Birdorable Cinnamon Teal

Have you ever found yourself mesmerized by the vibrant colors and graceful movements of birds during a leisurely stroll or while exploring the great outdoors? If so, there’s one bird in particular that might just steal your heart – the Cinnamon Teal. This small, but unmistakably striking dabbling duck, is a visual treat, especially for bird enthusiasts and those of us who find solace in the tranquility of nature.

Predominantly found in the western parts of North and South America, the Cinnamon Teal is perfectly adapted to a life predominantly on water. It thrives in shallow freshwater environments like marshes, ponds, and lakes where the vegetation is lush and abundant. When it comes to migration, the Cinnamon Teal exhibits a somewhat modest approach compared to other migratory birds that undertake vast journeys across continents. The northern populations of this species migrate southward to enjoy the warmer climates of Mexico and Central America during the winter months. Meanwhile, the southern populations might only move short distances to locate the ideal wintering habitat.

Cinnamon Teal photo

Cinnamon Teal by Channel City Camera Club (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

The mating season marks a special time in the life of the Cinnamon Teal. Males court females with a variety of displays and calls in a bid to win their affection. Once a pair is bonded, the female embarks on the critical task of nest-building. Carefully selecting a spot on the ground hidden among dense vegetation near water, she lays her clutch of 8 to 12 eggs. This secluded nesting site not only serves as a cozy cradle for the eggs but also shields them from potential predators. Upon hatching, the ducklings are immediately ready to face the world, precocial and eager to follow their mother to water, embarking on their first adventure in life.

For birdwatchers and nature lovers, the Cinnamon Teal is a delightful bird to observe. Its distinct coloration and behavior make it a favorite among birding enthusiasts. Whether you're an experienced birdwatcher or someone who just enjoys the splendor of nature, witnessing a Cinnamon Teal glide across the water reminds us of the pure delight birds add to our lives. So, next time you’re near a wetland or a marsh, keep an eye out for the Cinnamon Teal. Who knows? You might just have one of those unforgettable encounters that remind you why you fell in love with nature in the first place. Have you ever experienced such a moment?

Photo of Cinnamon Teal at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, Arizona

Cinnamon Teal at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, Arizona, by Katja Schulz (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Cute Cinnamon Teal Gifts

Cute Birdorable Burrowing Parakeets on a cliff in Argentina

Burrowing Parakeets in Argentina

Birds are known for their diverse nesting habits, constructions, and detail, from the basic yet functional pressed grass nests of American Robins, to the simple pile of sticks that Mourning Doves call nests, to the complex and intricately woven hanging nests of Baltimore Orioles.

Today we'll look at one bird species that takes an entirely different, fairly unique approach to nest-building, creating a living space that is as unique as it is fascinating. The Burrowing Parakeet, also known as the Burrowing Parrot or Patagonian Conure, has an extraordinary underground nesting habit, as well as a special ability at self- thermoregulation.

Burrowing Parakeets by Francesco Veronesi (CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed)

Found mainly in South America, particularly in Argentina and Chile, these medium-sized, long-tailed parakeets have adapted to a lifestyle that is quite uncharacteristic of what one might expect from such a bird. Instead of taking to the trees, the Burrowing Parakeet digs its home into the sides of cliffs, riverbanks, or even man-made structures, where soil conditions allow. These are not mere holes in the ground but elaborate tunnel systems that can extend several meters deep and connecting with other birds in the nesting colony.

The choice of underground burrows as nesting sites offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides excellent protection from predators, as the entrances are typically small and located in places that are difficult for other animals to access. Secondly, these burrows offer a stable environment that shields the birds from the harsh weather conditions typical of their natural habitats, such as extreme heat during the day and cold at night. But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these burrows is how they aid in the bird's unique thermoregulation ability.

The Burrowing Parakeet has an interesting way of maintaining its body temperature compared to extreme cold temperature changes in its environment. Their underground burrows have a relatively constant temperature, significantly cooler than the outside air during hot days and warmer during cold nights. This natural insulation allows the birds to conserve energy that would otherwise be spent on regulating their body temperature through physiological means. In addition to the temperature benefits provided by the burrow, these little birds also increase their weight and decrease their metabolism to both conserve energy and withstand food shortages.

