CRANE

Cranes often emit loud, echoing cries. Most cranes prefer marshy conditions. They eat plant materials and a large variety of small animals. Their nests usually include two eggs and are constructed on the ground in marshy areas. Occasionally, they may nest in low trees.

The crane is mentioned in the Navis, Yeshayahu and Yermiyahu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OWL

Owls are birds of prey with features that are characterized by large heads, flat faces, forward-facing eyes, hooked beaks, strong legs, sharp claws, and soft feathers. There are several species of owl and they range in size from 5.1" to 28". Most owls are nocturnal, meaning they function at night. But some are twilight active, hunting mostly at dawn and dusk.

Most owls see well in poor light, but all see well in bright daylight. The owl's eyes are almost immovable, and the owl must rotate its head to look around; however some species can move their heads horizontally 3/4 of a circle, and some can even turn their heads completely upside down.

The soft feathers help them surprise their prey, by providing an almost noiseless flight.

The owl is mentioned in Vayikra as one of the birds that is not kosher and may not be eaten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HERON

In both Vayikra and Devarim the heron is referred to as a non-kosher bird that may not be eaten.

Herons are large, long-necked, birds with long legs. They are colored in simple patterns of gray, blue, brown, and white. Frequently found at lakes and marshes, they feed on frogs, fish, and other such prey. They wade slowly in shallow water and when the prey is sighted, the heron pushes its head forward quickly, grasps the prey in its long straight jaws and swallows it whole. Heron nests are built high in trees on platforms of sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPARROW

A sparrow is mentioned in the Torah, in Vayikra as one of the ingredients used by the kohain (priest) in the treatment of tzoraas (a leprosy like disease).

Sparrows are typically 3 to 9.4 inches long and are colored brown, gray, white, or pale yellow, with cone-shaped bills. They feed mostly on seeds which they unearth by scratching away the ground litter with both feet, while doing a backward jump. They weave domed nests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEER

The deer is a hoofed, ruminant mammal that chews its cud, therefore it is mentioned in Devarim as one of the kosher animals. It is among the most graceful and attractive of animals. Deer are the only animals that grow antlers, though only by male deer. Often branched, the antlers serve as weapons to do battle with predators.

Among young deer the first set of antlers are usually short spikes. As the deer matures, the antlers acquire more sharp points as they become longer. Deer have long, slim legs, each with two toes tipped by strong, curved hooves. Two upper toes, called dewclaws, do not touch the ground as the deer passes, however their prints can be seen in snow.

The color of deer range from whitish gold through different shades of brown, to nearly black. Some also have white spots. Deer are ruminants, with a stomach that has four chambers. Deer are quick runners and swimmers, who can run as fast as 40 miles per hour. Although, when frightened, a deer may remain still, waiting for the danger to pass.

Deer feed on grass, tree bark, leaves, twigs, and sprouts. Unless killed by hunters, predators, disease, or hunger, a wild deer maylive up to 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELEPHANTS

African elephants are the largest living land animals. The largest African elephants are 25 feet long, including the trunk. They have a tail that spans 4.5 feet, and they stand 13 feet tall at the shoulders and weigh 16,500 pounds. The most unusual feature of the elephant is the flexible, muscular trunk which functions as an elongated nose with nostrils at the end, as well as one or two fingerlike projections which the elephant uses to explore, or even grasp, small items.

Elephants drink by sucking water into their trunks and then squirting it into their mouths. Their fan-shaped ears are up to 5 feet long. African elephants have ivory tusks, which are exceptionally long cutting teeth, one on either side of the upper jaw. Elephants eat only plant material, consuming as much as 500 pounds per day.

Ivory tusks were brought from Ophir for Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon), from which he made his throne, overlaying it with gold. Elephants were first introduced to Eretz Yisroel at the time the Greeks fought to capture Judea. They were used for military transport. Tragically, Eleazar the Hasmonean was crushed to death under one of these elephants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEOPARD

The leopard is one of the largest members of the cat family. A large male may weigh more than 200 pounds, stand 28 inches high at the shoulders, and may reach nearly 5 feet long. Leopards are found in a wide variety of habitats, including dry grasslands, scrub land, mountains, and jungles. The leopard's color varies from a pale yellowish gray to a yellowish red, with whitish underparts. Spots are visible over the entire body, but on the back and sides they are formed into circles. Leopards are nocturnal animals that generally hunt alone or in pairs, at night.

The leopard is mentioned in the nevuah (prophecy) of Yirmiyahu to Bnei Yisroel when he states, "Just as the leopard cannot change its spots, so too have you become so habitual in your evil that it is very difficult for you to change."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BISON

The bison is mentioned in Devarim as one of the kosher animals. It may weigh more than 2,000 pounds and stands more than 6 feet high. Its huge head and front-half of the animal are covered with long hair; the hindquarters, are covered with shorter hairs. Both the male and the female have horns.

The species inhabits woodlands and feeds on grasses, ferns, tree bark, and leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAM

The male sheep is a ram that bears massive curving horns about four feet long. From these horns the shofar is crafted and carved with a mouthpiece for use on Rosh Hashana. The sounds it emits corresponds to the wails and cries of a human being, indicating that we are crying to G-d.

The first mention of a ram presents itself at Akeidat Yitchak, as Avraham Avinu binds Yitchak on the altar to sacrifice him to G-d. As he prepares to sacrifice Yitzchak he is distracted by a ram in the bushes. G-d tells Avraham that in the merit of Avraham's absolute commitment to Him, He will forgive the sins of his children, the Bnei Yisroel, when they blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana. Then he commanded Avraham to sacrifice the ram on the altar, in place of Yitchak.

The ram was among the korbanot (sacrifices) brought in the Beit Hamikdash, as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORCUPINE

Porcupines are large rodents with sharp spine-like needles that protrude from their hide. These sharp hairs act as defense organs so they cannot be approached or attacked by predators. It is about 23 inches long and weighs up to 40 pounds, feeding on bark, buds, leaves, and twigs. It is referred to in Mishnayot Shabbat and Kilayim.