Posted in animal facts, animal mascots, animals, Arts, bird mascots, education, educational mascots, Entertainment, Fun Animal Facts, mascots, talking mascots, teaching, Wild Animals, wildlife, wildlife education

Animals I Have Become: A Fun Animal Facts Recap

By Katie Gill

Sixteen years in a mascot head will give you such a crick in the neck!

Yes, I just made an Aladdin reference, but how better to introduce a person who puts on masks for a living? Nick has dressed up in many different personalities and donned countless names during the past 16 years, all for the amusement of others.

Living with a mascot is a unique experience. Trying to address Nick as his character(s) of the day ends up with my sounding like a frazzled parent, just cycling through the pile of names until I land on the right one.

He has been a lot characters, each with a distinct personality. It’s neurotic and annoying how much thought he puts into a character’s persona, minutiae that 99 percent of people would never notice or care about. Frankly, an existential crisis seems imminent with how often he switches personalities.

Hence, making a pun with the Three Days Grace song, “Animal I Have Become,” we compiled some fun animal facts based on the creatures Nick has been over the years.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • Fox cubs’ eyes and ears open two weeks
    fox-cubs
    Fox Cubs

    after birth. At four weeks, the cubs will emerge from their dens. The pups have short noses resembling puppies’.

https://onekind.org/animal/fox-red/

  • Coyotes are omnivores, eating both meat and vegetation. They will eat anything they find. Their favorite food include: rabbits, rodents such as rats, mice, and squirrels, antelopes, lizards, birds, cactus fruits, flowers. They will even eat dead animal carcasses and garbage if they cannot find anything else.

coyote1

http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/coyote_facts/79/

Photo: http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/coyotes.html

  • Rhinoceros horns are made from a protein called keratin, the same substance that our fingernails and hair are made of!rhino4

https://www.savetherhino.org/rhin…/for_kids/everything_rhino

  • Armadillos are the only mammals whose bodies are covered with hard shell.armadillo They vary in size, ranging from 5 – 59 inches in length and 3 – 120 pounds in weight.

http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/armadillo_facts/49/

  • There are more than 150 dog breeds, divided into 8 classes: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous.32d8fa97973d4686a7f3309029c2fc4d.jpg

https://www.mspca.org/pet_res…/interesting-facts-about-dogs/

  • The red-winged blackbird, a North American songbird, changes its diet with the seasons.
    red_winged_blackbird_7
    Red-Winged Blackbird

    During the breeding season it eats mostly insects. As the babies fledge, the bird switches to eating more and more seeds, and can become a problem for farmers. During winter, the bird eats almost entirely seeds.

https://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/spring/RedwingFacts.html

 

 

Until next time: stay wild, friends.

Posted in animal facts, Animal Kingdom, animals, biodiversity, birds, birds of prey, education, Fun Animal Facts, nature, Raptor Research, raptors, teaching, Uncategorized, Western New York Organizations, Wild Animals, wildlife, wildlife education

Birds of Braddock: Fun Animal Facts Recap

By Katie Gill

Welcome back, wild ones!

fb_img_1485892909765
Kele the Kestrel and his pal, Jingo, at a local farmers market

For this set of facts, we explored the world of birds. In particular, we had our gaze set upon birds of prey that can be found around our neck of the woods, Rochester, NY. I’m talking about the kinds of avians that are frequently banded, tracked and studied by the folks at Braddock Bay Raptor Research, a group hailed by our kestrel, Kele.