Breeding season sees the burrows come to life, as they become the center of the Burrowing Parakeet's social and reproductive activities. Each burrow becomes a nursery, where females lay their eggs and couples raise their young. The community aspect of these burrows is also noteworthy, with multiple pairs often nesting in close proximity, creating a bustling underground neighborhood. This social structure not only helps in defending against predators but also plays an important role in the learning and development of young parakeets, as they interact with not just their parents but also other members of their community.

Burrowing Parakeets by Dominic Sherony (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Birdorable Burrowing Parakeet Gift Ideas

Singing Common Yellowthroat

The melody of birdsong, weaving through a thick forest or a productive meadow, often evokes a feeling of joy. While this sentiment is charming, the true reasons behind avian vocalizations are much more complex and fascinating.. To say that birds simply sing because they're happy is, in fact, a beautiful but misleading myth.

The reality is that bird song serves a multitude of purposes, often far removed from emotional expression. While some species may indeed associate certain melodic phrases with positive experiences, the primary motivation for singing falls into three broad categories: territory defense, mate attraction, and communication.

Bird song often acts as a potent territorial declaration. Picture a male American Robin perched on a branch, belting out a series of rich, melodic phrases. This isn't simply a serenade; it's a powerful message to other males, a kind of auditory fence marking the boundaries of his domain. The complexity of the song, its volume, and even its timing all play a role in deterring intruding males and asserting dominance.

Many birds utilize song as a powerful tool for attracting mates. Imagine a female Worm-eating Warbler captivated by the sweet, high-pitched trill of a nearby male. The more impressive the song, the more likely he is to win the favor of a potential mate.

Bird song often functions as a complex communication system within flocks and families. Different chirps and calls can convey a range of information, from warnings about predators to the location of food sources. Consider a Black-capped Chickadee alerting its flock to a nearby hawk with a sharp, high-pitched call. This vocal exchange plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and survival of the group.

While the emotional resonance of birdsong remains undeniable, it's good to understand that this vocal tapestry is woven from the threads of necessity, competition, and social interaction. So let's consider the myth "Birds Sing Because They're Happy" to be busted!

Next time you find yourself captivated by the music of birds, remember the meaning that lies beneath the surface of the beautiful song. Birds may not be singing simply for joy, but for survival, for reproduction, for connection.

Birdwatcher spotting 1 Blue Jay and 1 Painted Bunting

Every year, bird enthusiasts across the globe eagerly anticipate the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a citizen science project that offers everyone, from the casual bird watcher to the avid ornithologist, an opportunity to contribute to the understanding and conservation of bird populations. Scheduled to take place February 16 to 19, 2024, this event harnesses the power of community observation to create a real-time snapshot of global bird populations, aiding conservation efforts worldwide.

The GBBC was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, and it has grown into a global event with participation spanning over 100 countries. The count encourages people to observe and record the birds they see in a specified period in February, using just their backyard, local park, or any outdoor space as a starting point.

Why Participate?

Participation in the GBBC is more than just a weekend activity; it's a contribution to a global database used by scientists to monitor the health of bird populations, understand challenges in bird conservation, and take steps towards protecting birds and their habitats. It's an opportunity to connect with nature, learn more about the birds in your local area, and join a global community of conservationists.

How to Get Involved

  1. Mark Your Calendar: Set aside some time between February 16 and 19, 2024, to watch birds. Even 15 minutes of birdwatching can provide valuable data.

  2. Plan Your Spot: Whether it's your backyard, a local park, or even a balcony with a feeder, find a place where you can quietly observe and identify birds.

  3. Get the Right Tools: Download the eBird mobile app or print out a bird checklist for your area. Familiarize yourself with common bird species you might see. Binoculars and a field guide or a bird identification app can enhance your experience.

