Our readers must have been up all night working on these gorgeous drawings of nocturnal animals!
Winter will be here before you know it, and that means that food will be scarce for our feathered friends. If you’d like to help out the birds in your neighborhood, check with your local nature center to see what kinds of birds travel through your area and what they eat. They can also give you tips on what NOT to feed them, like bread– it doesn’t have much nutritional value for them, and they’re better off with food like seeds.
Depending on where you live, backyard birds might be tiny brown sparrows, colorful red cardinals, long-legged cranes, or wide-eyed owls. What’s the coolest bird you’ve seen in your neighborhood?
Photo by Rennett Stowe
In the fall and winter, food can be scarce for lots of animals, including birds. The Nashville Zoo has tips on how you can make your yard a haven for birds in the colder months, with advice about different kinds of bird seed to put out, different kinds of feeders, and where you can place them to attract the most birds. Plus, they include a gorgeous photo gallery of the kinds of birds that you might see!
If you put up a bird feeder (or if you have one already), comment with photos of the birds you’ve seen!
Photo by USFWSmidwest
We humans are awake during the day and sleep at night, but not all animals are on the same schedule as us. Animals of all shapes and sizes, from fireflies to possums, mice to leopards, have adapted to a life after dark.
At night, it’s harder to see, so many nocturnal animals rely on their other senses or have big eyes, like owls, to help them see in low light. But despite the drawbacks, there are lots of advantages to being nocturnal too. Some animals, like lions, hunt at night, giving them an advantage over prey that sleep at night and can’t see well in the dark. On the flip side, other animals like rodents are often more active at night in order to avoid predators that could catch them during the day. For some animals, being active at night allows them to save energy on hot days– lots of desert animals sleep during the day and wake up at night when it’s cooler. Even some desert flowers only bloom at night to avoid excessive heat and sunlight!
Photo by Profberger
The latest Zoobooks animal is an old favorite: elephants! But even though they’re popular animals, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing new to learn about them. Check out these fun facts!
- An elephant’s trunk is both its nose and its upper lip.
- Elephants live in matrilineal groups, led by the oldest female.
- Newborn elephants weigh in around 260 pounds.
- Elephants are very smart animals—they’re able to recognize themselves in mirrors. That’s a skill that only a few other animals, like some dolphins and apes, have.
- Elephants can’t jump.
- An elephant’s tusks are teeth—specifically, incisors, like our “big front teeth.”
- When elephants swim, they use their tusks as snorkels.
Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.
Nature can be an amazing source of inspiration for young artists- different landscapes and animals make for great subjects. The Pittsburgh Zoo has all kinds of resources for young nature lovers and artists. You can download coloring pages featuring different ecosystems and animals, from a giraffe and a rhino on the African Savanna to a sea turtle and a stingray swimming through the ocean. If your kids want to try their hand at drawing some new animals, the website includes helpful how-to guides with instructions on drawing everything from fish to elephants.
And if your kids finish all the coloring sheets from the Pittsburgh Zoo, you can head over to a zoo or nature center near you and find some new animals for them to draw!
This month’s Zooworks winners have written some great poems about alligators and crocodiles- check them out!
Can’t get enough of the gators and crocs in the latest issue of Zoobooks? Then check out the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park’s website! Founded in 1893, they’re the only facility in the world where you can see living specimens of all 24 recognized species of crocodilian. The scientists who work there have a research blog detailing how they care for these amazing animals, along with sharing fun facts about crocodilians. You can learn about how crocodilians care for their young (an unusual trait in reptiles), or how the ancient Egyptians mummified crocs. You can even watch a video of a crocodile mother helping her babies hatch!
Both alligators and crocodiles are crocodilians, an ancient branch of reptiles that’s more closely related to birds and dinosaurs than to many modern lizards- in fact, they’re birds’ closest living relatives. But while it’s pretty easy to tell a bird from a croc (we hope), what’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
There are a few rules of thumb you can use to tell these animals apart. Generally speaking, crocodiles have skinnier snouts than alligators, and they’re usually lighter in color. Crocodiles are typically bigger than alligators, too- on average, alligators are about 13 feet long, but saltwater crocodiles, at lengths of over 20.7 feet, are the largest land-dwelling predators in the world. It’s not a perfect way of telling them apart, though- the African dwarf crocodile is only about 4 feet long, far smaller than a gator. But there is one foolproof way of telling them apart- their teeth. Alligators’ upper jaws are wider than their lower jaws, so when their mouths are closed, you can’t see their bottom teeth. Crocs, on the other hand, have upper and lower jaws that are about the same width, so when their mouths are closed, you can see their lower teeth. But you probably wouldn’t want to be close enough to a croc or a gator to be able to tell details like that– they’re amazing animals, but they definitely need their space!
Photo by Leigh Bedford