Bush stone-curlews are an evening bird… with an odd gown.
- Bush stone-curlews, also known as ‘screaming woman birds’ and ‘bush thick-knees’, are birds that are mostly active during nocturnal hours and are native to Australia.
- The scientific name of a bush stone-curlew is Burhinus grallarius, formerly Burhinus magnirostris, and it is from the family of stone-curlews.
- The plumage of bush stone-curlews ranges in various patterns of grey, black, brown and white, that typically looks similar to their natural habitat, so that they are not easily noticed.
- The diet of bush stone-curlews consists of a wide variety of foods, including insects, small mammals, molluscs, amphibians, crabs and reptiles.
- A bush stone-curlew’s native habitat is open woody forests, or grassy or shrubby areas, often with dead branches and leaves on the ground with which they can blend in.
- Bush stone-curlews are proficient in both mobility on land and during flight, although they spend most of their time on the ground, where they forage for food and lay their eggs.
- The sounds of bush stone-curlews are very noticeable, with loud screams or wails, or even screeches when frightened, that are mostly heard after dark, and if they are discovered or threatened, they will generally freeze like a statue to camouflage themselves.
- Bush stone-curlews have long skinny legs, and the birds reach heights of 50 to 60 centimetres (20 to 24 inches), with a similar wingspan.
- Female bush stone-curlews generally lay two eggs in a small depression in the ground, which both parents care for, and they usually partner for life and can live up to 30 years.
- Bush stone-curlew populations have dwindled significantly in some areas, and as a result they are listed as endangered or near threatened in most states, with flocks once reaching into the hundreds now limited to tiny groups due to habitat loss and introduced predators; though in 2012, the species was listed as ‘least concern’.
Don’t feed, aggravate, threaten or approach a cassowary. You may not enjoy it.
- A cassowary is a species of flightless bird, native to New Guinea and northern Australia, that is typically hidden in tropical rainforest areas.
- The scientific name of a cassowary is Casuarius, from the Casuariidae family, and it is the only genus of birds in the family.
- There are three species of cassowaries still living – the northern, dwarf and southern, with the southern species being the most abundant.
- A cassowary’s diet consists primarily of fruit, and they also eat insects, vegetation, small animals and fungi.
- Cassowaries are large birds that range from 1.5 to 2 metres (4.9 to 6.6 feet) in height and weigh around 25 to 58.5 kilograms (55 to 129 pounds), ranking it in the top three extant birds in height, and in the top two in weight.
Image courtesy of Heather Paul/Flickr
- Cassowaries have dangerously clawed feet with three toes, which have been known to cause both animal and human fatalities.
- The plumage of a cassowary is primarily black, while the neck is generally a mixture of blues and reds, and the bird has a horn-like protrusion on its head, known as a ‘casque’.
- Habitat destruction and isolation, as well as hunting, have caused populations of some species of cassowary to decrease in numbers, and these are listed as vulnerable.
- Female cassowaries generally lay from three to eight eggs, that are coloured green to blue, and reach a length of 14 centimetres (5.5 inches), making them the third largest bird eggs in the world, and they are looked after by the males before and after they have hatched.
- A study in 2003 revealed that cassowaries expecting food from humans are most likely to attack, while 75% of all attacks on humans are a result of this, caused by their loss of shyness from humans feeding them.
Common nightingales are musical wonders of nature.
- Common nightingales are a small bird native to Europe and Asia, and they migrate to Africa where they spend winter.
- ‘Common nightingales’ are also called ‘rufous nightingales’ or plain ‘nightingales’.
- The scientific name of common nightingales is Luscinia megarhynchos and it is from the family Muscicapidae, the family of Old World flycatchers.
- Common nightingales grow to be around 14 to 17 centimetres (5.5 to 6.7 inches) in length and their wings span 20 to 24 centimetres (7.9 to 9.5 inches).
- The weight of common nightingales is roughly 18 to 23 grams (0.6 to 0.8 ounces), and they have a typical lifespan of one to five years.
- The common nightingale feathers spread from browns to light tans, and they have a light coloured underside, while the tail feathers are a reddish-brown, and the eyes are surrounded by a white ring.
- Common nightingales are well known for their ability to sing beautiful notes during both day and night, that are highly pleasant and inspirational, though the males generally sing more than the females, and do so to attract their mate.
- The term ‘nightingale’ originates from the word in Old English ‘nihtegale’, or similar, which literally means ‘to sing at night’.
- The diet of common nightingales consists primarily of insects, though fruit, seeds and nuts, are also consumed at times.
- Nests of common nightingales are typically concealed and made of twigs and leaf litter, with females laying four to five eggs each breeding season.
It’s the survival of the scavengers when it comes to silver gulls.
- Silver gulls are a species of seagull native to coastal areas in Australia, as well as New Zealand and New Caledonia in the South Pacific Ocean.
