Kiwi

A kiwi is not your typical bird, that’s for certain!

  • Kiwis are a genus of birds that do not have the ability to fly, and they are endemic to New Zealand’s forests.
  • The scientific name of a kiwi is Apteryx and it is from the family Apterygidae, of which it is the sole member.
  • Kiwis range from 25 to 45 centimetres (9.8 to 17.7 inches) in height, and they weigh from 1.3 to 3.3 kilograms (2.9 to 7.3 pounds).
  • A kiwi lacks a tail, and it has open, narrow feathers that hide its small wings; and the bird is unique in that it has nostrils located at the tip of its beak, giving it a good sense of smell, which it uses to find food like insects, worms, and seeds.
  • Kiwis are primarily active during the night, however when kept in captivity or in wildlife parks where threats by other animals are scarce, they become increasingly active during the day.
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A Kiwi
Image courtesy of denisbin/Flickr
  • Female kiwis typically lay a single egg per season, although some species may lay up to three or four, and the eggs can reach 15 to 20% of the female’s weight and as such, of all living birds they produce one of the largest eggs in proportion to the adult bird.
  • For approximately two or three days before laying an egg in a burrow, a female kiwi must sacrifice eating as there is not enough space inside the bird to hold food.
  • Kiwis were first scientifically described in 1813 by English botanist George Shaw, who had not viewed a live specimen, but rather only the skin of the bird.
  • Kiwis are highly symbolic of New Zealand culture, present in many designs including the New Zealand crest and featured on the New Zealand dollar, while New Zealanders themselves are nicknamed ‘kiwis’.
  • Deforestation and introduced predators have caused four of the five kiwi species to be listed as either endangered or vulnerable, and due to such threats, only one in twenty chicks are expected to reach adulthood, although there is considerable effort, some of which has been successful, to improve this statistic.
Bibliography:
About Kiwi, 2016, Kiwis for Kiwi, https://www.kiwisforkiwi.org/about-kiwi/
Facts and Threats to Kiwi, n.d, New Zealand Department of Conservation, http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/kiwi/facts/
Kiwi, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/kiwi/
Kiwi, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwi

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Keel-billed Toucan

The keel-billed toucan is the rainbow of the rainforest.

  • Keel-billed toucans are a species of colourful bird, native to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern Venezuela and Columbia.
  • ‘Keel-billed toucans’ are also known as ‘rainbow-billed toucans’ and ‘sulfur-breasted toucans’.
  • The scientific name of the keel-billed toucan is Ramphastos sulfuratus and it is from the family Ramphastidae, the family of toucans.
  • Keel-billed toucans are sizable birds that grow to be about 42 to 55 centimetres (16.5 to 21.6 inches) in height and have wings spanning a width of 109 to 152 centimetres (43 to 60 inches).
  • The feather colour of keel-billed toucans is predominantly black, with a striking yellow chest; while the lightweight, multi-coloured, keratin bill is mostly green with a mix of red, orange, and blue.
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A Keel-billed Toucan
Image courtesy of Franceso Veronesi/Flickr
  • Although the keel-billed toucan itself is not under threat, their numbers are believed to be decreasing due to habitat loss and poaching for its feathers, bill and meat; and it is on a watch-list due to its similar appearance to that of a threatened toucan species.
  • Keel-billed toucans live in groups (flocks) of around six to twelve birds, and they snuggle together at night in a hole of tree trunk, while maximising space by tucking their feathers and beak in.
  • A keel-billed toucan’s diet consists mostly of fruit; however it also eats eggs and lizards, frogs, insects and young birds to obtain protein.
  • Keel-billed toucans are not very adept at flight; rather, they prefer to hop from branch to branch to move.
  • Female keel-billed toucans generally lay between 2 to 4 eggs in a hole in a tree, two to three times in a year; and the birds have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
Bibliography:
Carney M, Ramphastos sulfuratus, 2001, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Ramphastos_sulfuratus/
Keel-billed Toucan, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keel-billed_toucan
Keel Billed Toucan, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/keel-billed-toucan/

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Peacock

The peacock is something of total magnificence.

