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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Monday! Our 2013 Birdorable Bonanza continues today with our new bird, the 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 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).
Tomorrow we'll add a species of duck that faces a threat from a very close relative.
We're adding a new bird each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the 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 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.
Tomorrow's new species is a North American songbird with a buzzy song and blue wings.
We're adding a new species every day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the 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.
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.
Tomorrow's Bonanza bird is a conspicuous and popular species found Down Under.
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.
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).
Tomorrow's new Bonanza bird makes a sound like another animal, and that's how it got its name.
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.
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 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.
Tomorrow we'll add a bird in a family known for amazing plumage and even more amazing courtship dances.