Scarce Swallowtail Butterfly

The Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) is a butterfly. It is also called the Sail Swallowtail or the Pear-Tree Swallowtail. It is not scarce. It is quite common and widespread across Europe, except northern Europe. However, it is a protected species in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia.

The Scarce Swallowtail is creamy-white to pale-yellow. On its front wings, there are 6 dark-coloured tiger stripes and wedge-shaped markings. On the outer edges of its hind wings (back wings), there are blue crescent markings with an oblong orange spot at the back corner of its long tail.

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European Hornet

The European Hornet (Vespa crabro) is the largest wasp in Europe. It is an insect – a vespine.

The European Hornet is black and yellow, with reddish-orange wings. Its abdomen is yellow striped with black markings. Its has hair on its thorax and abdomen, but it is not as hairy as bees. Males have seven segments on their abdomen, whereas females have six segments. Its eyes are shaped like the letter C. Females have a stinger at the end of their abdomen. Males cannot sting. Males have antennae with 13 segments, whereas females have 12 segments.

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Fallacy: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand

Ostriches bury their heads in the sand. This is not true. It is a fallacy.

When ostriches are alarmed, they do not bury their heads in the sand, but they lie low and press their long necks down on the ground. This is because they are trying to hide from their predators, or to be less visible and not so prominent (large).

From a distance, it might look as if they have buried their heads in the sand, but they haven’t.

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Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill

The Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis) is a large African bird with a huge beak.

The Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill has iridescent black feathers with a silvery-grey head, and silvery spots on its cheeks. It has a white rump, white lower back, and white tips on its tail feathers. It has a large cream-coloured casque (bony growth) on its beak. It has dark eyes, and females have red skin around their eyes.

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Common Redstart

The Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) is a small bird. Redstart means red tail.

The Common Redstart is grey with a white forehead and a black throat. Its wings and two central tail feathers are brown, whereas the other tail feathers are orange-red. It has orange on its sides and a white belly. Its beak and legs are black. It has a pale eye-ring.

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Salt Licks and Salt Pans

A salt lick, also called a mineral lick, is a place where animals go to lick the the salt and other minerals that have formed a deposit on the ground. It is naturally occurring. A salt lick is white.

Animals benefit from the minerals, such as phosphorus, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, sulphur, potassium, and zinc.

The minerals help to develop healthy bones and muscles.

Animals that prefer salt licks include antelopes, elephants, lions, moose, tapirs, cattle, sheep, goats, foxes, squirrels, and porcupines.

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Layard’s Village Weaver

The Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) is a common small African bird. The Layard’s Weaver, or Layard’s Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus nigriceps) is primarily native to eastern Africa.

The Layard’s Village Weaver has a black head with a chestnut edge. Its body is yellow with black feathers. Its belly is yellow. Its legs are pink. It has a thick grey-black beak and red eyes.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) is a large feline from Central Asia and South Asia. It is also called the Ounce.

The Snow Leopard has thick whitish-grey fur with black spots on its head and neck, and larger rosette shapes on its back, sides, and tail. It has a whitish underbelly. Its nose is short. Its tail is bushy, long, and flexible. It has a strong, stocky body, with short legs and broad paws. Its eyes are pale-green or grey. Its ears are small and rounded.

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How do frogs croak?

Male frogs croak to attract a female. Females respond with a different and quieter vocalization.

The croaking sound occurs when a frog forces air out of its lungs through its mouth. As the air passes its throat, its larynx (vocal chords) vibrate.

The vocal sacs or pouches distend and blow up like a balloon. The vocal sacs are elastic membranes of skin. Some frogs have the vocal sac under their throat, whereas other frogs have the vocal sac on the corner of their mouth.

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African Grey Hornbill, Red-Billed Hornbill and Von Der Decken’s Hornbill: what’s the difference?

What is the difference between the African hornbills: Grey Hornbill, Red-Billed Hornbill, and Von der Decken’s Hornbill?

The Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus), the Red-Billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), and the Von der Decken’s Hornbill (Tockus deckeni) are all large African birds with a large downward curved beak.

The Grey Hornbill and the Red-Billed Hornbill are grey-brown, with black regions, whereas the Von der Decken’s Hornbill is black and white.

The male Grey Hornbill has a black beak with a cream patch on its maxilla (upper beak), and narrow pale lines on its mandible (bottom beak). The female Grey Hornbill has a large black beak with a dark red beak tip, with half of the maxilla (upper beak) a cream-yellow colour.

The Red-Billed Hornbill has an all-red beak. The male Von der Decken’s Hornbill has a large downward curved two-toned red and ivory-cream beak with a black tip. The female Von der Decken’s Hornbill has a large all-black beak.

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Von Der Decken’s Hornbill

The Von der Decken’s Hornbill (Tockus deckeni) is a large big-beaked African bird.

The Von der Decken’s Hornbill has a black and white body. Its wings and upper tail feathers are black, and it nape, chest, belly, and under tail feathers are white. It has a black patch around its eyes. It has small red cheek patches. The male has a large downward curved two-toned red and ivory-cream beak with a black tip. The female has a large all-black beak.

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African Grey Hornbill

The African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus) is a large big-beaked African bird.

The African Grey Hornbill has a grey-brown body with a long white stripe from its eye to the back of its neck (nape), and another white stripe down the centre of its back. It has brown wings edged in white. Its throat and chest are pale grey-brown, and its belly is white.

The male has a large downward curved black beak with a cream patch on its maxilla (upper beak), and narrow pale lines on its mandible (bottom beak). The female has a large black beak with a dark red beak tip, and half of the maxilla (upper beak) is a cream-yellow colour.

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