Blog Archive: Grouse

Birdorable White-winged Guan

2017 Bonanza Bird #10: White-winged Guan

December 3rd, 2017 in Birdorable Bonanza 2017, Grouse 1 comment
Birdorable White-winged Guan

Today's new Birdorable is the White-winged Guan!

The White-winged Guan is a critically endangered species found in a small area of Peru. They live around ravines and feed on things like seeds, fruit, leaves, and other plant matter.

White-winged Guans were thought to be extinct for about one hundred years, the time between recorded sightings of the species. When it was rediscovered in the late 1970s, a captive breeding program was introduced in an effort to save the species.

The current wild population of the White-winged Guan is very small, with a likely count of 250 individual birds or fewer. There are two distinct populations, a northern group and a southern group. Threats facing survival of the species include hunting and habitat destruction.

Tomorrow we'll add a species of spoonbill to Birdorable. There are six species of spoonbill in the world, and we already have the Roseate Spoonbill and the Eurasian Spoonbill. Our new bird does not have a black face, a yellow bill, or a royal name. That just leaves one...

Birdorable Wild Turkey

Cool facts about the Wild Turkey

November 25th, 2015 in Did You Know...?, Grouse 3 comments
Birdorable Wild Turkey

If you live in the United States then you will probably be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. And like many families, chances are you will have a turkey on the table. But what do you really know about these birds? Did you know that Wild Turkeys sleep in trees, can fly up to 55 miles per hour, and that they’re highly intelligent and social animals? Here are some cool facts about one of the most famous birds in North America.

  • Many people think that, because they are so heavy, turkeys are slow and that they stick to the ground. But in fact Wild Turkeys have powerful legs and can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and fly as fast as 55 miles per hour.
  • Wild Turkeys sleep in trees. Even domesticated birds try to sleep in trees when they get the chance. This keeps them safe from predators, such as coyotes, foxes and raccoons, as not only people have a taste for turkey.
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Turkey in a tree by allison.hare (CC BY 2.0)
  • Male turkeys are substantially larger than females. They look different too: the male’s feathers are iridescent red, green, copper, bronze, purple and gold, while the female is much duller overall and mostly brown and grey. This difference is called sexual dimorphism.
  • A turkey’s gender can be determined by its droppings! Males produce spiral-shaped poop, while females produce “J” shaped poop. Also, the diameter of the droppings increase as the turkey gets older.
  • A popular story is that Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird, instead of the Bald Eagle, but this is actually not quite true -- at least not officially. Back in 1784, Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter disapproving of a drawing that had been produced of an eagle that looked liked a turkey and that such a bird would actually be preferable to the eagle as national symbol. As Franklin explained, the Bald Eagle had a “bad moral character” and was a “rank coward” that merely steals its food from other birds. So while it is true that he floated the idea that the turkey might be a better bird for a national symbol, it was only in this personal letter and in relation to the drawing. He never actually advocated this notion publicly.
Wild Turkeys #2
Wild Turkeys by Charley Day (CC BY-ND 2.0)
  • Did you know that male turkeys have “beards”? Male turkeys are called gobblers and the hairlike bristles that grow from the center of their chest get about 9 inches in length. In some populations 10 to 20% of females have a beard too, although it’s usually shorter and thinner than that of the male.
  • The color of the Turkey’s head and throat changes depending on its mood. It can change from gray to shades of red, white and blue when the bird is excited or distressed. During mating season, the male’s wattle turns a scarlet red. The fleshy object over the male’s beak is called a ‘snood’.

Snood, wattle and beard of a turkey

  • The gizzard, which is part of the turkey’s stomach, contains tiny stones that the bird previously swallowed. Also known as gastroliths, these little stones help the bird to digest its food, since birds don’t have teeth. They actually have two stomachs. The first is called the glandular stomach, where food is broken down. After this the food entered the turkey’s gizzard. 
  • A turkey has 5000 to 6000 feathers. 18 of those are tail feathers that make up the male’s distinct fan.
Wild Turkey 2 3-7-15
Wild Turkeys by Larry Smith (CC BY 2.0)
  • Each turkey has a unique voice, allowing birds in a group to recognize each other. Turkeys create lasting social bonds and are very affectionate. The turkey’s gobble can be heard a mile away. Only males gobble. The females, or hens, communicate through clucks and small chirp-like noises.
  • Turkeys have very good geographic skills and are able to learn the precise details of an area over 1,000 acres in size.

Looking for something to do this Thanksgiving while the rest of the family is preparing dinner or watching a football game? Then grab your crayons and start coloring because we have a great coloring page for you with our cute cartoon Wild Turkey! Show your love for Wild Turkeys with this coloring page from Birdorable and have a wonderful day tomorrow with your friends and family.

