Mountain Animals

Category : Soaring Mountains


Mama Mountain Lion and her Baby Kitten in the Den Journal: 150 Page Lined Notebook/Diary

Mountains are home to a rich variety of wildlife. Black bears, mule deer, big horn sheep, and mountain lions are the largest of the mountain’s animals.

The mountain lion (Puma concolor) is also known as the cougar, puma, panther, and catamount, and is the largest wildcat in North America. Mountain lions have powerful limbs and can leap as high as 15 feet and as far as 40 feet.

Mountain lions like to prey on deer, though they also eat smaller animals such as coyotes, porcupines, and raccoons. They usually hunt at night or during the hours of dawn and dusk. These cats employ a blend of stealth and power, stalking their prey until an opportunity arrives to pounce, then going for the back of the neck with a fatal bite. They will hide large carcasses and feed on them for several days.

Mountain lions require a lot of room—only a few cats can survive in a 30-square-mile (78-square-kilometer) range. They are solitary and shy animals, seldom seen by humans.

They are very territorial and actively avoid other cats except during courtship. Their ranges can vary in size from 10 square miles to around 370 square miles; females tend to have smaller ranges than males.

Females have two to four kittens, which the mother raises alone. The kittens nurse for two months, and then start to travel with their mother at which time she teaches them to hunt. They will remain with their mother from 1 ½ – 2 years. Males that enter another male’s territory have been known to kill the kittens so that females will be more willing to mate.

Life is particularly tough for large predators. Apart from the cold, their prey are scarce and quick-footed. The rare snow leopard lives above the snowline in the mountains of central Asia, preying on ibex and tahr.

Snow Leopards: Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes

The snow leopard, known for its beautiful, thick fur, has a white, yellowish or soft gray coat with ringed spots of black on brown. The markings help camouflage it from prey. With their thick coats, heavy fur-lined tails and paws covered with fur, snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold and dry habitats in which they live.

Snow leopards are found at altitudes between 9,800 and 17,000 feet in the high, rugged mountains of Central Asia. Their range spans from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia in the north to India and China in the east. China contains about 60% of snow leopard habitat.

Snow leopards prefer to inhabit steep cliff areas, rocky outcrops and ravines. Such habitats provide them with the camouflage they need to ambush unsuspecting prey. They stalk their prey and usually spring from a distance of 20 – 50 feet. Their long and powerful hind limbs help snow leopards leap up to 30 feet, which is six times their body length.

Mostly active at dawn and dusk, snow leopards are rarely seen in the wild. Unlike other big cats, snow leopards are unable to roar. Solitary in nature, they pair only during the breeding season.

Females give birth in rocky dens lined with their fur. The young follow their mother on hunts at three months and remain with her through their first winter.

Snow leopards are top predators in their environment, and their favourite prey are mountain sheep and goats. Without the snow leopard there may be too many of these herbivores, which would overgraze the sparse alpine plants on the mountains, leaving no food for other wildlife.

Any creature that lives in the mountains must  be able to cope with changing temperatures. For every 200 meters an animal goes up a mountain, the temperature drops by 1 degree Centigrade.

Many species of hoofed and herbivorous mammal such as goats, deer, sheep and llamas have adapted well to living in the mountains and are often found grazing on ledges and on cliff faces.  These herbivores obviously attract large predators to inhabit mountainous regions, such as bears, cougars and mountain lions.

Most large mountain animals migrate. For example, in the Rockies elk and bighorn sheep, which feed on the alpine tundra foliage during the summer, begin to head downward in late fall to avoid the deep snows. They spend the winter below timberline in thick protected areas. As the snows melt in spring they move upward again, following the newly sprouted tender shoots of willow.

Large mountain animals, such as the Rocky Mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and the ibexes of the Alps are all very sure-footed. They each have specially designed hoofs which enable them to travel over really rough rocky terrain at great speeds, and also to traverse steep cliffs without losing their footing.

These hoofs are flexible and also have relatively soft arched bottoms (kinda like your rock-climbing shoes) which give them excellent grip on steep, rocky surfaces.

These animals also have to possess great agility, obviously, to jump and run over such rough ground, and they must develop it very quickly to avoid predators.

Baby bighorn sheep, for example, can stand within an hour of birth. Within a week it can follow its mother wherever she goes, and within two weeks it can run as fast as she can!

Mountain goats are among the most sure-footed of all mountain creatures. They are also very efficient in foraging for plants in areas with very “slim pickin’s.” These goats have four stomachs which allow them to extract the last bits of possible nourishment from their bleak rations. Cold is no problem for this animal; it has a nice woolly undercoat and long shaggy outercoat which works well as a wind breaker.