  4. Count and Record: Keep track of the types and numbers of birds you see during your observation period. Be sure to note the highest number of each species seen together at one time to avoid double-counting.

  5. Submit Your Observations: Enter your findings on the eBird website or through the eBird mobile app. Your data will become part of a global dataset available for research and conservation efforts.

Birds to Watch for in Your Backyard

The beauty of the GBBC is that every bird counts, from the most common to the rarest visitor. Here are a few species you might encounter, depending on your location:

  • Northern Cardinal: These vibrant red birds are a staple in many North American backyards and are easily identifiable by their color and distinctive crest.

  • Blue Jay: Known for their bright blue plumage and loud calls, Blue Jays are often found in wooded areas but frequently visit feeders.

  • American Robin: A sign of spring for many (and a sign of winter for us here in Florida), robins can be seen year-round in many parts of the U.S. Look for their reddish-orange breast and listen for their cheerful song.

  • Dark-eyed Junco: Often called "snowbirds," these small, slate-gray birds are common winter visitors to feeders across North America.

  • Anna's Hummingbird: In the warmer climates of the West Coast, you might spot these tiny, vibrant birds, recognizable by their iridescent green and pink feathers.

Making Your Count Count

Participation in the GBBC is not only about counting birds but also about being part of a collective effort to protect them. Here are some ways to make your participation even more impactful:

  • Educate Others: Share the event with friends and family. The more people participate, the more data can be collected.

  • Make It an Event: Organize a birdwatching group or event in your community. This can be a great way to meet fellow bird enthusiasts and make the count an enjoyable social activity.

  • Be Consistent: Participate in the GBBC annually. Year-over-year data is invaluable for tracking trends in bird populations.

  • Stay Engaged: The GBBC is just one of many citizen science projects you can participate in. Stay involved with local birding groups or online communities to continue contributing to bird conservation.

The Bigger Picture

The data collected during the GBBC provides critical insights into bird population health and trends. For example, observations can help scientists understand how birds are adapting to climate change, the impact of habitat loss, and the effects of disease on bird populations. This information is crucial for developing conservation strategies and policies to protect birds and their habitats.

The Great Backyard Bird Count represents a unique convergence of citizen science, wildlife conservation, and global collaboration. By dedicating a few hours to observing and recording the birds around us, we can all play a part in a global movement to protect our feathered friends and the environments they inhabit

Birder observing flying Birdorable Razorbills

Birder spotting 4 non-breeding Razorbills

Valentine's Day Bird Term: Billing

Love Is in the Air: Understanding Billing in Birds for Valentine's Day

Birdorable Atlantic Puffins on a cliff in Iceland

In ornithology, the term 'billing' refers to a courtship behavior displayed by certain bird species where two individuals touch, tap, or clasp each other's beaks. It is also known as beak-tapping or bill-tapping. It's called nebbing in British English.

This behavior is often seen in birds that form strong pair bonds and in some ways can be likened to kissing in humans. As today is Valentine's Day (it's always on February 14th), let's look at this interesting bonding behavior, and learn why birds engage in this activity.

Strengthening Pair Bonds
Billing is a sign of affection and helps to strengthen the bond between a mating pair. It is commonly observed in species that mate for life or have long-term partnerships Common Ravens hold each other's bills and feet as part of pair bonding. Atlantic Puffins tap bills quickly as part of their pair bonding behavior, as shown in the video below.

Mutual Grooming
In some cases, billing is part of mutual grooming (allopreening), where birds clean each other's feathers. Rock Pigeons engage in allopreening which includes mutual beak-touching.

Courtship Ritual
Billing is an essential part of the courtship ritual in many species. It is a display of trust and partnership, which can be critical in the mate-selection process. Courting Cedar Waxwings rub their beaks together and pass food to one another. Many albatross species engage in beak-tapping as part of their courtship, like the Waved Albatrosses in the below video.

Territorial and Social Signaling
In some instances, billing can also be a way of demonstrating a pair's territorial bond to other birds, signaling that they are a united and established couple.

Billing is a fascinating aspect of avian behavior that highlights the complex social interactions and emotional connections between birds.

