Birdorable Reddish Egret

Today we continue with our 2017 Birdorable Bonanza by adding a new wading bird: the Reddish Egret!

The Reddish Egret is a medium-sized species of heron found along coastal habitats in Central America and the southeast of the United States. They are also found on many islands of the Caribbean.

Reddish Egrets are known for their active hunting antics, often found running around, spinning, and jumping in shallow salt water as they hunt little fish to eat.

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Reddish Egrets by Andrea Westmoreland (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Reddish Egret has two very different color morphs. Darker birds have grey bodies with a reddish head and neck. The light morph has a mostly white plumage.

Tomorrow we'll add a new species to our Birdorable rail family. Once thought to be extinct, this species has moved from living in wetlands to survive in alpine grasslands. Do you know this New Zealand endemic?

Cute Reddish Egret Gifts

Birdorable Common Pochard

Today's new bird in our annual Birdorable Bonanza is an Old World species of duck: the Common Pochard!

The Common Pochard is a migratory duck found across parts of Europe and Asia. They are gregarious, found in large (sometimes mixed) flocks during the winter. Common Pochards are known to occasionally hybridize with the Tufted Duck.

Common Pochards look a lot like the Redhead of North America. Adult males have light grey backs, black at the chest, and an unmistakable red head.

Tomorrow we'll reveal a new member of the egret and heron family, known for its active hunting antics and for having two distinct color morphs. Can you guess the bird?

Cute Common Pochard Gifts

Birdorable Common Myna

Today's new bird is the Common Myna!

The Common Myna is a medium-sized songbird native to parts of Asia. Today the species is known in more parts of the world as a pest. Intentionally introduced (Australia) or accidental escapee (South Africa) birds have established outside of their native range where they compete with native birds and damage agricultural crops.

Common Mynas are omnivores and well-equipped to adapt to living around human habitation.

Like other birds in the starling family, the Common Myna is skilled at mimicking sounds and voices. Their ability to sing and mimic makes them popular in the pet bird trade in some parts of the world.

Tomorrow we'll add an Old World duck that both dives and dabbles when it feeds.

Cute Common Myna Gifts

Birdorable Blue-headed Macaw

Today this pretty parrot joins Birdorable as the 4th bird in our 2017 Birdorable Bonanza: the Blue-headed Macaw!

Blue-headed Macaws are small macaws found in western parts of South America, where their preferred habitat is humid forest. They are often found near water.

Also known as Coulon's Macaw, this species is secretive in the wild and little is known of basic behaviors like breeding and feeding. As of November 2017 they are considered to be Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN Red List.

Tomorrow we'll add a widespread species related to starlings that is invasive in much of its current range. Can you guess the species?

Cute Blue-headed Macaw Gifts

Birdorable Iceland Gull

Today our 2017 Birdorable Bonanza continues with the Iceland Gull!

The Iceland Gull is a medium-sized gull that breeds in the Arctic. The species is migratory; many birds spend the winter between the Great Lakes and the northeast of the United States.

Iceland Gulls are colonial breeders, using rocky cliffs for nesting. They feed on fish, often taken on the wing, as well as other marine animals. Outside of breeding season they may also be found foraging for food in other places like beaches and trash dumps.

Iceland Gulls have three recognized subspecies. The nominate subspecies is joined by Thayer's and Kumilien's. Thayer's was considered a separate species until 2017.

Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)
Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) by Ron Knight

Tomorrow's new species will join our Birdorable macaw family. It is a relatively small species named for the color of its head. Can you guess the bird?

Cute Iceland Gull Gifts

Birdorable Clark's Nutcracker

Our 2017 12-day Birdorable Bonanza continues today with an iconic mountain species of the North American west: Clark's Nutcracker!

Clark's Nutcrackers are in the corvid family, related to crows and jays. They are intelligent and gregarious birds found in western parts of North America, in mountain habitats.

Clark's Nutcrackers feed mostly on the seeds from pine trees. They use their powerful beaks to crack open cones to reach the seeds inside. They eat the seeds fresh, or from their cached supply when fresh seeds are unavailable. They have excellent memories and can find seeds they have stashed in buried caches several months later.

Clark's nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) on Upper Terrace Loop Drive
Clark's Nutcracker by Yellowstone National Park
Manning Provincial Park
Clark's Nutcracker by GoToVan

Tomorrow's new bird is a species of gull with a larger range than its name would indicate. Can you guess which bird it is?