Small mammals include the coyote, raccoon, bobcat, several types of squirrels, skunk, chipmunks, grey fox and even beavers.

A very small mammal will lose heat so fast through its relatively large skin surface area, that it must stay extremely active and keep its little internal furnace continuously stoked, or it will freeze to death.

For example, the mountain shrew, which is perhaps the smallest mammal at high altitudes, has an extremely high metabolism; its heart beats up to 1200 times a minute, it must eat something at least every hour and must consume its own weight in food every day, or it will die.

Golden Eagle Journal: 150 page lined notebook/diary

There are many species of birds as well.The winds that sweep around mountains make flight hazardous, but mountains are home to some magnificent birds of prey. Golden eagles are the masters of the mountain peaks and valleys, soaring on outstretched wings as they search for small mammals like pikas and marmots to eat.

Red-tail hawks and ravens are often seen soaring on the warm air currents along the slopes of the mountains. The deep blue Stellar’s jays, noisy scrub jays, black crows, many species of woodpeckers, towhees, chickadees, and juncoes also make the mountains their home.

Other aerial experts are scavengers: the Andean condor is a type of vulture that rides the mountain air currents looking for prey. Another vulture, the bearded vulture or lammergeier of Africa and Eurasia, likes to eat the fatty bone marrow of dead animals. It carries the bones high up into the air and drops them to smash open on the rocks below.

Many smaller species of birds are found high up in the mountains. In the Alps, they include Alpine swifts, Alpine choughs and snow finches.

There are also a number of animal species that are not found on the mountains but inside them. Many smaller animal species have adapted to living their lives in the safety of caves and crevices. Caves are popular homes for amphibians such as toads and salamanders, numerous species of insect, and mammals such as bats.

Although the mountains themselves are standing strong, there are numerous threats to the wildlife that inhabits mountain habitats. Deforestation, quarrying and the development of ski-resorts are the most damaging advances to mountain wildlife, along with global warming and climate change which affects the growth of plants at higher altitudes.

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Mountain Plants

Category : Soaring Mountains


Endemic Plants of the Altai Mountain Country (WILDGuides)

Mountain plants have to face the most bewildering contrasts in living conditions of any plants found on Earth. These conditions are unbelievably harsh and impose great challenges to survival in the face of very high winds, extreme cold, wildly fluctuating temperatures, thin rocky soils, snow and ice, and a thin atmosphere that contains very little oxygen but huge amounts of UV radiation.

Because mountain plants grow so slowly, most cannot sprout, mature and produce their own seeds in a single season. For this reason most are perennials, which means that they live for many years, as does a tree, for example. These plants use most of their energy just for survival, and that’s why it can take many years for them to put back enough energy to flower and produce seeds.

Due to the high winds and heavy snows on tall mountains, most mountain plants are very supple and have the ability to bend a lot before breaking, and any woody plants are stubby and low .

A lot of the high altitude plants have the ability to retain the heat of the intense sun to use throughout the frosty night. One great example is the snow willow. The buds of this plant are covered in a thick fuzz of tiny white hairs but the bud itself is black. The sun heats up the black core and the heat is trapped there by the translucent hairs, just like a miniature greenhouse.

Mountain soils are usually shallow at higher altitudes, partly because the soil has been scraped off by the ice caps that formed on most high mountains throughout the world during the last glacial interval that ended about 10,000 years ago.

Soils are generally poor in nutrients important to plants, especially nitrogen. Rapid erosion of loose materials is also common and is exacerbated by frost heaving, steep slopes, and, in temperate regions, substantial runoff of meltwater in spring.

Soil is virtually absent on rocky peaks and ridges. However, because of the cool, wet climate, many mountain areas accumulate peat, which creates local deep, wet, acidic soils. In volcanic regions tephra (erupted ash) may also contribute to soil depth and fertility.

The growth of vegetation depends on rainfall and temperature.The vegetation on the lower slopes largely depends on which climate zone the mountain is in. The foothills may be covered in broadleaved forests. These change to needleleaf trees (coniferous trees) like spruce and pines at on the upper slopes (higher altitudes).

As you climb higher up a mountain it gets colder and the trees eventually thin out and disappear. When it gets too cold for trees to grow, it is called a timberline.

The highest parts of the mountain support only sparse grasses and low-growing alpine flowers which can withstand the harsh conditions.

If the mountain is high enough even this vegetation disappears and the peak is bare rock and perhaps covered in snow and ice.

