For a recent project, I illustrated North American Animals from A to Z (you can find those illustrations here)! During this project, I reviewed many incredible critters that I studied while earning my degree in Wildlife Biology! I wanted to share more about these cool creatures with you! You may already know and love some of these animals, many of which have wide ranges in North America (and beyond) – like ants, crows, and frogs! Others are small, rare, or hard to spot – and might even be creatures you’ve never seen before! Which ones can you spot in your local habitats?
In this post, you’ll find a little more information about the featured alphabet animals (which you can also learn more about from my Alphabet in Nature Unit)! You’ll also find links to outside websites with more information about each animal! There’s also a free PDF worksheet for younger children or students to do a research project on their favorite animal from this unit!
I created this Alphabet Animals post to go along with one of my latest educational resource packs, the Alphabet in Nature Unit! It comes with flashcards, a poster, and indoor and outdoor activities for practicing the alphabet with an nature-themed twist! You can also find it in my Nature Preschool Bundle! If you haven’t already, be sure to check it out 🙂
How to use this page:
- Use the links on this page to learn about the alphabet animals of North America.
- Download and print these free animal research project worksheets for your students.
- Students can pick their favorite animal from the Alphabet in Nature Unit to learn more about!
- Help your student research their favorite animal using the online resources linked below or other resources, such as books from your local library.
- Students may use the worksheets to draw and write about what they learned!
Ants are common insects! They can be spotted on every continent except Antarctica. They live in colonies where there are workers and a queen! There are many species of ants. These are some of the different types of ants:
- Leafcutter Ants
- Fire Ants
- Carpenter Ants
Check out these websites to learn more about ants!
- National Geographic Kids – Facts about Ants
- San Diego Zoo Kids – Leafcutter Ants
- PBS Kids – All About Ants
Bats are unusual because they’re a mammal but they can fly! Depending on the species of bat, they will eat a variety of foods, such as insects, flower nectar, and fruit! Some common North American bats include:
- Little brown bats
- Mexican Free-tailed bats
- Fruit bats
- Long-nosed bats
Check out these websites to learn more about bats!
- National Wildlife Foundation – Build a Bat House
- U.S. Dept. of the Interior – 9 of the Coolest Bat Species in the United States
- Boulder County Nature Detective Kids Club – Bats
- Bat Conservation International – Bats 101
Crows are incredibly intelligent birds found world wide. They’ve been observed using tools, and can recognize human faces! Check out these web resources about crows:
- Audubon – 10 fun facts about the American Crow
- All About Birds – the American Crow
- Nat Geo Wild – Tool-Making Crows
Ducks are waterfowl. There are many types of ducks in North America including dabbling ducks and diving ducks. Some common North American ducks are:
- Wood ducks
- Ring-neck ducks
- Mexican Duck
Check out these websites to learn more about ducks!
- Ducks Unlimited – Waterfowl of Mexico
- Ducks Unlimited – Western Boreal Forest – Canada
- Audubon – Ducks
- National Geographic Kids – Mallard
Earthworms are annelids, the phylum of segmented and ring worms. Earthworms are beloved for their importance to agriculture. They are decomposers that move nutrients through soil by consuming and digesting waste and decaying matter. They also create large pores as they move through soil, which provide paths for water, gases, and plant roots to move through soil. You can see earthworms come to the surface of the soil to breathe during rainstorms in many habitats. Learn more about earthworms using these websites:
- National Wildlife Foundation – Earthworms
- PBS Kids – Build a Worm Hotel
- National Geographic Kids – Earthworm
Foxes are omnivorous mammals. Grey foxes and kit foxes are found in the southern parts of North America. Red foxes are common in northern parts of North America. Arctic foxes are found near the arctic circle, in Canada and Alaska. Visit these web resources to learn more about foxes!
