Blog Archive: 2013

Birdorable White-headed Duck

2013 Bonanza Bird #23: White-headed Duck

July 23rd, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013, Ducks 3 comments

Our Bonanza rolls on! We're adding new birds each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the White-headed Duck.

Birdorable White-headed Duck

White-headed Ducks are diving ducks. This means that they dive under the water for food. They are omnivorous, though they often prefer vegetation to taking prey. They are found in freshwater habitat in North Africa, Spain, and across central Asia.

malvasía cabeciblanca 02 - ànec cap-blanc - white-headed duck -  oxyura leucocephala
White-headed Duck by Ferran Pestaña (CC BY-SA 2.0)

White-headed Ducks are in the "stiff-tailed" duck subfamily. This grouping includes the Ruddy Duck and the extinct New Zealand Stiff-tailed Duck.

White-headed Duck sample products

Tomorrow's new species is considered to be a specialty for birders visiting south Texas. The name of this bird is an onomatopoeia for its loud song.

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Birdorable Blue-winged Warbler

2013 Bonanza Bird #22: Blue-winged Warbler

July 22nd, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013, Warblers 3 comments

Happy Monday! Our 2013 Birdorable Bonanza continues today with our new bird, the Blue-winged Warbler.

Birdorable Blue-winged Warbler

The Blue-winged Warbler is a lovely species of New World warbler that breeds across a range in eastern North America. They are migratory; winters are spent in the Caribbean and Central America.

Blue-winged Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler by Joseph F. Pescatore (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Blue-winged Warblers are closely related to Golden-winged Warblers. The two species often hybridize; offspring are called either "Brewster's Warbler" (who take after the Blue-winged parent) or "Lawrence's Warbler" (who more resemble the Golden-winged parent).

blue-winged warbler

Tomorrow we'll add a species of duck that faces a threat from a very close relative.

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Birdorable Australian Magpie

2013 Bonanza Bird #21: Australian Magpie

July 21st, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013, Magpies 3 comments

We're adding a new bird each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the Australian Magpie.

Birdorable Australian Magpie

Australian Magpies are not closely related to the magpies found in Europe or the Americas. When European naturalists came to settle in Australia, they noted the plumage of the new Australian species was similar to the Eurasian Magpie. They named the bird after their old familiar. Did you know that the American Robin was named in the same fashion? It is not related to the European Robin, but both species share a brownish plumage with a rich reddish-orange breast.

Australian magpie wb
Australian Magpie by Lip Kee (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Australian Magpies are conspicuous and common within their range. They are omnivorous and are well-adapted to a variety of habitat types. They enjoy popularity in Australia and are the mascot for several sports teams as well as the official emblem of the Government of South Australia. Although they are popular, during breeding season they can be a menace as they fiercely protect their nest site. They may swoop down on anyone they perceive as a threat to their territory. August to October is the peak season for magpie attacks, and both pedestrians and cyclists are deemed fair game.

australian magpie

Tomorrow's new species is a North American songbird with a buzzy song and blue wings.

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Birdorable Gray Catbird

2013 Bonanza Bird #20: Gray Catbird

July 20th, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013 3 comments

We're adding a new species every day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the Gray Catbird.

Birdorable Gray Catbird

Gray Catbirds are migratory birds in the mimid family. Other mimids include mockingbirds and thrashers. Mimids are known for their ability to mimic sounds made by others. The Gray Catbird has a cat-like mewing call but is also skilled at mimicking other birds, frogs, and even mechanical noises.

Grey Catbird
Gray Catbird (photo by blogger)

Gray Catbirds tend to lurk low in vegetation. They are well-adapted to living in suburban landscapes and careful observation may reveal them visiting back yard feeding stations to partake of jelly, suet, mealworms, or even seed.

gray catbird
Tomorrow's Bonanza bird is a conspicuous and popular species found Down Under.
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Birdorable King Bird-of-paradise

2013 Bonanza Bird #19: King Bird-of-paradise

We're adding one new bird each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species on the last day of July. Today's Bonanza bird is the King Bird-of-paradise.

King Bird-of-paradise

The King Bird-of-paradise is the smallest of the bird-of-paradise family. It lives in Papau New Guinea and on outlying islands. Males are stunning with red body plumage, a white chest, blue feet, and long green-tipped tail feathers that extend nearly five inches from end to end. All male birds-of-paradise have remarkable colorful plumage and special feathers that they use in dances or other rituals in order to attract females. This short video shows a male King Bird-of-paradise performing part of its dance.


King Bird-of-Paradise video copyright Cornell Lab of Ornithology

If you'd like to see more King Bird-of-paradise action, check out this video from the Smithsonian: Dancers on Fire: King Bird-of-Paradise. It includes a female King Bird-of-paradise, so you can clearly see that the species is sexually dimorphic (males and females have different plumage).

king bird of paradise

Tomorrow's new Bonanza bird makes a sound like another animal, and that's how it got its name. bonanza-2013-preview-20

Birdorable White Wagtail

2013 Bonanza Bird #18: White Wagtail

July 18th, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013 2 comments

We're 18 days into July, which means that today we are revealing the 18th bird in our 2013 Birdorable Bonanza! Today we introduce our latest new species, the White Wagtail.

Birdorable White Wagtail

White Wagtails are found across much of Europe and Asia. There are at least nine subspecies of White Wagtail -- some taxonomies recognize up to eleven. This large variety means that you can find White Wagtails sporting many different plumage variants.

White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
White Wagtail by Lars Falkdalen Lindahl (CC BY 2.0)

These subspecies also go by many different regional common names. If you're talking about a Pied Wagtail, Moroccan Wagtail, a Masked Wagtail, Amur Wagtail, or Black-backed Wagtail, you're talking about the same species.

white wagtail

Tomorrow we'll add a bird in a family known for amazing plumage and even more amazing courtship dances.

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