Blog

/Blog/
28 Jun 2017

Heads and Tails

By | June 28th, 2017|Comments Off on Heads and Tails

Sauropod dinosaurs get a lot of attention for their long necks, and for good reason– they’re the longest-necked animals ever discovered. Some sauropods’ necks stretched fifty feet– six times the length of a giraffe’s. But their necks aren’t their only outstanding feature. Diplodocus is one of the longest dinosaurs ever discovered, and a lot of that length is in their slender, whip-like tail. This tail could reach lengths of up to forty-five feet.

Why did Diplodocus have such a long tail? Scientists aren’t sure. It might have been used to thrash out at predators, or maybe even to make a loud sound like a cracking whip. Paleontologists are still working to discover more!

Diplodocus_carng1DB

 

Illustration by Dmitry Bogdanov

23 Jun 2017

Birds of Prey Stories and Poems

By | June 23rd, 2017|Comments Off on Birds of Prey Stories and Poems

Congratulations to this month’s Zooworks winners for their amazing poems and stories about birds of prey!

Click here to view the gallery

13 Jun 2017

What Makes an Owl an Owl?

By | June 13th, 2017|Comments Off on What Makes an Owl an Owl?

Owls are some of the world’s most beloved birds of prey: their big eyes and round faces are pretty adorable! But what actually makes an owl an owl– what separates it from other birds of prey?

Like all birds of prey, owls have keen eyesight and sharp beaks and claws. Owls’ eyes face forward like ours, giving them what’s called binocular vision. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so they turn their heads to see what’s going on to their left and right. The feathers on their round faces help funnel light to their eyes so they can see better in the dark, and they also help direct sound to their keen ears. The tufts of feathers on top of most owls’ heads aren’t actually their ears, though– like all birds, their ears are tiny openings on their heads. Those big tufts are probably for camouflage or to signal to other owls.

Good hearing and eyesight help owls to hunt during the night– just about all owl species are nocturnal, so they need extra-sharp senses to hunt in the dark! They also have soft-edged feathers so that they can fly silently and take their prey by surprise.

Spotted_eagle_owl_bubo_africanus.jpg

Photo by Charlesjsharp

7 Jun 2017

Harpy Eagles

By | June 7th, 2017|Comments Off on Harpy Eagles

 

Harpy eagles are some of the world’s strangest birds of prey. They’re named after the Harpies from Greek mythology, which were said to be wind spirits with the body of a bird and the face of a human. If people went missing, it was said that they’d been carried away by Harpies. Harpy eagles have been known to carry things off too– they’re apex predators, and their main prey are monkeys and sloths.

Harpy eagles have the largest talons of any living eagle, and their wingspans can reach nearly seven and a half feet. Overall, they’re pretty fearsome predators, but don’t let that scare you away– look at their goofy faces!

Portrait-of-a-Harpy-Eagle.jpg

Photo by Bjoyn Christian Torrissen

1 Jun 2017

Make your own flock of birds with Zoo Atlanta!

By | June 1st, 2017|Comments Off on Make your own flock of birds with Zoo Atlanta!

Bird-in-HandsThe school year’s winding down, but there are lots of fun ways to keep your kids thinking creatively over the summer! Zoo Atlanta’s website is a great place to start. In addition to posting information about the amazing animals that live there, Zoo Atlanta has tips for awesome crafts for your family to do. If your little readers have been enjoying Zoobooks Birds of Prey, be sure to check out these instructions for making a colorful construction paper bird!

 

25 May 2017

Big Babies

By | May 25th, 2017|Comments Off on Big Babies

The latest Zootles issue highlights baby animals– cute, tiny, critters. But not all animal babies are small.

Blue whales are the largest animals ever to live– bigger than the biggest dinosaurs. So it makes sense that their babies are the biggest, too, Newborn blue whales are twenty-three feet long and weigh about thirty tons, and they gain about two hundred pounds a day. When fully grown, they can be a hundred feet long and one hundred and sixty tons!

On land, the biggest baby is the African elephant. Newborns can weigh up to 270 pounds! Elephants also have the longest gestation period of all the mammals– a mother elephant is pregnant for twenty-two months before giving birth!

baby elephant.jpg

Photo by Derek Keats

17 May 2017

Excellent Eagles and Owls

By | May 17th, 2017|Comments Off on Excellent Eagles and Owls

Check out these high-flying birds drawn by our readers!

Click here to view the gallery

10 May 2017

Birds of Prey

By | May 10th, 2017|Comments Off on Birds of Prey

Birds of prey include some of the biggest, fastest birds in the animal kingdom. Peregrine falcons dive at speeds over two hundred miles per hour (making them not just the world’s fastest  birds, but also the world’s fastest animals overall), and bearded vultures, which are unique among animals for eating a diet that mostly consists of bone, have wingspans reaching up to nine feet. But other birds of prey are tiny and downright adorable, like the saw whet owl.

