50 Stunning Animals From Our National Parks

This land is your land, this land is their land.

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America's National Parks are some of the country's greatest treasures. While many focus on their spectacular beauty (for good reason), the National Parks System is home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife. From tiny birds with jewel-toned feathers to majestic bears, get to know just a few of the amazing animals who call our parks "home."

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American Antelope

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You might be surprised to find out that there's a species of antelope native to America. But the nickname is a little bit of a misnomer — they're technically called "Pronghorns," and they're own category separate from antelope or deer. The difference? It's . Antelope have unbranched horns and deer have branched antlers that shed annually. Pronghorns have branched horns. However, they're still pretty cool.

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American Bison

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Bison almost became extinct in the late 1800s, numbering only a few hundred in the world. Today, they thrive. Bison are the and, in 2016, became the other living symbol of America (besides the Bald Eagle).

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American Darter

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Also officially known as the Anhinga, this water bird has the nickname of "snakebird." You can see why when it swims — its thin neck resembles a snake.

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American Pika

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Cute, right? The tiny Pika is related to rabbits and live in colonies. But, they're not really group animals. , aside from breeding seasons.

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Bald Eagle

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We see this patriotic bird everywhere — on money, on sports team logos, and even the Muppets. But it still takes our breath away to glimpse the spectacular sight of a soaring Bald Eagle. Its wingspan alone .

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Bighorn Sheep

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that can live in mountainous areas with ledges that can be as small as 2 inches. These interesting animals also have a remarkable past. They were almost extinct in 1900, but a conservation movement started by President Theodore Roosevelt brought them back from the brink.

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Black-Necked Stilt

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With a name that perfectly suits their figures, the Black-Necked Stilt has the in proportion to their bodies of any bird, save for flamingoes.

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Black-Tailed Buck

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They're a bit common, yes, but we still love to spot and bucks in the wild. Depending on the season, they'll have a different coat. In the winter, their coats have a greyish-brown hue, while in the summer, they're more reddish-brown.

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Caribou

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Caribou are recognizable by their massive antlers. and grown over a 3-6 month period that usually starts in March (for males) and June (for females). The developing antlers act as a sort of cooling system for the summer months. (When it's hot, blood rushes to the antlers, which is then cooled by outside air.)

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Elephant Seal

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They're truly the , with largest variety (Southern Elephant Seals) growing up to 20 feet and weighing 8,800 pounds. The Northern Elephant Seal is smaller by comparison, growing up to 13 feet (males) and 10 feet (females) in length.

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Tule Elk

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This is unique to California, and held their population at around 500,000 for thousands of years. Yet, they were nearly wiped out during following the 1849 gold rush by prospectors. Today, they've bounced back to about 3,200.

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California Condor

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They may not be the prettiest birds, but they're by no means unimpressive. The wingspan of the can be up to 10 feet, allowing the birds to fly as high as 15,000 feet.

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Cedar Waxwing

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Though more petite than other birds on our list, they have strength in numbers: Thousands of during migration and winter.

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Chipmunk

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Yes, they're another common entry on our list, but who isn't charmed by these tiny rodents. A member of the squirrel family, are extremely resourceful. In just two days, they can find and collect enough food to last all winter.

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Cougar

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Though you wouldn't want to encounter a cougar while you're on a hike, the . They're wary of people and attacks have numbered around 100 total (across the United States and Canada) since 1890. Surprisingly, cougars are more closely related to domestic cats than tigers, lions, and jaguars. The main difference is that they can't roar.

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Coyote

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Though their numbers have boomed so much that they've become pests (not to mention threats) in even urban settings like Los Angeles, there's a lot to admire about the coyote. They're smart, adapt easily, and can form .

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Dall Sheep

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With their snowy white coat, the cute has another standout feature: its horns. Males of the species have huge curled horns, which starts and stops (but doesn't shed) annually. As a result, you can often tell a male Dall Sheep's age by horn growth rings called annuli.

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Flamingoes

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Tall but surprisingly light, the is one of the most enchanting birds out there. Their color ranges from the merest whisper of pink to almost magenta, and it all depends on the amount of beta-carotene in its diet.

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Green Frog

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Another more common sight, but nonetheless fun to spot. The green frog, however, has a bit of an unusually diverse diet. In addition to the expected insects and invertebrates, green frogs will also eat .

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Garibaldi Damselfish

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Our National Parks also include a stunning range of sea life. The is one of the many beautiful sights down below. But be warned: Though the bright orange fish looks friendly (and can be), it can also get very aggressive. If too many of its kind are in an area, they'll just start fighting each other. Kind of like teenagers.

