This week's featured t-shirt design is our Birdorable Common Loon. Loons are currently migrating north and passing through northern Illinois, where we live. This time of year, local bird clubs organize "Looney trips" where birders drive from lake to lake to spot these beautiful birds. Have you seen a Loon this year?

Birdorable Common Loon
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.

Birdorable Western Grebe family

The Western Grebe, with its sleek silhouette and dramatic courtship displays, has recently been added to Birdorable, bringing a touch of whimsy to this distinguished water bird. Native to North America, Western Grebes are celebrated for their elegance, aquatic prowess, and the intricate dances that define their mating rituals. 

Living predominantly on lakes and coastal waters, Western Grebes have adapted perfectly to their aquatic environments. Their long, slender necks and striking black-and-white plumage make them a sight to behold, gliding gracefully over the water's surface. However, it's their courtship dance that truly sets them apart, a ballet so synchronized and fervent it seems almost too fantastical to be real. During these rituals, pairs of grebes perform a mesmerizing display that culminates in a frenetic dash across the water, side by side, creating the illusion of walking on water. This display of agility and coordination is not just a testament to their physical capabilities but also a critical part of their bonding process.

Beyond the spectacle of their courtship, Western Grebes exhibit remarkable familial bonds. Both parents are deeply involved in the upbringing of their chicks, from incubation to teaching them to swim and dive for food. Perhaps one of the most heartwarming sights is that of grebe chicks riding securely on the backs of their parents, peeking out from among the feathers. This not only keeps the young safe from underwater predators but also provides a warm, secure platform from which to explore the world.

Cute Western Grebe Gifts

Cute Birdorable Northern Lapwings

The Northern Lapwing, with its iridescent plumage and distinctive crest, is a fascinating bird that captures the imagination of bird lovers across the globe. A member of the plover family, this bird is a familiar sight across temperate Europe and Asia and occasionally makes its way as a vagrant to North America. Known for its striking appearance and intriguing behaviors, the Northern Lapwing holds a special place in the world of ornithology and now, it earns a spot in the adorable and ever-expanding Birdorable family.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Northern Lapwing is its migratory pattern. This bird embarks on a seasonal journey over most of its extensive range, wintering in the warmer climates of north Africa, northern India, and China. This migratory behavior is a testament to the adaptability and resilience of the Northern Lapwing, navigating vast distances to find suitable habitats for feeding and breeding.

The origin of the name "lapwing" is equally captivating, deriving from the 'lapping' sound its wings make in flight, or perhaps from the bird's flapping flight style. This auditory characteristic is just one of the many unique traits that endear the Northern Lapwing to bird enthusiasts. In addition to its distinctive flight sounds, the Northern Lapwing is notably vocal during the breeding season. The air is filled with constant calling as the male performs a dramatic tumbling display flight, a spectacle that is both bewildering and mesmerizing to observe. This display, part of the bird's courtship ritual, showcases the vibrancy and complexity of avian mating behaviors.

The Northern Lapwing, with its iridescent plumage and distinctive crest, not only captures the admiration of birdwatchers and nature lovers but also plays a crucial role in our ecosystems. These birds, like many others, are indicators of the health of our natural world, and their behaviors and migratory patterns offer valuable insights into the effects of environmental changes.

By observing and appreciating the Northern Lapwing, we are reminded of the beauty and complexity of the natural world. It encourages us to learn more about our feathered friends, their habitats, and the importance of conservation efforts to ensure that future generations can also enjoy and learn from these remarkable creatures. The Northern Lapwing, with its unique characteristics and fascinating life cycle, is a perfect example of the wonders that await discovery in the great outdoors, inviting us to explore, understand, and protect the avian kingdom and its habitats.

Photo of a Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing by Luiz Lapa (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Birdorable Northern Lapwing Gifts

Birdorable American Oystercatcher

Birdorable is thrilled to introduce a new member to its adorable avian assembly: the American Oystercatcher. Sporting a distinctive black and white plumage that easily catches the eye, this unique bird wields a long, thick orange beak, a tool perfectly suited to its seaside lifestyle. The American Oystercatcher's impressive beak isn't just for show; it plays a crucial role in the bird's survival, serving as a natural utensil to skillfully pry open molluscs, its preferred meal. This dietary habit underscores the bird's strong connection to its coastal habitat, where it forages along the shores, adding a dash of color to the landscape with its vivid beak and contrasting plumage.

Found primarily along the Atlantic coast of North America, the American Oystercatcher's range extends from the rocky shores of New England down to the sandy beaches of northern Florida. It also graces the Gulf coast, where its presence is a treat for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike. The bird's habitat choice reflects its need for accessible food sources and suitable nesting grounds, which the coastal environments abundantly provide.

The American Oystercatcher shares many similarities with its counterpart, the Eurasian Oystercatcher, which is widely distributed across Europe and Asia. Despite the geographical distance between them, both species exhibit remarkable adaptability to their respective coastal habitats, showcasing the incredible diversity within the oystercatcher family. This similarity also highlights the universal appeal of these birds among birding communities around the globe, bridging continents with their shared characteristics.

Photo of an American Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher by Andy Morffew (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

The American Oystercatcher, with its bold colors and distinctive lifestyle, is a perfect example of the wonders that await discovery in the great outdoors. So, the next time you're near the coast, keep an eye out for this remarkable bird and remember the cute and educational resources available at Birdorable.com, where every bird is made adorable.

Cute Oystercatcher Gifts