So what makes all these creatures birds of prey? There are a few key characteristics that all birds of prey share. They have excellent eyesight, strong feet for grasping prey, and sharp, curved beaks– all traits that make their fierce hunters. What birds of prey live near you?

Male_Northern_Saw-whet_Owl_(7364047820).jpg

Photo by Kameron Perensovich, Wikimedia Commons

3 May 2017

Bald Eagles at the San Francisco Zoo

By | May 3rd, 2017|Comments Off on Bald Eagles at the San Francisco Zoo

You might be seeing baby birds in your neighborhood– robins learning to fly, ducklings in a line following their mother. But they’re not the only spring hatchlings– check out the bald eagles at the San Francisco Zoo! You can learn all kinds of fun facts about these amazing birds– for instance, an adult bald eagle’s wingspan is six feet, but they only weigh nine pounds– less than the average house cat! Their website even shows you where you can watch live video feeds of eagle nests. But hurry– eaglets learn to fly in June, so they won’t be in the nest for long!

26 Apr 2017

Seals vs. Sea Lions

By | April 26th, 2017|Comments Off on Seals vs. Sea Lions

They’re some of the most popular zoo animals– it’s fun to watch them swim and play. Their sleek bodies and whiskers are adorable. They’re… uh, seals? Or maybe sea lions? What’s the difference, anyway?

Seals and sea lions are relatives– they’re both members of the pinniped family, along with walruses. But while they have a lot in common, there are some key differences that you can use to tell them apart. Sea lions bark loudly, have visible ears, and can use their flippers to walk (or waddle) on land. Seals, on the other hand, are quieter, have small ears flush to their heads, and stick to the water. Can you tell which is which in this photo?seal-sealion

 

Photo via NOAA

19 Apr 2017

Hummingbird Poems

By | April 19th, 2017|Comments Off on Hummingbird Poems

Our readers have written some amazing poems about hummingbirds– check them out!

Click here to view the gallery

13 Apr 2017

Hummingbird Migration

By | April 13th, 2017|Comments Off on Hummingbird Migration

Spring is in the air, and that means you’ll probably start seeing some new feathered friends back for the warmer weather! More than half of the bird species in North America are migratory, from big birds like geese and cranes to tiny hummingbirds.

Ruby-throated_Hummingbird_1Ruby-throated hummingbirds are some of the most commonly seen hummingbirds in the US, and these tiny birds make a huge journey. They spend their winters in Mexico, and then come spring, they fly north as far as Canada! They’re solitary birds, so they don’t migrate in big flocks like geese– instead, they make the journey solo.

There are over a dozen species of hummingbirds in the US that migrate– visit your local nature center or zoo to learn more about the ones that live near you!

 

Photo by Matt Tillett

5 Apr 2017

Hummingbird Music

By | April 5th, 2017|Comments Off on Hummingbird Music

It’s in their very name– hummingbirds make a humming sound! In addition to making high-pitched, chirpy tweets, these birds beat their wings so rapidly that it produces a buzzing noise that almost sounds like a bumblebee. On the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum’s website, you can listen to the sounds of the metallic green Anna’s Hummingbird. These little creatures are only four inches long and weigh as little as a tenth of an ounce, but they still play an important role in their ecosystem– the Anna’s Hummingbird eats more insects than any other North American hummingbird!

31 Mar 2017

Terrifying Pterodactyls?

By | March 31st, 2017|Comments Off on Terrifying Pterodactyls?

Quetzelcoatlsu_feeding_on_groundThe pterosaurs in the latest issue of Zoodinos can be a little alarming at first glance—some of them have forty-foot wingspans! Quetzalcoatlus is one the biggest pterosaurs yet discovered, and it’s huge. When it was first discovered, scientists thought that it used its long neck and spear-like beak to hunt fish, kind of like a stork does today. But lately, scientists have proposed that Quetzalcoatlus was a scavenger that fed on dinosaur carcasses. And while it could fly, it could likely walk around on land too, using its giant wings as forelimbs.

But while some of these flying reptiles might have been scary, others were downright bellubrunnuscute. Take Bellubrunnus, for example. The first known fossil of this itsy-bitsy pterosaur’s had a wingspan of just one foot, and its skull was less than an inch long. It was a juvenile, and while scientists don’t know how big a fully-grown one would be, it would likely have a wingspan of around three feet—a far cry from the giant Quetzalcoatlus with its forty-foot wingspan.

 

Images by Mark Witton and Darren Naish and Matt Van Rooijen

23 Mar 2017

Zooworks Hummingbirds

By | March 23rd, 2017|Comments Off on Zooworks Hummingbirds

Our readers drew some gorgeous hummingbirds for us this month! Do you have a favorite?