Cute Clark's Nutcracker Gifts

Birdorable Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle

As 2017 winds down, it's time for us to reveal some new birds as part of our annual Birdorable Bonanza! This time we'll introduce 12 birds, from November 24th through December 5th.

Today's new bird joins the Birdorable raptor family.

The Black-and-white Hawk Eagle is a large species of raptor found in forested habitats across parts of South and Central America. They hunt a variety of prey items, usually while soaring at fairly high altitude.

Black-and-white Hawk-Eagles are named for their contrasting plumage. The head and chest are white while the back, wings, and markings around the eye are black.

Spizaetus melanoleucas
Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle by Dick Culbert

Tomorrow our Bonanza will continue with a new bird in the corvid family, named for one of its favorite foods. Can you guess the species?

Cute Hawk-Eagle Gifts

Birdorable Cedar Waxwing with crop

The crop is a fascinating aspect of avian anatomy, serving as a crucial part of the digestive system in many bird species. This expandable pouch, typically found at the throat, acts as a storage space for food prior to digestion. While most commonly associated with birds, the crop is also present in certain species of snails and earthworms and was a feature in some dinosaurs species.

In the avian world, the crop's visibility can often be noted externally, particularly when it is filled with food. However, it's important to note that not all bird species possess a crop. For example, pigeons and doves not only use their crop to store food but also to produce a nutritious substance called crop milk, which is essential for feeding their young.

Photo of Cedar Waxwing with bulging crop

Cedar Waxwing with bulging crop by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Scavenging birds such as vultures and condors often gorge themselves when food is available, filling their crop to its maximum capacity. This allows them to store excess food for later digestion, a vital adaptation in environments where food availability is unpredictable. The crop enables these birds to feed efficiently and sustain themselves over longer periods.

Photo of Golden Eagle with full crop

Golden Eagle with full crop by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Interestingly, while many raptor species like hawks, eagles, and ospreys have a crop, owls are an exception in this regard. Another notable use of the crop is in birds that regurgitate food for their young. In these species, the crop plays a role in softening the food before it is fed to the chicks, ensuring that the young birds receive nourishment that is both digestible and nutritious.

The crop's function in avian digestion and parental care highlights the intricate adaptations birds have evolved to thrive in various environments and life stages.

Baby Red-shouldered Hawk with full crop

Baby Red-shouldered Hawk with full crop by Amy Evenstad

Related Bird Gifts

Birdorable Macaroni Penguins

    Yankee Doodle went to town
    A-riding on a pony,
    Stuck a feather in his cap
    And called it macaroni.

American fans may recognize these lyrics from the song "Yankee Doodle", a popular tune dating back to the American Revolution. The above stanza, used in later versions of the song and still sung today, refers to a fashion style popularized in the early 19th century: maccaronism. This referred to a fashion style adopted by young men who wore flamboyant clothing with unique and bold ornamentation. Does this remind you of any birds you know?

The Macaroni Penguin was first named for science at a time when macaronis were deeply embedded in popular culture. The flamboyant yellow head feathers found on this dapper little black and white penguin gave the species its common name.

Cute Macaroni Penguin Gifts

Birdorable Red Knots

A lot of bird species are migratory. That means that they spend part of the year in one place and then travel (fly) to another place for some time. Migration is typically based around ideal conditions for breeding versus availability of food depending on location and season.

By the way, migration isn't limited to birds. In fact, some species in all major animal groups experience migration. Some well-known examples include the great wildebeest migration in Africa, the multi-generational migration of Monarch butterflies, and salmon runs from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans into freshwater rivers.

Birds that breed across North America and migrate south to New World neotropics for the winter are known as Neotropical Migrants. Some definitions of the term use the latitude of the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees north) as a benchmark: birds that breed above this line and winter below it are considered to be Neotropical Migrants.

The over 200 species of Neotropical Migrant birds come from different families, though a majority of species are songbirds. Shorebirds, birds of prey, and waterfowl may also be Neotropical Migrants.

Among these long-distance migrants are Red Knots, with a breeding range that extends into northern Canada and a winter range as far south as the southernmost point of South America. A Red Knot could travel up to 10,000 miles per one-way trip!

Bobolinks are also Neotropical Migrants; individual birds may travel over 6,500 miles one way, from northern Canada down to Argentina.

Neotropical Migrant birds face a variety of threats to their populations. For these birds, ample suitable habitat is required on their breeding grounds, winter sites, and all of the places that they stop along their long journeys.