An animal a day...

A little profile of an awesome animal every day.

50 posts! Hope some people are enjoying them :)

50 posts! Hope some people are enjoying them :)

(Source: assets)

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

The Indigo Bunting is a small migratory bird found from southern Canada through much of the US during the summer, and seen down through Central America and the Caribbean in the winter. They are considered of Least Concern by the IUCN, but their populations are thought to be decreasing, perhaps due to a decrease in riparian habitats. They feed mostly on seeds, insects and berries, utilizing whatever is seasonally available in their range.

Indigo Buntings are supposedly monogamous, but are known to stray from their partners. They have also been recorded hybridizing with the Lazuli Bunting, a similar species. During the breeding season, pairs usually raise two broods per year, but may also be parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The Cowbirds will deposit eggs in an unattended nest, and leave the Bunting to raise the chicks. This lowers the survival rate of the Bunting’s chicks.

Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)

The Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse is a tropical fish species found on coral reefs through the Indo-Pacific. While it is a target species in the aquarium trade, their populations do not seem to have been greatly effected, and is quite common in many parts of its range. These Cleaner Wrasse are found in collections of 1-3 individuals at a ‘cleaning station.’ Other fish come to the cleaning station to have the small Cleaner Wrasse remove ectoparasites, dead skin and mucus, which the Cleaner Wrasse eat. Both sides are very trusting, with the Cleaner Wrasse sometimes entering the mouth of a much larger fish, and the Cleaner Wrasse rarely “cheating” by nipping their clients.

Cleaner Wrasse exhibit a very unusual behaviour for fish, and are active in the daytime and effectively sleep at night. At the end of each day the Clenaer Wrasse create a cocoon of mucus and bury themselves into the sand where they stay until the next day.

Chital (Axis axis)

The Chital is a deer species found in the woodlands through India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and surrounding countries. They live in herds of between 10 and 50 individuals, usually made up of a number of females and their young along with one or two dominant stags. They are relatively abundant within their habitat, and it does not appear that their populations are declining or threatened. Previously, they experienced drastic population decline due to hunting for meat and to eradicate them for agriculture during British rule in India, but their populations have since recovered.

While the deer are native to Asia, some introduced populations are found in America. They are found in Hawaii, as they were introduced in the 1950’s for hunting. They were also introduced into Texas in 1988, and the herds are able to sustain themselves.

Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsac)

The Corsac Fox is a small carnivore that is found across central and northeast Asia. It feeds on small rodents found accorss the range, like voles, gerbils and hamsters, but is also hunted itself by larger predators like wolves, eagles and buzzards. These foxes live in open areas of semi-desert and steppe, a habitat type characterized by open plains and lack of trees. They are relatively social for a fox species, and multiple individuals have been known to share a burrow.

The status of their populations is largely unknown across their range. They have experienced massive population crashes historically due to human development as well as hunting for their pelts. The IUCN highlights the need for research on their population status, behaviour, and social organization.

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

The Black Vulture is a New World species and can be found across the southern United States and through Central and South America. They feed mainly on carrion, like many vulture species, and locate their food either by sight, or indirectly by following other vulture species such as Turkey Vultures and Yellow-headed Vultures, which have a keen sense of smell. They are not considered threatened, and there are some indications that their populations are actually increasing.

Black Vultures are monogamous, and once a pair forms, they will stay together for life. Courtship is originally done by the males, which will encircle a female and display for her. Black Vultures are generally a social species as well, travelling in large groups, often with other species like the Turkey Vulture.

French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

The French Angelfish is a large reef species found throughout the waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They feed mainly on sponges, but will also consume algae, tunicates, gorgonians and other reef species. Juvenile French Angelfish set up cleaning stations where client species like moray eel, jacks, snappers and others will come to have the juveniles pick off dead scales and parasites. The juveniles will exhibit a behaviour of touching clients with their fins, which is thought to relax the other fish.

Adult French Angelfish are monogamous, and when a pair is not out feeding, they will spend most of their time by one another’s side.  They will defend a large territory, sometimes up to the size of a football field, fiercely chasing off other angelfish. They defend their territory both to protect their food resources, but also to ensure that no other French Angelfish come in to break up the pair.

Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)

The Silky Shark is a large species, growing up to 10feet long, which can be found worldwide in tropical to warm temperate seas. They are a pelagic species, meaning that they are found mostly in open water from the surface all the way down to 500m deep. Mostly, however, they are found near deep-water reefs, as this is where their prey is most abundant. They feed on a variety of fish species, as well as squid and crabs.

The Silky Shark is now considered Near Threatened by the IUCN due to recent declines in their population. These sharks are caught frequently as by catch in fishermen’s nets and are not reported as part of the catch, which makes population estimates difficult. In addition, they are also a target species for the shark fin trade and in Hong Kong (which accounts for about 50% of the fin trade) are the 3rd most common species found.

Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)

The Olive-backed Sunbird is a small songbird that is native to a wide range in Southeast Asia. They can be found from the mainland around Thailand, though Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, all the way down to the northeastern coast of Australia. They have marked sexual dimorphism, with the males displaying beautiful iridescent blue coloring on their throat. The females are drabber, with an olive back and a yellow belly.

They feed mainly on nectar and would have originally been found mostly in mangrove habitats. However, with human expansion, the birds have come into increased contact with human settlements over the years and have adapted very well to living in even quite densely populated areas. Their population size has not yet been quantified, which means that further research is required on the species.

Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrine)

The Banded Sea Krait, or Colubrine Sea Krait, is a species of marine snake that is found through the waters of the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean. They live in coral reefs and mangroves, as well as open ocean areas. They need to consume fresh water regularly, which requires them to leave the sea and travel on land to find it. They also return to land to mate.

While they are venomous, these snakes are known to be relatively calm animals and will rarely bite humans. Bites are generally recorded on fishermen who have tried to remove the snakes from nets. They hunt prey fish species in hunting parties and help one another flush out prey and catch it. They are not considered endangered or threatened, but the loss of their reef habitats could have impacts on their numbers in the future.