed alone frequent-
ly gather at dusk to roost in a
group. Some birds feed at wide-
Left: Large numbers of oystercatch-
ers gather on coastal flats and
estuaries to feed on shellfish.
pelicans swim in a line with their
bills below the water, driving
fish into the shallows in order
feed on them.
Vultures watch each other in
flight. When one spots a dead
animal and swoops down on it,
the others follow, and a large,
squabbling group of birds gath-
ers around the carcass to feed.
Iy scattered sites and then come
together to roost in another
place. Pied wagtails that feed
beside reservoirs and rivers of-
ten roost together at warm
sites such as greenhouses.
A spectacular sight is a mass
roost of starlings congregating
at dusk, then descending into a
small wood to feed. Trees used
for roosting may die from the
accumulated droppings of the
starling flocks.
Right: The male black grouse en-
gages in competitive displays with
other males to attract a mate.

Birds that migrate at night tend
to fly alone but may maintain
contact through calls. However,
most birds migrate in flocks dur-
ing the day. Working as a group,
a flock can detect and respond
to the threat of a predator.
Left: The social cattle egret nests in
large colonies and also roosts with
other birds.
Left: White pel-
icans have a
group feeding
strategy. Work-
ing as a team,
they force fish
into shallow
water, where
the flock is able
to feed more
easily.
Birds come together in fall to
form migrating flocks. In Sep-
tember swallows and martins
congregate on telephone wires
for several days, then suddenly
disappear when the assembled
flock is ready to migrate. Large,
broad-winged soaring birds
meet at points of rising air cur-
rents before they move across
open water. Buzzards, eagles,
and storks gather in spiraling
flocks to migrate when leaving
Sweden, crossing the Bospho-
rus, or setting out from Africa.
Left: House martins gather in large
flocks before migrating to warmer
climates.
THE SPIDER FAMIL V
The spider "family" is not a family at all. It is a huge and diverse
order of more than 30,000 known species. Only about 30
of these are harmful to people.
KEY FACTS
HOW THE ORB SPIDER BUILDS ITS WEB
1. The spider spins a thread
that floats between two points.
Once the trailing end sticks,
the spider crawls across, spin-
ning a thick suspension line for
the web it will build.
4. Spiraling out from the hub,
the spider spins dry silk. Then
the spider works back in, add-
ing sticky silk.
5. When the web is completed
(right), the spider stays in the
dry hub or walks on the dry silk
to avoid getting stuck itself.
DID YOU KNOW?
Few of the large tropical
spiders are dangerous to
humans. They rely on power
to subdue their victims, and
their venom is fairly weak.
Contrary to popular belief,
a spider in the bathtub did
2. The spider adds another
thread along the suspension
line, crawls to the hub (center),
and drops down to make a Y
shape. It climbs the Y and spins
a thread downward.
not get there by crawling up
the drain. It would drown in
the water in the plumbing.
Usually the spider has fallen
off a wall, and it cannot climb
the slick tub surface.
One species of trapdoor spi-
MCMXCI IMP BV/ IMP INC WILDLIFE FACT FILETM PRINTED IN U.S.A.
3. The spider makes a more
secure framework by spinning
the outer frame threads. It adds
more radial threads (like the
spokes of a wheel) to tighten
the structure.
der-which is named for the
tight-fitting lid it builds at the
entrance to its burrow-has a
toughened abdomen. If it is
attacked, this spider retreats
into its hole and presents only
its shieldlike abdomen. :=::!J
0160200481 PACKET 48
Spiders play an important role in nature as efficient
consumers of insects and pests, but they are generally
feared and misunderstood by humans. These highly
specialized predators can sense and trap prey in many
different ways. Spiders are best known for laying traps with
their webs, but some spiders actively hunt, ambush, or fish
for their prey. A few even cast nets over their victims.
