Red Wood Ant

The Red Wood Ant (Formica rufa) is an insect in the Formicidae family of ants. It is also known as the Southern Wood Ant and Horse Ant.

The Red Wood Ant has a head, thorax, and abdomen. It is reddish, except for its brownish-black abdomen and dark patch on the back of its head. Its 6 legs are reddish-black. Its antennae are long. It has large jaws called mandibles. It has smoky-brown wings during the mating season – only the fertile female and adult male have wings.

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Common Raccoon

The Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a mammal in the Procyonidae family of raccoons. It is a procyonid. It is also known as the Northern Raccoon.

The Common Raccoon has peppery-grey fur with long hair. It also has underfur, which acts as an insulator to keep it warm in winter. It has a black face mask, a ringed tail, short rounded ears, black rounded eyes, and a dog-like nose. Its front claws are sharp.

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RESEARCH: Do American households have more cats or more dogs as pets?

Do American households have more cats or more dogs as pets? A recent 2022 research in America studied the types of pets in a household and whether dogs or cats were more popular as pets.

Studies show that, globally, dogs outnumber cats. The study showed that, in America, cats outnumber dogs. There are about 86.1 million cats and 79.7 million dogs in America. 

However, dogs are more popular as pets than cats in America – 36.6% of households own one or more dogs, whereas 30.4% of households own one or more cats. 

Why did more American households choose a dog instead of a cat? 

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Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is a bird in the Picidae famiy of woodpeckers.

The Downy Woodpecker is mainly black on the upperparts and wings, with a white back, throat, and belly. It has white spots on its wings. There is one white bar above the eye and one white bar below the eye. It has a black tail with white outer feathers that have black bars. It has a strong, grey beak. The adult male has a red patch on the back of its head. The male and female juveniles have a red cap. 

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Brown Thrasher

The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a bird in the Mimidae family of passerine (songbirds) such as mockingbirds, that mimic other birds. 

The Brown Thrasher is reddish-brown with dark streaks. Its underparts are white or buff-coloured with dark streaks. It has a teardrop shape on its chest. It has a long, rounded rufous (reddish) tail with pale corners. Its eyes are bright yellow. Its beak is brown, long, and curved downward. The male and the female look similar. 

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Do birds hibernate?

Do birds hibernate?

Hibernation is a state when animals sleep during winter, especially where the winters are extremely cold and/or snowy. Not all animals hibernate. Animals such as bears, squirrels, bats, and hedgehogs hibernate. Some lizards and snakes hibernate.

When these animals hibernate, they will eat a lot of food and gain body weight beforehand to enable them to sleep throughout the winter. For example, squirrels can gain 50% of their body weight before hibernating. 

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Resettlement of Burrowing Owls in Southern California

In Southern California, urban developers built over the burrows of the local Western Burrowing Owls, destroying their habitats.

The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) is a small, long-legged bird in the Strigidae family of owls. It measures 19-28 centimetres (7-11 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 50-61 centimetres (20-24 inches). It is native to North America and South America. It prefers grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas, deserts and other open dry areas. 

Unlike most nocturnal (night) owls, the Burrowing Owl is diurnal, active during the day. 

It nests in burrows underground that a prairie dog or a squirrel has dug into the soil. It also nests in other shallow, underground structures.

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance collaborated with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to relocate the Burrowing Owls that had lost their homes when humans began building in the area. 

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Dark-Eyed Junco

The Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) is a bird in the Passerellidae family of sparrows. It is a song bird. It was formerly known as the Snowbird and the Slate-Coloured Junco.

The Dark-Eyed Junco is small and greyish. It has a grey head, neck, chest, back, and wings. Its belly is white. Its white outer tail feathers are distinctive. It has a small, pale pinkish beak and dark, round eyes. The male is usually darker than the female. The female has a brownish-grey to reddish-brown side feathers.

