January 27, 2011

Leaping Beauties --- Gazelles Hi Horse Pals ~ Happy New Year! Hope you all are having a great 2011 so far! Here's a story I wrote for the paper I thought you animal lovers might like: Our friend reported that her favorite wild animal is the Gazelle so I've decided to highlight this amazing animal this week! It has been a lot of fun learning more about the Gazelle! I was most impressed by their leaping abilities. I watched some online footage of them running and leaping and jumping and they are so graceful and beautiful. Here are some fun facts and interesting information about the Gazelle ~ Fact #1 Gazelles are antelopes of the genus Gazella. They are generally small, delicate herbivores with tawny coloring, white underbellies, and heavily ringed horns. Most of the 19 species of gazelles inhabit Africa, but some can be found in Southwest and Central Asia. The majority of gazelles prefer open, grassy plains, living in herd sizes as small as 8 individuals to hundreds of animals. Their diet of grass, scrub and leaves keeps them constantly grazing and they have little need for water, being able to extract moisture from their food. Fact #2 Even with all of the many predators, the Thomson's Gazelle and Grant's Gazelle thrive with impressive numbers. The Grant's Gazelle inhabits a wider range of territory in Africa while the Thomson's Gazelle has a larger population. Both species share grazing ground and the herds frequently intermingle. Even so, to tell them apart is fairly simple. The Thomson's Gazelle or Tommie, is smaller and has a striking black band, stretching from shoulder to hip, bisecting their tan and white coloring. Tommys are exceptionally alert and rely heavily upon their impressive senses of hearing, sight and smell to detect any threat. Fact #3 Some gazelles, especially those that live in desert regions, are critically endangered. The Sand Gazelle, Cuvier's Gazelle and Dama Gazelle are among those who have seen their populations drastically decline in the last few decades. Drought, habitat destruction and poaching are all to blame. Laws and regulations have been passed to protect these species, but they are infrequently enforced so these gazelles continue to reduce in number. Fact #4 The Sand Gazelle is not a leaper, but instead eludes predators with incredible bursts of speed, sometimes reaching 60 miles per hour. Fact #5 Most gazelles give birth to one fawn, but it is not uncommon for the Cuvier's Gazelle to have twins. Fact #6 The Dama Gazelle is the largest of the species, weighing about 190 lbs and standing about 42" high at the shoulder. Fact #7 Characterized by their long slender legs, gazelles are medium-sized antelope. They are swift runners and jumpers, and when nervous or excited, will exhibit a behavior called pronking, a method of locomotion where the animal jumps vertically into the air with an arched back and lands on all four rigidly straight legs. Why gazelles do this is not clear. Some theories suggest that by making themselves more...
Flight at its highest ~ Birds! Hi Horse Pals ~ Hope you all enjoy this story on birds ... I love to hear the birds outside my window every morning singing their songs. There are many types of birds all over the world from pigeons to swans to bald eagles to hawks! My top three favorite birds are the bald eagle, blue jay and the cardinal bird. Here are some fun facts about birds: Fact #1 The egg of the hummingbird is the world's smallest bird's egg; the egg of the ostrich, the world's largest. Fact #2 Precocial birds like chickens, ostriches, ducks, and seagulls hatch ready to move around. They come from eggs with bigger yolks than altricial birds like owls, woodpeckers, and most small songbirds that need a lot of care from parents in order to survive. Fact #3 The world's only wingless bird is the kiwi of New Zealand. Fact #4 The only known poisonous bird in the world is the hooded pitohui of Papua, New Guinea. The poison is found in its skin and feathers. Fact #5 A hummingbird has to fly if it wants to move an inch. Its feet are only strong enough for perching. When it takes off it doesn't spring into the air like most birds do. A moving picture of one taking off from a thin twig showed the twig rising before the bird let go. Fact #6 An ostrich can run faster than most horses. A large ostrich will sometimes take steps twenty-five feet long. Fact #7 There are 3 main species of ostriches of which only one, the Struthio Camelus Domesticus (the African Black), is found in captivity. Fact #8 Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds on the planet. The Bee Hummingbird of Cuba is 2.24 inches long or 5.7 cm, and nearly half of that length is in beak and tail! But not all hummers are tiny. The Giant Hummingbird, which lives in the Andes Mountains from Ecuador to Chile, is 8 inches long—as big as a starling! Fact #9 Woodpeckers have stiff tail feathers which act as a brace for moving along vertical tree trunks. and Fact #10 An average adult bald eagle weighs about nine pounds and is about three feet in height and the wingspan of an eagle measures from 5.5 to 7.5 feet. I hope you learned as much about birds as I did!

Araya & Avery

Araya and Avery are young equestrians and entrepreneurs with a passion for life!

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