Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hummingbirds have Small Nests

Hummingbird Nest Photo @istockphoto
A hummingbird nest is definitely a sight to behold and a picture of perfection for those who are lucky enough to spot one. The nests are very tiny and so well camouflaged by nature that is is extremely difficult to know they are there. Like any good Mom who is protective of her young, a female hummingbird carefully chooses an ideal and secure location for her nest that is well above the ground and out of the reach of predators such as snakes, ants, and even predatory birds. The nests are expertly sheltered from wind to prevent baby birds from being tossed from their nests in a storm, as well as being sheltered from the sun and rain. The nest typically looks like a knot on a tree limb and from above is virtually invisible due to an umbrella of foliage and leaves which conceal it.

Once the perfect location has been selected, the female then begins the complicated and tedious task of building her nest. She gathers the softest nesting material she can find like moss, lichen, soft plants, pieces of willows, cotton fluffs, and even dryer lint. Female hummingbirds are also known to be little thieves stealing nesting material away from another female's nest. She also gathers spider webs or spider silks which she will use to basically glue all of her nesting material together. The spider webs bind the nesting material giving the nest strength so it won't fall apart and also make it stretchy and flexible giving the baby birds room to grow. She will also use her own body to mold the nest into the exact shape she wants.

Most female will lay two eggs in the nest which will be approximately the size of a navy bean. She will also continuously add nesting material to the nest while awaiting the arrival of her youngsters (about 15 to 18 days). The babies will leave the nest anywhere from 18 to 28 days after they hatch.



An Hummingbird Feeder Makes a Great Gift To Attract Nesting Birds

 


If you have trees in your backyard, why not try and attract hummingbirds. Maybe they'll nest! Add a feeder early spring. A tree is a good location (it protected the nectar from sun and wind). Consider buying a small birdbath as well. And keep that camera around!

An interesting fact is that these birds have no sense of smell, they are trained as babies to look for the red flowers that have sweet nectar. That's why feeders are red, to attract them to it, and the sweet nectar is similar to the nectar they are used to. Their long bills have evolved to help them extract the nectar from the plants, although some Hummingbirds have a hooked bill.

These birds are territorial and they will fight.

Hummingbirds eat the nectar from certain flowers. Your nectar must contain at least 10% sugar, or they will reject it. The sweeter, the better. For protein and vitamins, they eat insects, including spiders. A mixture of 4 parts water to one part sugar mix is perfect for them.

More Facts About Hummingbirds:

They are one of the smallest and most fascinating of the bird species, hovering in mid air over vibrant flowers consuming their own weight in nectar in any given day. The rapid fluttering of their wings results in a humming sound similar to that of a bee which is how they became known as hummingbirds.

There are approximately 17 different species of hummingbirds in North America and each has their own unique skilled way to build a nest.

Most species measure 3-5". There is a "Bee Hummingbird" (pictured here...from Wikipedia) that measures around 2". It's the smallest living bird.

The giant hummingbird's wings flap 8-12 beats per second. About 600 beats per minute.

The medium-sized hummingbird's wings beat 20-30 beats per second.

The smallest hummingbird's wings can beat as much as 100 beats per second during courtship displays!

If you love hummingbirds or know someone who does, make sure you check these  beautiful gift ideas: Hummingbird Gifts for Home and Garden, Hummingbird Kitchen Decor

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hippopotamus Facts

Picture by Ad Meskens [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL],

Hippopotamus Facts: Learn More About The River Horse


 Learn about the hippopotamus, or water horse, with this easy to understand article. The hippopotamus is certainly the most neglected wild animal! No one seems to care about it. It's all about lions and giraffes and zebras. Well, thanks to this hippopotamus facts page, you will learn and love the hippopotamus. Respect for the water horse!

 

 

Hippopotamus Facts: The Basics


The name hippopotamus is Greek for "river horse", but in fact these massive African mammals are relatives of pigs. They spend most of their time in lakes and rivers.

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious) lives in central and southern Africa. It is the second heaviest of all living land mammals and is outweighed only by the elephant. The pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis), which is much smaller than the common hippopotamus, inhabits the rain forests of Liberia and Sierra Leone in western Africa. The term "hippopotamus" which comes from the Greek words for river horse, was probably applied to the animals because they have a horselike head and live near rivers and lakes, spending more time in the water than on land.