  • Peacocks are spectacularly dressed birds, and depending on the species, are native to India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia, including Myanmar and Java, as well as Congo in Africa, though some of have been introduced into other countries around the world.
  • The common name ‘peacock’, technically refers to the male bird, with the term ‘peahen’ reserved for females, while ‘peafowl’ is the general name of the bird; and the birds can have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years in the wild.
  • There are three extant species of peacock and they have the scientific names Pavo cristatus – the blue or Indian peafowl, Pavo muticus – the green peafowl, and  Afropavo congensis – the Congo peafowl; and both the Pavo and Afropavo genera are from the family Phasianidae, the family of pheasants, chickens and quails.
  • The magnificent feather train of male peacocks is able to be fanned out in display, to attract females and compete with other males.
  • Peacocks range in length from 0.86 to 3 metres (2.8 to 9.8 feet), which includes the train on the males that can be at least 60% of the length of the bird; and they usually have a wingspan of 1.4 to 1.6 metres (4.6 to 5.2 feet) in width, and a weight ranging from 2.7 to 6 kilograms (6 to 13.2 pounds)

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  • Peacock males generally have a striking metallic blue to green plumage, while females are usually coloured brown or grey, sometimes with dark green colouring; although all white versions and other variations of the bird exist.
  • Species of male peacocks from Asian countries feature eye-like spots on their tail feathers – the train; while all peacocks have intricate crests.
  • The diet of peacocks consists of insects; vegetation including flowers and other plant material; reptiles, including snakes; and small amphibians; among others.
  • Male peacocks may mate with multiple females each year, with each female laying around 3 to 8 eggs of a brown colour, in a nest they make on the ground.
  • Numbers of two peacock species have been decreasing, mainly due to habitat loss and hunting, with the Congo peafowl listed as ‘vulnerable’, and the green peafowl listed as ‘endangered’.
Bibliography:
Fowler E, Pavo Cristatus, 2011, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pavo_cristatus/
Indian Peafowl, n.d, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, https://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Birds/Facts/fact-peafowl.cfm
Peacock, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/peacock/
Peacock, 2016, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/birds/peacock/
Peafowl, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peafowl

 

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Galápagos Penguin

When the Galápagos penguin has all its friends on one island, there is trouble.

  • Galápagos penguins are a species of penguin native exclusively to the Galápagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean near Ecuador.
  • The scientific name of the Galápagos penguin is Spheniscus mendiculus and it is from the family Spheniscidae, the family of penguins, and it is the sole species of penguin to exist above the equator.
  • Galápagos penguins are among the smallest penguins and generally range from 48 to 53 centimetres (19 to 21 inches) in height and 1.7 to 2.5 kilograms (3.7 to 5.5 pounds) in weight.
  • Galápagos penguins are a black colour with a white belly, and they have a thin white band coming from the eyes to the neck, and one that surrounds their belly.
  • The diet of Galápagos penguins consists primarily of small fish like pilchards, mullets and sardines, but also the occasional small crustacean.
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Some Galápagos penguins
Image courtesy of zpics/Flickr
  • Galápagos penguins have a particularly low population, estimated to be between 1000 and 2000 individuals, making it the species with the smallest number of penguins in the world.
  • Galápagos penguins are of an endangered status, with threats listed as oil pollution; fishing by humans; introduced pests and predators, including mosquitoes and cats; and the natural El Nino phenomenon, which reduces the quantity of food available to the penguins.
  • Keeping body heat cool is a major concern for the Galápagos penguin when not in water, so they expel heat through panting, resting in shade, spreading flippers out wide, and hunching over to keep their feet shaded.
  • Galápagos penguins build nests in cavities or protected areas among rocks, using a variety of items, and they mate for life, producing one to two eggs in the season, though only one chick may survive, and the parents share the responsibility of looking after the chick/s.
  • The lifespan of a Galápagos penguin is up to 15 to 20 years, though reaching this age is not common due to the high number of predators the bird has on land and in water, including seals, large fish, crabs, snakes, rats and large birds.
Bibliography:
Galapagos Penguin, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/galapagos-penguin/
Galapagos Penguin, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galapagos_penguin
Galapagos Penguin, n.d, Penguin World, http://www.penguinworld.com/types/galapagos.html
Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/galapagos-penguin/spheniscus-mendiculus/
Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), n.d, Birdlife, http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=3864

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Satin Bowerbird

If your blue pen lid is missing, blame the satin bowerbird.

