Birdorable Ruddy Duck

This week we've added the Ruddy Duck as a new Birdorable bird. These ducks live throughout North America. As a result of escapes from wildfowl collections they are now also established in Great Britain from where they have spread widely into Europe. When we lived in the Netherlands we sometimes saw these birds with their beautiful blue bills and cute spiky tail. We saw this couple at Starrevaart, a bird lake north of the Hague:

Birdorable Ruddy Duck
Male and female Ruddy Duck at Starrevaart in the Netherlands
Birdorable Magpie looking in a mirror

Scientists at the Goethe University in Frankfurt have been studying European Magpies to prove that these smart birds are not bird-brained. It is widely accepted that self-awareness is a prerequisite for the development of consciousness. Besides humans, there had already been evidence that bottlenose dolphins, other apes and elephants have the capability to be self aware. Now magpies can be added to the list. The researchers used a series of tests to determine if their hand-raised birds could recognize themselves in a mirror.

They placed yellow and red stickers on the birds in places where they could only be seen in a mirror. The magpies became focused on removing the stickers after seeing them in the mirror and tried to scratch them off with their claws and beaks. After removing the sticker they would stop this behavior. The researchers also found that the birds would ignore the stickers if they were placed where they could not see them in the mirror or when the stickers were black in color. Here's a short video of the magpie and the mirror:

Cute Magpie Gifts

Piping Plovers have been on our minds this last week since we've been reading about them on some of our favorite blogs recently. These cute little shorebirds are unfortunately threatened / endangered (depending on the habitat / population) and several breeding areas, including Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, are off-limits to pedestrians to help protect the species.

Recently the Endangered Species Act itself has become threatened by a proposal from the Bush Administration. The proposal would allow federal agencies to decide on the effects their projects might have on species without expert, outside consultation.

You can help fight this legislation, which does not require Congressional approval, by sending a message to the Secretary of Interior via the National Wildlife Federation website.

Birdorable Piping Plover
Birdorable Chaffinch on wrecked car

The owner of an Audi A2 and Golf GTI in Worcestershire, England, thought that vandals were attacking his cars with pen knives but was shocked that the culprit was actually a cute little Chaffinch. He believes the territorial bird was attacking its own reflection. It had taken chunks out of the bodywork around the windows and mirrors of the cars. Ciaran Nelson, of the RSPB, said: "Garden birds are very protective of their territories, particularly males. Shiny cars or car windows often provoke a very aggressive response, because they think their reflections are really a rival bird. It’s just a primeval reaction." Read more about this story here and here (with pics).

Spot the Differences

The Loggerhead Shrike and Northern Shrike can both be found across North America, so how do you tell them apart? Well, there are three important differences between these two species: 1. The Northern Shrike is bigger than the Loggerhead (one to two inches longer); 2. The Loggerhead Shrike has a shorter beak; and 3. The Loggerhead's black mask extends across its forehead and above the beak, while the Northern Shrike's mask doesn't. Did you know that both the Northern as well as the Loggerhead Shrike impale their prey on thorns to hold them down while it rips them apart with its hooked bill? Pretty gross, eh? It does this with larger prey, such as lizards, mice, shrews and even birds, because it lacks the talons that birds of prey have. So if you see a lizard stuck on a thorn it's probably the handywork of your friendly neighborhood shrike.

Spot the differences between Loggerhead Shrike and Northern Shrike

State Bird Standoff

The California Quail is being challenged for its position as State Bird of California by the Parrot for State Bird campaign. It is actually just a clever advertising campaign from a company that sells hands-free car kits, but the website is quite funny. Which bird would you prefer as your State Bird? A quail or a parrot?

California Quail vs. Red-lored Amazon

(please note that Birdorable is not in any way affiliated with Parrot S.A.)

The California Quail is the latest bird to be cutified as a Birdorable. This beautiful bird, the state bird of California, lives on the west coast of North America and can be found from British Columbia southward to Baja California. The forward-drooping plume looks like a single feather, but it is actually made of six feathers. Check out our Birdorable version of this totally cute bird.

Birdorable California Quail

There are over 10,000 living species of birds on our planet and more than 800 (8%) of them live in the United States of America. Here are twenty-five of our American Birdorable birds. Happy 4th of July to everyone in the United States!

Map of United States with Birdorable birds
1. Western Bluebird 2. American Robin 3. Dark-eyed Junco 4. Western Meadowlark 5. Black-capped Chickadee 6. Cedar Waxwing 7. Bald Eagle 8. Common Loon 9. Northern Cardinal 10. Tufted Titmouse 11. Cerulean Warbler 12. Red-tailed Hawk 13. Carolina Wren 14. Brown Pelican 15. Red-cockaded Woodpecker 16. Killdeer 17. Osprey 18. American Goldfinch 19. Painted Bunting 20. Green Jay 21. Vermilion Flycatcher 22. Ruby-throated Hummingbird 23. Harris Hawk 24. California Quail 25. California Condor

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only, That one word, as if his soul in that one word deplorable. Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered - Till I scarely more than muttered 'Other friends, adorable, have flown before. On the morrow he will leave me.' Then the bird said, 'Birdorable'

Birdorable

The Harris Hawk is a bird of prey that lives from the southwestern United States to Chile and central Argentina. Unlike most raptors, who only come together for breeding and migration, Harris Hawks hunt in groups of two to six. This behavior is an adaptation to the desert climate in which they live and it allows them to take down larger prey, such as hares.

Harris Hawks are used a lot in falconry because of their easy going nature. In European towns they are used to scare Pigeons and Starlings. They are also used at airports to scare birds away from runways to reduce the risk of birdstrikes with planes.

Birdorable Harris Hawk