Birdorable Blog

Birdorable King Eider

2020 Bonanza Bird #30: King Eider

December 23rd, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Ducks 4 comments
Birdorable King Eider

Today the second of our three “kings” joins Birdorable in the lead-up to Christmas. The King Eider is a large species of sea duck found in both the Old and New World.

King Eiders are hardy ducks, spending almost all of their time at sea. Breeding brings them to land, but females care for the nest and chicks alone, so they spend a bit more time away from the sea than males.

Speaking of male King Eiders, look at that crazy plumage! Males in breeding season are sensational, with a lot going on in terms of both color and form. They are pale blue from the forehead to the nape of the neck, with pale green cheeks and a bright yellow-orange frontal lobe framed inside a black outline. All this, and a red bill, too. It’s almost too much, but then they’ve got what looks like little “sails” on their backs, formed from special wing feathers. With a plumage so crazy, they fit into our cartoon bird family perfectly.

King Eider
King Eider by Tim Sackton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow’s new Birdorable will be the third and final “king” bird before Christmas. The silhouette should make this one easy! Can you guess?

Birdorable Eastern Kingbird

2020 Bonanza Bird #29: Eastern Kingbird

Birdorable Eastern Kingbird

Today’s new Birdorable is one of three “kings” we’ll introduce in the days leading up to Christmas. Here is the Birdorable Eastern Kingbird!

Eastern Kingbirds are large flycatchers native to the New World. These migratory birds breed across much of the United States, except for in the far west. Winters are spent across western parts of South America.

The Eastern Kingbird is a “tyrant” flycatcher – its scientific name is Tyrannus tyrannus. Tyrannus translates to “king” or “tyrant” and refers to the aggressive behavior seen in these birds and others in the same family. There are about 437 species in the tyrant flycatcher family and all are native to the New World.

Eastern Kingbird
Photo by USFWS Midwest Region (public domain)

Tomorrow another “king” will join Birdorable. This species of sea duck is found in both New World and Old World waters. Do you know this one?

Birdorable Red Junglefowl

2020 Bonanza Bird #28: Red Junglefowl

December 21st, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Grouse 8 comments
Birdorable Red Junglefowl

Today’s new Birdorable is one of four species of junglefowl in the world. It’s the Red Junglefowl, and the 750th bird species on Birdorable!

The Red Junglefowl is an exotic tropical species with a familiar look, due to it being a primary ancestor of today’s domestic chicken. It is thought that the chicken was first domesticated around 8,000 years ago, also using stock from the other three junglefowl species. The name Red Junglefowl is also sometimes used to describe feral chicken populations established from escaped farm chickens.

Our Birdorable bird is a male Red Junglefowl, with his flashy and fleshy red comb and wattles, long iridescent tail, and golden hackles. Females are cryptic with a camouflaged plumage to help keep them safe -- especially during breeding and brooding season, when they alone care for their chicks.

Red Junglefowl
Red Junglefowl by Jason Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

As we get closer to Christmas our remaining Bonanza birds will follow a theme. The first of three “kings” will arrive tomorrow. The bird is a migratory species of New World flycatcher with black and white plumage. Can you guess the species, if we tell you the name includes a cardinal direction?

Birdorable Ring-necked Dove

2020 Bonanza Bird #27: Ring-necked Dove

December 20th, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Doves 5 comments
Birdorable Ring-necked Dove

Today we introduce a new species of Birdorable dove – it’s our Ring-necked Dove!

Ring-necked Doves are common across their range, which covers most of the southern half of Africa. Their trilling call is a common sound heard on the African savannah. They are also found in forest, scrub, and plantation habitat.

These birds feed mostly on seeds and fruit, taking insects on occasion. Ring-necked Doves are monogamous and both parents take part in caring for the eggs and raising their chicks.

Ring-necked Dove
Ring-necked Dove by Derek Keats (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow’s new species is the main ancestor of the modern domestic chicken. You can guess the species from this easy clue, can’t you?

Birdorable Rufous Hornbill

2020 Bonanza Bird #26: Rufous Hornbill

December 19th, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Hornbills 3 comments
Birdorable Rufous Hornbill

Today’s new species is one of 10 hornbill species found in the Philippines. The Rufous Hornbill is a Philippine endemic found in forest habitat across 11 of the nations’ islands. It is also known as the Philippine Hornbill.

There is little known to science about Rufous Hornbills as they have not been studied in detail. Not much is known of their behaviors. They feed on a varied diet including fruit, seeds, and insects.

There are three subspecies of Rufous Hornbill. Our bird is of the Northern race (Buceros hydrocorax hydrocorax). These have an all-red bill. Northern birds have either red or blue eyes. Southern birds are in two subspecies (Buceros hydrocorax mindanensis and Buceros hydrocorax semigaleatus). These birds have yellow on the lower part of the bill and all have blue eyes. Some taxonomies split the Northern and Southern birds into two separate species.

Rufous Hornbills are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, with a decreasing population trend.

Rufous Hornbill
Rufous Hornbill by Ronnie Macdonald (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow’s new bird is a common species found across sub-Saharan Africa. These widespread doves are named for a plumage attribute – can you guess the species?

Birdorable Javan Hawk-Eagle

2020 Bonanza Bird #25: Javan Hawk-Eagle

December 18th, 2020 in Birdorable Bonanza 2020, Eagles 3 comments
Birdorable Javan Hawk-Eagle

Today’s new Birdorable is a bird of prey endemic to Indonesia. The Javan Hawk-Eagle can only be found on the island of Java.

Adult Javan Hawk-Eagles can be recognized by their very tall dark head crests and dark brown upperparts. They also have heavily barred underparts. Young birds have little to no barring and are lighter, more rufous in color.

Javan Hawk-Eagles are endangered, primarily due to habitat loss. The population trend is decreasing, and there is currently no plan in place to help the species recover. It is thought the Javan Hawk-Eagle may face extinction in as few as 5 years if a conservation plan is not implemented in time.

Tomorrow we’ll add an endemic hornbill of the Philippines named in part for the color of its body. There are 10 hornbill species found in the Philippines – can you narrow it down to our bird?