Jul 4

A salute to the red, white and blue… ARKive species.

Independence Day in the USA, more commonly referred to as the 4th of July, is a proud and historic day in American history. Americans officially declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.

So how do we Americans celebrate this momentous day, and spend our day off? Apparently, not very differently from our Founding Fathers. In 1776, John Adams wrote:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Along with setting off fireworks and eating yummy food, a staple 4th of July festivity is boasting our flag colors of red, white and blue. Americans are not the only ones that can display these colors with pride, as so do American species found on ARKive!

RED fox

Photo of a red fox

Red foxes have vibrant red-tipped fur that fades to a more brownish color underneath. These foxes are typically active at dusk or night and have a wide-ranging diet, from invertebrates and small mammals to birds and fruit. They are highly adaptable animals that live in a broad range of habitats, from sand dunes to urban areas. Ever see one walking around your neighborhood?

American WHITE pelican

Photo of an American white pelican close-up of head

American white pelicans are incredibly large birds with a length up to 1.7m (5.5ft) and a wingspan up to 2.9m (9.5ft). They have beautiful bright white plumage which contrasts strongly with black flight feathers on their wings. You can see American white pelicans flying in a traditional “V” formation. Although graceful in the air, their short legs and webbed feet make them waddle and maneuver awkwardly on land.

BLUE shark

Photo of a blue shark swimming

As the name suggests, blue sharks have a deep indigo-blue across the back, shading to a vibrant blue on the sides, and paling to white underneath. Their sleek, slender body and caudal fin allow it to ride the currents, like the Atlantic North Equatorial Current, with grace and power. The blue shark is capable of rapid movement if it is excited or feeding and will often circle its prey (usually small bony fish or squid) before moving in to attack it.

America’s national bird: the epitome of American patriotism

Photo of a bald eagle vocalising

This majestic bird proudly serves as one of the most recognizable emblems of the USA. Contrary to the name, bald eagles are not bald. They are named after their completely white feathered head. Bald eagles are unique to North America and embody American values, such as power and opportunism. They imperially dominate their prey which can include birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and even garbage, although fish are preferred. Ironically, the call of the bald eagle is relatively weak for such a large bird – 96cm (3ft) in length and with a 244cm (8ft) wingspan. Nonetheless, the bald eagle is a fitting symbol of American patriotism and pride.

We wish you a wonderful 4th of July!

Shelley Alingas, Wildscreen USA Program Assistant

  • Sam (July 4th, 2011 at 3:10 pm):

    My favourite would have to be the three-spined stickleback because it contains reds, silvers and blues throughout its various life stages. Plus it was the first non-pet species of animal I ever touched:

    http://www.arkive.org/three-spined-stickleback/gasterosteus-aculeatus-aculeatus/#text=Description

  • Dovie E. (July 4th, 2011 at 4:47 pm):

    Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin wished for the national bird to be the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), as he thought that the bald eagle was an animal of poor manners.

  • Doug Norris (July 5th, 2011 at 8:34 am):

    Enjoy your special day.