Birdorable Toco Toucan

With its massive orange-yellow bill, the Toco Toucan is one of the most recognized birds in the world. Here are some interesting facts about the Toco Toucan and its amazing bill.

  • The Toco Toucan is the largest species of toucan in the world. There are about 40 species of toucan in total.
  • The bill of the Toco Toucan is nearly 8 inches long. Its tongue is not much shorter - that's a long tongue!
  • A toucan's bill is largely hollow, with a boney structure similar to that of a sponge. It may look like a formidable weapon, but its use as a defensive aid is more psychological (intimidation) than physical.
  • Up to 50% of a Toco Toucan's total body surface area can be found in its bill.
  • Toco Toucans use their massive bills to skin fruit and to grab hard-to-reach food items.
  • Toucan bills may help the birds regulate heat; the large surface area of the bill radiates heat away from the bird's body in their warm tropical environment.
  • A Toco Toucan can live up to 20 years in the wild.
  • Toco Toucans are cavity nesters. Can you imagine this amazing bird using its bill to hollow out a tree cavity for its nest?

If you can't get enough of Toco Toucans, be sure to check out Birdorable's selection of Toco Toucan t-shirts and gifts!

Birdorable Toco Toucan gifts

Discovering Oystercatchers: Fun Facts and Features

Birdorable Oystercatchers on the beach

We recently added two new species of oystercatcher to Birdorable: the Black Oystercatcher and the Eurasian Oystercatcher. These join our updated American Oystercatcher.

Oystercatchers are a fascinating family of conspicuous, large shorebirds, boasting several intriguing characteristics and a wide range of species. Here are some captivating facts about these remarkable birds:

  • Currently, there are 11 recognized species of Oystercatchers still living in the world. These birds are spread across various continents, each adapting uniquely to its environment.
  • The Canarian Oystercatcher is a notable species that unfortunately went extinct in the early 1900s, highlighting the fragility of shorebird populations.
  • In the Americas, four distinct species of Oystercatchers can be found: the American Oystercatcher, Black Oystercatcher, Blackish Oystercatcher, and Magellanic Oystercatcher. Each of these species has its own unique traits and habitats.
  • Australia and New Zealand are home to five Oystercatcher species: the Sooty Oystercatcher, Pied Oystercatcher, Variable Oystercatcher, Chatham Oystercatcher, and South Island Oystercatcher. These regions provide diverse environments for these birds to thrive.
  • The remaining two extant species are named after their geographical ranges: the Eurasian Oystercatcher and the African Oystercatcher.
  • Oystercatchers, across all species, have a stocky shorebird build, adapted for their shoreline habitats.
  • While all Oystercatcher species have black feathers, some species feature black on top with white feathers underneath, showing diversity within the family.
  • A striking feature of Oystercatchers is their large bills, which are either bright orange or bright red, aiding in foraging and feeding.
  • Contrary to what their name suggests, Oystercatchers do not exclusively feed on oysters. They have a varied diet, and each species has a slightly different bill shape, specialized for the type of food they primarily consume.
  • Nesting habits of Oystercatchers involve creating scrapes on the ground, with most species nesting at or near shore habitats, taking advantage of their natural surroundings.
  • The Eurasian Oystercatcher stands out as the lightest species, averaging around 526 grams, while the Sooty Oystercatcher is typically the heaviest, averaging about 833 grams.
  • The Eurasian Oystercatcher's ability to inhabit both coastal and inland areas is unique among its kind.
  • The national bird of the Faroe Islands is the Eurasian Oystercatcher, a testament to its cultural significance in the region.
  • Variable Oystercatchers are named for their plumage variations, ranging from all-black to pied black-and-white, demonstrating remarkable diversity within a single species.
  • The South Island Oystercatcher, endemic to New Zealand, is also known as the South Island Pied Oystercatcher, or SIPO, highlighting its distinct regional presence.

These fascinating facts about Oystercatchers offer a glimpse into the diverse world of these shorebirds, each species bringing its own unique qualities and behaviors to the ecosystems they inhabit.

Eurasian Oystercatcher by ianpreston (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Cute Oystercatcher Gifts

Fun Bobolink Facts

Have you ever seen a Bobolink? Here are some fun facts about these striking prairie birds!

Birdorable Bobolink

1. One nickname given to the Bobolink is "skunk blackbird." The breeding plumage of males is distinctive in North America; it is the only bird with a black front and white back.

2. Bobolinks have two other nicknames, both food-related, in their migration and wintering grounds. They are called "butterbirds" in Jamaica, where they are captured during migration and consumed by locals as food. In South America, they may be considered pests, where they feast on fields of grain. Here they are called "ricebirds."

