Find the Differences

Can you find the 12 differences in these two trees with American birds? You can click the picture to see a larger version. Leave your answer in the comments if you dare.
Find the 12 Birdorable differences

Go Green (Kingfisher)

Birdorable Green Kingfisher

The Green Kingfisher is one of three kingfishers found in the United States, but at 7.5 inches long it is much smaller than the Belted and Ringed Kingfisher. It is also very rare in this country and can only be found in the south of Texas. It lives throughout Central and South America as far south as central Argentina. Johann Friedlich GmelinUnlike the other two kingfishers, Green Kingfishers also fly low over the water's surface and can be found perching on low branches. The Green Kingfisher was first described in 1788 by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin (pictures right), who gave it the latin name Chloroceryle americana. Here's a picture of a female Green Kingfisher, which lacks the broad chestnut breast band that males have, like the one on the mangrove in the picture above.

Green kingfisher female
Photo by Lip Kee

Unfortunately I have never seen a Green Kingfisher. Have you?

Introducing the Belted Kingfisher

Birdorable Belted Kingfisher

The Belted Kingfisher is one of three new kingfishers that we've added to Birdorable. This cutie can be found across North America, Central America and South America as far south as Argentina. I love Kingfishers, and we saw many Belted Kingfishers on our vacation in Florida. We were staying in Key Largo and every time we drove Route 1 back to the mainland we saw dozens of these guys sitting on the telephone wires looking down at the water. When they spot a fish that they like, they'll dive into the water head first to grab it. Did you know that many Kingfishers, including this one, nests underground? A pair will dig a tunnel as long as 8 feet in river banks. The tunnel slopes upward to keep water from entering the nest. Human activity has actually expanded their breeding range; road building and the digging of gravel pits has created new banks where kingfishers can nest.

Belted Kingfisher
Photo by Rick Leche
Belted Kingfisher
Photo by Rick Leche

Males and females both have shaggy crests and are colored blue and white. Females have rufous across the upper belly. This is our totally cute Birdorable version of the Belted Kingfisher!

Cute Belted Kingfisher Gifts

Superbowl of Birding

Birdorable Football
Mass Audubon's Superbowl of Birding IV will take place this Saturday from 5am to 5pm. The Superbowl of Birding is a 12-hour competition in Massachusetts whereby different teams try to find as many birds as possible during the day. Different birds are worth different points and prizes will be awarded in nine different categories. We'll be rooting for one of the teams participating in this year's competition: the Bloggerhead Kingbirds. The team is made up of birding bloggers Christopher, Patrick, Corey, Quintus and N8. Christopher contacted us earlier this week to make a logo for their team, which we were very happy to do! He requested a Loggerhead Kingbird with a laptop and binoculars and here's the result:
Bloggerhead Kingbirds logo
You can read more about the team here: Good luck Bloggerhead Kingbirds!

All You Need is Razorbills

Razorbills typically live for 13 years, but one particular Razorbill that was ringed in 1967 was still spotted in the United Kingdom last year, over 41 years later! The same bird has been returning to the same cliff since hippies were wearing flowers in their hair and the Beatles were singing "All You Need Is Love". The old Razorbill was reported by the British Trust for Ornithology last year, along with 11 other record-breaking long-living birds, including a 31-year-old Curlew and a Black-headed Gull that has been flying around parks in Central London for 27 years.

Razorbill on the Farne Islands, UK, by ankehuber

The Razorbill is a beautiful striking bird. It is the 159th Birdorable bird and the answer to this week's spot the Birdorable. Unfortunately we have never seen a Razorbill. Have you?

Black-legged Kittiwake

Birdorable Black-legged Kittiwake

This week we've added another cute bird to Birdorable: the Black-legged Kittiwake. The above photo of cliffs in Ireland shows an adult Kittiwake on the left and a juvenile on the right. Juvenile individuals have black markings on the wings, neck and head. There are actually two races of Black-legged Kittiwake: one in the North Atlantic ocean and another in the North Pacific ocean.

The first one, which is common throughout Europe and the east coast of North America, has only three normal toes. Hence its latin name Rissa tridactyla, which means "three-toed". Its hind toe is reduced to a tiny bump. Kittiwakes spend most of their lives out at sea and come ashore only to breed. They actually seldom walk, so its legs are much shorter than those of other gulls. And who needs a hind toe if you hardly ever walk, right?

(#222) Black-Legged Kittiwake
Photo by tinyfishy

We often saw Black-legged Kittiwakes on the North Sea coast when we lived in the Netherlands and I always thought they were particularly cute. Here's a juvenile that we saw flying around at IJmuiden, a coastal town west of Amsterdam:

Black-legged Kittiwake
IJmuiden 030 (18-Nov).jpg
Photos by Amy Evenstad

Kittiwakes breed in large colonies on rocky cliffs and is very noisy on the breeding ground, as is evident from the video below. They are capable of utilizing the sheerest of vertical cliffs as their nesting site.

The Birdorable Kittiwake is available on t-shirts and other apparel. This is our totally cute version of the Black-legged Kittiwake!

A Fragrance of Murres

Birdorable Common Guillemot

We've added another cutie to Birdorable, the Common Murre, also known as the Common Guillemot. These sea birds can be found in low-Arctic waters in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, all over the northern hemisphere. They spend most of their lives out at sea and only come to land to breed on rocky cliffs or islands, where they get together in huge groups, which are called a 'bazaar', or a 'fragrance' of murres. Check out this incredible photo of thousands of murres at Point Reyes National Seashore, approximately 30 miles north of San Francisco.

Guillemot 1
Common Guillemot

From their nest site they fly as far as 125 miles to look for food for their chicks. They are excellent divers. Using their wings for propulsion they can dive as deep as 600 feet to forage for food. Check out this neat video of Guillemots diving underwater at Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland in England.

Video of diving guillemots at the Farne Islands

The Birdorable Murre is available on t-shirts and other apparel in two different designs:

The Birdorable Common Eider

Birdorable Common Eider

The Common Eider is the first new species that we're adding to Birdorable in 2009. It is a beautiful bird with some striking features. The male is unmistakable with its black and white plumage and green nape. You can find this cutie on the northern coasts of Europe and North America.

Did you know that this bird was involved in one of the first ever bird protection laws? The colony of eiders living on the Farne Islands in Northumberland in England has been protected since the year 676, when Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, patron saint of Northumberland, chose the bird as the county's emblem bird. Eider ducks are still called Cuddy Ducks in modern Northumbrian dialects, "Cuddy" being the familiar form of "Cuthbert".

In The Wild: Birdorable Rose-ringed Parakeet

Michelle with a Birdorable Rose-ringed Parakeet Performance Jacket
Michelle is wearing a Birdorable Rose-ringed Parakeet performance jacket. She sent us the following message:
"I just wanted to send you a note and let you know that my mom ordered the Indian Ringneck performance jacket for me for Christmas and it is WONDERFUL!!!!! I love it! I also manage an exotic parrot store and am wearing it to the store!"
Thank you Michelle for your kind words and sending us this nice photo.