We’re adding new birds each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today’s Bonanza bird is species #498 overall: the Least Bittern.
Least Bitterns are very small herons found in freshwater or brackish wetland-type habitats in the Americas. They are the smallest species of heron found within their range.
Least Bittern by Maureen Leong-Kee (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Least Bitterns are usually found in reed beds, sometimes over rather deep water. They can hunt for small prey like fish, frogs, and insects in water that is too deep for wading birds to enter. They perch on or straddle reeds and look down for prey. If they see something tasty, they stab into the water with their long, pointed beaks.
Tune in tomorrow to see #499! Wednesday we will reveal our 500th Birdorable!
We're adding new birds each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the Hawfinch.
Look at that massive bill! Hawfinches are bulky birds, with large heads and stout bodies. Their large finch beaks have a metallic look to them. Hawfinches feed on hard seeds, including cherry pits and olive pits.
Hawfinch by Francesco Veronesi (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Hawfinches are social, often feeding in groups -- especially in the winter. They tend to be shy around people, but will visit feeding stations that offer seeds.
Tomorrow we'll add a somewhat elusive species of heron found in the Americas. It's a small one!
Happy Saturday! Today's Bonanza bird is the African Fish-Eagle.
African Fish-Eagles are large birds of prey that live in sub-Saharan parts of Africa. They eat a lot of fish (hence the name), but they will also steal prey from other birds or take a variety of other prey items including small turtles, other birds, or even monkeys.
African Fish-Eagle by Jason Wharam (CC BY-ND 2.0)
The African Fish-Eagle has a stable wild population in its rather large natural range. It is the national bird of three African nations: Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Zambia.
Tomorrow we'll add a stocky finch species with a very, very big beak. This bird is found across parts of Europe and Asia.
There are just a few more days to go in our Bonanza! On Wednesday we will reveal our 500th bird, but today we introduce #26 in the Bonanza and #495 overall - the European Bee-eater.
The European Bee-eater is an extremely colorful species of bird that breeds across much of Europe. These striking feathered jewels are migratory and most spend the winter across the southern half of Africa. There are 26 species of bee-eater in the world. This family is appropriately named - they are known to eat a lot of bees!
European Bee-eater by Sandra (CC BY 2.0)
Bees have stingers and venom, so how do bee-eaters safely consume them? After a bee (or wasp or other stinging insect) is captured, the bird beats the insect on a hard surface. This act both removes the stinger and extracts most of the venom. Once this is complete, the insect is consumed. European Bee-eaters eat other insect too, but only flying ones. Prey is always captured on the wing -- perched insects are simply ignored!
Tomorrow's new species is a bird of prey from Africa that, like today's bee-eater, is named in part for what it likes to eat.
We're adding new birds each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the Northern Gannet.
The Northern Gannet is a large species of seabird found around northern waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They breed off of North America and Europe.
Northern Gannet by Amy Evenstad (your blogger)
Northern Gannets feed in a spectacular fashion. They dive into the water to catch fish. A Northern Gannet may begin its dive from over 100 feet above the water, tucking their wings back and aiming down headfirst. They may reach speeds of 60 mph before hitting the water and diving down 15 feet or more. Once caught, the prey of the Northern Gannet is always consumed underwater.
Tomorrow's new bird is a very colorful European breeder that has a special fondness for a certain family of insects.
The end is in sight! We're continuing to add new birds and today's is the 24th species in the current Bonanza. Today's Bonanza bird is the Plain Chachalaca.
Plain Chachalacas are large grouse-like birds related to curassows and guans. They are found in a rather large range across much of eastern Central America and Mexico. Their range extends up to the southernmost tip of Texas, making the species a specialty sought-after by North American birders visiting the Lone Star State.
Plain Chachalaca by Vince Smith (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Plain Chachalacas spend much of their time on the ground. Though they can fly, they have relatively weak wing muscles so they much prefer to get around on foot. They will even flee from danger by running rather than flying, if they can. They are also ground nesters.
Tomorrow's new species is a large seabird found in and around northern Atlantic waters.