Africans hunt the hippopotamus for its tusks, flesh, and hide. They eat the meat, which is reported to be stringy and distasteful to non-Africans, and they render the fat for lard. The tough hide of the hippopotamus is used to make whips and shields. Some are captured for zoos.

Hippopotamus Facts: Behavior of the Hippopotamus


The hippopotamus lives in herds that may number as many as 20 to 30 animals. It feeds chiefly on aquatic vegetation.

 In addition to being an excellent swimmer, the hippopotamus can float and dive. When the animal is partially submerged, its nostrils and bulging eyes remain above the surface of the water so that it can breathe and watch for enemies. When it dives under the surface, the nostrils close automatically. A hippopotamus can stay underwater for more than 15 minutes.

While submerged, a hippopotamus can move along the river bottom at a rate of about 8 miles an hour. When frightened or annoyed, it sometimes rises suddenly to the surface and attacks boats, capsizing them and smashing them to bits. Often a fish, called the durumbia, swims about and feeds on algae that grow on the hide of the submerged hippopotamus.

 Although the hippopotamus lives mainly in the water, it spends some time on the banks of rivers, where it suns itself. Usually at night it also makes short trips into the surrounding country to hunt for food. On land the hippopotamus can move as fast as a man can run. When frightened, the animal rushes for the safety of the water, trampling crops, small buildings, or anything else standing in its way. When on land, the hippopotamus secretes an oily pinkish substance, which may keep the skin from drying. Because of the secretion, many people mistakenly believe that the hippopotamus sweats blood.

Watch Underwater Hippos:



Hippopotamus Facts: Size And Appearance


The hippopotamus is the second heaviest of all living land mammals When fully grown, a large male common hippopotamus may weigh as much as 4 tons and reach a length of 14 feet, including its relatively long slender tail. Because its legs are very short, it may stand only 4 to 5 feet tall at the shoulder. The females are much than the males. A fully grown pygmy hippopotamus ranges in length from 5 to 6 feet. It ranges in weight from 400 to 600 pounds and stands 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall at the shoulder.

The hippopotamus has a long rounded body, which is covered by a thick dark-brown skin. Except for a few bristles on the head and tail it has no hair. The hippopotamus has four toes on each hoof. Its huge head has high-set protruding eyes and large nostrils, which are on the top of the squarish muzzle. The mouth of the hippopotamus is larger than that of any animal except the whale. It can open to a gape of 2 or more feet. The front teeth of the hippopotamus are tusk-like and continue to grow throughout life.

 Hippopotamus Facts: Mating 


During the mating season the males, called bulls, fight each other for possession of the females. Standing side by side and head to tail, they try to drive their tusks into the sides of their opponents.

 About eight or nine months after the adults have mated, a single calf is born in shallow water. The calf of the common hippopotamus is about 3 feet long and 1 1/2 feet tall, and it weighs 60 to 100 pounds. Although the calf can swim at birth, it must learn to walk. For a time the mother carries the baby on her back as she swims about, even taking it below water when she dives. A hippopotamus lives for about 30 years.

Hippopotamus Facts: The Pygmy Hippopotamus


 The pygmy hippopotamus is less fierce than its larger relative. It may also spend more time on land, rushing for a thicket when danger threatens, rather than for the water. Otherwise, its habits are similar to those of the common hippopotamus.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bananas Facts

Banana plant photo @Blueshade under CC
Although the banana plant may look like a tree it is actually a large herbaceous plant, as it has no woody material. The 'trunk' is simply a mass of fleshy leaf sheaths sprouting from an underground stem, or rhizome, topped by a crown of 10-20 large leaves, each about 3 meters long and 65 cm wide.

There are more than 300 varieties, but only a few are cultivated commercially.

They thrive in moist, warm conditions in rich soil with good drainage but can also be successfully grown in arid regions under irrigation. An important food, they are an export crop in many tropical countries. A large flower spike emerges from the center of the leaves and curves downwards. It can carry up to 150 yellowish flowers, which soon develop into fruit; the bunch is called a 'hand', and the individual bananas are called 'fingers'. After fruiting, the plant dies and is replaced by another growing from the same rhizome.

Bananas are propagated by dividing the root stem, and the first crop is usually produced within 10-15 months. Natural regeneration provides continuous cropping for several years. Bananas are one of Man's oldest foods and are mentioned in early Greek, Latin and Arab writings.