3. The mechanical-sounding call of the Bobolink is sung by the males during spring, often in flight. Here is what it sounds like:

4. Bobolinks molt their feathers twice a year, which is unusual for a songbird. One molt occurs after breeding and before migration; the other molt occurs on the wintering grounds. Males change their appearance drastically. They go from the striking "skunkbird" black and white to more muted coloring and resemble the female bird, seen below.

Bobolink, female
Bobolink, female by Kelly Colgan Azar

5. A group of Bobolinks is called a chain.

6. Bobolinks are known to be extraordinary migrants. They breed across much of the northern half of the United States and into parts of Canada. During the fall, the birds travel down to south-central South America, a journey that may span over 12,000 miles round trip!

7. The Bobolink has been celebrated by several American poets. Emily Dickinson wrote The Way to know the Bobolink. And here is a verse from William Cullen Bryant's Robert of Lincoln:

Robert of Lincoln’s Quaker wife, Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings, Passing at home a quiet life, Broods in the grass while her husband sings: Bob-o’-l ink, bob-o’-link, Spink, spank, spink; Brood, kind creatures; you need not fear Thieves and robbers while I am here. Chee, chee, chee.

8. The Bobolink was added to Birdorable in 2011. Be sure to check out our great collection of Bobolink t-shirts & gifts!

Discover 10 Fascinating Facts About the Birdorable Roseate Spoonbill

Birdorable Roseate Spoonbills

The Roseate Spoonbill is one of the newest birds to join the Birdorable family. Here are some fun facts about this unique species.

  1. Did you know the term for a group of spoonbills is called a bowl? Imagine spotting a bowl of Roseate Spoonbills in the wild – what a breathtaking view that would be!

  2. The stunning pink hue of the Roseate Spoonbills isn't just for show. It comes from their diet, which mainly consists of crustaceans that have been dining on algae. This diet directly influences their vivid coloring.

  3. In areas like Florida, it's common for people to mix up Roseate Spoonbills with flamingos, given their similar pink shades. Despite this, they are very different species with their own unique characteristics.

  4. Among the six species of spoonbills that roam our planet, the Roseate Spoonbill is the only one boasting pink feathers, setting it apart from its relatives.

  5. The Roseate Spoonbill also has the distinction of being the sole spoonbill species found throughout the Americas. This fact makes it a special sight for birdwatchers in the region.

  6. A fascinating aspect of Roseate Spoonbill biology is that chicks are born with straight beaks. As they grow, the beaks gradually morph into the distinctive spoon shape, a key adaptation for their feeding habits.

  7. Speaking of feeding, Roseate Spoonbills have a unique method of eating. They sweep their spoon-shaped bills through water to catch prey like fish or insects, closing their bills quickly when they touch something edible.

  8. The resilience of the Roseate Spoonbill is remarkable. The oldest known individual in the wild was found in the Florida Keys in 2006. The bird had been banded in 1990, and was an amazing 16 years old. This was quite the jump from the previously recorded lifespan of seven years for the species.

  9. Social butterflies, or rather, social birds of the wetlands, Roseate Spoonbills enjoy the company of their kind. They feed, nest, and fly together, forming a tight-knit community with other wading birds.

  10. And, don't forget, the Roseate Spoonbill made its Birdorable debut on September 6th, 2011. Be sure to check out our array of Roseate Spoonbill t-shirts and gifts, a must-have for enthusiasts of this splendid species.

Cute Spoonbill Gifts

It's May! That means we are already into Warbler Neck Awareness Month. Have you been out birding this month? If you've been out looking for warblers, maybe you've seen this cutie, the Northern Parula.

Birdorable Northern Parula

1. The Northern Parula is a species of warbler (see our other cute warblers).

2. Northern Parulas nest in two distinctive, separate zones in eastern North America.

3. The original name for this small wood-warbler was Finch Creeper.

4. Northern Parulas have been known to hybridize with Yellow-throated Warblers. The offspring are known as Sutton's Warblers.

5. The oldest known wild Northern Parula lived to be at least seven years of age.

6. The Northern Parula is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Northern Parula was added to Birdorable on November 17, 2010.

Birdorable Orchard Oriole

1. The Orchard Oriole is the smallest species of oriole in North America. They are sometimes confused for warblers, due to their small size and bright coloration.

2. The oldest known Orchard Oriole was a captive female who lived to be nearly 17 years old. The longevity record for wild birds is 10 years, 11 months.

3. Besides insects, berries and seeds, Orchard Orioles will feed on trumpet creeper nectar. They will also visit hummingbird feeders.

4. Adult male orchard orioles are predominately chestnut in color. Females and juveniles of both sexes look very different, with olive and yellow plumage.

5. Orchard Orioles migrate at night. They are early migrants, leaving their breeding grounds as early as late July.

6. The Orchard Oriole is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Orchard Oriole was added to Birdorable on February 19th, 2009.