  • Satin bowerbirds are a species of bird, native to the eastern states of Australia, and they are typically found in forest habitats, especially wet or rainforest areas.
  • The scientific name of the satin bowerbird is Ptilonorhynchus violaceus and it is from the family Ptilonorhynchidae, the family of bowerbirds.
  • The plumage of a mature seven year old male satin bowerbird is a deep blue-black colour, while females and younger males have a colour combination of olive-green and brown, patterned with cream.
  • Satin bowerbirds generally reach a height of 27 to 33 centimetres (10.6 to 13 inches), and their diet consists primarily of fruit, and they also eat seeds, leaves and insects.
  • A male satin bowerbird constructs a display structure, known as a ‘bower’, that it builds with sticks on the ground, and it has two sides facing each other with a pathway through the middle, and while it is often thought of as a nest, it is never used for this purpose.

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  • Male satin bowerbirds often ‘paint’ the inside of their bower, often with a mix of saliva and plant material; and they are notable for collecting objects, generally of a blue colour, though yellow or metallic coloured objects may also be gathered, to place in and around their bower as decoration.
  • The satin bowerbird male attracts a female partner through its bower and colourful objects, as well as a special ‘dance’ it performs, and younger females are more attracted to bower aesthetics, while older females favour a better dance performance when determining their mate.
  • A female satin bowerbird typically lays one to three eggs each year, of a brown to cream colour with dark markings, in a nest that it builds in trees; and the eggs and young are cared for by the female.
  • Satin bowerbirds have blue eyes, and the mature males have a creamy yellow to green coloured beak, while the females have a dark coloured one.
  • Satin bowerbirds can imitate the calls of other birds, and they also make sounds that resemble hisses, whistles, and buzzes.
Bibliography:
Evans O, Satin Bowerbird, 2010, Australian Museum, http://australianmuseum.net.au/satin-bowerbird
Satin Bowerbird, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satin_bowerbird
Satin Bowerbird, n.d, Birds in Backyards, http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Ptilonorhynchus-violaceus
Satin Bowerbird, n.d, Oiseaux-Birds, http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-satin-bowerbird.html

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Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate spoonbills are really as vivid as a rose against the lakes.

  • Roseate spoonbills are a species of bird found mostly in lake, swampy and mangrove areas of South America, but also in Central America, and southern parts of North America.
  • The scientific name of a roseate spoonbill is Platalea ajaja, and is also known as Ajaia ajaja, and is from the family Threskiornithidae, the family of spoonbills and ibises.
  • Roseate spoonbills generally grow to be 60 to 80 centimetres (23.6 to 31.5 inches) in height and have a wingspan of 110 to 130 centimetres (43 to 51 inches).
  • The plumage colour of roseate spoonbills is a combination of pinks, whites and reds, and they often have some pale green, grey and orange features.
  • Roseate spoonbills are wading birds, and as such their diet consists primarily of aquatic insects, small fish, and shrimp.
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Roseate Spoonbill
Image courtesy of Insu Nuzzi/Flickr
  • Female roseate spoonbills typically produce a clutch of two to five white eggs that are speckled with brown, which are laid in a nest they build, usually in a tree near water.
  • The 15 to 18 centimetres (6 to 7 inches) long, flat-ended bill of a roseate spoonbill is utilised by swinging back and forth underwater to collect food, and on it are sensors that allows the bird to know when it has come in contact with food.
  • A roseate spoonbill does not usually sit or lie down when asleep and instead stands, often on one of its long legs, while tucking its head into its plumage.
  • Roseate spoonbills have an average lifespan of ten to fifteen years; and they live in flocks, and when in flight, they are typically arranged in a pattern, often diagonally.
  • The habitat of roseate spoonbills is under threat in a number of regions; and they have been traditionally hunted for both food and for their striking feathers, however, they have since been protected for many years in some areas, and are listed as ‘least concern’.
Bibliography:
Roseate Spoonbill, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roseate_spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/roseate-spoonbill/
Roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), 2015, Nature Works, http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/roseatespoonbill.htm
Roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), n.d, Wildscreen Arkive, http://www.arkive.org/roseate-spoonbill/platalea-ajaja/

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