- The scientific name of a silver gull is Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae, and it is from the family Laridae, the family of gulls, although it was previously part of the Larus genus and known as Larus novaehollandiae.
- Silver gulls are also known as ‘red-billed gulls’, ‘sea pigeons’ and simply as ‘seagulls’.
- The feathers of silver gulls range from white to grey in colour, with some parts of their wings coloured black, and they have a red beak, as well as a red ring around their eyes.
- Silver gulls grow to be 38 to 45 centimetres (15 to 18 inches) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 91 to 96 centimetres (36 to 38 inches), and they generally weigh between 260 to 350 grams (9 to 12 ounces).
- The call of a silver gull is loud and it typically makes a ‘kwarwh’ or similar sounding noise.
- The diet of silver gulls consists primarily of fish, insects, worms and crustaceans, as well as scraps scavenged from waste piles, and they are especially common around rubbish dumps.
- Silver gulls build nests low to the ground, mostly from vegetation, and the female will typically produce an average of three eggs, which hatch after three to four weeks, and the grey-brown coloured young are raised by both parents.
- Populations of silver gulls have increased significantly since the 1950s as a result of the large quantities of food waste that Australians now produce, and they have become so common that they have become a pest in some areas, and they are also impacting the breeding of other bird species.
- Silver gulls are opportunists and are known to boldly wait for humans to drop food in parks or beach areas; and they have also been observed to have kleptoparasitic behaviour, where they steal food from other birds or animals.
California condors are birds of the past that have been rebirthed into the present.
- California condors are a vulture species native to North America’s forest, cliff, savannah and shrub habitats.
- The scientific name of a California condor is Gymnogyps californianus and it is from the family Cathartidae, the family of New World vultures.
- The wingspan of a California condor reaches 2.7 to 3 metres (9 to 10 feet) in width, the largest wingspan of any North American bird, and the bird can grow to a length of 1.1 to 1.4 metres (3.5 to 4.5 feet) and generally weighs between 8 to 14 kilograms (18 to 31 pounds), making it also the largest flying bird in North America.
- The feathers of a California condor are mostly coloured black, with some underwing feathers coloured white, while the neck and head is bare and a pink to red colour.
- California condors are scavengers in nature, feeding on dead animals like rabbits, livestock, deer, whales and fish, among others.
- Due to having little or no sense of smell, California condors depend on their eyesight, or their observation of eagles and other vultures, to lead them to food.
- Habitat destruction, poisoning from dead animals containing lead bullets, poaching and electrical lines all contributed to the wild extinction of California condors in 1987, although the remaining few birds were captured for captive breeding programs; and the bird has since been reintroduced into the wild from 1992 after an extensive conservation program.
- Female California condors produce a single blue-white egg every couple of years which is laid in a hole in a tree, or on a cliff or cave floor, however if the first egg is lost, the bird may produce another, and the egg and chick is looked after by both parents.
- There were only 425 extant California condors in total, in the wild and captivity in late 2014, and the species is listed as critically endangered, although numbers have been increasing due to further conservation efforts and a continuing breeding program.
- To clean themselves, California condors choose to wash in water, or scrape away dirt by rubbing their head and neck against trees or other objects, and they finish cleaning with extensive feather preening.
They may not be the emperor, but Adélie penguins sure are fascinating.
- Adélie penguins are a common species of medium-sized penguin native to Antarctica and nearby islands in the Southern Ocean.
- The scientific name of an Adélie penguin is Pygoscelis adeliae and it is from the family Spheniscidae, the family of penguins.
- The height of Adélie penguins is usually between 40 to 75 centimetres (16 to 30 inches), and they generally weigh between 3 to 6 kilograms (6.6 to 13.2 pounds)
- The feathers on the back half of Adélie penguins is black, as is all of the head, while the front half is coloured white except for the head, and there is a white line encircling the eyes.
- The diet of Adélie penguins consists primarily of krill, squid, and fish such as silverfish, and they are preyed on by orcas and leopard seals, as well as birds known as ‘skuas’, and they have an average lifespan of ten to twenty years.
- Adélie penguins are found on ice shelves in the winter where they hunt for their food; and they live in large colonies and breed in the spring and summer months on land where there is no ice.
- Female Adélie penguins typically lay two eggs in a rock nest, that are incubated by both the female and her life long male partner, and while one sits on the eggs or looks after the young, the other is absent searching for food for up to ten to twelve days at a time.
- Adélie penguins can travel distances of roughly 13,000 kilometres (8078 miles) or greater each year, to and from the breeding grounds in the south, to hunting grounds further north.
- Adélie penguins can swim at speeds of 72 kilometres per hour (45 miles per hour), and they can reach depths of up to 175 metres (574 feet) in water.
- Food eaten by Adélie penguins is not chewed, but swallowed, due to the teeth-like protrusions found inside their mouth that are designed to grip onto the food, and the penguins are able to eat up to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of food in a single day.