We now present to you a mere sample of the Birds of Braddock:

  • Kestrels, the smallest birds of prey in North America, nest in cavities. They rely on old woodpecker holes, natural tree hollows, rock crevices, and nooks in buildings or other human-built structures.
    14375472-lg-copy-2
    Male Kestrel

    Typically, nest sites are in trees along wood edges or in the middle of open ground. American Kestrels also take readily to nest boxes people put up.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Kestrel/lifehistory

  • The most common hawk in North America, the Red-Tailed Hawk is a bird of prey that mates for life.
    red-tailed-hawk
    Red-Tailed Hawk

    During breeding season, hawk pairs fly in large circles and gain great height before the male plunges into a deep dive and subsequent steep climb back to circling height. Later, the birds grab hold of one another with their talons and fall spiraling towards earth.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/red-tailed-hawk/

  • Falcons are diurnal raptors, birds of prey that hunt during the day, and can catch their prey in mid-air!

http://www.atozkidsstuff.com/falcons.html

  • sharp-shinned-hawk
    Sharp-Shinned Hawk

    Sharp-Shinned Hawks are stealthy! They hunt by lurking in the woods, waiting for small birds to approach. The hawks then burst forth with incredibly swift flight to capture prey in their talons.

http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/sharp-shinned-hawk

  • Northern Saw-whet Owls may be the most kawaii birds of prey. Tiny owls with catlike faces, oversized heads, bright yellow eyes and high-pitched calls, Northern Saw-whets are nocturnal and rarely seen.

    http://owladdict.blogspot.com/2013/07/northern-saw-whet-owl.html
    Northern Saw-Whet Owl

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Saw-whet_Owl/id

  • The osprey is a bird that fishes! Since its diet is essentially all fish, the osprey can be found near ponds, rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways around the world.
    ospreyp14_osprey
    Osprey

    Ospreys hunt by diving to the water’s surface from some 30 to 100 feet (9 to 30 meters) up. They have curved claws and gripping pads on their feet to help them pluck fish from the water and carry them for great distances. In flight, ospreys will orient the fish headfirst to ease wind resistance.

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/osprey/

broad-winged-hawk-kettle
A Kettle of Broad-Winged Hawks
  • A kettle is a group of birds wheeling and circling in the air, something that people in Upstate New York see on a regular basis!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_(birds)

Until next time: stay wild, friends.

Posted in animal facts, animals, Arts, biodiversity, ecology, education, Entertainment, environment, Multimedia, nature, nature conservation, Video Games, Wild Animals, wildlife, wildlife education

Animals in Video Games: A Fun Animal Facts Recap

By Katie Gill (as are all the other Fun Animal Facts recaps)

Since I was 3 or 4, I was enamored with video games. They were the chosen group activity for me, my dad and my sister. Funny that my mom never got too into them, but I can see why, when you have a 4 year old yelling at you for not being able to play as well as her, you wouldn’t be interested in spending your valuable time undertaking that task. (And, yes, this is anecdotal evidence that I had a Type A personality early on.) I’ve often joked that the Wii motion controls came about because there were a bunch of people like my dad who would kick the air and twist their bodies while playing games because they were so immersed in them. Now that I’m pushing 30, I don’t have the time or money to commit to gaming that I used to, but I’m still a fan, especially of the Nintendo classics I grew up with like Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong.

It’s funny, a lot of people have been praising Animal School since we launched its most recent iteration in May, saying they’re glad we’re trying to get kids engaged with nature and the outdoors, keeping them from staying inside all day playing videogames. Now, I understand not wanting kids to be sickly pale from staying indoors all the time, ending up with poor social skills, limited interests or anger issues from not having a proper variety of outlets, but that composite is a stereotype of gamers; the exception, not the rule.

Sadly, there are a lot of never-really-going-to-be adults who fit that mold, but in reality, we all play games. This is probably the first or second generation, to my delight, that grew up with video games and will be teaching its kids how to play them. Family time has become digital, and that’s not a bad thing. Yes, you can spend too much time gaming (I remember, as a preteen, playing Spyro the Dragon for so long one day that stationary objects on screen started to move, and marathoning Tomba 2 with my sister for 8 or 9 hours one weekend, with Dr. Pepper being our beverage of choice), but an hour or two a day of playing video games, as long as you move around regularly and take care of everything in your life that needs to be tended to, can be a great outlet and even, as counterintuitive as it sounds, a means of socializing.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned on my blog, Scumbling Up Art, the benefits of casual gaming, including increased problem solving skills, concentration, spacial reasoning, dexterity, creativity and hand-eye coordination, but we’re not here to discuss the merits of video games, we’re here for the animals!