They are always harvested while green, even when they are not to be shipped afar. The reason behind this is if they are allowed to ripen on the plant they will burst and spoil before they can be picked.

In Asian countries, varieties known as plantains are grown as cooking bananas. The fruit is not as sweet and is more starchy than the popular eating varieties.

Although most bananas are grown for their edible fruit, some species are cultivated commercially as a source of fiber known as abaca, which is very strong and flexible and highly resistant to saltwater. It is used in the manufacture of ships' hawsers, marine cables and fishing nets. Some species of dwarf banana plants are grown as ornamental garden specimens.

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Venus Flytrap For Sale: Venus Flytrap Seeds, Kits and Plants


Picture of Venus Fly Trap by Tristan Gillingwater under CC License

If you are looking to buy a Venus flytrap plant, or want to grow one yourself from scratch, you will find a large selection of Venus flytrap for sale online, as well as kits and seeds. Not only are these carnivorous plants a real conversation piece, they are also a fascinating living organism that will awe kids of all age. So what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

Facts About Venus Flytrap

Before you look at our selection of Venus Flytrap for sale, you might wanna learn a bit more about them

  • The Venus flytrap is an insectivorous plant of the sundew family. Spreading from its base are leaves three to six inches long, each of which broadens into a pair of kidney-shaped lobes that normally lie like a partially open book.
  • These lobes act like a steel trap when the prey, walking across the leaf, touches the base of the trigger hairs, causing the two lobes to snap shut. This is the most dramatic of all carnivorous plants.
  • In contrast to the sundew, whose tentacles are tipped with a sticky exudation on which flying insects alight, Venus flytrap spreads out a rose-tinted, smooth carpet for crawling insects.
  • Secretions inside the margin of the leaf act as a lure. The leaf has six slender hairs, spaced so as to form a triangle on each lobe. When a crawler touches two of these hairs (or one hair twice, since a double stimulus is necessary), the trap springs shut.
  • Venus flytrap screens its prey by not immediately pressing too tightly. Tiny insects can escape through the spaces between the long, stiff bristles at the outer margins of the lobes. These bristles, which fold over loosely like the interlaced fingers of two hands.
  • Digestion is usually completed in 5 to 10 days, whereupon the leaf opens wide again, ready for the next victim. Although this plant enjoys worldwide fame for its behavior, it is native only to one small area, a strip of predominantly swampy ground covering North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • Venus flytrap bears white flowers in clusters on a stalk up to 12 inches long.

 

Maybe You Should Watch This Video....

Before you look at those Venus Flytrap for sale, make sure you watch this! This is going to be what you'll be getting. A strange yet fascinating plant. kids especially are fond of Venus flytrap, they love to care for them and feed them.

This video shot is from the BBC, with close ups and commentary. It's a bit more dramatic then reality (but just fascinating. I dare you not to watch it till the end). The second video is home made and is a more realistic version of what you may expect. And no your Venus Flytrap won't bite you!

 

Buy Live Venus Flytraps from Amazon seller JoelsCarnivorousPlants style=:

 Each of these come with a care sheet and loose moss. This seller has good ratings too on Amazon:



 

Seeds For Sale

Patience is the key

Growing a Venus Flytrap from scratch takes time. Up to 2 or 3 years to get a nice sized plant. But you should see sprouts in a few weeks.

Growing a live Venus Flytrap from scratch is an interesting challenge for kids. Make sure you buy a live one along with the seeds so they get to know how to care for them. You don't need any fancy terrarium or domes by the way.



A Few Tips About Venus Flytrap

  • Your plant should always be moist
  • Do not use tap water if possible: only rain water or distilled water
  • It needs plenty of sun
  • Do not overfeed! Once every two week is enough. And only one insect for the plant, not in each lobes
  • Cut the brown lobes, they're dead
  • Don't feed too big insects, it should fit in the trap
  • If possible, feed live insects. Otherwise freshly killed preys or small dried crickets from the pet shop can do

 

How I killed My Venus Flytrap

Once upon a time my daddy offered me a Venus flytrap and I killed it. I feed it raw ground meat. Never do that. No raw meat for your deadly plant!

Buying A Venus Flytrap For A Kid? Here's a great book:

 

The book "Venus Flytraps", in the Early Bird Nature Books series, covers many wild species of carnivorous plants. There is also a section of interest regarding the care and feeding habits of the Venus Flytrap.

 

Would You Like Your Own Carnivorous Plant?