If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the Barn Swallow. Barn Swallows build a nest of mud, often on a man-made structure. Both the male and female build the nest, which is fortified with blades of grass. The nest is then lined with softer material, like grass and feathers. The baby birds hatch after about two weeks of incubation, and fledge from the nest after another three weeks or so.

Barn Swallow nest Colorado Springs 11 July 2010
Barn swallow nest (CC BY 2.0)
Barn Swallow in the Nest
Barn swallow in the nest (CC BY 2.0)
Baby Barn Swallows
Baby barn swallos (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Pointy-haired boss
Barn swallow fledling (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Mama barn swallow feeds her little ones
Mama barn swallow feeds her little ones (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Barn Swallows
Barn swallows (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Barn-Swallow Rauchschwalbe (Hirundo rustica) I
Barn swallow nest (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Barn Swallows 1
Barn swallows (CC BY 2.0)
Baby Barn Swallows
Baby barn swallows (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Young Barn Swalllows
Young barn swallows (CC BY 2.0)
Barn Swallow
Barn swallow (CC BY 2.0)

Cute Barn Swallow Gifts from Birdorable

Fun Facts About Toucans

Birdorable Toco Toucan

There are about forty different species of toucan, spread over five genera. These include toucans and their smaller cousins, aracaris and toucanets. Here are some fun facts about the toucan family.

  • All toucans have colorful and extremely large bills. Despite their size, the bills are composed of a kind of spongy material, and are extremely lightweight.
  • Having a large bill is beneficial in foraging for fruit -- the bird can grab a lot of food without moving its whole body. The oversized bill also helps the toucan regulate its body heat in the steamy rainforest.
  • Toucans are cavity nesters, but they aren't able to excavate their own nest holes with much success. They use cavities excavated by other birds, like woodpeckers.
  • The smallest birds in the family range from about 11 or 12 inches long (the Green Aracari or the Lettered Aracari).

Aracari, Green
Green Aracari by Sham Edmond [CC BY 2.0]

  • The largest species of toucan is the Toco Toucan, which reaches 29 inches in length.
  • Toucans are able to fly, but they have relatively short wings. They are resident birds within their range (they do not migrate), and tend to get around their forest canopy habitat by hopping from branch to branch.
  • The Toco Toucan is the most well-known species of toucan; it is sometimes known simply as "Toucan" or "Common Toucan".

Toucan
Toco Toucan by William Warby [CC BY 2.0]

  • The Keel-billed Toucan is the national bird of Belize.
  • Toucans are found in the Neotropics, meaning they are New World birds found in tropical habitat. They range from southern Mexico into northern parts of South America. They are also found in the Caribbean.
  • The constellation Tucana, a group of stars in the Southern Sky, is named after the toucan. It was established by Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius and was first published in 1598 in Amsterdam.
  • We have three birds in the toucan family here. Check out our Birdorable Keel-billed Toucan, Birdorable Green Aracari; and Birdorable Toco Toucan!

Cute Toucan Gifts from Birdorable

The Pink Cockatoo is a beautiful species of parrot found in parts of Australia. It is also known at Major Michell's Cockatoo. This pretty bird is recognized by its flamboyant and colorful crest which shows yellow and red when raised. Our totally cute Birdorable Pink Cockatoo is shown here on an All-over Printed Tank Top. The unisex tank fits both men and women and is made from 100% white spun polyester that is soft and comfortable. Our cute design is also available on many different t-shirt styles and other Pink Cockatoo gifts. This will make a great gift for pet owners and Major Mitchell

Other Pink Cockatoo gifts

Today is International Vulture Awareness day! Zoos, conservation organizations and other groups around the world are celebrating vultures this weekend. Vultures serve a very important role in the world's ecosystem. By removing dead animal remains these scavenging birds clean up the environment and help prevent diseases from spreading.

Unfortunately, most of the 23 vulture species that can be found around the world are endangered. Threats include habitat loss, changes in livestock management, persecution, and hunting. Show your support for these amazing creatures by attending one of this weekend's many Vulture Day events around the world and support a vulture conservation organization in your area. Check the official IVAD website for a list of all participating organizations.

Go out and celebrate vultures today! ... or print our vulture coloring pages and stay home for some cute vulture coloring fun.

Scene with Birdorable vultures from around the world

Glossary of Vulture Terms

We're celebrating Vulture Week because this Saturday, September 5th, marks International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). This commemorative day has been celebrated since at least 2009 and aims to highlight the importance of vultures and vulture conservation through education.

In today's post we're sharing some keywords that pertain to vultures. This vulture glossary also includes definitions that apply to other bird families, but are important topics to understand when learning about vultures.