Orchard Oriole
Photo by mitchmcc

Florida Scrub-Jay Fun Facts

Birdorable Scrub-Jay

1. The Florida Scrub-Jay is the only species of bird endemic to the state of Florida.

2. The Florida Scrub-Jay is a federally threatened species. Loss of their specific breeding habitat and their sedentary lifestyle contribute to their threatened status.

3. Florida Scrub-Jays are cooperative breeders. Offspring remain with their parents for subsequent broods, helping with feeding and defending territory.

Florida Scrub Jay
Florida Scrub-Jay by Amy Evenstad

4. Both male and female Florida Scrub-Jays are active during nesting, but with a strong division of labor. Males guard the territory and provide food for the family; females incubate the eggs and brood the chicks.

5. Florida Scrub-Jays have been observed perching on the backs of deer and feral pigs.

6. Florida Scrub-Jays are known to be extremely tame. They will take food from the hand or perch on humans who are providing them with treats. Feeding wild Scrub-Jays is not recommended, though, as it may endanger them by making them drop their guard around dangerous traffic situations and by triggering early breeding which may lead chicks to starve when natural food is not available.

7. The oldest known wild Florida Scrub-Jay lived to be 15.5 years of age.

8. The Florida Scrub-Jay is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Florida Scrub-Jay was added to Birdorable on August 2nd, 2010.

Florida Scrub-Jay
Florida Scrub-Jay by Amy Evenstad

Cute Florida Scrub-Jay Gifts

Birdorable Black-crested Titmouse

1. The Black-crested Titmouse is closely related to the Tufted Titmouse. They hybridize where their ranges overlap (in Central Texas) and they used to be considered the same species.

2. The bird's DNA suggests that the Black-crested Titmouse diverged from the Tufted TItmouse about 250,000 years ago.

3. It's 'peter, peter, peter' call is similar to that of the Tufted Titmouse, but shorter.

4. Their diet consists of seeds, berries, nuts, insects and insect eggs.

5. The crest of a female Black-crested Titmouse is actually dark gray.

6. Another name for the Black-crested Titmouse is the Mexican Titmouse.

7. Black-crested Titmice are considered residents throughout their range, which covers much of central Texas, and parts of Oklahoma and Mexico. They do not migrate.

8. Black-crested Titmice are cavity nesters, and have been known to line their nests with horse hair, feathers, onion skins, and even tissue paper.

9. The Black-crested Titmouse is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Black-crested Titmouse was added to Birdorable on November 10th, 2010. Check out our other cute tits and chickadees.

Huey was glad to finally get his little gnome cap.
Photo by martytdx (source: Flickr)

Fun facts about the Northern Shoveler

1. Unique Feeding Technique

Northern Shovelers utilize their uniquely-shaped bills to sift through the water for crustaceans, making feeding an efficient endeavor.

2. Widespread Distribution

The Northern Shoveler boasts a widespread distribution, with populations found in parts of the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, illustrating their adaptability to various habitats.

3. Shoveler Species Family

The Northern Shoveler shares its unique bill shape with three other closely related species: the Cape Shoveler, the Australasian Shoveler, and the Red Shoveler.

4. Hybridization Habits

This species is known for its ability to hybridize with several other ducks, including the Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, and Wood Duck, showcasing its diverse genetic compatibility.

5. Distinctive Wing Sound

A distinctive rattling noise can be heard from the wings of Northern Shovelers as they take flight, a unique auditory characteristic of the species.

6. Territorial Behavior

Northern Shovelers display a somewhat territorial nature, especially during the nesting season. Males are known to defend their territory more vigorously than other dabbling ducks.

7. Birdorable Bird

The Northern Shoveler is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Northern Shoveler was added to Birdorable on December 7th, 2010.

Birdorable Caspian Tern

Here are ten interesting facts about the Caspian Tern:

  1. The Caspian Tern is the world's largest tern species.
  2. The Caspian Tern's diet consists almost entirely of fish.
  3. Unlike many other tern species, the Caspian Tern retains its black cap during the winter (non-breeding plumage).
  4. The Caspian Tern occurs on all continents except Antarctica.
  5. Caspian Terns are highly vocal. Chicks vocalize while they are still in the egg!
  6. Caspian Terns are fastidious when it comes to feeding their young. Adults rinse their bills after feeding their babies. If an offered fish is accidentally dropped on the ground, the adult will rinse it off with water before re-offering it to the baby tern.
  7. Caspian Terns nest along the Gulf Coast and thus are one of the species directly threatened by the BP Oil Spill Disaster of 2010.
  8. Starting from day one, chicks are fed whole fish, which they swallow headfirst.
  9. The oldest known wild Caspian Tern lived to be 26 years old.
  10. The Caspian Tern is one of our cute Birdorable birds! The Caspian Tern was added to Birdorable on July 20, 2007.

Cute Birdorable Caspian Tern Gifts