Cute Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from Birdorable

This Valentine's Day, Birdorable is here to help you tell that special someone just how much they mean to you with our collection of bird-themed Valentine's graphics. Perfect for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms, these charming e-cards are sure to delight bird watchers and bird lovers alike with their punny messages and cute Birdorable illustrations.

Valentine's Day "You're My Lovebird" Shareable Graphic

Rosy-faced Lovebirds, snug side by side
"You’re My Lovebird," they declare with pride
In cuddles and pecks, they find their mirth
A love as pure as our green Earth

Valentine's Day "You're MACAWSOME" Shareable Graphic

The Scarlet Macaw with squawks resounds
"You’re Macawsome," it proclaims with pride unbound!
In feathered hues that gleam and gloss
Our love takes flight and soars across!

Valentine's Day "Our Love is Jay-normous" Shareable Graphic

Blue Jay with feathers of sky-like hue
Says, “Our Love is Jay-normous,” so true!
In the canopy of hearts’ vast forest
We find our nest, in love’s softest chorus

Valentine's Day Owl Shareable Graphic

And to the one who’s always there
The owl hoots softly in the cool night air
"Whoo’s My Valentine?" it asks with a glance
In the moonlight, we partake in love’s dance

Share the Love

Easily share these graphics with your friends, family, and that special someone to let them know you're thinking of them this Valentine's Day. Each Birdorable card is a fun, sweet way to spread the love among the birding community and beyond.

Visit our website to find these and many more Birdorable Valentine's Day graphics, and make someone's day a little brighter with a touch of love and a sprinkle of bird-themed fun. Happy Valentine's Day, and may your celebrations be filled with love!

More Valentine's Day Graphics

Species Profile

About Little Terns: Tiny Titans of the Tides

Birdorable Little Terns

Little Terns might seem like unremarkable seabirds at first glance, but these feathered beach inhabitants pack a surprising punch of interesting facts. Here's why you should appreciate these tiny titans of the shoreline:

Masters of Migration

Despite their diminutive size (8-11 inches tall), Little Terns undertake epic journeys, migrating annually between Eastern European and Western Asian breeding grounds, and wintering grounds in the pacific ocean as far as the waters of Southern Australia. Imagine flying all that distance on relatively tiny wings!

Family First

Little Terns are devoted parents, building simple nests in open areas or small islands, and laying just two or three precious eggs. Both parents share incubation and chick-rearing duties, fiercely protecting their vulnerable offspring from predators, especially Eurasian Thick-knees, and the harsh elements. Their parental dedication is a heartwarming example of avian family life.

Diving Dynamos

While some aquatic-feeding birds dabble for food, Little Terns specialize in the aerial plunge from a prolonged hovering position. They dive headfirst into the water from impressive heights, snatching up tiny fish and invertebrates with laser-sharp precision. Their acrobatic maneuvers are an impressive display of avian athleticism.

Hovering Little Tern by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0 Deed)

Community Champions

Little Terns often nest in colonies, creating a cacophony of chirps and squawks on the beach. While this might seem chaotic, it actually serves as a community defense system. Predators are more likely to be spotted and repelled by the vigilant eyes of many birds.

Fragile Fighters

Sadly, Little Tern populations are threatened by habitat loss as development takes away their coastal nesting sites and disturbances to their feeding grounds. These vulnerable birds rely on pristine beaches for nesting and feeding, making them important indicators of coastal health.

The Little Tern joined our Birdorable family on March 21, 2014.

Birdorable Little Tern Gifts

Birdorable backyard birds on a bird feeder in winter

Can you identify all these birds?

February marks a special occasion for bird lovers across the United States: National Bird-Feeding Month. This observance sprang to life in 1994 through the initiative of John Porter, an Illinois Congressman who recognized the pressing need to support our avian friends during the toughest stretch of the year. With the chill of winter in full swing and natural food sources dwindling, the importance of bird feeders becomes ever more pronounced, serving as essential lifelines for beloved backyard bird species.

