Birdorable Sacred Ibis

Today we've added the Sacred Ibis, a bird that lives in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Europe, where it was introduced. The Sacred Ibis is famous for its role in ancient Egyptian mythology, where it was often mummified as a symbol of the god Thoth, God of wisdom. In art, Thoth was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon. Its name means "He who is like the ibis".

Thoth

The bird may have been sacred in Egypt, but in Europe it is having a negative impact. An increasing population of Sacred Ibises in France and southern Europe are devastating breeding colonies of terns and herons. They also compete successfully for nest sites with Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets. In the late 1970s, just twenty Sacred Ibis were originally imported from Kenya to the Branféré Zoological Gardens in southern Brittany, France. A breeding colony was established and spread to neighboring wetlands. A census in 2005 revealed circa 3,000 of the birds.

Sacred Ibises
SACRED IBIS
Photo by Ruslou (via Flickr)

If you like this bird please check out our other Birdorable ibises.

Hamerkop

The first new Birdorable bird of 2010 is this Hamerkop, a bird that lives in sub-Saharan Africa. They get their name from their hammer-shaped heads and they are also known as Hammerhead Stork or Anvilhead. We saw these birds on our trip to the Gambia a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with these little fellows. They have such a cute head and the large bill makes it look like they're always smiling. Check out this gorgeous one sporting a nice stick for its nest.

Hamerkop

Talking about nests, these birds are famous for them. Their huge nests, often built in the fork of a tree, can grow to over 5 feet (1.5 meters) across and made with over 10,000 sticks! That's one busy bird! A Hamerkop's nest is strong enough to support a man's weight. The birds like to decorate the outside of their nest with bright-colored objects that they find in the area. We saw one of these large nests, which you can see in the following picture.

Hamerkop

If you like our Hamerkop check out our other African birds. Another favorite of ours from our trip to the Gambia was the Egyptian Plover.

Tiny but Mighty: Meet the Northern Saw-whet Owl

Birdorable Northern Saw-whet Owl

Today, we're excited to introduce one of the most adorable avian species you're likely to encounter: the Northern Saw-whet Owl. With its big, captivating eyes and small stature, it measures just 7 to 8 inches (17.8 to 20.3 cm), making this the smallest owl in Eastern North America. 

The origins of its unique name stem from a charming mix-up. A member of the National Audubon Society once heard the call of a Barn Owl, which is reminiscent of a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone, and mistakenly thought it was the call of this smaller owl. Thus, the name "Saw-whet Owl" was born.

Since 1997, the Ned Smith Center in Pennsylvania has spearheaded crucial research into the movements and ecology of the Saw-whet Owl. Every autumn, a dedicated team comprising both researchers and volunteers engages in a remarkable project. They gently catch, band, and release hundreds of these owls across three banding stations in central Pennsylvania. This research effort has been incredibly successful; over the years, more than 5,000 owls have been banded, significantly enhancing our understanding of the migration patterns and behaviors of this elusive species.

The findings from this research have been instrumental in shedding light on the secretive life of the Saw-whet Owl, helping to map its movements and contribute to its conservation. To dive deeper into this fascinating project and learn more about these captivating creatures, be sure to visit the Saw-whet Owl Research Blog.

Photo of Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owl by Andy Witchger (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Northern saw-whet owl by Kristina Servant (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Cute Saw-whet Owl Gifts

Who's That Hiding in the Woodpecker Hole? Guess the Birdorable Bird!

What owl is hiding in this tree?

Can you guess what bird species this is? Take a look at this image of a Birdorable bird peeking out from the cozy nook of a tree hole and see if you can guess the species! This new addition to our Birdorable family will be revealed on our site later this week.

Need a hint?

This charming bird is a native of North America and is known for its unique nesting habits. Rather than building its own nest, it often takes up residence in abandoned woodpecker holes. Keep your eyes peeled for the big reveal of this feathered friend and see if your guess is right!

Birdorable Great Grey Owl

Birdorable Great Grey Owl

We've just added another owl to Birdorable. This time it's the Great Grey Owl, also known as Lapland Owl. It is America's tallest owl with the largest wingspan, although the Great Horned Owl and Snowy Owl are heavier. The bird lives across the Northern Hemisphere, in the taiga, boreal and mountainous forests of North America and Eurasia. Great Grey Owls can locate prey underneath two feet of snow and will plunge right in to catch a rodent they didn't even see. Pretty cool, he? Here's a nice video of a this amazing bird in action:

Who cooks for you?

Birdorable Barred owl

Have you ever heard a Barred Owl hoot its distinctive call: "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you, all? ...? This is our Birdorable version of the Barred Owl, our newest bird. This beautiful owl, with its dark eyes, pale face and yellow beak, can be found across Canada, the eastern United States and into Central America. We had the pleasure of seeing a couple of these birds at raptor rehabilitation demonstrations this year. These two pictures are from the Barred Owl of the Northern Illinois Raptor Center. Isn't this the cutest thing?

Barred Owl Close-up
Barred Owl Close-up

Two weeks ago we saw the following Barred Owl at Great Swamp Sanctuary in South Carolina. It was a gorgeous sight to see one of these magnificent birds in the wild.

