Black-throated Finches are granivorous, meaning they eat seeds and grains. They are endemic to Australia, where they are found in the northeast of the country, in Queensland. Historically they were also found along the eastern coast down in New South Wales, but their numbers have been declining. The species overall has a conservation status of Least Concern, but the southern population is considered to be Vulnerable by Australian authorities. Black-throated Finches are relatively sedentary (non-migratory), though they may change location in response to food availability during times of drought. The population faces threats from several factors, including loss of habitat from human development and predation by non-native mammals.
Black-throated Finch by Tim Lenz (CC BY 2.0; modified)
The fourth bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a North American wader with a curved bill. It's the White-faced Ibis!
The White-faced Ibis is one of three ibis species found regularly in the United States. The White Ibis and Glossy Ibis are both restricted in range to the east and southeast of the U.S., plus northern parts of South America. The White-faced Ibis ranges in the central and western parts of North and Central America, ranging all the way to the Pacific Coast. There is a separate resident population in southeastern South America as well.
White-Faced Ibis - Explore #136 5-06-09 by Linda Tanner (CC BY 2.0)
White-faced Ibises breed and feed around marshy habitats. They forage by probing their curved bills into soft marshy substrate. They eat invertebrates like insects, snails, and worms. White-faced Ibises will also take prey items like frogs, crayfish, and small fish. The White-faced Ibis joins Birdorable today, bringing our total number of bird species to 562. We now have 21 wading birds and a total of six ibises. If you love ibises as much as we do, be sure to check out our cute Birdorable ibis t-shirts & gifts!. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a small bird from Down Under named for its dark bib. Can you guess tomorrow's species?
The third bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a unique species of parrot, the Cape Parrot!
The Cape Parrot is endemic to South Africa. It is typically found in high altitude forest habitat, though it may also visit lowland coastal areas for feeding. Its diet consists of primarily fruits, seeds, and nuts. The Cape Parrot is Critically Endangered, due to habitat loss, persecution, and other factors. The species is particularly susceptible to certain disease outbreaks which takes a toll on the population as well. We can't talk about the Cape Parrot without talking about the closely related Uncape Parrot. The taxonomy of these species and subspecies has been in dispute and the Cape Parrot has only recently been recognized as a separate species. The Uncape Parrot is comprised of two main subspecies, known by the common names Brown-necked Parrot and Grey-headed Parrot. These are not considered threatened or endangered at this time.
Brown-necked Parrot by Alan Manson (CC BY-SA 2.0; modified)
The Cape Parrot and the Uncape Parrot both join Birdorable today, bringing our total number of bird species to 561. Our total number of parrots now stands at a whopping 90 species! Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a wading bird named for the color of its mug. Can you guess tomorrow's species?
The second bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a North American sparrow: the Song Sparrow!
In our clue yesterday, we indicated that the Song Sparrow is an LBJ with a lot of range. What did we mean? "LBJ" stands for "Little Brown Job", a phrase sometimes used to describe dull-colored small songbirds that may be difficult to identify. Song Sparrows are brown and streaky. They may be identified by the dark spot in the center of the breast, among other traits. When talking about range, we were referring to a few different things. Song Sparrows are found all over North America, so they have a large natural regional range. Song Sparrows are named for their song repertoire. In their voice they have a lot of range. Song Sparrows have over 20 recognized subspecies; up to 50 subspecies may exist. These differ in physical characteristics; the appearance of Song Sparrows has a lot of range.
Song Sparrow by Amy Evenstad
Song Sparrow joins Birdorable today as our 559th species, and our 10th species of sparrow. If you like Song Sparrows as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Song Sparrow t-shirts and gifts. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a species that comes with its own opposite! Can you guess tomorrow's species?
The first bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a small falcon with a widespread range: the Merlin!
The Merlin is a small-sized falcon found across much of the northern hemisphere. For the most part they are migratory, breeding in the northern Holarctic (northern parts of the Old World and New World) and wintering in the tropics and subtropics. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including open prairies, taiga forest, and shrubland.
Merlin by NatureShutterbug (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Merlins are also sometimes known as pigeon hawks. This is an old colloquial name used in North America. Merlins are similar in size to Rock Pigeons and somewhat resemble them in flight -- hence the name. There are even pigeons in their scientific name, Falco columbarius. Pigeons and doves are in the family Columbidae. As birds of prey, Merlins may also hunt and successfully take a Rock Pigeon as a meal. Like Great Horned Owls and some other birds, Merlins don't build their own nests. They reuse stick nests made by other birds, mostly crows or other raptors. Merlin joins Birdorable today as our 558th species, our 39th bird of prey, and our 9th falcon. If you like Merlins as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Merlin t-shirts and gifts. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with an LBJ with a lot of range. Can you guess tomorrow's species?
Our sixth annual Birdorable Bonanza will begin tomorrow! Each year we reveal a number of birds in a burst we like to call our Birdorable Bonanza. You can check out what the previous years were like here: 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013. This Bonanza will be short and sweet: from November 16 through November 22 we will reveal a new species each day on Birdorable. At the end we'll have a whopping 565 different species on Birdorable.com! Here's a sneak peek at the first bird in this year's Bonanza, a small bird of prey with a short, magical name. Can you guess which species will start things off?
