Malleefowl are large ground-dwelling birds that live in Australia. They have a remarkable reproductive cycle that includes up to 11 months per year spent building, tending and maintaining a large nest mound used for incubation. Malleefowl mounds are made up primarily of compost, piled many layers deep, and a top layer of sand, used for insulation. The eggs lay on top of the compost and are protected by the sand layer. The mounds may be used for several breeding seasons and may grow to over 70 feet in circumference and over three feet deep.
Malleefowl mound graphic by Peter Halasz
After the eggs are laid, the male tends to the nest and makes adjustments to the amount of soil within the compost layer to maintain a constant temperature of 33°C (91.4°F). He checks the temperature by probing his beak into the nest chamber! This amazing feat is why the bird is known as the "thermometer bird" in the Dutch and German languages. Here is a short video showing a temperature check:
Malleefowl checking the nest mound temperature by grazza2106
Incubation depends on the temperature inside the mount remaining steady. Fluctuations caused by rainfall and other factors lead to incubation time lasting anywhere from 50 to nearly 100 days. When the chicks are ready to hatch, they use their strong feet to break the eggshell. Digging through the sand layer is a struggle that may take 15 hours! Once they reach the surface, they take a deep breath and begin their life, totally independent of their parents. Malleefowl chicks can run just an hour after emerging from the nest mound, and are able to fly after just one day! Here is a short video showing a Malleefowl chick who has just emerged from the nest mound:
Our Birdorable Bonanza 2012 concludes today as we reveal our 400th species: the Eurasian Eagle-Owl!
Eurasian Eagle-Owls are very large and powerful birds. They have beautiful cryptic plumage, prominent ear tufts, and striking bright orange eyes.
Eurasian Eagle Owl by cookipediachef
Did you know...?
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl is sometimes considered to be the world's largest owl species. Their wingspan may be up to 6 and half feet or two meters!
The scientific name for the Eurasian Eagle-Owl is Bubo bubo. Bubo is Latin for owl.
This species has a very wide range, with breeding birds recorded in much of south and eastern Europe, and across much of temperate Asia.
Eurasian Eagle-Owls eat a variety of prey, including mammals like voles and hares.
Nesting usually occurs on rocky surfaces such as cave entrances, cliff ledges, or other crevices. They may also take over abandoned nests of other large raptor species.
Like other owl species, the Eurasian Eagle-Owl achieves silent flight through a fringe-like edging across their primary wing feathers.
We've added a coloring page of this beautiful owl. Check out the Eurasian Eagle-Owl and other free PDF downloads here: Coloring Pages.
We hope you've enjoyed our Birdorable Bonanza 2012! We had a lot of fun introducing 22 new birds in 22 days and look forward to the next time! Here is a list of all the birds released during this Bonanza, in case you missed any of them.
We're almost there! Today's new bird in our Birdorable Bonanza 2012 is also our 399th species: the Red-legged Seriema!
Red-legged Seriemas live in open grassland habitat in central parts of South America. They feed on small reptiles like lizards and snakes, as well as large insects and small rodents.
Seriema / Red-legged Seriema ( Cariama cristata ) by Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes
They have very long legs; seriemas are skilled and fast runners. They are able to fly, but they are awkward in the air and prefer to run away from danger. Red-legged Seriemas have a wide range, and their population is considered stable and of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. With tomorrow's bird we will conclude our Bonanza for this year! We will leave you guessing, with just a silhouette for a clue to #400. :)
Today another penguin joins Birdorable! Here is our cute Gentoo Penguin.
This special flightless bird lives across parts of the Antarctic. Gentoo Penguins are closely related to Adelie Penguins and Chinstrap Penguins. Unlike their cousins, Gentoos prefer rocky surfaces to packed ice for both roosting and nesting.
Today a beautiful bird of prey from the American west joins Birdorable: the Ferruginous Hawk!
Ferruginous Hawks are the largest species of hawk found in North America. They are even sometimes mistaken for eagles when seen in flight - they're that big! They live in open habitats across western North America. They are known for their beautiful coloration, and for their large gape (mouth opening). Check out the photo below!
Ferruginous Hawk by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region