Blog Archive: December 2018

Birdorable Wild Turkey

Bird Terms: Wattles, Dewlaps, and Snoods, Oh My!

December 11th, 2018 in Bird Terms No comments
Difference between comb, wattle and dewlap

Some birds have fleshy growths hanging or protruding from the head or the neck. When these are a normal part of their anatomy, they are called caruncles.

Caruncles are often made of bare skin, though some may have a sparse covering of small feathers. They are usually bright in color, like the bright red comb of a domestic chicken.

Caruncles are thought to be ornamental in nature, found in male birds and used to attract mates, though caruncles are found in females of some species, too. Large bare patches of flapping skin may also be used to thermoregulate the bird, especially in warm climates.

Some caruncles have specific names depending on where they are found on the body.

Wild Turkey showing snood, wattle and beard by Birdorable

Comb
A comb or cockscomb is a caruncle that grows on the top of the head. Males and females of a species may both have a comb, but it is generally larger in male birds. Combs are found in domestic chickens, like the Faverolles, and related bird species.

Wattle
A wattle is a caruncle that hangs from the head or the neck. Wattles come in a set of two; when one such growth is present, it is known as a dewlap. On the Wattled Crane, the wattles hang from the upper throat and are almost fully feathered. Another wattled bird named for this distinguishing feature is the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.

Snood
A snood is a caruncle that hangs from the forehead, and can extend over the beak. These are found in both the Wild Turkey and domestic varieties. During courtship, the snood elongates and darkens in male birds.

The King Vulture has an unusual caruncle on its beak, which appears as an orange fleshy crest-like protuberance attached to the cere.

Some other species with caruncles include the Masked Lapwing (wattles), Andean Condor (comb and wattles), and the White-winged Guan (dewlap). Can you think of other bird species that have caruncles?

Compare caruncles on birds
Birdorable Scaly-headed Parrot

2018 Bonanza Bird #10: Scaly-headed Parrot

December 2nd, 2018 in Birdorable Bonanza 2018, Parrots No comments
Cute Birdorable Scaly-headed Parrot

Today we wrap up our 2018 Birdorable Bonanza with a species of South American parrot: the Scaly-headed Parrot!

This pretty bird is a medium-sized parrot native to eastern parts of South America, where it can be found in a variety of forest habitats. It is named for the scalloped feathers on its head that look like scales.

Scaly-headed Parrots are one of the most popular species of pet bird, and are thus known by a variety of alternate names, including Scaly-headed Pionus and Maximilian Parrot. They can live to be 40 years old or more when well cared for in captivity.

Thanks for following along during our 10th annual Birdorable Bonanza!

Birdorable Tufted Puffin

2018 Bonanza Bird #9: Tufted Puffin

December 1st, 2018 in Auks, Birdorable Bonanza 2018 2 comments
Cute Birdorable Tufted Puffin

Today's new bird is a seabird of the Pacific Ocean: the Tufted Puffin!

The Tufted Puffin is also known as the Crested Puffin. Both males and females develop yellow tufts of feathers on the sides of the head during breeding season.

Adult Tufted Puffins spend most of their life at sea. During breeding season, they congregate along rocky cliff edges on northern Pacific islands, where they nest in rock crevices or inside burrows that can be over five feet deep.

Tufted Puffin swimming
Tufted Puffin by NOAA Photo Library (CC BY 2.0)
Tufted Puffins on a Rock
Tufted Puffins by Isaac Sanchez (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow we'll reveal our last Bonanza bird for 2018. It's a South American parrot named for the scalloped feathers on its head. Do you know the species?