- San Diego Zoo Kids – Arctic Fox
- National Park Service – Yellowstone – Red Fox
- Boulder County’s Nature Detective Kids Club – Gray Fox
- We Draw Animals – How to draw a kit fox
There are many species of geese world wide. Canada geese are commonly found in North America from northern Canada around the arctic circle to the the northern parts of Mexico. Many are migratory, spending their winters in warmer southern climates and their summers in far-north breeding grounds. Learn about Canada geese on these websites!
- All About Birds – Canada Goose
- Audubon – Canada Goose
- Canadian Geographic – Animal Facts: Canada Goose
- National Geographic Kids – Canada Goose
- CBC Kids – Canada Goose True of False
Hawks are raptors, or “birds of prey”. They are carnivores and top predators found across a wide range of habitats. Here are some of the different types of hawks found in North America:
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Northern Goshawk
- Cooper’s Hawk
- Ferguson Hawk
- Sharp-shinned Hawk
Check out these websites to learn more about hawks!
- University of Minnesota: Raptor info, games, and activity books
- Audubon for Kids Raptor Poetry Activities
- Sacramento Audubon Society – Red-tailed Hawk
Inchworms or cankerworms are the larval stage of the geometer moth. They are known and named for the way they move, inching forward with the front of their body then their rear. Inchworms undergo complete metamorphosis, in which they have a pupa stage before becoming adult moths. Learn more about inchworms and geometer moths here:
- Utah State University – Cankerworms
- Moths of Ohio field guide
- Missouri Dept. of Conservation – Geometrid Moths
There are many species of jellyfish found in multiple oceans and seas. There is also one unique species of freshwater jellyfish in North America. Jellyfish are not really fish at all! They are invertebrates in the phylum Cnidaria. There are different types of jellyfish found off the coast of North America:
- Moon Jelly
- Lion’s Mane Jelly
- Bay Nettle
- Portuguese Man-of-War
Check out these websites to learn more about jellyfish!
- Nat Geo Wild – Jellyfish 101 video
- Virginia Institute of Marine Science – Identify that Jellyfish
- South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources – Jellyfish
Kingfishers are small birds that can be spotted near estuaries, wetlands, lakes, and other bodies of water. There are a few species of kingfishers found in North America, including:
- Belted Kingfisher
- Great Kiskadee
- Green Kingfisher
- Ringed Kingfisher
Check out these websites to learn more about bats!
- The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds – belted kingfisher
- Audubon – Kingfishers
- How to Draw – How to draw a kingfisher for kids
Lady beetles, also known as ladybugs, are not really bugs! Bugs are a specific type of insects that belong to the order Hemiptera, like box elder bugs and leaf hoppers. Lady beetles belong to the beetle order of insects, Coleoptera. Amusingly, while ladybugs are not bugs themselves, they do eat bugs – one of their favorite foods is aphids, a member of the order Hemiptera (true bugs). Learn more about lady beetles using the links below:
- National Geographic Kids – Ladybugs
- Canadian Geographic Animal Facts – Ladybug
- Go Science Kids: Ladybird life cycle craft
Minnow is a general term for many different species of small freshwater fish including chubs, shiners, and daces. Minnows provide an important food source for larger fish species higher up on the food chain and for waterfowl. Check out these websites to learn more about minnows!
- Michigan State University – When is a minnow not really a minnow?
- Cornell: Minnow Family
- Missouri Department of Conservation Field Guide – Fathead Minnow
- We Draw Animals: How to draw a minnow
Newts are amphibians and a type of salamander. It’s never a good idea to pick up a newt because they have very delicate and absorbent skin – chemicals and oils on our hands can be very harmful to them! They come in many different colors – from green, to brown, to bright orange. Learn about newts on these websites:
- San Diego Zoo Kids – Salamander and Newt
- Smithsonian – Eastern Newt
- University of Michigan’s BioKids – Eastern Newt
- Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – Red-spotted newt
- Ontario Nature – Red-spotted newt
Otters are mammals that love the water! River otters live in freshwater, and sea otters live along coasts. Learn more about otters on these websites:
- Boulder County’s Nature Detective Kids Club – otters
- Smithsonian – North American River Otter video
- National Geographic Kids – Sea otter
- Elmwood Park Zoo – River Otter
Preying mantises are insects that are voracious predators of other insects! Gardeners love them because they help keep away pesky crop-eating insects such as grasshoppers. Learn more about preying mantises on these websites:
- National Geographic Kids – Preying Mantis
- Missouri Department of Conservation – Mantids
- National Geographic – Incredible Disguise video!
