Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with the largest bird of prey found in Australia, the Wedge-tailed Eagle!

Birdorable Wedge-tailed Eagle

Wedge-tailed Eagles are named for the unique shape of their tails. Across their range, which includes all of mainland Australia as well as Tasmania and southern New Guinea, they are fairly common. In fact, they are the most common of the world's large eagle species.

Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
Wedge-tailed Eagle by Ron Knight (CC BY 2.0)

Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle by James Niland (CC BY 2.0)

Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)
Wedge-tailed Eagle by Patrick_K59 (CC BY 2.0)

Wedge-tailed Eagles are non-migratory and established mated pairs will defend their territory throughout the year, even outside of breeding season. Earlier this year a territorial Wedge-tailed Eagle was captured on video taking down a drone.

 

 

The Wedge-tailed Eagle is our 622nd Birdorable bird and our 44th cute Birdorable bird of prey. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with an unusual Asian forest species with fire in its name. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

Cute Wedge-tailed Eagle Gifts

Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with a fairly common Old World woodpecker species: the Great Spotted Woodpecker!

Birdorable Great Spotted Woodpecker

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is found across Europe and northern Asia. This is a resident (non-migratory) species for the most part, though birds in the coldest areas may move seasonally.

Though common across most of their range, this mid-sized woodpecker tends to be quite inconspicuous, spending most of its time well-hidden in tree foliage. They are often heard -- either drumming (tree-pecking) or calling (vocalizing) before they are seen.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers have a varied diet. The will feed on insects foraged from crevices in bark. They also eat plant material like seeds and fruit. Eggs, young chicks and even small rodents are also common food items for Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (adult male)
Adult male Great Spotted Woodpecker by Tom Lee (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Great Spotted Woodpecker Portrait
Great Spotted Woodpecker Portrait by Andy Morffew (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Adult female and juvenile male great spotted woodpeckers
Adult female and juvenile male great spotted woodpeckers by Dave_S. (CC BY 2.0)

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is our 621st Birdorable bird and our 10th cute woodpecker species.

Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a very large Australian bird of prey. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

Cute Great Spotted Woodpecker Gifts

Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with a beautiful species of dabbling duck from eastern Asia: the Mandarin Duck.

Birdorable Mandarin Duck

Male Mandarin Ducks, like our cute Birdorable cartoon version here, are strikingly beautiful, with a unique colorful plumage. The flanks are ruddy, with a contrasting purple breast outlined in black and white. The forehead is teal and the dark eyes stand out against a white crescent-shaped stripe. Two orange sail-like tufts appear at the back.

Mandarin Ducks are closely related to the Wood Duck of North America. Mandarins nest in trees, often in dense woods, near fresh water.

Because of their beauty, Mandarin Ducks are popular in waterfowl collections. Escaped birds have established populations outside of their native range of eastern Asia. In Europe, there are large Mandarin Duck populations in Britain and Germany; in the United States you can find Mandarin Ducks living in the wild in parts of North Carolina and California.

Mandarin duck
Mandarin Duck by Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Mandarin duck, Hall Drive Pond, Salhouse
Mandarin Duck by Michael Button (CC BY 2.0)

Mandarin DuckMandarin Duck by thecrypt (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow's bird is a great woodpecker that can be found in Europe and north Asia. Can you guess what it will be?

Cute Mandarin Duck Gifts

Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with a grouse-like bird from South America: the Blue-billed Curassow.

Blue-billed Curassow by Birdorable

The Blue-billed Curassow is a large species endemic to Colombia in South America. Males, like our cute Birdorable version here, have a mostly black plumage with a white vent and white barring at the end of the tail. Both males and females have a crest at the top of the head made of curly feathers. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Blue-billed Curassow is critically endangered. The current wild population is estimated to be 700 adult individuals or fewer. The population trend is decreasing due to various factors including habitat loss and hunting of both birds and eggs.

Conservation groups including zoos, like the Houston Zoo, have been working to save the species from extinction. More than 50 of the birds have been hatched at the zoo in their ongoing efforts.

The Blue-billed Curassow is our 619th Birdorable bird. Be sure to check out our collection of apparel and gifts featuring the Birdorable Blue-billed Curassow!

Tomorrow's bird is a beautiful duck from East Asia. It has a red bill and colorful striking plumage. Can you guess what it will be?

Cute Blue Curassow Gifts

Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with an unusual heron-like bird endemic to New Caledonia: the Kagu.

Birdorable Kagu

The Kagu is a flightless bird with a pearly-grey plumage and bright orange legs and bill. The eyes are dark red. Kagus have a long head crest that may be used in territorial displays against other Kagu or as a threat to potential predators. And though they are flightless, the wings of the Kagu are far from useless. Adult birds will use a "broken wing" display to distract predators from their nest or chicks. When outstretched, the Kagu's wings have bold black and white stripes that also may serve to distract predators.

Photo of a Kagu
Kagu by Pierre Fidenci (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Another unique feature that Kagus have is their nasal corns. These are small corn-shaped flaps that rest over their nostrils. These flaps are though to protect the bird's airways when it forages by probing its beak in the earth.

Close-up of Kagu's nasal corn
Close-up of nasal corns

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Kagu is endangered. The current wild population consists of an estimated 250 to 1000 adult birds. They face threats including those from introduced predators, including dogs, deer, and feral pigs. The Kagu is our 618th Birdorable bird. Be sure to check out our collection of apparel and gifts featuring the Birdorable Kagu!

Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a tropical grouse-like bird with a great "hair-do." Can you guess tomorrow's species?

