Amazing Photos of Very Rare Albino Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Albino Ruby-throated hummingbird 22

Jan. 27, 2012 — These shots of an extremely rare albino ruby-throated hummingbird were photographed by two Virginia teenagers and two preteens: Marlin Shank, 16, Shaphan Shank, 14, Darren Shank, 12 and Allen Shank, 9. The Shank brothers spotted the rare bird with their father Kevin Shank, who runs Nature Friend Magazine with his wife Bethany.

The Shanks heard about sightings of the rare bird at a feeder at the home of Ed and Nancy Lawler of Staunton Virginia back in August. “When we heard through a listserve that some birders were watching a rare albino ruby-throated hummingbird come to their feeders only 30 miles away, we took the drive,” Kevin Shank told Discovery News.

Bearded Dragon plays Ant Crusher | Video

Bearded Dragon playing Ant Crusher

Nope… not a dog. But this video is too good to pass up posting. I must say, this lizard plays better than I am sure I would.

Amazing how the force of the reptiles tongue is able to interact with the phone app… I practically have to pound my phone to get it to respond.


What is a Raccoon Dog?

raccoon dog

Personally, I have not heard of such a beast before… until I ran across a news story about how they are slaughtered so that their fur may be used for impostor UGG® boots (impostors… not the real boot out of Australia). But this post in not about the slaughter of these animals (you may google and pull up many results if you wish), but rather, here are some details about this animal which looks like an overgrown raccoon – yet belongs to the dog family.

Raccoon Dogs are a species of canine named for their striking resemblance to raccoons. Raccoon Dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are sometimes called Asiatic raccoons, Finn raccoons, or Tanuki. However it is well known that Chinese fur exporters will put whatever label the buyer requests on the pelt or garment using the Raccoon Dog.

• Raccoon Dogs stand about 9″ at the shoulder, body length is 20-23″ and the tail is about 7″ long (the sizes being between a Yorkshire Terrier and a small Cocker Spaniel).

• Raccoon Dogs are mainly nocturnal and forage in “pairs” with their mate, leaving their dens one to two hours after sunset.

• Indigenous to Asia, including eastern Siberia and Japan, these small fox-sized furry animals seem to enjoy having a mate or friend close by until they reach mating age. They always live in pairs or small family groups.

• Adult Raccoon Dogs are strictly monogamous, forming a permanent pair throughout their lifetime. Only if one of the pair dies will the remaining member form a new bond with a new mate.

• Raccoon Dogs have been observed hibernating in pairs, maintaining bodily contact with one another while sleeping and resting, and engaging in social grooming — another rarity among canines.

• Male Raccoon Dogs are also helpful fathers, bringing food to their pregnant mate as well as helping to raise the young. Females will forge during the day, leaving the dad to baby-sit the pups in the den.

• In spring and summer, the Raccoon Dog is usually thin, but during autumn and winter, it adds on weight (in preparation for winter dormancy), giving the expression of a round animal with short and thin legs. Source: IUCN Canid Specialist Group

• Raccoon Dogs are unique in the Canids as they are the only one which will spend the winter asleep (especially when winters are harsh), entering hibernation in November and becoming active again in March. They rarely if ever, hibernate in captivity.

• Raccoon Dogs can also climb trees.

• Its face sports a black mask, small rounded ears and a pointed muzzle, resembling a raccoon, hence its name, but it is not related to the raccoon at all.

• There are 6 recognized subspecies of the Raccoon Dog (Ellerman and Morrison-Scott, 1951; Ward and Wuster-Hill 1990).

• Raccoon Dogs do not bark, but will growl when menaced. Their vocalizations are higher in tone than those of a domestic dog, and more or less resemble the sounds of a mewing domestic cat. Raccoon Dogs are relatively quiet overall – however they do have a broad vocal repertoire. Vocalizations usually only expressed, during periods of play, just prior to feeding or with the initial excitement of having young puppies in the vicinity.

• Raccoon Dogs are not aggressive – instead when threatened they flee, or if not able to, curl up into themselves (like a ball or as nearly as can be) for self protection.

• Raccoon Dogs are not territorial either – pairs exist in overlapping areas and ranges – although they do have a ‘fixed latrine’ spot somewhere in their ranging area.

• Raccoon Dogs are usually found near water, and they are more or less dependent upon fruits and berries. Raccoon dogs are true omnivores – in most areas, small rodents form the bulk of their diet in all seasons; frogs, lizards, invertebrates, insects, birds and eggs are consumed according to availability. Plants are frequently eaten – berries and fruits are their food of choice in late summer and autumn. Oats, maize, watermelon, tangerines and pears are also consumed when available.

