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Laura Klappenbach
Guide since 2001


About.com Animals / Wildlife

Animal of the Day

The osprey is a large bird of prey that inhabits temperate and tropical regions around the world. It is among the most widespread member of its family.

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The Great Lakes

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior

The Great Lakes are a chain of five large, freshwater lakes that are located in central North America, astride the border of Canada and the United States. The Great Lakes include Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, and Lake Superior and together form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth.

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Animals / Wildlife Spotlight10

New Animal Profile - Swifts

Sunday March 30, 2014

I just added a new profile to the Animal Encyclopedia. Please extend a warm welcome to the swifts.

Swifts (Apodidae) are a group of birds that include American swifts, swiftlets, spintails, and typical swifts. There are about 83 species of swifts alive today. Swifts inhabit all continents except Antarctica. They inhabit a variety of terrestrial habitats including grasslands, scrublands, steppe, urban areas, and forests. Swifts are superb areialists that have sicle-shaped wigns well-suited for fast, maneuverable flight. Swifts have very small, delicate feet and are not able to perch. However, swifts are able to grasp vertical surfaces since their rigid tail feathers provide additional support.

To find out more, be sure to read the swifts profile.

Photo © Jim McCulloch / Wikipedia.

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New Animal Profile - Hummingbirds and Swifts

Sunday March 30, 2014

I just added a new profile to the Animal Encyclopedia. Please extend a warm welcome to the hummingbirds and swifts.

Hummingbirds and swifts (Apodiformes) are a group of birds that are small in size and have short, delicate legs, and tiny feet (the name "Apodiformes" is derived from the Greek word for "footless"). Hummingbirds and swifts have numerous adaptations for specialized flight. These include very short humerus bones, long bones in the outer portion of the wing, long primary feathers, and short secondary feathers.

To find out more, be sure to read the hummingbirds and swifts profile.

Photo © Ed Reschke / Getty Images.

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A New Haven for Migratory Birds in Arizona

Saturday March 29, 2014

In 1974, Wally and Marion Paton, a couple living in the town of Patagonia in the southeast corner of Arizona, decided to make a few modifications to their yard to attract migrating birds. The Patons planted some flowers, installed several water features, and hung a dozen or more hummingbird feeders. Their efforts were rewarded. More than 15 species of hummingbirds began to visit their property and the Patons soon realized that fellow birdwatchers were gathering outside their yard to get a view of the birds.

The Patons generously welcomed visiting birdwatchers. For more than three decades they received visitors from around the world who wanted to come and see the hummingbirds for themselves. The Patons installed a tent for visiting birders, installed seating areas and provided assistance in identifying the birds in their garden. They accepted donations to help cover the cost of feeding the hummingbirds.

Now, the Paton property has been passed on to their children and the new generation wanted to ensure the area remain preserved for both birds birdwatchers in years to come. The family recently sold the land to the American Bird Conservancy and it will be looked after by the Tucson Audubon Society. This wonderful birding location will remain a haven for migrating birds and birders hoping to glimpse rarely-seen species such as the plain-capped starthroat, the violet-crowned hummingbird, and the magnificent hummingbird.

Photo © Tmore Campbell / American Bird Conservancy. Violet-crowned hummingbird.

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Urban Wildlife More Diverse Than Previously Thought

Saturday March 29, 2014

A recent study involving 147 cities around the world has revealed that urban areas can support a surprisingly diverse collection of species. This seems counterintuitive—conventional wisdom suggests that urban areas cause widespread loss of biodiversity. Although conversion of natural areas to cities does impact the wildlife of the region, it is encouraging to find out that some species do adapt and that cities develop their own fauna that is a unique reflection of their geographic location.

The study was conducted by a team of scientists from UC Santa Barabara and was funded by the National Science Foundation. The findings of the study suggest that although urban development causes a large amount of species loss in terms of both plants and animals, some endemic species prevail in the altered landscape.

Scientists found that parks within cities often provide much needed resources for wildlife. This means that by optimizing green space in cities and by putting forth sound conservation policies for urban environments, urban biodiversity can be better protected and bolstered.

Photo © John Cancalosi / Getty Images.

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