You’re probably seen your fair share of seagulls in mall parking lots, but sea birds are most commonly found by—you guessed it—the sea. Of the 8,600 identified bird species in the world, only 260 are sea birds. There’s a lot of variety in the different kinds of seabirds, but they all rely on the oceans for their food.
The largest seabird is the wandering albatross—they have wingspans that reach over eleven feet! They use their broad wings to soar for long periods of time without getting tired—a wandering albatross can fly 10,000 miles in a single journey.
Most seabirds feed on fish—puffins can fit sixty small fish in their mouth at once! Some seabirds rely on other forms of ocean life. For example, little auks eat tiny animals called zooplankton that float through the ocean.
The next time you’re by a big body of water, see if you can spot any seabirds!
Diomedea_exulans_in_flight_-_SE_Tasmania
Photo by JJ Harrison

This month, our Zooworks winners got in touch with their inner poets! These were some of our favorite poems that we got about this month’s animal, kangaroos. Which one is your favorite?

Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Scarlet Macaws and Parrots at the clay lick

Blue-and-yellow Macaws, Scarlet Macaws and Parrots at the clay lick

Some of the biggest and brightest birds that you’ll see in Zootles Parrots are macaws. They live in rainforests in Mexico and Central and South America, where they eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and plants. They also sometimes eat clay found on riverbanks—some scientists believe that the clay helps neutralize the toxins in some of the seeds they eat.
Most macaw species are endangered—they’ve been losing their homes due to humans cutting down the rainforests where they live, and many are illegally trapped for the pet trade. If you do want to get a pet macaw, do your homework. These highly intelligent birds regularly live up to fifty years, and sometimes longer—one blue and gold macaw was reported in 2011 to be 112 years old! And if you’re in the market for a macaw, make sure you get one from a reputable breeder or rescue service so that you’re not supporting the poachers who trap wild birds.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Brian Ralphs

Petrogale_xanthopus_-_Monarto_1If you’re lucky enough to go to the Adelaide Zoo in Australia, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the mob. But this mob won’t have you in danger of “swimming with the fishes”– the zoo is home to a mob of thirteen yellow-footed rock-wallabies! They’ve had wallabies on display to the public since 1883, and they’re proud to continue the tradition to this day. In the wild, yellow-footed rock-wallabies live in caves and rocky outcrops, and while they do face habitat loss, their numbers are much stronger than those of their cousins, the highly endangered Victorian brush-tailed rock-wallaby. There are less than sixty brush-tailed wallabies left in the wild. The Adelaide Zoo is taking steps to help conserve these endangered animals, and the yellow-footed rock-wallabies are helping. Baby brush-tailed wallabies born at the zoo are fostered by yellow-footed wallabies, leaving the brush-tailed moms able to have another baby before the breeding season is over, increasing the numbers of this endangered species. On the zoo’s website, you can learn more about Spice, Tiga Lilly, Lizzie, Senna, and other yellow-footed rock-wallabies that are helping out with the program!

 

Photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Peripitus

Musky-ratThe kangaroos that you’ve probably seen in movies and zoos are big, like gray kangaroos, which can stand over six feet tall. However, there are dozens of animals in the kangaroo family, ranging from the lanky red kangaroos of Australia’s plains to the fuzzy tree kangaroos of Australia’s… trees. The smallest member of the kangaroo family is the musky rat-kangaroo. They weigh less than a pound, and they’re only about a foot long including their long rat-like tails. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, and bugs. They might look like a mix between rats and rabbits, but these tiny kangaroos are actually believed to be related to primitive marsupial ancestors. They live only in the rainforests of northeast Australia, which means that we have to be careful to make sure their habitats can support them for years to come.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia  Commons contributor PanBK

Moka_with_baby_gorilla_at_Pittsburgh_Zoo_12,_2012-02-17In Zoobies Apes, families can see some animals that look and act a lot like us. When you read Zoobies Apes together, see if you can find some ways that we’re alike. From their fingers to their faces, apes have a lot of features in common with us. And they don’t just look like us— apes are highly intelligent and social, and many form close family groups similar to ours. Try acting out the pictures in the book and imagining what life would be like as an ape! What would be different? What would stay the same?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons contributor Sage Ross

 

 

DSC_0640-2All animals have their own special quirks that set them apart and make them unique, but kangaroos have a special place in our hearts. They look like deer, but they hop like rabbits, and they carry their babies in pouches. As marsupials, they give birth to young that are far less developed than the babies of other animals—baby kangaroos are about the size of a bumblebee! The tiny babies settle into their mothers’ pouches to grow until they’re strong enough to face the world on their own. They stay in for six months, and they don’t leave their moms’ pouches for good until they’re eight to ten months old.
Their pouches aren’t the only reason kangaroos are special. They hop on their powerful back legs, and they can also swim if they’re trying to escape predators. But water’s not always around for drinking, let alone swimming. Kangaroos live in Australia’s dry plains, so they have to find ways to survive on very little water. Some species can go for weeks or even months without water. Instead, they get the fluids they need from the plants they eat.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

AudubonCarolinaParakeet2We normally think of parrots as tropical birds that can only be found in the U.S. when they’re somebody’s pet. However, until recently, a parrot species called the Carolina Parakeet lived all over the eastern half of the United States, as far north as Wisconsin. Overhunting led to these birds going extinct about a hundred years ago. Parrot species in the tropics are facing hard times, too. Loss of habitats and the pet trade have caused many species to become endangered.
Zootles gives young readers a closer look at these amazing animals—some of the smartest in the animal kingdom. In learning more about parrots (and other animals), we can become more invested in them and more engaged with trying to help endangered species.

 

Image credit: John James Audubon, via Wikimedia Commons

Kangaroos are great at using their tails as a “third leg” to propel themselves forward, but they’re one of the only animals that aren’t able to easily move backwards. Their “forward-thinking” attitudes are part of what landed kangaroos a role as Australia’s national animal, but there are lots of other reasons to love them too, like their curious, friendly natures. You can get to know some of the kangaroos at the Australia Zoo on their website.
The Australia Zoo is home to several species of kangaroo, from tiny wallabies to giant red kangaroos. On their website, they have photos and profiles with fun facts about their animals. For example, Pebbles the red kangaroo likes to sneak up behind her mob-mates, pull their tails, and run away! Which of their kangaroos is your favorite?

This month’s Zooworks winners have created some amazing poems about their favorite city animals! Do you have a favorite?

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