Carrion

If you're going to be talking about vultures, you are inevitably going to be talking about carrion, because that is what most vultures eat. Carrion is the decaying flesh of a dead animal. Other scavengers that consume carrion besides vultures include eagles, opossums, coyotes, and some beetles.

Turkey Vulture with road kill carrion

Convergent Evolution

Vultures in the New World (the Americas) are not closely related to Old World (Europe, Asia, and Africa) vultures. Since many vultures of both types have similar features like bald heads and scavenger behavior, how can it be that they are not closely related? The answer is convergent evolution. Broadly, this refers to organisms evolving similar traits while lacking a common ancestor. Birds, flying insects, and bats are not related, but they have all evolved the capacity to fly. Similarly, vultures in both the Old and New Worlds have evolved special traits to help them specialize in feeding on carrion. With few exceptions, no matter their location, vultures fill a similar niche in the ecosystem.

Crop

The crop is an expandable part of the digestive tract of birds and some other animals. The muscular pouch, close to the throat, is used to store food before digestion. The full crop of the Lappet-faced Vulture can hold up to 3.3 lb of meat!

Gorge

Vultures are known to gorge themselves at feeding sites. They will eat until their crop is completely full, and then sit full, digesting their food. It is thought that vultures sometimes gorge themselves to the point of being unable to fly.

Vultures kettling in the sky

Kettle

A group of vultures in flight together, particulary soaring on thermals, is known as a kettle. Kettle may describe other birds flying in this way, including mixed flocks which may or may not have vultures.

Preening

Preening is the act of cleaning or grooming. Birds, including vultures, preen themselves to keep their feathers in top shape. Allopreening refers to social grooming between multiple individuals, often performed to strengthen social bonds. Black Vultures are known to take part in allopreening at roosting and feeding sites. Often allopreening concentrates on the head area, a spot that a bird cannot easily reach with its own beak.

Vulture preening
White-backed Vulture Preening by Sascha Wenninger

Stomach Acid

Vultures have extremely corrosive stomach acid, which helps them to safely digest dead animals that may be infected with diseases and toxins. The stomach acid protects the birds from contracting and spreading disease. Gut bacteria in vultures helps them to withstand several kinds of toxins that may be found in decaying flesh.

Taxonomy

Taxonomy is a scientific system for naming and organizing living things which share certain characteristcs. The taxonomy of vultures can be confusing. New World and Old World vultures aren't closely related, despite their physical and behavioral similarities. Some scientists think that New World vultures are closely related to storks. With new advances in the study of DNA, sometimes single species are split into distinct species. The Long-billed Vulture was split into two distinct species: the Slender-billed Vulture and the Indian Vulture. The Yellow-headed Vulture was split into two species in the 1960s: the Lesser and Greater.

Split vulture species



The big day is almost here! Tomorrow our Vulture Week will conclude on International Vulture Awareness Day!

International Vulture Awareness Day with Birdorable Black Vulture

We're celebrating Vulture Week because this Saturday, September 5th, marks International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). This commemorative day has been celebrated since at least 2009 and aims to highlight the importance of vultures and vulture conservation through education.

Zoos, conservation organizations and other groups around the world will be celebrating vultures this weekend, marking International Vulture Awareness Day on September 5th. Here are just a few of the spots that will be having public events in honor of the day:

The Mountsberg Raptor Centre in Campbellville, Ontario will celebrate the day with special programs. The event will feature two resident Turkey Vultures named Casey and Buzz. Visitors may also find some Birdorable-related vulture fun and free activities during the Centre's event!

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado will celebrate IVAD with plenty of special events, including vulture feedings, a giant game of vulture-themed Jenga, vulture sock puppets, and much more!

The Friends of Blouberg Nature Reserve group in South Africa will have vulture lectures, a vulture-themed treasure hunt, and vulture breeding colony viewing.

The Avifauna Bird Park in the Netherlands will celebrate IVAD on both Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th. Watch vulture feedings and see a special bird show. There will also be activites for kids.

Lehigh Valley Zoo in Pennsylvania will honor vultures with events on IVAD, including vulture programs, keeper talks, and a resident Black Vulture.

The Edinburgh Zoo in the United Kingdom will celebrate IVAD with special vulture talks, a flight show featuring Turkey Vultures, and storytelling sessions.

The Birmingham Zoo in Alabama invites guests to celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day with them. Learn learn about vulture conservation and how important these birds are to our ecosystem. Events for the day include a scavenger hunt and special Keeper Chats.

The Raptors in Canada will celebrate IVAD on Saturday and Sunday. They will have flying demonstrations with vultures and specially themed vulture talks. Fundraising at the event will raise moneyfor the Peregrine Fund and a local rescue organization.

