The Canadian Lynx is a North American member of the cat family. It ranges across Canada and into Alaska as well as some parts of the northern United States. The Canadian Lynx has a dense silvery-brown coat, ruffed face and tufted ears. It is larger than the bobcat and over twice the size of the domestic cat.
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The Willow Ptarmigan is a medium sized bird. It is a member of the grouse family. In Europe, the Willow Ptarmigan is called Willow Grouse. It is a sedentary species, breeding in birch and other forests and tundra across northern Eurasia, and in Alaska and northern Canada. It is the state bird of Alaska.
The Snowy Owl is white with yellow eyes and a black bill. Males are completely white, but females have some dark spots. Full grown snowy owls are about 20-26 inches tall with a 50-60 inch wingspan. These birds weigh between 3.5 and 6.6 pounds. The Snowy Owl is well-adapted to its Arctic environment thanks to its thick plumage, heavily-feathered feet, and color.
Lemmings are small rodents that live in treeless areas of northern Canada. Their bodies are well adapted to the cold conditions they live in; they have a very thick coat of fur in the winter, short ears, short legs, and short tails. Adult lemmings are about 150 mm in total length, including about 20 mm of tail. Their body weight varies from about 55 g in some years to about 115 g in others.
The Arctic Fox is a small fox that lives in the very far north. It is also called the White Fox or the Snow Fox. Since they have lived for so long in the frozen north, they have adapted to the cold in multiple ways. The Arctic Fox has deep, thick fur that changes colors with the season. Most are a bright white in the winter to camouflage with the snow and more brown-gray in the summer. Some have a color variation that makes them a gray-blue color throughout the year. They also have thick fur on their paws to insulate themselves from the cold ground and to provide traction on slick ice. Their fur is even warmer than the polar bear or the Arctic wolf. Their tail has extra-thick fur, too. It helps them with balance, but also provides more warm protection when curled up. They also have a good supply of body fat, and their small efficient shape allows them to keep less of their body exposed to the cold.
Wolves are one of the most misunderstood animals in the forest. Many people fear wolves and think they are a threat to humans. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales depict wolves as "big and bad." In reality wolves are shy and much more afraid of us then we are of them.
The Arctic Tern is a seabird that makes the longest migration of any animal. The Arctic Tern's circumpolar migration pattern allows it to see two summers each year. Its breeding grounds are in the Arctic, but as the seasons change, it flies south to the oceans around Antarctica and then back--that's about 24,000 miles every year!
Did you know that moose are the largest member of the deer family? Male moose, known as bulls, can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds. That is equivalent to about 8 grown men! However, the species of moose found here in the Border Country are usually between 700-1,200 pounds. Females usually weigh between 700-1,100 pounds and males are between 900-1,200 pounds. Moose are unique, charismatic animals. They are easily identified by their large noses, humped shoulders, and great size. These animals also have a huge flap of skin and fur under their necks called a "bell." Male moose have a much larger bell than females. Also, only male moose have antlers. Sometimes these antlers weigh as much as 75 pounds! The males spend a lot of their energy growing these impressive antlers. Each year the antlers are shed between mid-December and January and begin to grow again in early spring. Antlers grow quickly and a thin furry covering known as "velvet" begins to grow over them. In August, when the antlers are full grown, the velvet sloughs off within a few days.
River otters are playful animals. Otters are often found frolicking in the water alone or in groups. They enjoy jumping and playing in river currents. In the winter they slide on their bellies on the ice to make travel much faster. In fact, when they get up enough speed they can run and slide a distance of 27 feet!
Did you know that beavers are one of the largest rodents in North America? Beavers are large brown furry rodents with small eyes, small rounded ears, large orange teeth, and a large flat, scaly tail. These active animals weigh between 44 to 60 pounds. They are about 3-4 feet long.
Beavers look rather awkward on land-- they stay in the water as much as possible to avoid predators.
The wolverine is the largest land-dwelling member of the weasel family. It is a stocky, muscular animal covered in brown fur with lighter stripes along its sides. They are typically 25-35 inches long and weigh as much as 55 lbs.
Caribou are medium-sized members of the deer family. Caribou that live in Eurasia are called reindeer. One unique thing about caribou is that both males and females have antlers. The caribou's body is well adapted to its environment. Their small, stocky bodies help them conserve heat, while their long legs help them walk through deep snow. They grow long and dense winter coats to help them stay warm in cold temperatures and strong winds. The long white guard hairs of the caribou's coat are actually hollow; this traps air inside the hair, giving it excellent insulation.
Both male and female Woodland Caribou have antlers.
Ringed seals can grow up to 5 feet long and 150 pounds. Their coats are light gray with spots of black. The black spots are surrounded by lighter ring markings, which is how the seal was named. They have small plump bodies with small heads and small, narrow snouts.
A ringed seal pokes its head through a hole in the sea ice.
Beluga whales are marine mammals. They live in the water, but breathe air through their blow holes. Belugas can be identified by their white color and permanent smile. That's right, they look like they are smiling, because the shape of their mouth is permanently upturned. They grow to 18 ft long and 3,300 lbs. They are larger than most dolphins, but smaller than most other whales. Belugas have a dorsal ridge instead of a fin on their backs. This is thought to help with swimming under the sea ice and it also helps them preserve heat. They each have two almost square-shaped flippers and a beautifully curved tail fin. They also have a large bump on top of their heads.
The polar bear is the world's largest carnivore found on land. It is native to the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding area. The adult male weighs 880 to 1,500 lbs and the female weighs about half of that. Polar bears are closely related to grizzly bears. Although they look quite different, they are descendants from a common ancestor. Their warm fur and a thick layer of blubber protect them from the cold. They can use their huge paws as snowshoes when they walk and as paddles when they swim.
Polar bear with two cubs.
Polar bear with two cubs.