Birdorable Happy Thanksgiving coloring page

Birdorable Greater Prairie-Chicken

The Plight of the Greater Prairie-Chicken

March 3rd, 2015 in Grouse, Conservation 5 comments
Birdorable Greater Prairie-Chicken

Best known for their elaborate mating dance, Greater Prairie-Chickens once thrived across large parts of North America. Hunting and habitat loss over the last century has drastically reduced these beautiful birds to near extinction. Once so abundant they were a main food source for pioneers settling in the west, the birds have become extremely rare and have disappeared in much of their range.

Prairie-chickens are of great significance to Native Americans and many tribes have prairie-chicken dances. The grassland birds are well-known for their mating ritual, in which male birds defend their 'booming grounds' by perform a display in hopes of attracting females. The dance involves inflating air saces on the side of their neck and snapping their tails. The strange booming sound gives the bird its nickname "Boomer".

There are three subspecies of this bird:

  • The Heath Hen was originally found along the Atlantic coast, but became extinct in 1932.
  • The Attwater's Prairie-Chicken is highly endangered and restricted to small coastal areas in Texas and Louisana. Around the year 1900 over a million Attwater's Prairie-Chickens lived in the gulf coastal prairie and huge numbers of males gathered to perform their elaborate courtship ritual. Now, less than one percent of the original coastal prairie habitat remains. Less than 100 Attwater's Prairie-Chickens are left in the wild, all resulting from release of animals raised in captivity. In 1967 the species was listed as federally endangered and in 1973 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
  • The Greater Prairie-Chicken nominate subspecies is threatened, but remains numerous enough to still be hunted in four states. The bird went almost extinct in the 1930s due to hunting and habitat loss and now lives only on small parcels of managed prairie land. In states such as Iowa and Missouri, where Greater Prairie-Chickens were once abundant, only hundreds remain.
Greater Prairie Chicken Range
Greater Prairie Chicken Range Map by Cephas (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Read more about these amazing birds and prairie-chicken conservation efforts on the following websites:

Birdorable Ruffed Grouse

12 Days of Birdorable: Twelve Drumming Ruffed Grouse

December 12th, 2010 in Holidays, Grouse, 12 Days of Birdorable No comments

On the twelfth day of Birdorable, my true love gave to me… 12 Drumming Ruffed Grouse! Our 12 Days of Birdorable concludes today with a new bird: the Ruffed Grouse!

Twelve Drumming Ruffed Grouse

The line Twelve Drummers Drumming in the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” refers to musicians playing drums. Since Ruffed Grouse perform an act called "drumming" as part of their courtship ritual, we thought they would be a suitable bird substitute for this final day of gifts. Ruffed Grouse beat their wings to make the noise, either on the ground or on a fallen log. The noise is part of what they do to attract a mate.

Birdorable Ruffed Grouse Ladies T-Shirt Birdorable Ruffed Grouse Toddler T-Shirt
Ladies Baby Doll Fitted T-Shirt Toddler T-Shirt

This is the twelfth and final day of our 12 Days of Birdorable holiday event. Previously featured were:

Birdorable Red-legged Partridge

12 Days of Birdorable: a Partridge in a Pear Tree

December 1st, 2010 in Holidays, Grouse, 12 Days of Birdorable 6 comments

While the traditional 12 Days of Christmas, according to the folk song, begin on Christmas Day and run through January 5th, the 12 Days of Birdorable start today! And what a grand start - our Partridge in a Pear Tree, the beautiful Red-legged Partridge, is our 300th Birdorable bird!! Although all of the gifts in the 12 Days of Christmas song are not birds, over the next 11 days we will feature another Birdorable bird for our 12 Days of Birdorable. Be sure to check back each day for this fun event! :)

Birdorable Partridge in a pear tree

The Red-legged Partridge is native to France and other parts of Europe, but introduced to the United Kingdom, where the Christmas carol first appeared. Despite being introduced, the Red-legged Partridge is thought to be the "Partridge in a Pear Tree" because this species is much more likely to be perched in a tree compared to native UK partridges.

 

Birdorable Partridge in a Pear Tree t-shirts and gifts

Find our many other cute Birdorable birds on the Meet the Birds pages.

Birdorable Common Pheasant

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Common Pheasant Coloring Pages

Here are two new Birdorable coloring pages for some cute coloring fun! They are the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Common Pheasant. Go to Coloring Pages to download these two new PDFs and check the Meet the Birds page to check the colors.

Birdorable Coloring Pages: Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Common Pheasant

These downloads will be available until 15 November 2010. 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.