Birdorable Cinereous Vulture

For 19 days we're adding a new Birdorable bird every day as part of our Birdorable Bonanza 2011. We're counting up to revealing our 350th species! Today's bird is the Cinereous Vulture.

Cinereous Vulture from tombothetominator

Cinereous Vultures are huge birds of prey that range through parts of Europe and Asia. They are also known as Black Vultures (no relation to the American Black Vulture) or Monk Vultures. In their south European range, they are in trouble. Poisoning is a major problem facing these and other vulture species, but habitat loss and food scarcity are also detrimental to the survival of the species. Researchers from the Denver Zoo conducted a study which revealed that Cinereous Vultures use a huge range of territory. Birds tagged with wing markers similar to those used on California Condors were found 1200 miles from their point of origin. While the birds were tagged by scientists, follow-up data provided by keen-eyed birdwatchers helped to complete the study, which is on-going.

Birdorable Cinereous Vulture gifts

Tomorrow's bird is an Australian parrot that is named after a number.

Birdorable Bonanza Preview
Birdorable Secretary Bird

For 18 days we've been adding a new Birdorable bird every day as part of our Birdorable Bonanza 2010. We saved a very special bird for the final bird of our bonanza. Today's bird is the Birdorable Secretary Bird! Secretary Birds are large birds of prey native to sub-Saharan Africa. They have atypically long legs for a bird of prey, standing a whopping four feet high. Their distinctive look also includes their long scraggly head crest, featherless red faces and extremely long tails. They are like big crested eagles standing on towering crane legs! Wow!

Secretary Birds - Masai Mara National Reserve
Secretary Birds by vanbikkel

Three boys in South Africa made the news last week in a wildlife rescue story involving a Secretary Bird. The boys were alerted that another group of youths was stoning a Secretary Bird on their block. The hero boys grabbed the bird by the feet (good idea - those talons are dangerous!) and body and brought it back home. Wildlife experts were called in to care for the rescued bird, which is expected to be released back into the wild after rehabilitation.

Birdorable Secretary Bird Kids Sweatshirt Birdorable Secretary Bird Travel Mug
Birdorable Secretary Bird
Kids Sweatshirt
Birdorable Secretary Bird
Travel Mug

Birdorable 191: Harpy Eagle

Cute Birdorable Harpy Eagle

Today's new bird in our 17-day-long Birdorable Bonanza is the American Harpy Eagle, a powerful raptor that can be found across Central and South America where it lives in the upper canopy layer of tropical rainforests. Unfortunately the Harpy Eagle is threatened due to habitat loss from logging. Hunting has wiped out lots of Harpy Eagle too, as it was seen as a threat to life stock and humans because of its large size. The National Institute of Amazonian Research in Brazil is currently conducting research at 45 known nesting locations that are being monitored by volunteers.

Harpy Eagle
Photo by Jose Garcia / Panama Birds (Source: Flickr)

Until the 31st of July we'll be adding a new bird every day as part of our Birdorable Bonanza until we reach the 200th at the end of this month. Here's a preview of tomorrow's bird:

Preview of Birdorable 192

Common Kestrel Coloring Page

We present to you another Birdorable Coloring Page: the Common Kestrel, also known as the European Kestrel. These birds are so cute! When we lived in Europe we often saw them hovering next to the highway. Go to Coloring Pages to download these two new PDFs. You can check our Meet the Birds page to get some color guidance.

Birdorable Common Kestrel coloring page

Check here for more coloring pages. Subscribe to the Birdorable Blog by RSS feed or by email to get notified when new downloads like this are added. Have you used our coloring pages at home, in your classroom, or at an event? We'd love to hear about it! Send us photos of the pages in action, or the final result - we may showcase them on our blog!

175th Birdorable: Egyptian Vulture

This Earth Day we've added the 175th species to Birdorable: the Egyptian Vulture. This striking black-and-white bird with yellow face lives in southern Europe, northern Africa and southern Asia. Unfortunately, its numbers are in decline over large parts of its range.

In Europe and most of the Middle East it is only half as plentiful as it was about twenty years ago, and the populations in India and southwestern Africa have collapsed almost entirely. Vulture hieroglyphIn Egypt this bird is also known as the Pharaoh's Chicken because of its relationship with Ancient Egypt's oldest deity, Nekhbet. They referred to the bird as the Mother of Mothers and it was depicted on the front of the pharaoh's crown.

