by Jodi-Anne Kaspin
1. For those of you who are familiar with E.B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web, you may have read or at least heard of the book, the Trumpet of the Swan. It's a story about a lovely swan couple that gives birth to 5 little cygnets, and one of them isn't able to make the trumpeter sounds like a typical swan.
2. Louis, the cygnet who is different than the others, searches to find a way to communicate in other ways with his family and the swan he loves. The ending is yours to find out! But while reading the book, I'm sure many readers became curious about trumpeter swans, which have a magical, beautiful aura about them.
3. Trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl. They weigh between 21-30 pounds, and the males can even reach 35 pounds or more. While standing, they reach about four feet tall, which is about the size of the average second-grader. Their wingspan can reach up to eight feet long. That's difficult to imagine when the average person's arm span reaches six feet!
4. The males are referred to as cobs, and the females are known as pens. The trumpeter swans are known for their deep, loud calls that sound trumpet-like. Trumpeter swans actually find a mate for life. Once they find their mate, they create a bond that lasts until the death of the first one. However, these birds can live for about thirty years.
5. Just like in the E.B. White novel, trumpeter swans are mostly found in the northern United States, like in Montana and Minnesota, or in Canada. Unfortunately, during the 1800s, swans were killed for their beautiful feathers, and the population of the swans decreased. Trumpeter swans are known to enjoy forested areas and are most often found near swamps or shallow ponds.
6. By 1900, it was believed that the trumpeter swans had become extinct. However, a few survived and were found in the valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. By 1935, the United States government created the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to protect these beautiful creatures. The government made improvements to their habitats, provided food during the harsh northern winter, and controlled hunting. Thanks to this refuge, the trumpeter swan population has grown immensely and is no longer on the U.S. government's endangered animal list.
7. Trumpeter swans can still be found in Montana, Idaho, other Midwestern states, and Canada. Today, there is even a large population in Alaska, with more than 12,000 trumpeter swans living there. If you decide to visit any of these areas, such as Red Rocks Lakes in Montana, you might be lucky to hear a loud, deep pitched "ko-hoh" sound. You now know that it could be the sound of this interesting breed of waterfowl that was saved from extinction.
The Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Adapted by Candy Mazze
1. The Amazon Rainforest is full of life, bubbling with sounds of all kinds, from water rushing and falling, to animals trying to communicate with one another. It's a busy place where animals are looking for food, trying to survive, and looking to expand their families. Within the Amazon Rainforest in South America, there exists one such tiny animal that is almost completely camouflaged from the rest of the animals, except for one small body part: bright red eyes!
2. This animal is known as the Red-Eyed Tree Frog and it lives deep in the tall trees within the Amazon. Although they reside mostly in South America, they can also be found in Central America and parts of Mexico.
3. Bright colors adorn the body of the adult Red-Eyed Tree frog. The main color is green, but there are also mixtures of yellow, orange, and even blue on its belly. The frog can change its colors based on its feelings or needs; the color often changes from green to reddish-brown.
4. On its toes are suction cups that help the Red-Eyed Tree Frog attach itself to its environment. They give the frog traction to stay put on wet leaves. Their legs are built better for climbing than for swimming and they are almost never on the ground. They keep jumping around at a steady pace from tree to tree.
5. The physical properties of the Red-Eyed Tree Frog also make them different and help them survive. Unlike most humans or even other animals, the male frog is actually smaller than the female. Male frogs only reach around two inches in length while the females can grow to be three inches. The Red-Eyed Tree Frog is a carnivore. Similar to other frogs, the tree frog eats grasshoppers, moths, and other insects. However, it eats smaller frogs too! It is known to eat almost anything that can fit in its mouth.
6. Many people find it fascinating to know that the red eyes are not just for looks; they help the frogs survive. In fact, the red eyes scare other animals easily and help these frogs escape their predators. With their greenish color skin, they tend to blend in with their surroundings. When they sleep, they are virtually invisible. However, if other animals see them and try to attack, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog will open its wide, red eyes, and the predators, which usually consist of snakes, birds, or bats, will scurry away.
7. In many cases, the predators may also be stunned into stillness at the sight of the red eyes, long enough for the frog to escape. The Red-Eyed Tree frog is a unique animal able to protect itself even though very small. With deadly predators and a dangerous environment surrounding it, the frog relies on camouflage and its bright red eyes to scare off unwanted guests and enemies.