Most alpine plants don’t grow very large in response to the limited resources available. A low-growing, compact form also gives the plants some protection from the wind, cold, snow and ice.

Many mountain species are at risk, especially because of climate change, with higher temperatures affecting the immediate environment and therefore forcing the plants to move in search of colder temperatures to ever-higher altitudes…

The edelweiss, alpenrose and gentian are undoubtedly among the best-known Alpine flowers, but are just a drop in the ocean of the 4,500 vascular plant species found in the Alps – that’s 39% of all European plant species.

Of these 4,500 plant species, 350 are classified as native to the Alps or certain Alpine regions and are often found at high altitude. These native plants include the Zois’ bellflower (Campanula zoysii), round-leaved St. John’s wort and the carniolan lily to name but a few.

Around 900 different plant communities have been surveyed in the Alps and approximately 13,000 plant species, including:

1.Over 5,000 fungi

2. 4,500 vascular plant species

3.Around 2,500 lichens

4.Around 800 mosses

5.Around 300 eupatoriae species (e.g. hemp agrimony, boneset, snakeroot)

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Plateau Mountains

Category : Soaring Mountains


Art Print / Poster: James Yu “Tibetan Plateau” – High Quality Picture, Fine Art Poster, 75×50 cm (30×20 inch)

Plateau mountains are actually formed by the Earth’s internal activity; instead, they’re revealed by erosion. They’re created when running water carves deep channels into a region, creating mountains. Over billions of years, the rivers can cut deep into a plateau and make tall mountains. Plateau mountains are usually found near folded mountains.

Plateaus, known variously as tablelands or flat-topped mountains, are regions elevated thousands of feet above their surroundings. They are found on continents around the world, in countries ranging from Algeria to Mexico, from Mongolia to Zimbabwe.

In Antarctica, which has a greater average elevation than any other continent, most of the land outside of the mountain ranges can be considered plateaus. Covered by thick ice, many of these areas have no names.

Some plateaus around the world exist at such great heights that their climate is harsh and living conditions are bleak. Others, at much lower elevations, offer more favorable conditions. The terrain of some plateaus is unbroken and flat. The terrain of many others has been eroded away by water and wind over millions of years to create distinct and unusual landforms. As such, many plateaus are landforms filled with landforms.

The largest and highest plateau in the world is the Tibetan Plateau.The second-largest current plateau in the world is the Antarctic Plateau.The third-largest plateau in the world is the Andean Plateau in South America.

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Volcanic Mountains

Category : Soaring Mountains


iRocket Indoor Floor Rug/Mat – amazing volcanic eruption (23.6″ x 15.7″, 60cm x 40cm)

Here’s a fairly familiar kind of mountain. Volcanic mountains are created when magma from beneath the Earth makes its way to the surface. When it gets to the surface, the magma erupts as lava, ash, rock and volcanic gases. This material builds up around the volcanic vent, building up a mountain.

Some of the largest mountains in the world were created this way, including Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. Other familiar volcanoes are Mt. Fuji in Japan and Mt. Rainier in the US.

A large eruption can be extremely dangerous for people living near a volcano. Flows of searing lava, which can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,250 degrees Celsius) or more, can be released, burning everything in its path, including whole towns.

Boulders of hardening lava can rain down on villages. Mud flows from rapidly melting snow can strip mountains and valleys bare and bury towns. Ash and toxic gases can cause lung damage and other problems, particularly for infants and the elderly.

Scientists estimate that more than 260,000 people have died in the past 300 years from volcanic eruptions and their aftermath.

Volcanoes tend to exist along the edges between tectonic plates, massive rock slabs that make up Earth’s surface. About 90 percent of all volcanoes exist within the Ring of Fire along the edges of the Pacific Ocean.

About 1,900 volcanoes on Earth are considered active, meaning they show some level of activity and are likely to explode again. Many other volcanoes are dormant, showing no current signs of exploding but likely to become active at some point in the future. Others are considered extinct.

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Dome Mountains

Category : Soaring Mountains


Black Hills of South Dakota Journal: 150 page lined notebook/diary

Dome mountains are created when a large amount of magma pushes up from below the Earth’s crust, but it never actually reaches the surface and erupts. And then, before it can erupt, the source of the magma goes away and the pushed up rock cools and hardens into a dome shape. Since the dome is higher than its surroundings, erosion works from the top creating a circular mountain range.

