Blog Archive: September 2009
Here are two new Birdorable coloring pages of the Birdorable Ibis and Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. You can color the first one as a Scarlet Ibis, Glossy Ibis or White Ibis. Check the Meet the Birds page to check the colors. You can download these from the new Coloring Pages page, which collects all available downloads. Please note that from now on some coloring pages will be available for a limited time only.
- The Cattle Egret has gone through one of the most rapid natural expansion of any bird. Originally native to Africa and Asia, it has expanded its range around the world. It reached the Americas in the late 19th century when it was first found in Guiana and Suriname in 1877, and Australia in the 1940s.
- It arrived in the United States in 1941 and has since occurred all the way to Alaska and Newfoundland and has bred in nearly all fifty states. 
- Cattle Egret are opportunistic feeders and follow large animals or farm machines around to catch insects. It is estimated that they gather 50% more food using only two-thirds as much energy when feeding with livestock. 
- Cattle Egret are known to come in from far to catch insects fleeing from a fire. 
- The Cattle Egret sometimes adds birds to its diet. At Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, just off the coast of Florida, Cattle Egrets have been observed catching warblers because of a lack of insects on the island! 
- Cattle Egrets have been seen at airports waiting for airplanes to pass and blow insects out of the grass. 
- Its Arabic name Abu Gerdan (Ø£Ø¨Ùˆ Ù‚Ø±Ø¯Ø§Ù†), means 'father of ticks', a name derived from the large number of parasites found in its breeding colonies. 
- Cattle Egrets greatly reduce the number of flies that bothers cattle by pecking them off their skin, as found by a study in Australia. 
- In 1959, the Hawaiian Board of Agriculture released 25 Cattle Egrets on Kaua'i to help control the flies and other insects plaguing cattle. 
- Its range is estimated globally at 10 million square kilometers with a global population of up to 6.7 million individuals. 
Yes, vultures can be cute - our Birdorable vultures prove just that! Although vultures may be known for eating dead things, using projectile vomit as a defense measure and even cooling themselves by urinating on their own legs, these carrion-eating baldies aren't all about the ick-factor. For example:
- The Egyptian Vulture is one of the few species of bird to use tools. It will lift small rocks in its beak and smash them into ostrich eggs to crack the hard shell. Clever birds!
- While Lammergeiers don't use tools, they do have a clever way to get at their favorite food. They will drop large bones while flying in order to crack them into pieces. With clever strategies like that, who needs tools?!
- Several vulture species lack vocal organs so they are only able to hiss or grunt. No screaming banshees here!
- Several species including the Turkey Vulture are extremely gregarious. Birds will roost in large community groups which may include several hundred individuals. The vulture's motto: We Are Fa-mi-ly!
- California Condors are especially fastidious and may spend hours a day preening their feathers. Beauty queens!
- Courting Turkey Vultures will gather in a circle to perform hopping movements around the perimeter, with wings spread. Yes, they put on the dance moves to attract a sweetheart!
- The Rüppell's Vulture holds the height record for avian flight, with the ability to fly up to an altitude of 37,000 feet. These birds have their place in the avian extreme games!
- Vultures often remain inactive until the sun has warmed up the air with sufficient thermals to support soaring. These sleepyheads need the sun to get going on their day's work. I know some people like that!
- The Palm-nut Vulture is so named because its favorite food is the nut of the Oil Palm tree. A veg-loving vulture!
- The Cinereous Vulture is also known as the Monk Vulture, because its ruff of neck feathers resembles a monk's cowl. Even vultures get funny nicknames.
- Often vultures gorge so much they can’t fly. Vultures know how to pig out, and they aren't afraid to do it!
- The Turkey Vulture can glide for over six hours without flapping a wing. Another extreme avian sports contender, category: endurance.
- California Condors and several other vulture species mate for life. How romantic!
- The Hooded Vulture is abundant through most of its range and is usually unafraid of humans. They are sometimes called "garbage collectors" by locals. In fact all vultures are nature's original waste managers!
- Like many wildlife species vultures have suffered from loss of habitat and illegal hunting. Several vulture species have suffered up to a 99% population decrease in India and neighboring countries due to poisoning from livestock pharmaceuticals.
That last trivia point is not actually one of our favorites, but it is an unfortunate fact. Today is International Vulture Awareness Day 2009, which promotes vulture conservation. This post is part of the Blog for Vultures carnival coinciding with IVAD09. Learn more about vultures, vulture conservation and awareness by visiting the other participants in today's virtual event. Click on the nifty badge below to learn more!
The Great Egret is one of the latest birds we've added to Birdorable. It is widely distributed across the tropical and temperate regions in the world and can be found on all continents. We see these beautiful white birds regularly here in Illinois, where they are quite common. This was however not always the case. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the birds were hunted to near extinction by plume hunters, as they were a popular addition to lady's hats. North American populations of Great Egrets were reduced by more than 95 percent! Fortunately, Great Egrets have recovered as a result of conservation measures. In 1953, the Great Egret was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which was formed in part to prevent the killing of birds for their feathers.
This is a our cute Birdorable version of the Great Egret. For more birds like this see Egret & Other Waders in our Meet the Birds area.
In honor of International Vulture Awareness Day coming up later this week, we're featuring our I Love Vultures design for this week's T-Shirt Tuesday. This design features three of our Birdorable vultures: the California Condor; the Turkey Vulture; and the Black Vulture. The design is shown here on a baby fine jersey t-shirt, but is also available on dozens of other apparel styles and colors.
Reminder: International Vulture Awareness Day is coming up very soon! The purpose of IVAD is to highlight and promote vulture conservation and awareness. As part of this special day there will be a blog carnival which welcomes anyone and everyone to participate. We are very proud to have our Birdorable Black Vulture featured on the blog carnival's badge!