Serving appropriate foods is crucial. Black oil sunflower seeds are known to attract a broad spectrum of birds, nyjer seeds are particularly favored by finches, and suet cakes cater to the dietary needs of woodpeckers, nuthatches, and others. By offering a diverse selection, you can enjoy the presence of a wide variety of birds right in your backyard.

But sustenance isn't the only necessity; water plays a vital role too. Birds need water not just for hydration but also for maintaining their plumage through bathing. A heated birdbath can be a lifesaver during those freezing February days, providing a constant source of water when natural supplies are locked under ice.

Creating a safe haven for these birds is equally important. Ensure that feeders are placed well out of reach of predators and provide ample cover for birds to seek refuge at a moment's notice. The safety measures extend to your household pets as well; keeping cats indoors during the winter and all year long can significantly reduce the risks to visiting birds. Additionally, consider applying decals to windows to prevent birds from colliding with the glass.

Engagement with the natural world and bird doesn't have to end with just feeding and watching. Participating in citizen science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place February 16 to 19 in 2024, not only enriches your bird-feeding experience but also contributes valuable data to bird conservation efforts. Citizen Science projects like this offer a unique way to connect with a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for birds and their conservation.

Birdorable Downy Woodpecker on a peanut feeder

Downy Woodpecker on a peanut feeder

Popular U.S. Backyard Birds and How to Attract Them

  • Northern Cardinals
    These vibrant red birds are a joy to behold. Attract Northern Cardinals with black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and cracked corn placed in hopper or platform feeders. 
  • Blue Jays
    Known for their intelligence and striking blue plumage, Blue Jays are drawn to peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. A sturdy tray feeder or a hopper feeder is best for them. 
  • American Goldfinches
    These small, bright yellow birds prefer nyjer (thistle) seeds or hulled sunflower seeds. Use a tube feeder with small perches to accommodate goldfinches
  • Black-capped Chickadees
    Friendly and curious, chickadees love sunflower seeds, peanut bits, and suet. Tube feeders or small hopper feeders work well for these tiny birds. 
  • Hummingbirds
    To attract hummingbirds, who migrate as early as February in some southern U.S. areas, use nectar feeders. A homemade sugar water solution (four parts water to one part white sugar, boiled and cooled) will bring these buzzing beauties to your garden. Never use mixes with artificial dye in your hummingbird feeders.
  • Bluebirds
    Bluebirds are attracted to mealworms, suet, and fruit slices. Place these on platform or hanging feeders for best results. Depending on where you live, you might attract Eastern, Mountain, or Western Bluebirds.

By taking part in National Bird-Feeding Month, you can do more than just feed birds; you can help contribute to their survival during the winter months, ensuring the continuity of their populations.

Cute Backyard Bird Gifts

Birdorable African Green Pigeon

The African Green Pigeon might not be the flashiest bird in the jungle, but it packs a surprising punch of interesting features that make it a worthy feathered friend. Here's why you should appreciate this darling green gem:

Masters of Camouflage

Their olive-green plumage blends seamlessly into foliage, making African Green Pigeons virtually invisible to predators. They also move clumsily on branches, further mimicking leaves swaying in the wind. This stealthy tactic allows them to feast on fruits and berries undisturbed, leaving them as elusive as forest phantoms.

Nomadic Frugivores

African Green Pigeons aren't content with monotonous meals. They search for fruiting trees across vast distances, forming nomadic groups as they travel from feast to feast. Their flexible diet lets them enjoy a variety of fruits, from bananas to papaya, mulberries, and peaches. They are especially fond of figs.

Fruity Acrobats

Unlike their seed-pecking cousins, African Green Pigeons have a unique way of accessing the sweet flesh inside fruits. They hang upside-down, like little green acrobats, and reach down to reach the fruit.

African Green Pigeon feeding on figs by Bernard DUPONT (CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed)

Vocal Variety

While they might not be operatic singers, African Green Pigeons possess a surprisingly diverse vocal repertoire -- they don't sound like more familiar pigeon species. From soft whistles and guttural growls to cackles and clicks, they use these sounds to communicate with each other, warning of predators, defending territories, and attracting mates.