Dome mountains are not found in mountain belts such as the Himalayas or the Appalachians. Instead, they are individual, isolated structures that tend to occur in areas of essentially flat-lying sedimentary rocks. These layers are bent upward in a dome shape as a result of uplifting forces. If the rocks above the dome mountain’s center have eroded away, the layers of rock may stand out as sharp ridges around the edge of the mountain.

There are two basic types of dome mountains. One type is called a plutonic dome mountain. The other type is referred to as a tectonic dome mountain.

Plutonic dome mountains form when overlying crustal rocks are pushed upward by an igneous intrusion, such as a laccolith. Because the intrusion occurs after the overlying crustal rocks have been formed, the igneous rock at the core of the mountain is younger than the sedimentary rocks around the core.

Many examples of plutonic dome mountains are found on the border of the Colorado Plateau and the Rocky Mountains.

Tectonic dome mountains result from uplifting forces that arch rock layers upward. All the rocks in the dome were present before the uplift occurred. The rocks at the core extend under the rocks around the dome and, therefore, must be older.

Two examples of tectonic dome mountains are the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and the Black Hills of South Dakota

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Fault-Block Mountains

Category : Soaring Mountains


A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range

Fault-block mountains (or just “block mountain“) are created when faults or cracks in the Earth’s crust force materials upward. So instead of folding, like the plate collision we get with fold mountains, block mountains break up into chunks and move up or down. Fault-block mountains usually have a steep front side and then a sloping back side.

Although many mountain belts form as a result of compression, tension plays a large role in the formation of fault-block mountains. In some parts of the western United States, Earth’s crust is slowly being uplifted. This uplift has caused the crust to stretch and crack, forming normal faults along the surface. As uplift continues, whole blocks of crust have been pushed up into fault-block mountains. Examples of such mountains are the Sierra Nevada of California, the Wasatch Range of Utah, and the Teton Range of Wyoming

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Fold Mountains

Category : Soaring Mountains


Mountain Building: Block 4 (Understanding the Continents)

The most common type of mountain in the world are called fold mountains. When you see vast mountain ranges stretching on for thousands of kilometers, those are fold mountains. Fold mountains are formed when two of the Earth’s tectonic plates collide head on; like two cars crashing together. The edges of each tectonic plate crumple and buckle, and these create the mountains.

The plates may be either ‘continental and continental’ or ‘continental and oceanic’. The plates move towards each other, but there isn’t a free space for them to move into because they are already touching each other. With two massive plates of rock pushing against each other and continually moving, all that rock has to go somewhere!

At a destructive plate margin where oceanic and continental plates collide, the oceanic plate is subducted, pulled under the continental plate – whilst the continental plate is crumpled upwards to form a mountain range. The Andes are an example of fold mountains formed at a destructive plate margin.

Some examples of fold mountain ranges include the Rocky Mountains in North America, and the Himalayan Mountains in Asia.

The European Alps are a popular tourist location, as well as home to over eleven million people. Countries such as France,Italy,Switzerland,Austria and Germany have developed tourism in their mountains and have thriving tourism sectors. Not all fold mountain areas as as well developed as the Alps of course.

The Himalayas are popular with tourists, but much harder for Europeans, Africans and Americans to get to.

Whilst the European Alps are the most populated mountains in the world, the Himalayas have a low population density and are so high that people cannot survive for long in the highest parts!

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Growing Daffodils

Daffodils grow perennially from bulbs. In temperate climates they flower among the earliest blooms in spring. Daffodils often grow in large clusters, covering lawns and even entire hillsides with yellow.

Depth, as a general rule, needs to be thrice the height. This means large bulbs should have a depth of 6 to 8 inches, a medium size 3-6 inches and a smaller size 2-3 inches. Always remember that the load of soil proves helpful in protecting the bulbs from breaking too easily and in keeping them upright for a longer duration.

If this fact is ignored and enough depth is not given, the Daffodil will bend down very soon.

Steps to Growing Daffodils


Alan Titchmarsh How to Garden: Growing Bulbs

1.Choose a well-drained, sunny place, with a slightly acidic soil.

2.Plant your Daffodils so that their top (pointed end) is at least two times as deep as the bulb is high (top of a 2″ bulb is 4″ deep).

3.Plant bulbs deeper in sandy soil than in clay.

4.High-nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided.

5.Daffodils need lots of water while they are growing.

6.After blooming, never cut the foliage until it begins to turn yellow (usually late May or June).This is then the time to dig them. Wash the bulbs thoroughly and let them dry completely (at least a week).

7.Put them in onion sacks  and hang them in the coolest place you can find until they’re ready to plant. Good air circulation will keep the storage rot at a minimum.

