World Parrot Day is celebrated this year on May 31, 2019. The first World Parrot Day was in 2004.
The event was initiated by the World Parrot Trust as an opportunity to highlight threats to wild and captive parrots around the world. Actions that began on that first World Parrot Day led to the eventual ban of wild bird imports into Europe.
Oology is the study of bird eggs. It also refers to the study of bird nests and breeding behavior. Oology can also refer to the hobby of egg collecting, which is illegal in many locations.
Early scientific ornithological study often involved collecting birds by shooting them to study their anatomy and plumage up close. It also involved the collection and study of their eggs. Scientists studying the difference between samples of Pergrine Falcon eggs over time were able to identify DDT usage as the cause of a decline in raptor populations in the 1960s and 1970s.
Egg collecting as a hobby remained popular as the scientific value of this type of study declined. This was extremely popular especially in the United Kingdom, though the hobby was denounced by the British Ornithologists' Union as early as 1922. Although UK laws have made the amateur hobby collection of eggs illegal since 1954, oologists continue to pursue the hobby by collecting eggs. Egg collecting is illegal in many other jurisdictions as well, including the United States.
Traditionally, April Fools' Day is a time to play pranks, share hoaxes, and tell jokes. April Fool stories published by newspapers and other media outlets may trick readers into believing tall tales -- until they realize the date. Here are some bird-themed funnies that have come out on April Fools' Days in the past.
Google is known to reveal a prank each April Fools' Day, often involving a new product or service in their technology offering. In 2002 they introduced PigeonRank to the world, exposing the truth behind their search technology. Pigeon Clusters (PCs) were the true power Google used to rank and sort web pages. The somewhat elaborate story behind PigeonRank was shared in detail, including graphs and diagrams and a FAQ.
A popular video was released by the BBC in April Fools' Day 2008 which showed Adelie Penguins taking flight. At the time it was one of the most viewed internet videos.
Then there was that time when we revealed a new species of crane that was discovered in South America. We even shared a colorful Birdorable image of the new species, which we dubbed the Painted Crane (Grus pictus). This April Fool prank came out just as we were celebrating Crane Week -- it was an incredible coincidence!
Watch out for more pranks and hoaxes as you go about your day and keep in mind the date! Happy April Fools' Day!
Allopreening refers to one animal preening another. While preening and grooming are usually individual actions, in some species, birds or animals will preen one another. This occurs in birds as well as other classes of animal.
We previously mentioned allopreening when discussing vultures during Vulture Week in 2015. The post Glossary of Vulture Terms explained, in part, that "allopreening refers to social grooming between multiple individuals, often performed to strengthen social bonds."
Social bonds may not be the only reason that birds preen or groom one another. Allopreening is most common in species that tend to gather in large flocks. In these species, birds in frequent close proximity to each other are more likely to transfer parasites amongst the close-knit group. Allopreening in these species helps to keep pests like ticks under control.
Allopreening between mated pairs of birds occurs more often in species where both the male and female raise their offspring together. The preening ritual may help strengthen the longer-lasting bond. In mated pairs where the birds may be separated for a long period of time, allopreening is part of a greeting ritual. For example, this type of allopreening occurs when male and female penguins are reunited after a long incubation shift where one of the mates was feeding at sea for days or weeks.
Allopreening may also help to reduce conflict or tensions among large flocks or breeding colonies of birds. The social structure of the colony plays a large part in who receives preening and how much.
If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the Western Grebe.
The male and female in a mated Western Grebe pair build the nest together. The nest is built from material found underwater, used to build a supportive mound on water or adjacent to water. Incubation is done by both partners and takes around 24 days. Within minutes of leaving the egg, chicks are able to climb upon the back of a parent. The adults take turns swimming with and feeding the chicks.
Some birds have fleshy growths hanging or protruding from the head or the neck. When these are a normal part of their anatomy, they are called caruncles.
Caruncles are often made of bare skin, though some may have a sparse covering of small feathers. They are usually bright in color, like the bright red comb of a domestic chicken.
Caruncles are thought to be ornamental in nature, found in male birds and used to attract mates, though caruncles are found in females of some species, too. Large bare patches of flapping skin may also be used to thermoregulate the bird, especially in warm climates.
Some caruncles have specific names depending on where they are found on the body.
Comb A comb or cockscomb is a caruncle that grows on the top of the head. Males and females of a species may both have a comb, but it is generally larger in male birds. Combs are found in domestic chickens, like the Faverolles, and related bird species.
Wattle A wattle is a caruncle that hangs from the head or the neck. Wattles come in a set of two; when one such growth is present, it is known as a dewlap. On the Wattled Crane, the wattles hang from the upper throat and are almost fully feathered. Another wattled bird named for this distinguishing feature is the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
Snood A snood is a caruncle that hangs from the forehead, and can extend over the beak. These are found in both the Wild Turkey and domestic varieties. During courtship, the snood elongates and darkens in male birds.
The King Vulture has an unusual caruncle on its beak, which appears as an orange fleshy crest-like protuberance attached to the cere.
Today we wrap up our 2018 Birdorable Bonanza with a species of South American parrot: the Scaly-headed Parrot!
This pretty bird is a medium-sized parrot native to eastern parts of South America, where it can be found in a variety of forest habitats. It is named for the scalloped feathers on its head that look like scales.
Scaly-headed Parrots are one of the most popular species of pet bird, and are thus known by a variety of alternate names, including Scaly-headed Pionus and Maximilian Parrot. They can live to be 40 years old or more when well cared for in captivity.
Thanks for following along during our 10th annual Birdorable Bonanza!
Today's new bird is a seabird of the Pacific Ocean: the Tufted Puffin!
The Tufted Puffin is also known as the Crested Puffin. Both males and females develop yellow tufts of feathers on the sides of the head during breeding season.
Adult Tufted Puffins spend most of their life at sea. During breeding season, they congregate along rocky cliff edges on northern Pacific islands, where they nest in rock crevices or inside burrows that can be over five feet deep.
Tomorrow we'll reveal our last Bonanza bird for 2018. It's a South American parrot named for the scalloped feathers on its head. Do you know the species?
Today we introduce Birdorable's version of South America's tallest flying bird: the Jabiru, a species of stork.
Jabiru have an all-white plumage. The head and neck are black and featherless. Another distinguishing feature is a red pouch at the base of the neck. Males and females look alike, though males may be up to 25% larger than females.
Jabiru are found in wetland habitat across parts of Central and South America. They feed on a variety of prey items, including fish, mollusks, and amphibians, generally foraged in shallow water.
Tomorrow's new bird is a member of the puffin family, named for a plumage feature that occurs during part of the year. Do you know this bird?
Today we introduce a new bird to the starling family of Birdorable, one of the world's myna species: the Common Hill Myna!
Common Hill Mynas are appropriately named, as they are found in hill habitat in their South and Southeast Asia range. They have a wide distribution and are relatively common in their range.
Common Hill Mynas are also sometimes called simply Hill Mynas, and the family name is sometimes spelled Mynah.
These birds are known for their amazing vocal abilities. They produce a wide variety of calls, songs, and other sounds in the wild. Because of their vocal prowess, they are popular in aviculture, where they are known for their amazing ability to mimic different sounds.
Tomorrow's new bird is the tallest flying bird found in South America. Do you know the species?