Barred Owl in South Carolina
Barred Owl in South Carolina

This cute owl is now available in Birdorable style on t-shirts and gifts in our shop, both in regular and Santa-version. For more cute birds see Meet the Birds.

Birdorable Yellow-eyed Penguin

Birdorable Yellow-eyed Penguin

The Yellow-eyed Penguin is native to New Zealand, where it is also called Hoiho. There are only about 4,000 of these cute penguins left and it is considered one of the world's rarest penguins. Threats include habitat degradation and the introducion of predators, like wild cats and ferrets. In spring 2004, a disease killed off 60% of yellow-eyed Penguins on the Otago peninsula and in North Otago. The disease was described as diphtheritic stomatitis, but that is just a secondary infection while the primary pathegen remains unknown. A similar problem has affected another population on Stewart Island, where in six years about 70% of the penguin chicks died from a mystery illness. A reserve protecting more than 10% of the mainland population was established in 2007 in the Catlins by the Department of Conservation and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. A 12km coastal reserve in the Catlins in the south of New Zealand's South Island was established in 2007 for the protection of the Yellow-eyed Penguin by the Department of Conservation.

Yellow-eyed Penguin photo

Yellow-eyed Penguin by Kimberley Collins (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Yellow-eyed Penguin photo

Yellow-eyed Penguin by Bernard Spragg (public domain)

The Birdorable Ostrich

Birdorable Ostrich

Two days ago we blogged about our new Birdorable Kiwi and today it's the turn of another flightless bird in the ratites family: the Ostrich is the largest living species of bird and it lays the largest egg of any living bird. Five different subspecies are recognized: Southern, North African (most common), Masai, Arabian (extinct) and Somali. Ostriches used to live in most of Africa and much of Asia Minor. Today they are native to the open savannas and Sahel of Africa. The Arabian subspecies used to be very common in the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Iraq, but became extinct around 1966. They have excellent vision and hearing that helps them sense lions and other predators from far away. When being chased by a predator, Ostriches are known to reach speeds in excess of 45mph (70km/h) and they can maintain a steady speed of 30mph (50km/h), making them the world's fastest two-legged animal.

Ostrich at Ngorongoro
Photo by Eric Thomson (from Flickr)
Birdorable Brown Kiwi

Today we've added the Brown Kiwi to Birdorable. Don't you just love this cutiepie? Here are some facts about this amazing bird:

  1. Kiwi are flightless birds. After New Zealand split off from Pangaea the Kiwi birds were isolated and no longer had any land predators. As a result they began to evolve smaller and smaller wings because they didn't need to fly.
  2. They are the world's only wingless birds
  3. The Kiwi is the only bird with nostrils at the end of its bill
  4. Kiwi have an excellent sense of smell but weak eyesight
  5. It can smell insects underground without seeing or feeling them
  6. Kiwi have no tail
  7. They are a member of the Ratite family, together with Cassowary, Emu and Ostrich
  8. The beak of the Kiwi is one-third the length of its body
  9. The genus name of the bird, Apteryx, is Greek for 'without wing'
  10. Kiwi are about the size of a domestic chicken (18 to 22 inches or 45 to 55 cm in length)
  11. They have very strong legs for ripping apart rotten logs
  12. Kiwi have been around for about 8 million years and haven't evolved much in this time
  13. There are five different species of Kiwi, all are endangered: Great Spotted Kiwi, Little Spotted Kiwi, Okarito Brown Kiwi, Tokoea and North Island Brown Kiwi
  14. The Kiwi is the national symbol of New Zealand
  15. Kiwi can outrun humans
  16. They are shy and nocturnal
  17. Male and female Kiwi mate for life; some are known to have been together for 30 years
  18. Kiwi lay the largest egg in relation to their body size; up to one quarter the weight of the female
  19. Baby Kiwi look just like a mini version of the adults
  20. The name either comes from its distinct cry: "kee-wee kee-wee" or from the Polynesian name for the Bristled-Thighed Curlew, the Kivi, which feeds in the same way as the Kiwi
  21. The New Zealand dollar is often called the 'kiwi dollar'
  22. Kiwifruit comes from China and was originally called Chinese gooseberries. In the 1960s, kiwifruit farmers in New Zealand decided to market their fruit overseas and called them "kiwifruit", after their national symbol
Birdorable Kakapo

The Kakapo, also called the Owl Parrot, is a large flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand. This species is critically endangered; as of April 2009 there were only 125 living individuals known. The BBC recently posted this funny Kakapo video that's been making the rounds on the web. Actor Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine travel to New Zealand for the program Last Chance To See to look for Kakapos in the wild. During their encounter, Carwardine gets more than he bargained for:

Inspired by this funny video and several customer requests, we've added the Kakapo to Birdorable! Our cute Kakapo products are available via Zazzle, which allows customization. This means that you can choose from hundreds of apparel styles and colors, and you can add text to Birdorable designs as you see fit! Just pick any Kakapo shirt and then click on Customize it! Here are some Kakapo shirts to which I've added custom text. Why don't you go ahead and give it a try! You can play with the customization with no obligation to buy.

Birdorable Kakapo Gifts