Valentine's Day Bird Term: Billing

Love Is in the Air: Understanding Billing in Birds for Valentine's Day

Birdorable Atlantic Puffins on a cliff in Iceland

In ornithology, the term 'billing' refers to a courtship behavior displayed by certain bird species where two individuals touch, tap, or clasp each other's beaks. It is also known as beak-tapping or bill-tapping. It's called nebbing in British English.

This behavior is often seen in birds that form strong pair bonds and in some ways can be likened to kissing in humans. As today is Valentine's Day (it's always on February 14th), let's look at this interesting bonding behavior, and learn why birds engage in this activity.

Strengthening Pair Bonds
Billing is a sign of affection and helps to strengthen the bond between a mating pair. It is commonly observed in species that mate for life or have long-term partnerships Common Ravens hold each other's bills and feet as part of pair bonding. Atlantic Puffins tap bills quickly as part of their pair bonding behavior, as shown in the video below.

Mutual Grooming
In some cases, billing is part of mutual grooming (allopreening), where birds clean each other's feathers. Rock Pigeons engage in allopreening which includes mutual beak-touching.

Courtship Ritual
Billing is an essential part of the courtship ritual in many species. It is a display of trust and partnership, which can be critical in the mate-selection process. Courting Cedar Waxwings rub their beaks together and pass food to one another. Many albatross species engage in beak-tapping as part of their courtship, like the Waved Albatrosses in the below video.

Territorial and Social Signaling
In some instances, billing can also be a way of demonstrating a pair's territorial bond to other birds, signaling that they are a united and established couple.

Billing is a fascinating aspect of avian behavior that highlights the complex social interactions and emotional connections between birds.

Cute Valentine's Day Gift Ideas from Birdorable

It's that cozy time of year again, and we want to send our warmest wishes to you this Christmas. ๐ŸŒŸ

During this festive season, let's remember our feathered friends who bring so much joy into our lives. Birds, with their cheerful songs and bright colors, remind us to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. If you can, put out a feeder or a fresh birdbath for the birds in your yard. It's a small way to give back to our bird friends during these chilly months.

Looking ahead, we're excited for another year full of bird-loving fun. We can't wait to share more adorable Birdorable birds with you! So, here's a big Merry Christmas ๐ŸŽ„ from the Birdorable team! We hope your holiday is full of happiness, love, and of course, birds! โค๏ธ

Do you recognize all the Birdorable bird species in this image? Check the Meet the Birds section on our website to find them all!

As we count down to Christmas, we’re excited to bring a little extra sparkle to your holiday season with our Birdorable Christmas Coloring Pages!

At Birdorable, we believe that the beauty of nature, especially our feathered friends, can add a special touch to your festive celebrations. That's why we've crafted a unique collection of coloring pages featuring some of our most beloved birds, all dressed up for the holidays in their Birdorable style. From the majestic California Condor to the charming Cockatiel, the historic Passenger Pigeon to the long-distance flyer Bar-tailed Godwit, the adorable Atlantic Puffin, and the ever-jolly Laughing Kookaburra – each bird brings its unique charm to your coloring experience.

Coloring isn't just for kids! It's a wonderful family activity and a perfect way to unwind and express creativity. Our Birdorable coloring pages are designed to appeal to bird lovers of all ages. They’re a great way to introduce the little ones to the fascinating world of birds while also offering a fun challenge for adults who love to color.

Cute Christmas Coloring Pages

Download for Free

Ready to start coloring? These delightful pages are available for free on our website. Simply download, print, and start coloring! Share your creations on social media using the hashtag #Birdorable and let's spread the joy and beauty of birds this holiday season.

So, grab your coloring tools, gather your family, and let the Birdorable birds add an extra dash of color and joy to your Christmas celebrations. Happy coloring and happy holidays! View all our coloring pages here.

Parent Sandhill Crane with chick

In most bird families, males and females both participate in the raising of their young. In 8% of cases, the female does everything related to care of eggs and raising offspring. And in just 1% of bird species does the male do all of the work -- after the eggs are laid, of course.

Some species are polyadrous, meaning individual birds will have different mates during the same breeding season. In the case of the Spotted Sandpiper, females will often have two clutches, the first of which she leaves after the eggs are laid. It's up to her mate to incubate the eggs and rear the chicks. She will then find a new mate and help to raise her second clutch with the new male.

Spotted Sandpiper Chick
Spotted Sandpiper Chick by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (public domain)

Emus exhibit similar behavior, though male Emus go through a more extreme experience during incubation. During the approximate 8-week period, he does not leave the nest for any reason. He may lose up to a third of his bodyweight while he forgoes eating, drinking, and even defecating, standing up only to turn the eggs. Once the chicks are hatched, father Emu will protect his young for up to seven months, which is about how long it takes for them to fully grow. The group may stay together as a family for up to two years.

