Blog Archive: 2019

Birdorable Adelie Penguin

Birdy April Fools' Day Shenanigans

April 1st, 2019 in Funny, Holidays No comments

Traditionally, April Fools' Day is a time to play pranks, share hoaxes, and tell jokes. April Fool stories published by newspapers and other media outlets may trick readers into believing tall tales -- until they realize the date. Here are some bird-themed funnies that have come out on April Fools' Days in the past.

A lot of April Fool jokes involving crazy bird stories originated from photo manipulation -- an old-fahsioned version of "photoshopping". Examples of this include a German paper exposing a penguin as tall as a man in 1931; that time in 1941 when a newspaper revealed a military plan to plant bombs on crows; and the strange and silly rare human-legged ostrich that reportedly puzzled scientists in 1953 Australia.

Google is known to reveal a prank each April Fools' Day, often involving a new product or service in their technology offering. In 2002 they introduced PigeonRank to the world, exposing the truth behind their search technology. Pigeon Clusters (PCs) were the true power Google used to rank and sort web pages. The somewhat elaborate story behind PigeonRank was shared in detail, including graphs and diagrams and a FAQ.

A popular video was released by the BBC in April Fools' Day 2008 which showed Adelie Penguins taking flight. At the time it was one of the most viewed internet videos.

A mysterious physical April Fools' Day prank was played on the town of Portage, Wisconsin in 2012. Plastic lawn geese dressed in different outfits were placed around businesses, homes, and services in the city. In all, 132 geese were found. Although the perpetrators were not made known, no one who received a goose seemed to mind. Read this extremely wholesome newspaper report on the incident.

Then there was that time when we revealed a new species of crane that was discovered in South America. We even shared a colorful Birdorable image of the new species, which we dubbed the Painted Crane (Grus pictus). This April Fool prank came out just as we were celebrating Crane Week -- it was an incredible coincidence!

Birdorable Painted Crane

Watch out for more pranks and hoaxes as you go about your day and keep in mind the date! Happy April Fools' Day!

Birdorable Turkey Vulture

Bird Term: Allopreening

February 14th, 2019 in Bird Terms No comments
Allopreening Turkey Vultures

Allopreening refers to one animal preening another. While preening and grooming are usually individual actions, in some species, birds or animals will preen one another. This occurs in birds as well as other classes of animal.

We previously mentioned allopreening when discussing vultures during Vulture Week in 2015. The post Glossary of Vulture Terms explained, in part, that "allopreening refers to social grooming between multiple individuals, often performed to strengthen social bonds."

Social bonds may not be the only reason that birds preen or groom one another. Allopreening is most common in species that tend to gather in large flocks. In these species, birds in frequent close proximity to each other are more likely to transfer parasites amongst the close-knit group. Allopreening in these species helps to keep pests like ticks under control.

Allopreening between mated pairs of birds occurs more often in species where both the male and female raise their offspring together. The preening ritual may help strengthen the longer-lasting bond. In mated pairs where the birds may be separated for a long period of time, allopreening is part of a greeting ritual. For example, this type of allopreening occurs when male and female penguins are reunited after a long incubation shift where one of the mates was feeding at sea for days or weeks.

Allopreening may also help to reduce conflict or tensions among large flocks or breeding colonies of birds. The social structure of the colony plays a large part in who receives preening and how much.

Allopreening Eurasian Spoonbills
Allopreening Eurasian Spoonbills by Amy Evenstad
Allopreening Black Vultures
Allopreening Black Vultures by Judy Gallagher (CC BY 2.0)
Allopreening Arrow-marked Babblers
Allopreening Arrow-marked Babblers by Derek Keats (CC BY 2.0)
Birdorable Western Grebe

Baby Birdorable: Western Grebe

February 4th, 2019 in Baby Birds, Grebes No comments

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 Western Grebe.

The male and female in a mated Western Grebe pair build the nest together. The nest is built from material found underwater, used to build a supportive mound on water or adjacent to water. Incubation is done by both partners and takes around 24 days. Within minutes of leaving the egg, chicks are able to climb upon the back of a parent. The adults take turns swimming with and feeding the chicks.

Nesting Western Grebes
Nesting Western Grebes by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Baby Grebe
Baby Grebe by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Western Grebe and chicks by
Western Grebe and chicks by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Western Grebes Have Baby Races Too by
Western Grebes Have Baby Races Too by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)
Western Grebe Carrying a Baby Grebe on Its Back
Western Grebe Carrying a Baby Grebe on Its Back by USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC BY 2.0)