The 5th bird in our 2014 Bonanza is an Australian songbird, the Black-throated Finch!

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Black-throated Finches are granivorous, meaning they eat seeds and grains. They are endemic to Australia, where they are found in the northeast of the country, in Queensland. Historically they were also found along the eastern coast down in New South Wales, but their numbers have been declining. The species overall has a conservation status of Least Concern, but the southern population is considered to be Vulnerable by Australian authorities. Black-throated Finches are relatively sedentary (non-migratory), though they may change location in response to food availability during times of drought. The population faces threats from several factors, including loss of habitat from human development and predation by non-native mammals.

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Black-throated Finch by Tim Lenz (CC BY 2.0; modified)

To learn more about this species, visit the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team website. The Black-throated Finch joins Birdorable today, becoming our 563rd species. We now have 24 species of finch. If you can't get enough of this darling Australian finch, be sure to check out our collection of cute Birdorable Black-throated Finch t-shirts & gifts!. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a New World species that likes to live by water and is named for a feature on its beak. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

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Cute Black-throated Finch Gifts

The fourth bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a North American wader with a curved bill.
It's the White-faced Ibis!

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The White-faced Ibis is one of three ibis species found regularly in the United States. The White Ibis and Glossy Ibis are both restricted in range to the east and southeast of the U.S., plus northern parts of South America. The White-faced Ibis ranges in the central and western parts of North and Central America, ranging all the way to the Pacific Coast. There is a separate resident population in southeastern South America as well.

White-Faced Ibis  -  Explore #136  5-06-09
White-Faced Ibis - Explore #136 5-06-09 by Linda Tanner (CC BY 2.0)

White-faced Ibises breed and feed around marshy habitats. They forage by probing their curved bills into soft marshy substrate. They eat invertebrates like insects, snails, and worms. White-faced Ibises will also take prey items like frogs, crayfish, and small fish. The White-faced Ibis joins Birdorable today, bringing our total number of bird species to 562. We now have 21 wading birds and a total of six ibises. If you love ibises as much as we do, be sure to check out our cute Birdorable ibis t-shirts & gifts!. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a small bird from Down Under named for its dark bib. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

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Cute White-faced Ibis Gifts

Birdorable Cape Parrot

The third bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a unique species of parrot, the Cape Parrot!

The Cape Parrot is endemic to South Africa. It is typically found in high altitude forest habitat, though it may also visit lowland coastal areas for feeding. Its diet consists of primarily fruits, seeds, and nuts. The Cape Parrot is Critically Endangered, due to habitat loss, persecution, and other factors. The species is particularly susceptible to certain disease outbreaks which takes a toll on the population as well. We can't talk about the Cape Parrot without talking about the closely related Uncape Parrot. The taxonomy of these species and subspecies has been in dispute and the Cape Parrot has only recently been recognized as a separate species. The Uncape Parrot is comprised of two main subspecies, known by the common names Brown-necked Parrot and Grey-headed Parrot. These are not considered threatened or endangered at this time.

_capeBrown-necked Parrot by Alan Manson (CC BY-SA 2.0; modified)

The Cape Parrot and the Uncape Parrot both join Birdorable today, bringing our total number of bird species to 561. Our total number of parrots now stands at a whopping 90 species! Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a wading bird named for the color of its mug. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

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The second bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a North American sparrow: the Song Sparrow!

Birdorable Song Sparrow In our clue yesterday, we indicated that the Song Sparrow is an LBJ with a lot of range. What did we mean? "LBJ" stands for "Little Brown Job", a phrase sometimes used to describe dull-colored small songbirds that may be difficult to identify. Song Sparrows are brown and streaky. They may be identified by the dark spot in the center of the breast, among other traits. When talking about range, we were referring to a few different things. Song Sparrows are found all over North America, so they have a large natural regional range. Song Sparrows are named for their song repertoire. In their voice they have a lot of range. Song Sparrows have over 20 recognized subspecies; up to 50 subspecies may exist. These differ in physical characteristics; the appearance of Song Sparrows has a lot of range.

Song SparrowSong Sparrow by Amy Evenstad

Song Sparrow joins Birdorable today as our 559th species, and our 10th species of sparrow. If you like Song Sparrows as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Song Sparrow t-shirts and gifts. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with a species that comes with its own opposite! Can you guess tomorrow's species?

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The first bird in our 2014 Bonanza is a small falcon with a widespread range: the Merlin!

Birdorable Merlin The Merlin is a small-sized falcon found across much of the northern hemisphere. For the most part they are migratory, breeding in the northern Holarctic (northern parts of the Old World and New World) and wintering in the tropics and subtropics. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, including open prairies, taiga forest, and shrubland.