Feathered Farmers

African Green Pigeons play a vital role in seed dispersal of fruit trees, contributing to the health and regeneration of the ecosystem. By consuming fruits, they carry seeds long distances, allowing new trees to sprout in remote locations. Think of them as forest gardeners, spreading the bounty of the jungle and ensuring its future.

The African Green Pigeon joined our Birdorable family on October 10, 2012.

Cute African Green Pigeon Gifts from Birdorable

Bird Term: Cosmopolitan

Exploring the Meaning of "Cosmopolitan" in the Avian World

Birdorable Ospreys in locations around the world

Ospreys around the world

Imagine a bird, not confined by national boundaries or familiar landscapes, but a feathered citizen of the world. This is the essence of a cosmopolitan bird species – one that transcends geographic limitations and thrives in a vast tapestry of habitats across the globe. But what exactly does this term mean, and how do birds achieve such remarkable adaptability?

The word cosmopolitan, derived from the Greek kosmopolites, means "citizen of the world."

The core of cosmopolitanism for birds lies in their distribution. Unlike species confined to specific regions or ecological niches, cosmopolitan birds boast expansive ranges that span continents and oceans. The Rock Pigeon, for example, is a ubiquitous urban resident, dotting rooftops from New York to Shanghai. The Arctic Tern, on the other hand, embarks on epic annual migrations, traversing the entire globe from Arctic breeding grounds to Antarctic feeding grounds.

Birdorable Mallards in locations around the world

Mallards around the world

Adaptability plays a crucial role in cosmopolitan bird species. Consider the Cattle Egret, a clever opportunist, following herds of large herbivores like cattle and buffalo, gleaning insects disturbed by their grazing. This nomadic strategy allows it to thrive in a variety of agricultural landscapes worldwide.

Cosmopolitanism isn't a static concept. It's a dynamic interplay between distribution and adaptation, influenced by factors like climate change, habitat availability, and human activities. The House Sparrow, another cosmopolitan champion, has adapted to human settlements so effectively that its range has expanded alongside our own, even in isolated islands and remote mountain villages.

Yet, cosmopolitanism doesn't imply homogeneity. While sharing a global presence, these birds often exhibit regional variations in their populations, behavior, and even appearance.

Ultimately, the meaning of "cosmopolitan" in the avian world is a tapestry woven from vast distributions, remarkable adaptability, and an inherent defiance of boundaries. These birds remind us that the world is not a collection of isolated maps, but a connected web of life, where feathered ambassadors navigate continents and ecosystems with impressive resilience.

European Starling in New York City

Here are some examples of cosmopolitan bird species:

  1. Peregrine Falcon: Found all over the world, this bird of prey is renowned for its impressive speed and hunting prowess. They nest on cliffs in natural areas and on buildings in urban areas.

  2. Barn Owl: With a distribution across every continent except Antarctica, the barn owl is one of the most widely distributed bird species.

  3. Osprey: This fish-eating bird of prey is found near coastlines worldwide, except for polar regions.

  4. Mallard: Native to most of the Northern Hemisphere, it has been introduced to other areas and is commonly found in parks and urban ponds.

  5. European Starling: Originally from Europe, Asia, and North Africa, this bird has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and North America; it seems to thrive everywhere.

  6. Barn Swallow: These acrobatic aerialists connect continents with their breathtaking migrations. Nesting in farms and buildings across the globe, they spend most of their lives on the wing, catching insects mid-air with stunning precision.

  7. Rock Pigeon: This cosmopolitan species has adapted to urban environments around the world.

  8. House Sparrow: Native to Europe and Asia, these birds have been introduced to and thrived in many parts of the world.

  9. Eurasian Collared-Dove: Originally from Asia and Europe, this species has seen a significant expansion in its range across North America.

  10. Black-crowned Night Heron: Found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, it is a common species in both freshwater and coastal habitats.

Cute cosmopolitan Birdorable gifts