Birds and Mostly Mammals – For Mrs. Yollis and Mrs. Ranney and classes

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Mrs. Yollis and Class

Mrs. Ranney and class

Dear Mrs. Yollis and Mrs. Ranney and classes,

On birds...

I must say, the Wildlife Experience visits certainly let you experience some magnificent animals. Harris Hawk is a beautiful example of a raptor (bird of prey). We also have hawks, falcons and eagles in Australia. My favourite raptors would be the wedge-tailed eagle and the sea eagle. They are around the same size and both can be seen in many areas, although the sea eagle, as its name suggests, tends to stick to the coast while I have seen wedge-tailed eagles even in central Australia where the area is mostly desert.

Have you ever watched an falcon or hawk in the sky? They are so graceful as they scan the ground with their excellent eyesight. I have seen some almost hover in the one position as they sight their prey then suddenly swoop down.

What about an eagle? I have seen them circling high above as they look for prey. Our sea eagles can be seen sweeping along the coastline catching air currents.

The Ostrich

The ostrich is the world's largest bird and their eggs the largest eggs as you've seen.

The emu is Australia's largest bird but isn't quite as big as the ostrich nor is its egg quite as large.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The emu is to be found, along with the kangaroo, on the Australian coat of arms and the 50c coin.

Here is a video I took of emus at a local animal refuge, Potoroo Palace...

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The Humming Bird

We don't have humming birds in Australia but I have always been fascinated by the bird's ability to hover and fly backwards. They are incredible little birds.

On Mammals...

Did you know mammals are divided into three groups?

1. Monotreme Mammals

Monotremes are mammals. They are furry and the mothers feed their young with milk but they have one big difference to all other mammals, they lay eggs.

There were once many more species in other parts of the world as found in fossil records but now they are only found in Australia and New Guinea. Australia has two of these ancient mammal types, the platypus and the echidna. There is also an echidna species in New Guinea.

The Platypus...

The platypus is a shy animal living in burrows near creeks and streams. They feed on grubs and bugs they find in the water. If you look at the drawing, they seem to have a beak like a duck but it isn't a beak. It's very sensitive to tiny electrical charges given off by small animals in the creek sediment and heklps the platypus find food. Did you know when a stuffed platypus was first sent back to England for study, it looked so strange the scientists thought it was a hoax?

When their young have hatched, the mother provides milk from glands. She lies on her back and the milk oozes out of her skin so the young can lap it up. The playtpus is featured on the Australian 20c coin.

Here is a link to a You Tube video of the platypus from National Geographic...

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The Echidna or Spiny Anteater...

The echidna is the only other monotreme. It is found in Australia and one species in New Guinea. The hatched young, known as puggles, feed in the same way as a platypus baby.

I have come across echidnas a number of times on my walks. When startled, they dig their claws into the ground only showing their spines. The echidna appears on the Australian 5c coin.

Here is a link to a video clip I made of an echidna at Potoroo Palace. His name is Spike.

2. Marsupial Mammals

Unlike the monotremes, marsupial mammals are found in other parts of the world like your opossum. The difference is, Australia has an abundance of them.

Marsupial young are born very tiny (a kangaroo is about 2cm or less than an inch when born) and have to make their way into the mother's pouch and attaches to a teat where it can suckle milk. Once it is large enough, it starts to look out, then explore the outside world but returns to the pouch until it is too big.

There's the feather-tailed glider as was on our 1c coin when we had them...

The wombat

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The kangaroo (there are a few species). These are eastern greys...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The smaller wallabies. This is a swamp wallaby and is common around may area.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

And here is a video clip I made at Potoroo Palace of a young swamp wallaby in their care. She is almost ready to fully leave the artificial pouch. Her name is Serena.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Koalas are perhaps our most famous marsupials after the kangaroo. This little girl is now to big for her mother's pouch and spends much of her time on her mother's back but also likes to explore. In the video clip below the picture you can see her one of the first times she poked her head out of her mother's pouch. Again, this clip was taken in Potoroo Palace. The mother is named Suzie.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We also have a number of possums. Here is a video clip of a young ring-tailed possum in care at Potoroo Palace.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

There are many more marsupials here from tiny marsupial mice to the largest, the red kangaroo. When the Aboriginal people first arrived in Australia, there was an even larger marsupial known as the diprotodon. It became extinct well before the first Europeans came to Australia. We have lost many species of marsupial over the years since European settlement because of loss of habitat and predation from introduced cats and foxes. Special sanctuaries have been set up in parts of Australia where our smaller marsupials are kept safe from cats and foxes. Zoos also have breeding programs to help.

2. Placental Mammals

These are the most common mammals you'll find in the world. They include humans as well has horses, cows, dogs, cats, monkeys, apes, etc. As you have learned, apart from the opossum, North American mammals are all placental mammals.

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