The nurturing behavior of these vultures while rearing their young led to a view of them as model parents. We saw these two Egyptian Vultures from a boat on the Chambal River in Rajasthan, India:

Egyptian Vultures

If you like our Egyptian Vulture you may also like our other Birds of Prey. Here are two sample products from our store:

Broad-winged Hawks Migrating on Solar Power: The Beauty of Kettles in the Sky

Photo of Broad-winged Hawks kettle

Broad-winged Hawks kettle by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

The Broad-winged Hawk, a modest-sized bird of prey, offers one of nature's most spectacular aerial displays as it traverses the skies from the eastern parts of the United States and Canada to the warmer climes of Mexico and Southern Brazil. This remarkable journey spans over 4,000 miles, with these hawks covering an average of 70 miles each day. But it's not just the distance that makes their migration noteworthy; it's the way they travel, especially when they form into large groups known as 'kettles,' that captures the imagination.

During migration, Broad-winged Hawks utilize thermals, which are columns of warm air, to gain altitude without expending much energy in flapping their wings. By stretching out their wings and riding these natural elevators, they can glide for large distances, harnessing the power of the sun to propel their journey. This efficient mode of travel not only showcases the hawks' adaptation to their environment but also highlights the interconnectedness of all natural elements.

Imagine looking up to see thousands of hawks, circling tightly in a thermal updraft, their bodies silhouetted against the sky, moving as one. This vision is so striking that it evokes the image of something boiling in a cauldron, which is how the term 'kettle' came to be, according to nature photographer M. Timothy O'Keefe. The comparison to a bubbling cauldron perfectly captures the dynamic, swirling mass of birds as they ascend on the warm air currents.

Broad-winged Hawk

Witnessing a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks is an unforgettable experience, offering a unique insight into the wonders of avian migration. These gatherings occur most notably during the spring and fall migrations, when the hawks are on the move to and from their breeding grounds. For birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts, observing a kettle is a highlight of the season, a moment where one can truly appreciate the marvels of bird migration and the natural instincts that guide these creatures across continents.

Have you ever had the chance to witness a kettle of hawks in the sky? It's an experience that connects us more deeply to the natural world, offering a glimpse into the incredible journeys that birds undertake each year. Whether you're a seasoned birdwatcher or someone who simply appreciates the beauty of nature, the sight of Broad-winged Hawks soaring together is a powerful reminder of the wonders that fly above us.

Cute Broad-winged Hawk Gifts

The Birdorable Cooper's Hawk: An Avian Daredevil of the Forest

Birdorable Cooper's Hawk

The Cooper's Hawk, a nimble and adept hunter of the bird world, makes its home in the dense evergreen and deciduous forests stretching across southern Canada and the United States. Named in 1828 in honor of William Cooper, an American zoologist who was instrumental in the collection of specimens that led to the species' description, this bird has carved out a unique niche in the avian hierarchy. While it is admired for its agility and hunting prowess, it has also earned the nicknames "Chicken Hawk" or "Hen Hawk" due to its occasional ventures into poultry farms, where it may prey on unsuspecting chickens.

The life of a Cooper's Hawk is one of high stakes and high speed. These birds are known for their audacious hunting technique, which involves darting through dense vegetation and narrowly spaced trees to catch other birds. This method, while effective, comes with a significant risk of injury. The environment in which they hunt is fraught with obstacles, and collisions are not uncommon. Remarkably, a study highlighting the resilience of these birds found that 23 percent of all Cooper's Hawks examined had healed fractures in the bones of their chest. This statistic underscores the perilous nature of their daily existence, but it also showcases their incredible ability to recover and adapt.

Despite the dangers they face, Cooper's Hawks play a crucial role in the ecosystem. As predators, they help maintain the balance of bird populations within their habitat. Their presence ensures the health and vitality of the forest ecosystems, acting as a natural control mechanism for prey species populations. The survival skills of the Cooper's Hawk, including their remarkable speed and agility, are a testament to the evolutionary adaptations that have enabled them to thrive in their specific niche.