Emu dad with chicks
Emu dad with chicks by patrickkavanagh (CC BY 2.0)

The paternal (father) duties of the Emperor Penguin are widely known. After the female lays the pair's one and only egg, she carefully transfers it to the male. And then she leaves him for two months. While she is out to sea, feeding, the male remains behind, incubating their egg between the brood patch on its underbelly and its feet. When the egg hatches, the male may have been fasting for over 100 days since he first arrived at the breeding colony. Once his mate returns, she cares for the chick so the male can finally go to the sea to find food.

Emperor Penguin with chick

Hornbills have an unusual breeding strategy that involves the female being practially sealed inside the nest cavity with the eggs, with only a small slit left open. This small opening allows the male to transfer food to his mate and to the chicks, once they hatch. During incubation and the hatchling phase, the family relies entirely on the male to provide food. The mother and chicks only leave the nest once they are too large to remain inside.

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there, avian and otherwise!

Cute Birdorable Gifts with Bird Chicks

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!

Happy Halloween with Cute Birdorable Backyard Birds

Happy Halloween from Birdorable! Do you recognize the above birds? They're the Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadee, all common backyard birds in the United States, hanging around two carved pumpkins. If you're still looking to do something today to celebrate Halloween, before you're going out trick-or-treating tonight, you can check out these original Halloween Birdorable coloring pages with some of our favorite birds:

Birdorable Coloring Pages

Here are direct links to the coloring pages:

Go to coloring pages to find over 100 others to download and follow us on our Blog or on Facebook 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 รขโ‚ฌโ€œ we may showcase them on our blog!

Happy Magpie Day!

Two black-billed Magpies on a branch

Today, March 14, is traditionally celebrated as Pi Day -- because when the date is written 3/14, it represents the first three significant numbers of Pi. Pie day may be celebrated by eating pie, but since we like birds, today seems like a good day to celebrate the family of birds that has pie right in the name: Magpies!

There are three groups of true magpies. The four species of magpie in the genus Pica are the Holarctic, or black-and-white, magpies. The nine species of Oriental magpie are generally blue-green and are in the Urocissa genus and the Cissa genus. The azure-winged magpie belongs in the genus Cyanopica. Here are some fun facts about this group of intelligent and curious birds.

  • Magpies belong to the Corvid family, which makes them closely related to birds like jays, crows, and ravens.
  • The cartoon characters Heckle and Jeckle are a pair of magpies.
  • There are several collective nouns used to describe a group of magpies, including "a gulp of magpies" and "a mischief of magpies."
  • Magpies aren't the only birds with "pie" in their name. Another group in the Corvid family is the treepies. One bird in this group has a confusing name: the Black Magpie of Asia.
  • Another bird with a confusing name is the Australian Magpie. This species isn't a magpie at all! Although its black-and-white plumage is very magpie-like, this species belongs in a different genus and is closely related to the Butcherbirds of Australasia.
  • A recent taxonomical split may have added a new species of magpie to the list. The Azure-winged Magpie has an usual fragmented range with part of the population in southwestern Europe and part over in eastern Asia. Some ornithologists consider the two populations to be separate species, naming the European bird the Iberian Magpie.
  • The Javan Green Magpie is the most endangered species of magpie. Endemic to Indonesia, it is considered to be Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Other endemic species of magpie include the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, found only in Sri Lanka, and the Yellow-billed Magpie, found only in the U.S. state of California.

Cute Mag PI Gifts by Birdorable

We would like to wish everyone who celebrates this holiday a Happy Thanksgiving today, with this picture of our Wild Turkey accompanied by a Tufted Titmouse. May the good things in life be yours in abundance, not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.

Happy Thanksgiving from Birdorable

Thanksgiving Pilgrim Turkey Gifts

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2013! We added almost 100 new birds on Birdorable last year, and updated many others. In the picture below you can see all the new bird species we added in 2012, from lovebirds to vultures. Click to embiggen.

Happy New Year from the Birdorable Class of 2012

Thank you for reading our blog. We have big plans for 2013 and look forward to bring you many more cute birds, so stay tuned. You can also find Birdorable on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Stuck inside on a cold or snowy day? Have some cute bird fun with our free Birdorable Coloring pages! We've got six holiday-themed pages plus thirteen other single-bird drawings ready for your creative coloring skills! Each of the single-bird coloring pages has some fun basic facts about the species - so you'll learn a bit about the birds as you color them in!

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!