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RESEARCH: Pet dogs respond to verbs, nouns, and terms of endearment

Current research demonstrates that pet dogs respond to verbs, nouns, and terms of endearment. Also, pet dogs respond to a range between 15-215 words or phrases – with an average of 89 words, documents New Scientist in December 2021.

Researchers Sophie Jacques and Catherine Reeve at Dalhousie University in Canada conducted a study of dogs and an itinerary of words to determine how many words, on average, dogs respond to. Rather than defining how many words dogs ‘know’ the researchers studied how many they ‘respond to’ – which means that the dog performed a trick or obedience behaviour, or performed an action such as tail wagging, or began looking at something or a direction, or search around for an item.

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Dwarf Spider

The Dwarf Spider (Erigone atra) is an arachnid in the Linyphiidae family of dwarf spiders. 

The Dwarf Spider is black or dark-brown. Its carapace (shell) is dark and its abdomen usually has a black marking. The male has a more pointed abdomen than the female. It has eight brown legs covered with hairs. It has tooth-like pedipalps near its mouth. It has two rows of four eyes to total eight eyes. The back row of eyes is straight and the front row of eyes is slightly curved.

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Florida Horse Conch

The Florida Horse Conch (Triplofusus papillosus) is a large tropical marine (saltwater) gastropod mollusc in the Fasciolariidae family of sea spindle snails and tulip snails. It is not a true conch shell from the Strombidae family of sea snails.

The Florida Horse Conch is greyish-white or brownish with a light-brown or dark-brown periostracum, which is the thin coating on its shell. It has a long siphonal canal and up to 10 whorls around its shell. It can retract the soft part of its body entirely into its shell and close the operculum (lid). The soft part of its body is bright orange. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Brazilian Tanager

The Brazilian Tanager (Ramphocelus bresilius) is a medium-sized bird in the Thraupidae family.

The Brazilian Tanager male is crimson-red with black wings and a black tail. The female is olive on her upperparts and yellowish on her underparts with yellow-olive wings and tail. In winter, the male looks similar to the female, except that its wings and tail remain darker. Both the male and female have a pale, stout, smooth beak, pale legs, and small dark eyes.

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North American River Otter

The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is a freshwater, semi-aquatic mammal in the Lutrinae sub-family of the Mustelidae family of weasels. It is a mustelid. It is also known as the Northern River Otter or the Common Otter.

The North American River Otter has a long, slender body, which is streamlined for swimming. Its fur is short, thick and water-repellent. It has short legs with webbed feet for swimming, but it can also walk on land. It varies in colour from light-brown to black, with a greyish chest, neck, and throat. It has a short nose, flat head, round ears, and a nose pad (like a dog). It has long whiskers, called vibrissae. It has a long, tapered tail.

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Common Wild Turkey

The Common Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a large bird in the Phasianidae family of pheasants, partridges, francolins, junglefowl, and grouse. It is a galliforme. 

The Common Wild Turkey has black feathers with brown-black and white tail feathers with a roundish body. Its feathers have a brown and green iridescent sheen. It has pale feet with spurs. It has brown eyes. It has wings and can fly for a short distance. 

It has fleshy red nodes or bumps on its head, which are called caruncles. The male turkey has fleshy red skin that hangs from it head, the top of its pale beak, and under its neck. The fleshy part on its forehead that hangs over its beak is called a snood. The fleshy part under its chin is called a wattle or dewlap. 

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CREATURE FEATURE: Wolverine

The Wolverine (Gulo gulo) is a carnivorous mammal in the Mustelidae family It is a mustelid. Gulomeans ‘glutton’ in Latin. It is also known as the Glutton, Carajou, Skunk Bear, or Quickhatch. It is not a wolf and it is not a skunk and it is not a bear. It is closely related to the Weasel.

The Wolverine looks like a small bear. It is stocky and muscular, with thick, oily blackish-grey fur that is naturally frost resistant (hydrophobic). Its face has a light-silver mask. It has small eyes, and short, rounded ears.  It has short legs and wide paws that act like snow-shoes. It has sharp claws. Its tail is bushy. 

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