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Boat-Billed Herons

Boat-Billed Herons

Boat-Billed Herons (Cochlearius cochlearius) Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo recently welcomed two new family members to the Rainforest Building: a pair of Boat-Billed Herons. The male and female herons are named Burt and Loni. They have taken up residence in the New World’s Tropics habitat. Burt is approximately six years old; Loni is approximately three years old.  Boat-Billed Herons, commonly known as “boatbills,” are named for their oddly shaped bill that resembles an overturned rowboat. Boat-Billed Herons commonly leave their nests after sundown to feed during the night. Interestingly, it has been observed that they do not feed when a light source is present, such as daylight, moonlight, or artificial light.  Description: Boat-Billed Herons have plumage that is pale grey to white in color, with chestnut colored abdomens and black flanks. They are a stocky, medium-sized bird. Boat-billed herons have shorter legs and squatter bodies than most other heron species. They also have large, dark eyes, which help in foraging for food in the dark. Their bills are primarily black and they are as wide as their heads. Their bill is also very sensitive, allowing them to feel out prey in murky water. They are approximately 20 inches long; they weigh a little over a pound. They have a wingspan of 30 inches. Boat-Billed Herons have specialized downy feathers that don’t molt and grows continuously throughout the bird’s life. The ends break off as a powder that the bird then uses while preening to waterproof its other feathers. The male Boat-Billed Heron is slightly larger than the female and has a longer occipital plume than the female. Their calls include a high- pitched...
Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtle

Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtle

Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) DESCRIPTION:  Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles are named for the bright yellow spots seen on their heads which have a base color of olive green or brown.  The yellow spots are most prominent in young turtles. The spots fade to almost nothing in females as they age but males retain the bright spots. The top shell (carapace) is domed and has a raised ridge in the center called the keel. The bottom shell (plastron) is yellow and may have dark blotches. Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles are also called the Yellow Spotted Side-necked Turtles because while most turtles retract their head into their shells, side-necked turtles have longer necks and they turn their heads into their shells. This does, however, leave them partially exposed.  Female Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles are larger than males. Adult females grow up to 20 inches in length and 18 inches in width. Males grow up to 15 inches in the length and 13 inches in width. Females weigh up to 25 pounds and males up to 10 pounds. Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles are diurnal, meaning they are most active in mid-morning and afternoon. They have no need to hibernate in winter as they can withstand temperature fluctuations. RANGE:  Yellow Spotted Amazon River Turtles are found in the Amazon and Orinoco river systems in northern South America but when the rivers flood they will branch out to the flooded forests. HABITAT:  They live along the banks and in the waters of large, calm rivers and streams. They avoid fast-moving waters. DIET:  Omnivores – Eat vegetation and small...
Miniature Horse

Miniature Horse

Miniature Horse (Equus ferus caballus) Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s New England Farmyard has welcomed two delightful new residents. Two Miniature Horses have joined us from a rescue situation in Vermont. Nutmeg is a male and Caramel is a female. They were both born in 2008 and they are 9 hands (36 inches) tall. The height of all equine species is measured in “hands”. One hand equals 4 inches. Equine height is measured at the withers (the top of the shoulders where the mane ends). A Miniature Horse is shorter than the smallest pony yet they have the same proportions as a full-size horse except for their eyes. DESCRIPTION:  Miniature Horses look exactly like regular horses only much, much smaller. Their body proportions are the same. The one difference in proportion is their eyes. Miniature Horses have large eyes. Miniature Horses are mammals. They have some of the largest eyes amongst mammals. Their eyes can give them 360 degrees of vision. Although they are small they are quite strong. They have dainty hooves that are made of the same protein as human hair and fingernails. Their nose could fit into a person’s hand. A small child will be eye level with a Miniature Horse. Full-grown Miniature Horses weigh between 150 and 250 pounds. The tallest they can grow and still be considered a Miniature Horse is 38 inches. Foals will reach 90% of their adult height by the time they are one year old. Miniature Horses come in a wide range of colors and patterns. In the warmer months their coat is thin to allow them to keep cool in the heat...
Desert Scorpion

Desert Scorpion

Desert Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonenis) The Desert Scorpion has one of the longest life spans of all scorpion species. It is also called the Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion and the North American Hairy Scorpion. Description: Desert Scorpions are the largest scorpions in North America. They are between four and seven inches long. On average they only weigh 0.18 ounces. Males and females are similar in appearance. They have excellent eyesight. They are tan to olive-green in color with a darker back and yellow pedipalps, legs, and tail. They have tiny erect hairs covering their whole bodies through which they detect vibrations in the air (sound) or ground. It is what allows them to track their prey. Like all scorpions, Desert Scorpions are considered arachnids like spiders. Arachnids are identified as having eight legs, no wings, and no antennae. Scorpions have three body segments. The prosoma or cephalothorax (head) that contains the eyes, the mouth and the pedipalps that look almost like claws with pinchers on the end called chelae. The main body, called the mesosoma, is actually seven segments. This section is where the four pairs of clawed walking legs are attached and also contains all the major body organs. The characteristic tail section is called the metasoma and it is five segments ending in the telson that contains a pair of venom glands and the stinger. Desert Scorpions are nocturnal. They live in abandoned burrows, crevices and small caves where they are protected from daytime heat. They hibernate in winter. Caves are a favorite dwelling because the temperature is naturally balanced and they are also home to many prey species....
Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) This dabbling duck species sometimes flies into Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo from the Pequonnock River.  The Northern Pintail Duck has a distinctive silhouette; they have long necks and long pointed tail feathers. The distinctive tail feathers have led to some of the nicknames for Northern Pintail Ducks that include ‘sprig’, ‘spike’, and ‘spiketail’. Northern Pintail Ducks can fly up to 65 miles per hour. They have earned the title of “nomads of the skies” due to their extensive migratory routes. DESCRIPTION: Northern Pintail Ducks are medium-sized ducks. They have a slim, long neck and a long, pointed tail. They have black bills, dark brown eyes and gray legs. Their wingspans are approximately 35 inches across. The male and female Northern Pintail Ducks are not noticeably different in size.  They are between 20 and 30 inches in length. They weigh between 1 and 3 pounds.  A male Northern Pintail Duck, called a drake, has two distinctive sets of plumage. The breeding plumage consists of chocolate brown plumage covering his head with white plumage covering the neck and lower body. The sides and upper back are gray. The long, lower back feather are black with pale edges. The rear of the wing contains a bright patch of plumage (called the speculum) and is bronzy greenish with a black band and white rear edge. The eclipse plumage is a duller version of the breeding plumage and is brownish overall.  A female Northern Pintail Duck, called a hen, has gradations of tan plumage on the face and body. The plumage on the lower breast and belly are white. They have long...