Blog Archive: September 2015

Birdorable Barn Swallow

Baby Birdorable: Barn Swallow

September 18th, 2015 in Baby Birds, Swallows 1 comment

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)
Birdorable Green Aracari

Fun Facts About Toucans

September 10th, 2015 in Fun Facts, Toucans 2 comments
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!
Birdorable Pink Cockatoo

T-Shirt Tuesday: Pink Cockatoo Tank Top

September 8th, 2015 in T-Shirt Tuesday No comments

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

Birdorable White-headed Vulture

Happy International Vulture Awareness Day

September 5th, 2015 in In the Wild, Vultures 1 comment

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
Birdorable Lappet-faced Vulture

Glossary of Vulture Terms

September 4th, 2015 in Fun Facts, Vultures 2 comments

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!

Birdorable King Vulture

Celebrate Vultures at a Vulture Day Event!

September 3rd, 2015 in In the Wild, Vultures 1 comment
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!