~ SENSES
Most spiders do not have good
eyesight. They often have eight
eyes, but these are simple, inef-
ficient organs compared with
an insect's compound eyes. The
wolf and jumping spiders are
exceptions: they have two large
forward-facing eyes that pro-
vide keen binocular (overlap-
ping) vision. A jumping spider
actually jumps on its prey, so it
must judge distances well.
Front cover:
The female
golden orb-
weaving spi-
derdwarfs
the male.
Front inset
left: The
jumping spi-
derhas two
large forward-
facing eyes.
Front inset
right: The
female wolf spi-
der carries an
egg sac and
her tiny young
when they
hatch.
Right: The fish-
ing spider can
catch small fish.
A web-building spider relies
on touch rather than sight. The
many sensory hairs on its legs
pick up vibrations in the web.
The spider can sense what it
has caught and where. Most
can even analyze tiny changes
in air pressure caused by the
movement of an insect's wings.
Right: Raft spiders find prey in the
water by feeling for vibrotions on
the surface.
~ WEB PRODUCTION
Spider silk is strong, sticky, and
elastic-excellent for building
traps. The silk oozes out of spin-
nerets (special nozzles in the
spider's abdomen) as a liquid
and hardens on contact with
the air. As soon as the spider
forces out a small amount, it
uses its hind legs to pull out
more. The process seems to
~ FOOD & FEEDING
Spiders feed exclusively on the
flesh of animals (mostly insects)
that they kill. They use a variety
of tactics for capturing prey.
Wolf and jumping spiders stalk
their victims. Well-camouflaged
crab spiders lurk in one place,
waiting to ambush insects that
stray too close to them. Web-
building spiders spin sticky, silk-
en traps for their prey.
A spider quickly kills or para-
lyzes its prey with poison from
its fangs. To digest the prey, it
pumps salivary juices over and
into the prey's body. This action
reduces the flesh to a thick liq-
uid that the spider sucks up,
using its powerful stomach
pump. All that remains of the
victim is an empty shell, which
may be left near the spider's lair.
stretch and strengthen the silk.
The end is anchored, and the
spider begins to weave.
The web acts as a 24-hour
trap. All the spider has to do is
wait. Any insect that blunders
into the web is stunned with an
injection of venom and bound
up. The spider repairs the web,
then returns to eat its victim.
TYPICAL FEATURES
OF A SPIDER
Jaws: Basically
a pair of highly modified
pincers, called chelicerae.
Each has a hollow fang that
poison flows through.
Legs: Always 8.
Attached to the
cephalothorax.
Abdomen:
Relatively soft.
Contains such organs
as the heart, gut,
genitals, and silk glands.
Spinnerets: Organs through
which silk for web is released.
Mating can be dangerous for a
male spider. Not only is the
female usually larger, but she
spends her life preying on ani-
mals that come near. The male
must convince her that he is
not another meal.
Jumping spiders have excel-
lent eyesight, so the male can
make coded gestures to show
the female that he is of the
same species. Most other spi-
Left: The
female net-
casting spider
spins a small,
sticky web and
holds it at the
tips of her four
front legs. She
waits for an
insect to pass
by, opens the
net wide, and
throws it over
the insect.
ders rely on touch. The male
may stroke the female, tweak
her web, or offer her a bound
insect as a gift. If his ploys are
successful, the female falls into
a kind of trance and lets him
mate. If not, he must move
quickly to avoid being eaten.
The female lays her eggs in a
silken sac that she may guard
closely. Some species carry the
egg sacs on their backs.
Eyes: Usually
8. Some spi-
ders have 6, 4,
2, or even 1.
Palps: Jointed "feelers" resembling an extra
pair of short legs. In male spiders the palps
have large clublike structures on the tips
that playa part
in mating.
Cephalothorax. Body segments
of head and thorax fused together (an
insect always has a head, thorax, and
abdomen) . It is protected on its top
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ s i d e by a hard carapace (covering)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . similar to the shell of a crab.
Tarsal claws: 2 on
each "foot " for gripping surfaces.
Web-building spiders have a third,
middle claw that helps them hang
on to threads of the web.

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