The first bird in our seventh annual Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition is the darling little Cuban Tody!

Birdorable Cuban Tody

The Cuban Tody is one of five species of tody in the world. All birds in the family are found in the Caribbean. Todies are related to kingfishers, rollers, and bee-eaters. Todies superficially resemble kingfishers in their general shape and colorful plumage.

True to its name, the Cuban Tody is found around much of Cuba. The species is widespread and fairly common across the island nation. Like the other todies, the Cuban Tody is a colorful little bird with a flat bill. The plumage is dominated by green and highlighted by red at the flanks and chin.

Cuban Tody - Cuba_S4E0449
Cuban Tody by Francesco Veronesi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cuban Tody
Cuban Tody by Shawn McCready (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Cuban Tody is our 617th Birdorable bird and our first bird in the tody family. Be sure to check out our collection of apparel and gifts featuring the Birdorable Cuban Tody!

Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a crested, bluish-grey bird that is endemic to the mountain forests of New Caledonia.

Cute Cuban Tody Gifts

The Saker Falcon — a Falconer's Bird in Peril

Birdorable Saker Falcon

The Saker Falcon is one of our newest additions to Birdorable. The falcon, which is almost as large as the Gyrfalcon, breeds across parts of eastern Europe and much of central Asia. They prefer open plains and desert-type habitats and hunt by horizontal pursuit unlike the Peregrine Falcon that hovers and stoops down from great heights.

Saker Falcons are beautiful birds, with brown upperparts and contrasting grey flight feathers. The head and underparts are paler brown, with streaking from the breast down. The birds are excellent hunters and often take on prey that is larger than itself. Because they are so swift and powerful they are a popular falconry bird and have been used by humans in hunting for thousands of years.

In the Arabian Peninsula falconry is an integral part of desert life and Saker Falcons are the favorite bird of many Arab falconers. The birds are trapped in Arab countries on their migration to the Middle East or caught throughout Asia and sold to the Middle Eastern falcon market. Unfortunately this is one of the reasons the bird has been put on the endangered species list. Thousands of falcons are caught every year and sold illegally on the black market. In addition the species is facing pressure from habitat loss and destruction.

In contrast, the bird is strongly protected in Hungary, where it is the national bird. Even though Saker Falcons are relatively abundant in Hungary, numbers are still low; the estimated total European population  in 2010 was just 450 pairs, with 40% of these in Hungary and Slovakia. The Middle East Falcon Research Group has a nice table with estimated breeding populations in each country.

Check out these websites for more information about the Saker Falcon:

Sakervalk
Sakervalk by Tim Strater
ginebra, halcón sacre 02 - Saker falcon - Falco cherrug
Halcón Sacre by Ferran Pestaña

Saker Falcon Gifts by Birdorable

Today we've added our 600th Birdorable bird: the Tawny Owl!

Cartoon Birdorable Tawny Owl

The Tawny Owl is the most widespread species of owl across Europe. Tawny Owls are also found in western parts of Asia and northern Africa.

Tawny Owls are recognized by their tawny brown striped body plumage, large round heads which lack ear-tufts, and oversized brown eyes.

The Tawny Owl is primarily nocturnal, hunting prey items like small mammals and large insects. They prefer wooded habitat. They have adapted well to human development and will also inhabit parks and gardens.

The Tawny Owl joins Birdorable today as our 600th species! With the Tawny Owl, we now have 127 species found in Europe and 12 total species of owl in the Birdorable family.

Cute Tawny Owl Gifts

The final new bird species in our 2014 Bonanza is a small, colorful species found in parts of Southeast Asia, the Black-and-yellow Broadbill!

Black-and-yellow Broadbill

The Black-and-yellow Broadbill is one of 15 species of broadbill in the world. Broadbills are found in sub-Saharan Africa and across Asia. The Black-and-yellow Broadbill is a resident species across parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Thailand.

Black-and-yellow Broadbill - Krung Ching - Thailand_S4E3736
Black-and-yellow Broadbill - Krung Ching - Thailand by Francesco Veronesi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Black-and-yellow Broadbills make large pear-shaped purse-like nests that hang from tree limbs. The nests may be made from moss and leaf skeletons and be lined with roots and leaves. The clutch size is usually three eggs. The Black-and-yellow Broadbill joins Birdorable today as our 565th species, and our first broadbill. If you like this striking bird as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Black-and-yellow Broadbill t-shirts and gifts. That wraps up our 2014 Birdorable Bonanza! Thanks for following our blog and stay tuned for more new birds to be added in the future!

The 6th bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a familiar species of gull. It's the Ring-billed Gull!

Birdorable Ring-billed Gull

The Ring-billed Gull is a "white-headed" medium-sized species of gull found across much of North America. In fact, it may be North America's most common gull. They nest near bodies of fresh or marine water in colonial groups.

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull by Amy Evenstad

Ring-billed Gulls are known for their skilled flying ability. They can be fast, graceful and agile on the wing. Ring-billed Gulls are even known to steal food from other birds -- in flight! They will practice this skill by playing with an object while in the air, dropping the object, and then swooping down to pick it up again. In non-breeding season, Ring-billed Gulls may roost and forage together in very large flocks, sometimes with other gulls. Ring-billeds seem to like their personal space: they will often stand evenly spaced, keeping at least 1 to 2 meters between each bird. The Ring-billed Gull joins Birdorable today, bringing our total number of bird species to 564. Our Bonanza concludes tomorrow with a striking bird of southeast Asia that also has "bill" in its name. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

Bonanza2014Preview7

Cute Ring-billed Gull Gifts