- Cleveland Museum of Natural History: Bark Preying Mantis Discoveries video
Quail are small game birds found in a variety of habitats. There are several different types of quail, such as:
- California quail
- Scaled quail
- Montezuma quail
- Bobwhite quail
Learn more about quail:
Rabbits are common herbivorous mammals in the lagomorph order, which also includes hares and pika. They are sometimes mistaken as rodents. Humans have domesticated rabbits and they are beloved pets. Learn more about wild rabbits with these internet resources:
- Dickinson County Conservation Board – 7 cute cottontail facts
- National Geographic Kids – Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
- Montana Field Guide – Desert Cottontail
Snails are common shelled gastropods found world wide! They live on land and in water. Check out these websites about snails:
- University of Florida: Brown Garden Snail
- Oregon Department of Agriculture Guides: Slugs and Snails in Oregon
Turtles are common shelled reptiles found world wide! They are found in many types of habitats, including ponds, salt water, islands, and even the desert! There are many species of turtles. Some common North American turtles include:
- box turtles
- sea turtles
- snapping turtles
Check out these websites to learn more about turtles!
- The National Wildlife Foundation – Reptiles
- San Diego Zoo Kids – Turtles and Tortoises
- University of Michigan’s BioKids – Common Snapping Turtle
- NOAA: 10 Tremendous Turtle Facts
Sea urchins are found in salt water. If you live near a coast, you may spot them in tide pools! Although they might not seem like it, sea urchins are in fact animals, belonging to the phylum Echinodermata. Learn about sea urchins here:
- Georgia Aquarium – Purple Sea Urchin
- Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game: Red Sea Urchin
- Monterey Bay Aquarium – Red Sea Urchin
Voles are rodents, like mice and rats. They are prey for a variety of predators, such as hawks, owls, and foxes. Check out these websites to learn more about voles!
- University of Michigan’s BioKids – Woodland Vole
- NIH Kids Environment Kids Health: Moles, Voles, and Shrews
- Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency – Meadow Vole
- Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency – Woodland Vole
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office – Red Tree Vole
Water striders are amazing insects that harness the power of surface tension to walk across water. They are common insects that can be seen at many lakes, ponds, wetlands, and even in the slow-flowing pools and eddies of streams and rivers. Learn more about water striders:
- Boulder County Nature Detective Kid’s Club
- Minnesota Science Teacher’s Education Project – Walking on Water – How do Water Striders do it?
- National Wildlife Foundation – Water striders
Xemes, also called Sabrine’s gulls, are a migratory gulls. In the summer, they are found in their summer breeding range near the arctic circle in northern Canada and Alaska. They may be seen passing through off the west coasts of Canada and the United States as they make the long journey to their winter range in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. Check out these websites to learn more about xemes!
Yellow jackets are a common type of wasp. They are omnivores and feed on a variety of foods including other insects and flower nectar. They can be pollinators – animals which move pollen between flowers, transferring plants’ genetic material which allows for the production of seeds and new plants. Learn more about yellow jackets:
- Missouri Department of Conservation Field Guide
- University of Michigan’s BioKids – wasps, bees, and ants
- University of Minnesota Extension’s “Hot Take: Wasps are Good”
- Boulder County Nature Detectives Kids Club
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
Zebra swallowtail butterflies are a butterfly species found in the southeastern part of the United States. They undergo complete metamorphosis like all butterflies and moths. Learn about zebra swallowtail butterflies here:
- University of South Florida’s Alabama Butterfly Atlas
- University of Florida’s Featured Creatures
- We Draw Animals: How to draw a swallowtail butterfly
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