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This woodpeckers habitat consists of low desert scrub typical of the Sonoran Desert. They build nests in holes made in saguaro cacti or mesquite trees. Cavities excavated by these woodpeckers in saguaro cacti are later used by a variety of other species, including the elf owl. There, they typically lay 3_5 white eggs.
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Gila Woodpecker

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Not all woodpeckers live in dense forests. The likes to make its homes inside saguaro cacti. Though they eat mainly insects and the odd berry, they've adapted to nearby human populations in surprising ways. It's not uncommon to spot the Gila Woodpecker stealing dog food kibbles.

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Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) sow and two cubs of the year, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States of America, North America
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Grizzly Bear

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is an incredible, impressive creature. Their size is key to survival, especially when it comes to pregnancy. If a female Grizzly Bear fails to gain enough weight during pregnancy, the embryo will actually reabsorb into her body. Unfortunately, their populations have dwindled to less than 1,500 in the United States.

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Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park, Horny toad
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Horned Toad

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Though your inner middle schooler might giggle at its nickname "horny toad," it would be more correct to call it a "horny lizard." (And you'd still giggle.) The "toad" in its name comes just from its resemblance to a toad's squat shape. Anyway, this isn't remotely close to being the . When predators come near, it has two defense mechanisms: One is to inflate its body to twice its size, and the other is to, erm, bleed from the eyes.

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Humpback Whale Breaches The Surface Of The Water At Kenai Fjords National Park. Summer On The Kenai Peninsula Of Southcentral Alaska.
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Humpback Whale

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A sighting is like no other sighting. These massive whales can reach up to 60 feet in length, with pectoral fins of up to 15 feet long. Though large, Humpbacks are graceful and speedy. They can migrate from Alaska to Hawaii in as little as 36 days — a 3,000 mile trip.

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The moose Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the broad, flat (or palmate) antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. On average, an adult moose stands 1.4-2.1 m (4.6-6.9 ft) high at the shoulder, which is more than a foot higher than the next largest deer on average, the elk. Males normally weigh from 380 to 700 kg (838 to 1,543 lb) and females typically weigh 200 to 490 kg (441 to 1,080 lb), depending on racial well as individual age or nutritional variations.
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Moose

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The largest of all deer species, moose can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Such a size means they need to eat a lot of food. In the summer, they can consume up to of all sorts of vegetation.

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The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of two extant beaver species. It is native to North America. Beavers are well known for building dams across streams and constructing their lodge in the artificial pond which forms. The beaver dam is constructed using branches from trees the beavers cut down, as well as rocks, grass, and mud. The trees are cut down using their strong incisor teeth.
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North American Beaver

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If beavers were people, they'd work in Silicon Valley. They're pretty much always busy building, eating, and building some more. And perhaps the greatest love stories in the animal realm are the beavers, since (at least until their partner dies, where they find another mate).

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Two killer whales, or orcas, Orcinus orca, breach in Kenai Fjords National Park, the majority of which is most easily accessible by boat.
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Orca

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Presiding over the top of the food chain with majesty, are the largest members of the dolphin family. Though groups can easily hunt and take down another whale, other groups of Orcas have varied diets that don't include other whales (but include sharks, seals, rays, and fish).

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An adult osprey bringing a branch to the nest, where two youngs are nesting
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Osprey

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are large hawks that are some of the best fishers in the animal realm. They use their long, hooked talons to grab live fish (which is 99% of their diet), and can hit the water with such force that it can completely submerge itself.

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Quilly Bob Thorton, a male porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) from Triple D Game Farm in Kallispell, Montana.  Photographed in southern Utah.
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Porcupine

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Though we often see nothing but quills in cartoon versions of , their coats feature soft fur mixed in among the 30,000 quills. And contrary to popular belief, they don't throw off all those sharp quills when threatened. Instead, they swat their quilled tail at attackers (and may lose a few quills in the process).

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Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. The five species are black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnisons, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In Mexico, prairie dogs are found primarily in the northern states, which lie at the southern end of the Great Plains northeastern Sonora, north and northeastern Chihuahua, northern Coahuila, northern Nuevo Leon, and northern Tamaulipas. In the United States, they range primarily to the west of the Mississippi River, though they have also been introduced in a few eastern locales. Despite the name, they are not canines.
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Prairie Dogs

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They're adorable, for sure. But have a tough side, making fast, tough fighters with sharp claws and teeth. Despite that, they live in tight-knit communities ... and perhaps that's why their yearly mating season lasts all of an hour.

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