Blog Archive: November 2015

Announcing the Birdorable 'Advent' Bonanza 2015

November 30th, 2015 in Birdorable Bonanza 2015, Announcements 3 comments

Get ready to be excited, because tomorrow we will start a new Birdorable Bonanza!

If you've been following us for a while, here on the blog or on our Facebook page, then you'll know that during a 'bonanza' we add a new Birdorable bird to our site every day. We've done this every year for the last 6 years (see the archived blog posts here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009). This year is no different, and we're happy to announce that this year's bonanza will last all the way to Christmas! That's right, we will be adding a new cute bird every day from December 1st through December 25th.

It's like an advent calendar, but with cute birds! Every day leading up to Christmas we will share a bird on the blog and on Facebook. We have prepared lots of great birds from around the world, and each one has been requested by someone who contacted us.

As usual, we will also post a preview image each day so you can guess what the next bird will be. Here's the first one. This supercute bird is very small and can be found in Cuba:

Birdorable Wild Turkey

Cool facts about the Wild Turkey

November 25th, 2015 in Did You Know...?, Grouse 3 comments
Birdorable Wild Turkey

If you live in the United States then you will probably be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. And like many families, chances are you will have a turkey on the table. But what do you really know about these birds? Did you know that Wild Turkeys sleep in trees, can fly up to 55 miles per hour, and that they’re highly intelligent and social animals? Here are some cool facts about one of the most famous birds in North America.

  • Many people think that, because they are so heavy, turkeys are slow and that they stick to the ground. But in fact Wild Turkeys have powerful legs and can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and fly as fast as 55 miles per hour.
  • Wild Turkeys sleep in trees. Even domesticated birds try to sleep in trees when they get the chance. This keeps them safe from predators, such as coyotes, foxes and raccoons, as not only people have a taste for turkey.
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Turkey in a tree by allison.hare (CC BY 2.0)
  • Male turkeys are substantially larger than females. They look different too: the male’s feathers are iridescent red, green, copper, bronze, purple and gold, while the female is much duller overall and mostly brown and grey. This difference is called sexual dimorphism.
  • A turkey’s gender can be determined by its droppings! Males produce spiral-shaped poop, while females produce “J” shaped poop. Also, the diameter of the droppings increase as the turkey gets older.
  • A popular story is that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird, instead of the Bald Eagle, but this is actually not quite true -- at least not officially. Back in 1784, Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter disapproving of a drawing that had been produced of an eagle that looked liked a turkey and that such a bird would actually be preferable to the eagle as national symbol. As Franklin explained, the Bald Eagle had a “bad moral character” and was a “rank coward” that merely steals its food from other birds. So while it is true that he floated the idea that the turkey might be a better bird for a national symbol, it was only in this personal letter and in relation to the drawing. He never actually advocated this notion publicly.
Wild Turkeys #2
Wild Turkeys by Charley Day (CC BY-ND 2.0)
  • Did you know that male turkeys have “beards”? Male turkeys are called gobblers and the hairlike bristles that grow from the center of their chest get about 9 inches in length. In some populations 10 to 20% of females have a beard too, although it’s usually shorter and thinner than that of the male.
  • The color of the Turkey’s head and throat changes depending on its mood. It can change from gray to shades of red, white and blue when the bird is excited or distressed. During mating season, the male’s wattle turns a scarlet red. The fleshy object over the male’s beak is called a ‘snood’.

Snood, wattle and beard of a turkey

  • The gizzard, which is part of the turkey’s stomach, contains tiny stones that the bird previously swallowed. Also known as gastroliths, these little stones help the bird to digest its food, since birds don’t have teeth. They actually have two stomachs. The first is called the glandular stomach, where food is broken down. After this the food entered the turkey’s gizzard. 
  • A turkey has 5000 to 6000 feathers. 18 of those are tail feathers that make up the male’s distinct fan.
Wild Turkey 2 3-7-15
Wild Turkeys by Larry Smith (CC BY 2.0)
  • Each turkey has a unique voice, allowing birds in a group to recognize each other. Turkeys create lasting social bonds and are very affectionate. The turkey’s gobble can be heard a mile away. Only males gobble. The females, or hens, communicate through clucks and small chirp-like noises.
  • Turkeys have very good geographic skills and are able to learn the precise details of an area over 1,000 acres in size.

Looking for something to do this Thanksgiving while the rest of the family is preparing dinner or watching a football game? Then grab your crayons and start coloring because we have a great coloring page for you with our cute cartoon Wild Turkey! Show your love for Wild Turkeys with this coloring page from Birdorable and have a wonderful day tomorrow with your friends and family.

Birdorable Happy Thanksgiving coloring page

Birdorable Cinereous Vulture

T-Shirts Tuesday: Cinereous Vulture

November 25th, 2015 in T-Shirt Tuesday No comments

This week's featured t-shirt is this women's American Apparel long sleeve tee featuring our Birdorable Cinereous Vulture, also known as the Eurasian Black Vulture, a huge bird of prey that can be found in parts of Europe and Asia. This shirt is available in 6 different colors: white, black, pink, navy, light blue and brown, as shown here. This design is also available on many other t-shirt and apparel styles and colors. Check out our range of other products featuring the Cinereous Vulture.

">Birdorable Cinereous Vulture Women's American Apparel Fine Jersey Long Sleeve T-Shirt

Birdorable Superb Fairywren

Bird Term: Sexual Dimorphism

November 12th, 2015 in Bird Terms, Fun Facts 4 comments
Supurb Fairy Wrens

Sexual dimorphism refers to observable differences between males and females of the same species. In basic terms, it means that a male of a species is easily distinguished from a female. In birds this usually means differences in size or in plumage. It can also be noted in behavior differences and other traits.

Earlier on this blog we talked about the extreme sexual dimorphism in Eclectus Parrots, where males and females show extreme differences in their plumage: males are bright green while females are shades of red and blue.

Sexual dimorphism exists in most species of raptor. In birds of prey, males are often smaller than the females of the species. However, this is often difficult to discern in wild birds, especially if seen at a distance or when only one bird is present.

Many common birds also exhibit sexual dimorphism. Male ducks are often colorful, while females tend to be drab. You can see this in the common Mallard.

Mallard ducks
Mallard ducks by Connor Mah (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In songbirds, males may be brightly colored while females have a similar plumage with more muted tones, as seen in Baltimore Orioles, American Robins, Eastern Towhees, and Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Eastern Towhee, female and male
Eastern Towhees: female (left) by Brian Henderson (CC BY-NC 2.0), male (right) by Dendroica cerulea (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In other birds, like the Eclectus Parrot mentioned above, the plumage differences are extreme. Examples of this can also be seen in the Superb Fairywren of Australia, and the Sage Grouse.

Can you think of other bird species where the male is easily told apart from the female? Do you have birds like this where you live? What about birds that aren't sexually dimorphic? Can you think of species where male and females are impossible to tell apart by looking at them?