Therefore, without further ado, here is this week’s Fun Animal Facts recap: 

  • Crash Bandicoot actually shares little resemblance to the Eastern Barred Bandicoot of Australia that he is based on. ebbtpgif.pngImage from http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=965
  • Starfish don’t attack prey by shuridkc2spinning at them like they do in the Donkey Kong Country franchise. Rather, since their mouths are at the center of their underbellies, starfish tend to wrap themselves around prey and envelop meals.
  • Like Super Mario, flying squirrels can glide between trees using the cape-like membranes between their front and back legs. Image fromnsmbu-mario-flying-squirrel-suit281290-004-19cd3ba7https://t.co/XHzZ6RqSzO https://t.co/gE6H53NSlq
  • Several Pokemon are based on real animals. Caterpie and Poliwag, for example, are an Eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar and translucent Costa Rican tadpole in real life.tumblr_o11c10qweg1u38l26o6_1280poliwag_complete
  • Like in Minecraft, wild horses gather in groups, usually in packs of 3 to 20.horse-breeding_thbImage from https://t.co/YxjJ22DTSo
  • The Loftwings in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword are modeled after Shoebills, which we have mentioned in FAF before. Moreover, all members of the Knights Academy, besides Zelda and Link, have names related to birds.15Karane = Crane
    Groose = Goose
    Gaepora is clearly based off of the owl in Ocarina of Time
    Owlan = Owl
    Horwell = Hornbill or Horned Owl
    Cawlin = Macaw
    Fledge = Fledgling
    Pipit = Pipit
    Stritch = Ostrich
    Henya = Hen (like a mother hen to the students)
    and Phoeni (the arm coming out of the toilet) = Phoenix, a fictional bird

Apparently, I only did six days instead of seven this time, but hopefully there’s enough meat in those facts to hold you over until next week.

Stay wild, my friends!

Posted in animal facts, animal mascots, animals, arctic foxes, arctic wildlife, Arts, biodiversity, bird mascots, birds, birds of prey, ecology, education, educational mascots, endangered species, Entertainment, environment, kestrels, nature, nature conservation, Omnivore, Predator, Prey, talking mascots, Uncategorized

A Bird’s Eye View

We recently filmed a series of videos with Braddock bay’s Barb French with our character Kele Kestrel. Our goal was to shoot between five and six short videos, focusing on what birds of prey live in our area, why they are important, why birds migrate, how and why bands are used to research bird migration, and some simple bird facts.  We shot on location at Braddock Bay’s public Hawk Blind in the Owl Woods in North Greece, NY.  It was a hot morning but the blind was sheltered; I was grateful to not be terribly hot in the kestrel suit.

Kele Kestrel originally was built years ago by two people: my friend Dan built the body suit and Erin from Keystone Mascots built the head.  She built the beak to be wide open so I could both see and speak clearly through it.  Our friend Casey made Kele’s scarf and leg band.  At some point, we will upgrade the body suit as the arms are a bit tight.

This series is the first in which we interviewed someone but it will not be the last.  We have plans on doing many more in the future.  But for now, here are all of the Bird’s Eye View! Enjoy!