• Mating usually occurs in March; females can reproduce each year; sexual maturity is achieved at 9-11 months; position is the same as canines.

• Gestation is nine weeks and both parents settle into a den about a week before the pups are born. Litters are between 4 and 9, depending upon the geographical location. Pups weigh between 3.5 oz and 4.2 oz at birth (pup weight and size of litter depends upon the availability and quantity of berries the mom was able to consume the previous summer). Their eyes stay closed from seven to ten days. Pups start emerging from the den at three to four weeks and are weaned at four to five weeks. Although independent at four months, they frequently stay with the parents for months afterwards.

• In Japan, legal culling has increased since the 1970s with 4,529 annual kills on the average each year between 1990 and 1998. Between 18,000 and 76,000 were harvested each year in Japan after World War II. Poaching is routinely overlooked in Japan.

• Raccoon Dogs life span is between seven to eight years, with a record in captivity of 13 years. Only about 1% of Raccoon Dogs live to five years, and 88% of the young (in Finland) die before their first year.

• Handled at birth, Raccoon Dog pups remain friendly – if inquisitive – throughout their lives.

• Zoos keep Raccoon Dogs as educational exhibits to present a species with a high invasive potential, or to show the only representative of the dog family going into torpor during winter. However, the only zoo in North America to have Raccoon Dogs is Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

• In Japan the raccoon dog has been hunted to near extinction for their meat and fur, and their bones which are used in traditional medicine. The raccoon dog was introduced throughout much of its current range specifically for hunting purposes and for its fur.

• Japanese people and raccoon dogs have coexisted peacefully since ancient times. This harmonious relationship is depicted in many folk tales, legends, sayings and songs. Many quotations and episodes based on these stories from folk culture illustrate that the destiny of the raccoon dogs is the same as the destiny of humans.


Unusual pets all living peacefully together

Foxes nuzzling

Somewhere in Russia there lives a man who raises animals for sale. It may sound quite ordinary but the fact is that his pets are, well… unusual. He has foxes of different breeds and colours, bobcats, ferrets, huskies and even bears! It seems that all the animals live in peace with each other and with their master as well!

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‘Happy feet’ penguin returns to Antarctica

happy feet emperor-penguin-new-zealand-h

(FP Photo Above/HO/Department of Conservation NZ)

A lost penguin is getting a lift home to Antarctica on a New Zealand research vessel.

FIGHTING FIT AND cheeky as ever, the world’s most famous emperor penguin is set to leave Kiwi captivity for his Antarctic home. Happy Feet captured the world’s attention in June when he washed up on a beach north of Wellington, more than 3000km from home.

UPDATE:  Tues. Sept. 6, 2011:  Heard on the news today that Happy Feet is now in his home waters making a beeline for his true home.  This makes me very happy!  🙂

(Photo Credit above: AAP/Kate Baker).  Bedraggled, confused and loaded up with 3kg of ingested sand, the sick penguin was lucky enough to be spotted and taken in by Wellington Zoo, where vets performed four operations to save his life.

His unexpected appearance on Peka Peka Beach shocked wildlife experts, who says he is only the second emperor penguin to ever set foot in New Zealand.

Happy feet fever

Every detail of his recovery, from the daily reports of weight gain and his dietary preference for “fish milkshakes” have been eagerly awaited by animal lovers everywhere. And more than 120,000 people track his progress via a webcam set up in his small, ice-filled room at the zoo.
But after more than two months of five star service, the time has come for Happy Feet to return home. He leaves Wellington Zoo for the freezing temperatures of the sub-Antarctic aboard a New Zealand research vessel today.

Vets have given him a clean bill of health ahead of his four-day voyage and considerably longer swim, fitting him with a satellite device so the public can continue to track his every move.

Emperor penguin migration

Hundreds of fans packed the zoo over the weekend to say goodbye and sign a huge farewell card with “sweet” messages. They could view the operating theatre in five-minute blocks to take photos of the heavily-sedated bird.
The zoo’s veterinary science manager Lisa Argilla, credited with saving the penguin, said she’d be sad to see him go but the time had come. “I’m pretty confident we’ve got him back to a good level of fitness, and he’s ready to go out there and try and survive in the wild,” she says. She said she would try not to cry over his departure, but many of his younger fans have already shed tears.

Authorities have decided to release Happy Feet at the northern point of where other juvenile emperor penguins would be at this time of year. He could then follow sea currents and return to Antarctica with the others.

Once released, he has the same survival chances of any other emperor penguin making the seasonal journey home, experts say. Track Happy Feet’s progress here.

Happy Feet in a special crate before making the four-day journey to the Southern Ocean east of Campbell Island. (Credit: AFP).


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