Blog Archive: Birdorable Bonanza 2020

Birdorable Christmas Shearwater

2020 Bonanza Bird #32: Christmas Shearwater

December 25th, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020 10 comments
Birdorable Christmas Shearwater

Today is Christmas Day! And it’s the last day of our 2020 Birdorable Bonanza. Our final bird is the Christmas Shearwater, a species of shearwater found around tropical and subtropical islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Christmas Island.

This bird has a festive name but a rather drab appearance with an entirely dark brown body plumage.

Christmas Shearwaters eat fish and other aquatic prey. They depend on oceanic predators, like tuna, to drive small fish and other small creatures upwards where the shearwater can snatch prey either at the surface or after a short and shallow hunting pursuit. To help them retain their prey, Christmas Shearwaters have specialized indentations on their tongues and along the back of their beaks.

Christmas Shearwaters
Christmas Shearwaters by Duncan (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Christmas Shearwater
Christmas Shearwaters by Duncan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On this Christmas day we wish all of our followers a wonderful holiday and a safe season! Thanks for following along. We’ll see you in 2021!

Birdorable King Penguin

2020 Bonanza Bird #31: King Penguin

December 24th, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Penguins 9 comments
Birdorable King Penguin

Today’s new Birdorable is our third “king” before Christmas. Here is our cute cartoon King Penguin!

The King Penguin is a very large species of penguin, smaller only than the Emperor Penguin. Adult birds can be recognized by their black and white body plumage and by the golden orange patch at the back of the head.

King Penguins have an unusual breeding cycle which takes around 15 months to complete. They breed in large colonies. After a chick hatches, the parents take turns keeping the baby penguin safe and warm while the other adult forages for food for 3 to 7 days. The foraging bird returns, feeds the chick, and relieves the other parent to go off and find food for 3 to 7 days. This period, known as the “guard phase” lasts up to 40 days. Then, during the austral (southern hemisphere) winter, parents leave their chicks in a large communal creche. The chicks fast (eat nothing) for over 4 months, huddling together to keep warm as they wait for the parents to return. Fledging (which for penguins means achieving independence – not flight) occurs a few months after the adults return.

King Penguins
King Penguins at Salisbury Plain by Liam Quinn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow is Christmas day! We will conclude our 2020 Birdorable Bonanza with an appropriately named seabird. Are you ready? We sure are!

Birdorable King Eider

2020 Bonanza Bird #30: King Eider

December 23rd, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Ducks 4 comments
Birdorable King Eider

Today the second of our three “kings” joins Birdorable in the lead-up to Christmas. The King Eider is a large species of sea duck found in both the Old and New World.

King Eiders are hardy ducks, spending almost all of their time at sea. Breeding brings them to land, but females care for the nest and chicks alone, so they spend a bit more time away from the sea than males.

Speaking of male King Eiders, look at that crazy plumage! Males in breeding season are sensational, with a lot going on in terms of both color and form. They are pale blue from the forehead to the nape of the neck, with pale green cheeks and a bright yellow-orange frontal lobe framed inside a black outline. All this, and a red bill, too. It’s almost too much, but then they’ve got what looks like little “sails” on their backs, formed from special wing feathers. With a plumage so crazy, they fit into our cartoon bird family perfectly.

King Eider
King Eider by Tim Sackton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow’s new Birdorable will be the third and final “king” bird before Christmas. The silhouette should make this one easy! Can you guess?

Birdorable Eastern Kingbird

2020 Bonanza Bird #29: Eastern Kingbird

Birdorable Eastern Kingbird

Today’s new Birdorable is one of three “kings” we’ll introduce in the days leading up to Christmas. Here is the Birdorable Eastern Kingbird!

Eastern Kingbirds are large flycatchers native to the New World. These migratory birds breed across much of the United States, except for in the far west. Winters are spent across western parts of South America.

The Eastern Kingbird is a “tyrant” flycatcher – its scientific name is Tyrannus tyrannus. Tyrannus translates to “king” or “tyrant” and refers to the aggressive behavior seen in these birds and others in the same family. There are about 437 species in the tyrant flycatcher family and all are native to the New World.

Eastern Kingbird
Photo by USFWS Midwest Region (public domain)

Tomorrow another “king” will join Birdorable. This species of sea duck is found in both New World and Old World waters. Do you know this one?

Birdorable Red Junglefowl

2020 Bonanza Bird #28: Red Junglefowl

December 21st, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Grouse 6 comments
Birdorable Red Junglefowl

Today’s new Birdorable is one of four species of junglefowl in the world. It’s the Red Junglefowl, and the 750th bird species on Birdorable!

The Red Junglefowl is an exotic tropical species with a familiar look, due to it being a primary ancestor of today’s domestic chicken. It is thought that the chicken was first domesticated around 8,000 years ago, also using stock from the other three junglefowl species. The name Red Junglefowl is also sometimes used to describe feral chicken populations established from escaped farm chickens.

Our Birdorable bird is a male Red Junglefowl, with his flashy and fleshy red comb and wattles, long iridescent tail, and golden hackles. Females are cryptic with a camouflaged plumage to help keep them safe -- especially during breeding and brooding season, when they alone care for their chicks.

Red Junglefowl
Red Junglefowl by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

As we get closer to Christmas our remaining Bonanza birds will follow a theme. The first of three “kings” will arrive tomorrow. The bird is a migratory species of New World flycatcher with black and white plumage. Can you guess the species, if we tell you the name includes a cardinal direction?

Birdorable Ring-necked Dove

2020 Bonanza Bird #27: Ring-necked Dove

December 20th, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Doves 4 comments
Birdorable Ring-necked Dove

Today we introduce a new species of Birdorable dove – it’s our Ring-necked Dove!

Ring-necked Doves are common across their range, which covers most of the southern half of Africa. Their trilling call is a common sound heard on the African savannah. They are also found in forest, scrub, and plantation habitat.

These birds feed mostly on seeds and fruit, taking insects on occasion. Ring-necked Doves are monogamous and both parents take part in caring for the eggs and raising their chicks.

Ring-necked Dove
Ring-necked Dove by Derek Keats (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow’s new species is the main ancestor of the modern domestic chicken. You can guess the species from this easy clue, can’t you?