 

 

Posted in Amphibians, animal facts, animals, biodiversity, birds, ecology, education, Entertainment, environment, nature, Uncategorized, Wild Animals, wildlife, wildlife education

Fun Animal Facts: July 28 – August 3 Recap

Another week, another set of odd and intriguing animal facts. Here is the collection we have for you this time:

  • Babirusas are Indonesian pigs, or “pig-deer” in Malay, with slender, deer-like legs & multi-chambered stomachs.(Info from Wired, https://t.co/WHJ6bCqN6y)
  • The noises we associate with eagles from TV and nature documentaries actually come from Red Tailed Hawks. Eagles don’t sound ferocious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Roni4GG56Ew
  • peeperSpring Peepers are tiny chorus frogs that appear at the beginning of spring & chirp in large groups at night
  • The American Alligator specigatores is more than 150 million years old, meaning it was around back when dinosaurs existed! Talk about survival of the fittest! Photo from animalspot.net
  • Coyotes have their own unique language coyotewith simple sentences consisting of yips, barks and howls. Photo from stevedalepetworld.com
  • Pallas’ Cats, or Manuls, have the longest, most dense fur of any cat. These wild felines live in Central Asia. https://t.co/2PHXtC6p3s
  • Blue birds do not actually have blue pigment. Rather, microscopic structures in their feathers reflect and refract blue light.Information from the National Audubon Society, http://www.audubon.org/

That’s all we have for animal facts at the moment. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for more videos, photos, facts and updates!

Posted in animal facts, animals, biodiversity, birds, birds of prey, ecology, education, endangered species, Entertainment, environment, Mammals, nature, nature conservation, Uncategorized, Wild Animals, wildlife, wildlife education

Fun Animal Facts: July 21-27 Recap

Boy, it’s been a busy week! It’s amazing how fast seven days can fly by.

Speaking of flight, Kele the Kestrel interviewed Barb French of Braddock Bay’s Raptor Research. Photos of our video shoot are up on Instagram, and a series of videos will be appearing on YouTube as we get them edited.

Now, for the facts:

  • Giraffes’ tongues are black to prevent giraffesunburn! Eighteen inches long, these tongues are exposed to tropical and subtropical UV rays for extended periods when giraffes eat.

    (Photo Credit: Quora.com)

  • There’s debate about zebras’ stripes serving as camouflage against colorblind lions in tall grass! https://t.co/vQ7Sge04hJcapybara
  • Capybaras‬ are the world’s largest ‪‎rodents‬. Native to South America, they’re closely relates to ‪‎guinea pigs‬ & rock cavies.

    (Photo Credit: Rainforest-alliance.org)

  • Fireflies use bioluminescence during

    fireflies

    twilight to attract mates or prey, and produce a “cold light” with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies.

    (Photo from: http://www.audubon.org/…/may-june…/catching-fireflies-camera)turkeys

  • Wild turkeys roost in trees at night, particularly oaks and pines. For extra protection from predators, they seek out areas over water.

    Photo Credit: lakecountynature.com

  • Fun Animal Fact from Barb French at https://t.co/YiefMs6aGG today: genetically, falcons, such as kestrels, are closely related to parrots.otters
  • Like humans, female sea otters tend to live longer than males. In the wild, females live between 15 – 20 years, whereas males live 10 – 15 years. Photo by seaotters.org

 

That’s everything we have for this week. Come back next Wednesday for another recap. Until then: unleash your wild side.

Posted in animal facts, biodiversity, bird mascots, birds, birds of prey, Carnivore, children's books, ecology, education, educational mascots, endangered species, Entertainment, environment, kestrels, nature, nature conservation, Omnivore, Predator, Prey, Uncategorized, wildlife, wildlife education

Animal School Presents: Birds Eye View Episode 1

 

We figured that at this point, we here at Animal School had done a lot of videos and posts about various canine species, especially regarding foxes. So, we wanted to focus a bit on something else and birds of prey (or, raptors) seemed like a good set of species to set our eyes on.  We had our resident kestrel, Kele, interview one of our local bird experts, Barb French, who works as a bander for Braddock Bay Raptor Research in North Greece, NY.

Our first video in the series focuses on the work Braddock Bay Raptor Research does and the purposes of banding, studying raptors and the process to become a volunteer and how to become a certified bander.

Stay tuned for four more videos that will go up over the course of this week. Bird’s Eye View will then take a short break before returning with some really cool new material in the coming weeks.

Stay wild!