Daffodil Plant Care

Marie Curie Daffodil Flower Kneeler, Garden Kneeling Pad

1.Like most perennials, Daffodils will do well with about 1 inch of water per week while they are actively growing and blooming – from March to May.

2.Mulch can be tremendously helpful for Daffodils to conserve moisture.

3.The best thing you can do for your Daffodil bulbs is to provide them rich, well-drained soil with lots of organic matter in it.

4.Most organic bulb fertilizers can be placed right into the planting hole because they’re very gentle and non-burning.

5.Since a Daffodil is a perennial, every 5 to 10 years, divide the clumps of bulbs in early summer.

6.When choosing bulbs to buy they should feel heavy and dense. Bulbs should be planted during the autumn, in well-drained soil in a sunny area. They can be planted under deciduous trees that come into leaf late in the year.

7.Commercially, daffodils are propagated by tissue culture or twin-scaling. In twin-scaling the bulbs are cut into longitudinal segments. These are separated into pairs of scales joined by a portion of basal plate. When planted in compost these develop bulbils on the basal plate and the bulbils can be grown on to form new plants.

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Triandrus Daffodils


Narcissus triandrus ‘Thalia’ (Scented Daffodil) – Pack of 20 Bulbs

Triandrus Daffodils are normally floriferous; that is, they have more than one blossom per stem. The blossoms are somewhat pendant; i.e. the heads nod or droop slightly. As well, the petals are slightly reflexed (swept-back). With all of these features, Triandrus Daffodils are often said to resemble fuschias.

However, unlike fuschias, Triandrus Daffodils typically are wonderfully fragrant. This, along with their graceful form, makes them outstanding for cut flower arrangements.

Several miniature varieties of Triandrus Daffodils have been developed which are particularly suitable for rock gardens, Fairy Chimes and Hawera, to name two of the most popular.

Flowering time: mid spring (or the early part of late spring)
Plant height: 10 – 16″ (25 – 40 cm), except for the miniature varieties which have been bred to grow only 6 – 8″ (15 – 20 cm) tall
Minimum planting depth: 6″ (15 cm); bulbs for miniatures may be planted 4″ – 5″ (10 – 12 cm) deep
Hardiness zones: suitable for zones 4 – 9, though some bulbs may survive in zone 3 with heavy mulch in fall
Colours: white and yellow
Shape/form: usually more than one flower to a stem, head drooping, petals often swept back (reflexed) and of silky texture
Alternate names: none
Notes: good for rock gardens, beds, borders, and as cut flowers; naturalize (i.e. come back year after year, and gradually multiply) splendidly in semi-shady areas
Example varieties: Fairy Chimes (pale yellow, miniature), Hawera* (lemon yellow, miniature), Ice Wings* (pure snow white), Petrel** (white), Stint (yellow), Thalia* (white), Tresamble (white)

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Tazetta Daffodils


Narcissus tazetta ‘Minnow’ (Scented Minature Daffodil) – Pack of 20 Bulbs

Tazettas are floriferous or bunch flowering daffodils: they produce several blossoms per stem, at a minimum three or four. However, clusters of eighteen or even twenty are not rare.

They are particularly good for planting in the warmer zones.

Tazetta Daffodils almost always have a very sweet, musky fragrance, for which they are deservedly prized.

Flowering time: mid spring
Plant height: 6 – 18″ (15 – 46 cm)
Minimum planting depth: 6″ (15 cm)
Hardiness zones: suitable for zones 5 – 9
Colours: white or yellow petals, with white, yellow, orange, or red cups
Shape/form: floriferous: usually three to eight blossoms on a strong stem, though 20 is possible
petals (i.e. perianth segments) are rounded and may be somewhat crinkled
cup is very short
Alternate names: Bunch-flowered Daffodils
Poetaz narcissi, which are hybrids between Division 8 and 9, are also included in this Division (eg. varieties such as: Admiration, Cragford, Elvira, Geranium, Red Guard, Scarlet Gem, St. Agnes)
Notes: good for beds, borders, cutting, and indoor forcing
Tazettas are a bit tender and require winter protection in the cooler zones
Example varieties: Avalanche* (white with yellow cup), Canarybird** (yellow with soft orange cup), Cragford** (white with red-orange cup), Falconet** (yellow with orange-red cup), Geranium** (white with orange cup), Golden Dawn* (yellow with yellow-orange cup), Scarlet Gem* (pale yellow with red-orange cup), Silver Chimes* (silver-white)

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