Cooper's Hawk by PEHart (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Cute Cooper's Hawk Gifts

Birdorable's Newest Addition: The Majestic Golden Eagle

Birdorable Golden Eagle

We're excited to announce the addition of the Golden Eagle to our Birdorable family! These majestic birds, known for their impressive wingspan and powerful build, are a sight to behold across the northern hemisphere. Common in western North America, the Golden Eagle ranks as the third largest bird of prey in the region, trailing only behind the Bald Eagle and the California Condor. However, these grand birds tend to steer clear of the eastern United States, preferring less populated areas to make their homes.

Golden Eagles possess an incredible adaptability, thriving in a variety of habitats, from mountain ranges to open plains. Yet, despite their versatility, they have not been immune to the impacts of human expansion and habitat destruction. Europe has witnessed a particularly noticeable decline in Golden Eagle populations, a stark contrast to the days when they were numerous across the temperate plains. Human activity has forced these eagles to retreat to more secluded areas, with the species now mostly confined to the mountainous regions of the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe.

The significance of the Golden Eagle extends beyond its natural majesty; it holds a place of honor as the national bird of Austria, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Scotland. This bird embodies the strength, freedom, and resilience that these nations value, making it a symbol of national pride and cultural heritage.

Falconry in Kazakhstan is a tradition steeped in history, showing a deep-rooted connection between humans and birds of prey, particularly the majestic Golden Eagle. Known locally as "burkut" or "berkut," these eagles are revered for their hunting prowess and are integral to the nomadic lifestyle that persists in the region. The practice of falconry, passed down through generations, is much more than a method of hunting; it's a cultural heritage that embodies the symbiotic relationship between the Kazakh people and the natural world. Training a Golden Eagle requires patience, respect, and skill, with the bond between the falconer and the bird being of paramount importance. These trained eagles are used to hunt foxes and wolves, playing a vital role in the community by controlling predator populations and providing fur for warmth. Falconry, recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, continues to be a source of pride and tradition in Kazakhstan, preserving a way of life that has harmonized with the environment for centuries.

Two Kazakh hunters with a Golden Eagle on an expedition in 1938

Cute Golden Eagle Gifts

From Desert Skies to Urban Allies: The Harris Hawk's Journey

Birdorable Harris Hawks

The Harris Hawk stands out not just for its striking appearance but for its unique social behavior, especially in the world of raptors. Thriving in the diverse landscapes from the southwestern United States down to Chile and central Argentina, these birds have adapted remarkably to their environments.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Harris Hawk's life is its communal hunting strategy. Unlike the solitary hunting tactics common to most raptors, Harris Hawks have developed a cooperative method, hunting in groups ranging from two to six. This behavior is particularly adapted to their desert habitats, where the collective effort allows them to take down larger prey such as hares, which might be too challenging for a lone hawk. This teamwork not only highlights their intelligence but also their adaptability to harsh environments.

The Harris Hawk's social structure is a rarity among birds of prey. These group dynamics extend beyond hunting, as they also share responsibilities in nesting and raising their young. This level of cooperation is a fascinating departure from the more commonly observed competitive nature in the wild, offering valuable insights into the evolutionary benefits of social structures among birds.

Their remarkable nature extends into the world of falconry, where the Harris Hawk is highly valued for its easy-going temperament. Their willingness to work alongside humans makes them excellent partners in the sport, a practice that dates back thousands of years but remains vibrant today. In Europe, these hawks play a vital role in urban and agricultural settings, employed to deter pigeons and starlings from public spaces. This method of bird control is not only effective but also environmentally friendly, reducing the need for harmful deterrents.

Furthermore, Harris Hawks have become crucial in maintaining safety at airports. Their presence is instrumental in scaring away birds from runways, significantly reducing the risk of bird strikes with airplanes. This application of their natural hunting skills in modern human environments underscores the adaptability and intelligence of these birds, making them invaluable allies in mitigating wildlife-related challenges.

The conservation status of Harris Hawks, like many raptors, is closely monitored due to their importance in the ecosystem and their appeal in falconry and wildlife management. Protecting their habitats and ensuring sustainable practices in falconry are essential to preserving these magnificent birds for future generations to admire and learn from.

In summary, the Harris Hawk is not just another bird of prey. Its unique social behaviors, adaptability to diverse environments, and the crucial role it plays in human activities make it a standout species in the avian world. Whether soaring in the skies of the American Southwest or aiding in falconry and wildlife management across the globe, the Harris Hawk continues to captivate and contribute.

Photo of Harris Hawk on glove

Cute Harris Hawk Gifts