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Merlin by NatureShutterbug (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Merlins are also sometimes known as pigeon hawks. This is an old colloquial name used in North America. Merlins are similar in size to Rock Pigeons and somewhat resemble them in flight -- hence the name. There are even pigeons in their scientific name, Falco columbarius. Pigeons and doves are in the family Columbidae. As birds of prey, Merlins may also hunt and successfully take a Rock Pigeon as a meal. Like Great Horned Owls and some other birds, Merlins don't build their own nests. They reuse stick nests made by other birds, mostly crows or other raptors. Merlin joins Birdorable today as our 558th species, our 39th bird of prey, and our 9th falcon. If you like Merlins as much as we do, be sure to check out our selection of cute Birdorable Merlin t-shirts and gifts. Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with an LBJ with a lot of range. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

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Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher

This week, we’ve been celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Today we wrap up Kingfisher Week with a species profile of the impossibly cute Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher.

The Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher is known by several different names, including Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, simply Black-backed Kingfisher, Miniature Kingfisher, Malay Forest Kingfisher, and Three-toed Kingfisher. This darling bird is one of the most colorful species of kingfisher; it is also one of the smallest species of kingfisher, measuring just about 5 inches in length.

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Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

Black-backed Dwarf Kingfishers belong to the river kingfisher, or Alcedinidae, family. Their prey items include insects, frogs, and lizards. They rarely dine on fish. These diminutive kingfishers were considered to be bad omens by the Dusun tribe of Borneo. Like most kingfishers, Black-backed Dwarf Kingfishers nest in tunnels or burrows. A nest tunnel may be up to a meter long! A typical clutch size is 3 to 6 eggs and incubation, performed by both parents, lasts about 17 days. Both parents care for the growing chicks. Fledging occurs about 20 days after hatching.

Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher Gifts

Sacred Kingfisher

This week, we’re celebrating the world’s kingfishers! There are about 90 species of kingfisher in the world. These darling birds are often colorful, and they can be found all around the world. Join us as we highlight kingfishers on the Birdorable blog this week! Today we're profiling the Sacred Kingfisher.

Added today, the Sacred Kingfisher is our newest Birdorable bird! The Sacred Kingfisher is a species of tree or wood kingfisher. This family, Halcyonidae, has the most species of all three types of kingfisher. The other two types are river kingfishers and water kingfishers.

Sacred KingfisherSacred Kingfisher by Grahame Bowland (CC BY 2.0)

These birds are relatively common throughout most of their range, and are considered one of the most well-known birds of New Zealand. The Sacred Kingfisher's call, "kee-kee-kee", is distinctive. Sacred Kingfishers are found in Australia, New Zealand (where they are known as kotare), and other nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean. They feed on a varity of prey items, usually foraged on land as opposed to in the water. Sacred Kingfishers eat insects, crustaceans, and small reptiles.

sacred kingfisher 3Sacred Kingfisher by Jim Bendon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Sacred Kingfisher gets its name from a traditional Polynesian belief that the birds have the ability to control the ocean's waves. The scientific name for Sacred Kingfisher is Todiramphus sanctus, which means "sacred tody-bill".

Sacred Kingfisher Gifts

A Real Loudbeak

The Corn Crake is a migratory species of rail that breeds across temperate parts of Eurasia and winters in southern Africa. When they return to their breeding grounds in the spring, male Corn Crakes call out to establish territory and to attract a mate. The call sounds like this:

This may not be the most melodious song, but it is remarkable due to the fact that it can be heard from up to a mile away and repeated more than 20,000 times a night! That's a lot of sound coming from an 11-inch tall bird. The Corn Crake (also known as Corncrake) was added to Birdorable on August 21, 2012. If you love these little loudmouths -- er, loudbeaks -- be sure to check out our collection of cute Corn Crake t-shirts and gifts!

Bohemians on the move!

Bohemian Waxwings are on the move this winter! A poor berry crop in their northern range may be driving them outside of their usual winter haunts. Flocks have been seen around southern Lake Michigan and individuals have been reported in many northeastern states in the U.S. The birds have also been reported in the Netherlands, where they rarely make an appearance.

Bohemian Waxwings aren't the only northern birds showing up further south this winter. Evening Grosbeaks, crossbills, Red-breasted Nuthatches, redpolls and other finch species are irrupting all over. Have you had any special winter visiters at your feeders so far this season? The Bohemian Waxwing was added to Birdorable on November 13, 2012. If you love these beautiful birds, be sure to check out our fun and cute Bohemian Waxwing t-shirts and gifts!

Flash! Start!

American Redstarts are migratory warblers found across parts of North America. They winter in the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America. These little cuties are named for their tails. Wait, what?

In Old English, the word for tail was steort, or start. Though the American Redstart's tail feathers are more orange than red, we can at least understand from where the 'start' part of the name comes. There is an entire family of birds found in the Old World known as redstarts. These are flycatchers, not warblers. American Redstarts are warblers, but they feed mainly by flycatching. Confused yet? If you were an insect, you might be. American Redstarts flare their tails to flash, startle and confuse potential prey items (insects). Both males and females do this, as you can see in the below photos.

American Redstart
American Redstart [male] by Wildreturn
American Redstart (female)
American Redstart (female) by Jeremy Meyer

The American Redstart was added to Birdorable on October 18, 2012. If you can't get enough of these flashy little warblers, be sure to check out our great collection of American Redstart t-shirts and gifts!