The AGFC Delta Rivers Nature Center in Arkansas will have a special vulture presentation, which will include a flying demonstration with their resident Black Vulture.

The Cascades Raptor Center in Oregon invites visitors to meet their resident Turkey Vultures on International Vulture Awareness Day. They will also have special activities for guests related to vultures.

These are just a few of the organizations that invite the public to visit and celebrate vultures. Find a complete list of participating groups here. Because the information here may be updated infrequently, be sure to contact any organzation prior to your visit to verify event timing and activities.

Join us all week long as we highlight the world's vulture species leading up to International Vulture Awareness Day on Saturday!

We're celebrating Vulture Week because this Saturday, September 5th, marks International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). This commemorative day has been celebrated since at least 2009 and aims to highlight the importance of vultures and vulture conservation through education.

Vulture week rolls on with some cool vulture facts. These extreme facts show how diverse this amazing family of birds can be.

Largest Vulture
Among New World vultures, the Andean Condor and California Condor can both reach up to 48 inches in length, and weigh 26 pounds or more. In the Old World, the Cinereous Vulture reaches up to 47 inches in length. Female Cinereous Vultures may weigh up to 31 pounds!

Smallest Vulture
In the Old World, the Palm-nut Vulture has this record. They only grow to be about 24 inches long and weigh just around 3.5 pounds. The Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture is the smallest in the New World, reaching between 22 and 24 inches in length.

Compare sizes of Andean Condor vs. Palm-nut Vulture

Vulture Longevity Records
The longest lived Eurasian Griffon reached over 41 years of age in captivity. A captive-raised Lammergeier lived to be over 45 years old. The Andean Condor is believed to be capable of living 50 years or more in the wild. A captive Andean Condor that lived at a zoo in Connecticut lived 79 years! The longevity record for a wild Turkey Vulture is over 17 years, while a wild Black Vulture reached over 25 years of age.

Most Abundant Vulture
The Turkey Vulture is the most abundant species of vulture in the world, with a population that probably numbers into the millions of individuals.

Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) Preflight Warmup
Turkey Vultures by docentjoyce (CC BY 2.0)

Fastest Decline
Many vulture species in Africa and on the Indian subcontinent are in peril. The population decline of the White-rumped Vulture is an unfortunate example of this. In the mid 1980s, the White-rumped Vulture was considered to be the most abundant large bird of prey in the world. Since that time, the species has declined rapidly, losing up to 99.9% of its total population in just 20 years.

Longest Migration
Most vulture species are sedentary, year-round residents throughout their range. In the New World, the Turkey Vulture is the only vulture spcies that has regular seasonal migration. Birds that breed in southern Canada probably travel at least 1,000 miles to reach their wintering grounds to the south, traveling around 100 miles per day of migration. In the Old World, Egyptian Vultures may travel up to 5,500 miles when they migrate from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds at the southern end of the Sahara Desert.

Ancient Birds
Relatives of vultures have existed for millions of years. Early ancestors of Old World vultures, in the now extinct Diatropornis family, existed in the Eocene epoch about 56 to 38 million years ago.

Highest Flyer
The Rueppell's Vulture of Africa is thought to be the world's highest flying bird. It has been recorded flying at an altitude of 11,300 meters or 37,000 feet above sea level!

Can't get enough of these amazing and important birds? Be sure to check out our great collection of cute and original vulture apparel and gifts.

Birdorable Vulture Gifts

We're celebrating Vulture Week because this Saturday, September 5th, marks International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD). This commemorative day has been celebrated since at least 2009 and aims to highlight the importance of vultures and vulture conservation through education.

We're excited to offer several new apparel styles via our partner Zazzle. A new line of women's tank tops, more choices for babies and toddlers, and two all-over print styles are all brand new in our shop.

Showing off these new styles are a couple of new designs unveiled for Vulture Week.

 Birdorable Vulture T-Shirts

 

New World Vultures (more styles coming soon!) features the seven species of vulture native to the Americas. These birds are scavengers who play an important role in keeping our environment clean. The birds here include the Critically Endangered California Condor and the widespread Turkey Vulture. New World Vultures is shown above on a Women's Bella Flowy Muscle Tank Top and below on a Baby Fine Jersey T-Shirt.

Old World Vultures features the faces of all of the Old World vultures in colorful dots arranged in rows. Unfortunately many of these species face population threats. The vultures shown in the design include the unusual Palm-nut Vulture and the pretty white Egyptian Vulture. Old World Vultures is shown above on a Men's Adidas ClimaLite T-Shirt and below on a new All-Over Print T-Shirt.

Birdorable Vulture T-Shirts

Join us all week long as we highlight the world's vulture species leading up to International Vulture Awareness Day on Saturday!