Blog Archive: 2019

Birdorable Surf Scoter

2019 Bonanza Bird #6: Surf Scoter

December 8th, 2019 in Birdorable Bonanza 2019, Ducks No comments
Birdorable Surf Scoter

Today we are introducing a species of sea duck to our Birdorable family: the Surf Scoter!

Surf Scoters feed on a variety of marine invertebrates. They are restricted to North American waters, breeding on freshwater bodies in Alaska and Canada and wintering along both coasts of the continent. After the nesting period, Surf Scoters molt their flight feathers. They find a safe place to do this, because during the process, they are flightless and vulnerable to predators.

Male Surf Scoters, like our cute Birdorable version, have an all-black plumage, with distinctive white patches on the face and an orange-looking bill. Females are brown.

Via bird banding, we know that wild Surf Scoters can live to be at least 11 years old.

Surf Scoter Close-up Photo
Surf Scoter by Becky Matsubara (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow's new bird is a colorful species of nuthatch found in Asian forests. Can you take a guess?

Birdorable Spectacled Flowerpecker

2019 Bonanza Bird #5: Spectacled Flowerpecker

December 7th, 2019 in Birdorable Bonanza 2019 No comments
Birdorable Spectacled Flowerpecker

Today's new Birdorable is really a brand new bird! The Spectacled Flowerpecker was officially described by science in October of this year. The bird was first sighted in Borneo in 2009, but a specimen wasn't available for detailed study until March of 2019.

In addition to describing the bird's external appearance and features, scientists also learned about the diet of the Spectacled Flowerpecker. Part of the diet includes a species of mistleote. Information like this can help ornithologists to learn more about the bird's range and preferred habitat.

The Spectacled Flowerpecker joins our Birdorable Finches and Friends. Flowerpeckers are songbirds in a separate family but show some similarities to finches. The Spectacled Flowerpecker is not closely related to any other known flowerpecker species.

Tomorrow's new bird is a species of North American sea duck that might like to "hang ten". Can you guess the species?

Birdorable Black-bellied Whstling-Duck

2019 Bonanza Bird #4: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

December 6th, 2019 in Birdorable Bonanza 2019, Ducks No comments
Birdorable Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Today's new Birdorable bird joins our duck family! We are introducing the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck!

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks nest in tree cavities and will use nest boxes. They can often be found perching in trees. In fact, they used to be known as Black-bellied Tree Ducks. There are 8 species of Whistling-Duck in the world. They are named for their unmistakable whistling calls.

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a striking species of duck with a visually pleasing mix of black, white, and chestnut to its plumage. In addition, they have a bright pink-orange bill and feet, making them easy to distinguish from other species of duck.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck family and Little Blue heron
Black-bellied Whistling Duck family and Little Blue heron

Tomorrow's new Birdorable species is a really new species -- only recently officially described by science. Can you guess this species, first found in Borneo over 10 years ago?

Birdorable Australian King-Parrot

2019 Bonanza Bird #3: Australian King-Parrot

December 5th, 2019 in Birdorable Bonanza 2019, Parrots No comments
Birdorable Australian King-Parrot

Today's new Birdorable species is a parrot endemic to Australia, where it is found along the eastern coast. Today we introduce the Birdorable Australian King-Parrot!

Australian King-Parrots display sexual dimorphism -- males and females have different coloration. Our Birdorable cartoon is of a male bird, which has red on the head and chest, with blue-green elsewhere. Females have a similar color palette but the arrangement is different: green at the head, back and chest; red at the belly; and blue at the rump.

Australian King-Parrots are fairly gregarious and can be found flocking with rosella parrots within their range.

Male Australian King Parrot by Mike's Birds (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Female Australian King Parrot by Tatters (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow we'll add a duck to Birdorable! The new species is known for its bright feet and beak, and belongs to a family named for the way it sounds! Can you guess the species?

Birdorable Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

2019 Bonanza Bird #2: Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

December 4th, 2019 in Birdorable Bonanza 2019 No comments
Birdorable Mrs. Goulds Sunbird

Today's new bird has a fabulous plumage and an interesting name: here is our Birdorable Mrs. Gould's Sunbird!

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird is a small species of bird native to parts of Asia, including China, India, and Thailand. It is part of the sunbird family, which consists of 146 different species spread across parts of the Old World.

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird is named after the British artist Elizabeth Gould, whose works include the illustrations for The Birds of Australia and Darwin's Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle.

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird has a striking plumage, with a bright reddish-orange back, yellow breast, and blue tail. There are iridescent feathers at the crown, cheeks, and chin. It has a downcurved bill, specialized to feed on the nectar of flowers.

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow's new species is a parrot from Down Under. Males and females of this endemic species have very different plumage. Tune in tomorrow to see our new bird!

Birdorable Yellow-billed Cuckoo

2019 Bonanza Bird #1: Yellow-billed Cuckoo

December 3rd, 2019 in Birdorable Bonanza 2019, Cuckoos No comments
Birdorable Yellow-bileld Cuckoo

It's Bonanza time again here at Birdorable! Today we're kicking off our 11th annual Birdorable Bonanza! For the next 10 days, we'll reveal a new Birdorable bird. Today we introduce a new species of cuckoo to Birdorable: the Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

Yellow-billed Cuckoos are migratory. They breed across much of the eastern half of the United States, as well as across the Caribbean and into parts of Central America. They spend the winter across much of South America.

While the Common Cuckoo of the Old World is known to be a brood parasite, much like the familiar Brown-headed Cowbird of the New World, Yellow-billed Cuckoos only rarely lay eggs in other birds' nests. In times of especially abundant availability of food, Yellow-billed Cuckoos have been known to lay eggs in other cuckoo nests, as well as in nests of robins, catbirds, and thrushes.

In the southern United States, where Yellow-billed Cuckoos breed, they have been known colloquially as the Rain Crow or the Storm Crow. This is because they have a reputation for calling or singing before summer thunderstorms.

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo joins our Birdorable Cuckoos and Cohorts, where we already have two species of cuckoo: the Greater Roadrunner and the Guira Cuckoo.

Photo of Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren (CC BY 2.0)
Photo of Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo with tent caterpillar by Andrew Weitzel (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow's new Birdorable is a small Asian species of nectar-feeding bird named for a female British naturalist and illustrator. Do you know the bird?