If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr) of the Black Stork. Black Storks build large nests, typically in a very tall forest trees. Clutch size is usually 3-4 eggs; incubation lasts up to 38 days.
Black Stork, Eastern Ardennes, Belgium by Frank.Vassen [CC BY 2.0]
Junge Schwarzstörche, Ostbelgien by Frank.Vassen [CC BY 2.0]
Junge Scharzstörche im Nest, Ostbelgien by Frank.Vassen [CC BY 2.0]
Junge Schwarzstörche, Ostbelgien by Frank.Vassen [CC BY 2.0]
Junge Schwarzstörche, Ostbelgien by Frank.Vassen [CC BY 2.0]
This week, we’ve been celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Today we wrap up Kingfisher Week with a species profile of the impossibly cute Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher.
The Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher is known by several different names, including Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, simply Black-backed Kingfisher, Miniature Kingfisher, Malay Forest Kingfisher, and Three-toed Kingfisher. This darling bird is one of the most colorful species of kingfisher; it is also one of the smallest species of kingfisher, measuring just about 5 inches in length.
Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0)
Black-backed Dwarf Kingfishers belong to the river kingfisher, or Alcedinidae, family. Their prey items include insects, frogs, and lizards. They rarely dine on fish. These diminutive kingfishers were considered to be bad omens by the Dusun tribe of Borneo. Like most kingfishers, Black-backed Dwarf Kingfishers nest in tunnels or burrows. A nest tunnel may be up to a meter long! A typical clutch size is 3 to 6 eggs and incubation, performed by both parents, lasts about 17 days. Both parents care for the growing chicks. Fledging occurs about 20 days after hatching.
This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're sharing some FAQs about kingfishers.
Are kookaburras and kingfishers related? Kookaburras belong to the tree kingfisher, or Halcyonidae, family. Kookaburras tend to be large and heavy compared to other kingfisher species. While birds in the kingfisher family are found all around the world, kookaburras are found in Australia, New Guinea, and the Aru Islands of Indonesia. There are just four species of kookaburra (among a total of about 90 species of kingfisher): the Rufous-bellied Kookaburra; the Spangled Kookaburra; the Blue-winged Kookaburra; and the Laughing Kookaburra.
Why do kingfishers migrate? Not all kingfishers migrate. In some species, like the Common Kingfisher, parts of the population remain resident all year, while other birds migrate. One reason fish-eating specialist birds leave cold climates as the seasons change is to keep being able to eat! When bodies of water freeze over, its hard to catch fish.
Why do kingfishers have long beaks? All of the birds in the kingfisher family have long beaks. In all bird species, beak size and shape is influenced by the primary diet of the bird; in fish-eating kingfishers, like the Belted Kingfisher, the beak tends to be longer. Their wedge-shaped bill aids in splashless water entry when diving for prey fish. Kingfishers that find prey on the ground tend to have shorter, broader bills.
Female Ringed Kingfisher by Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)
What is special about kingfisher eyes? Kingfishers have extremely sharp vision. Kingfishers that hunt for prey in water have exceptional eyes. These birds have two areas of photoreceptor concentration in each eye, one used to find prey while the bird is above the water. The second area of concentration, or fovea, is used to focus on fish while the bird is underwater.
Where do kingfishers nest? Kingfishers tend to nest in cavities. Many nest in holes dug into the ground, often by bodies of water like rivers and ditches. Other cavities used include tree cavities and old termite nests.
Do kingfishers sing? The vocal stylings of kingfishers vary wildly. Some species of kingfisher are more vocal than others. The Common Kingfisher has no song, but it does vocalize during flight and when it is alarmed. The multi-part trill of the Woodland Kingfisher is alternatively referred to as a call or a song. Belted Kingfishers are easily recognized by their rattling call and are often heard before they are seen. Perhaps the most familiar kingfisher voice belongs to that of the Laughing Kookaburra. Their exotic-sounding call is often used in movies and television shows that are set in tropical locations.
This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're profiling the Sacred Kingfisher.
Added today, the Sacred Kingfisher is our newest Birdorable bird! The Sacred Kingfisher is a species of tree or wood kingfisher. This family, Halcyonidae, has the most species of all three types of kingfisher. The other two types are river kingfishers and water kingfishers.
Sacred Kingfisher by Grahame Bowland (CC BY 2.0)
These birds are relatively common throughout most of their range, and are considered one of the most well-known birds of New Zealand. The Sacred Kingfisher's call, "kee-kee-kee", is distinctive. Sacred Kingfishers are found in Australia, New Zealand (where they are known as kotare), and other nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean. They feed on a varity of prey items, usually foraged on land as opposed to in the water. Sacred Kingfishers eat insects, crustaceans, and small reptiles.
Sacred Kingfisher by Jim Bendon (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Sacred Kingfisher gets its name from a traditional Polynesian belief that the birds have the ability to control the ocean's waves. The scientific name for Sacred Kingfisher is Todiramphus sanctus, which means "sacred tody-bill".