Friday, May 28, 2010

The GreenTracks Naturalist

Faces of Nature

Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus). This spectacular bird of the Andes, with a wingspan of 10 feet, is on the decline. It has been used traditionally in a brutal ceremony that involves tying an adult condor to a horse’s back and eventually beating the bird to death. Fortunately, there are now captive breeding and re-introduction programs for this great bird.

Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna). This unmistakable bird can still be seen in small flocks along the Amazon and its tributaries. The flight call is a rasping screech that brings visions of Long John silver to mind.

Brown-chinned three-toed Sloth (Bradypus marmoratus). Surely this sleepy denizen of the trees was the inspiration for ET!

Yellow-handed Titi Monkey (Callicebus torquatus). Titis are among the most secretive and beautiful of all primates. They are difficult to observe because they tend to stay in dense undergrowth of rainforests.

White-fronted Capuchin Monkey (Cebus albifrons). One of the most intelligent of primates, the capuchin often makes use of leaves and branches while foraging. It cracks palm nuts by banging them against trees.

Brown Capuchin Monkey (Cebus apella). Like other capuchin species, this inventive monkey uses all manner of clever tricks when foraging. In addition to fruits and leaves, Brown Capuchins will devour any small animal they can capture.

Giant Amazon Snail (Megalobulimus popelairanus). This massive creature is the heaviest terrestrial snail in the world, being exceeded in length only by a species found in Africa. Seeing one of these imposing creatures, spread out to dinner-plate size, as it cruises about on the rainforest floor is an unforgettable spectacle.

Gibba Turtle (Mesoclemmys gibba). Gibbas are secretive and nocturnal, never emerging from the water to bask. The barbells on the chin are highly enervated and may play a role in either prey or mate location.

Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii). Eyelash Vipers, perfectly camouflaged for life in the trees, range from southern Mexico to northern Peru. This is a venomous snake but it seldom is the cause of bites in humans.



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