Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic puffins are the parrots of the sea.

  • Atlantic puffins are small flying birds that are native to the North Atlantic Ocean, and they are one of four species of puffins.
  • ‘Atlantic puffins’ are also known as ‘common puffins’, ‘clowns of the sea’ and ‘sea parrots’, and the birds have an average lifespan of 15 to 30 years.
  • The scientific name of an Atlantic puffin is Fratercula arctica, and it is from the family Alcidae, the family of auks, and even though some think that the bird is similar to a penguin, they are not related.
  • Atlantic puffins typically grow to 25 to 30 centimetres (10 to 12 inches) in height; their weight generally ranges from 368 to 500 grams (13 to 18 ounces); and they have a 47 to 63 centimetre (18 – 25 inch) wingspan.
  • The plumage colour of Atlantic puffins is typically coloured a combination of black, white and grey, while the bird’s large beak, legs and webbed feet are a vivid orange, although the beak generally turns grey in winter.
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Atlantic Puffin
Image courtesy of Brain Gratwicke/Flickr
  • The diet of Atlantic puffins consists primarily of fish, and also includes worms, molluscs, shrimp and crustaceans.
  • Atlantic puffins catch their prey by diving underwater; they are excellent swimmers, although they are said to crash into the water when landing; and they are also good flyers and can reach up to speeds of 88 kilometres per hour (55 miles per hour).
  • By bobbing for days on end, Atlantic puffins are able to survive on the surfaces of the ocean with no land in sight, and they spend a significant portion of the year on water, and return to land for breeding purposes.
  • Female Atlantic puffins lay a single white egg annually in a burrow that is cared for by both parents, while hatching can take up to 45 days; and adults usually have only one partner during their life.
  • Despite being listed as least concern, Atlantic puffin numbers have decreased over the past century and are threatened by pollution, especially oil spills; animals introduced to breeding grounds; and humans hunting for food.
Bibliography
Atlantic Puffin, 2015, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/birds/atlantic-puffin/
Atlantic Puffin, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_puffin
Puffin, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/puffin/

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Falcon

Falcons are not like all the rest, but they are faster!

  • Falcons are birds of prey found all around the world excluding Antarctica, and the genus contains more than 35 species.
  • A falcon has the scientific name Falco and it is from the family Falconidae, the family of birds of prey that includes said birds and caracaras.
  • Falcons typically are 22 to 40 centimetres (9 to 16 inches) in height and have a wingspan of between 51 to 110 centimetres (20 to 43 inches) across and weigh between 0.7 to 1.2 kilograms (1.5 to 2.6 pounds).
  • The feathers of falcons are generally a combination of colours that vary between species, that can include black, white, grey, and brown, many of which have various patterned markings; and sometimes the area around the eyes, beak or feet are coloured yellow.
  • The eyesight of falcons is extremely powerful, and they are able to see roughly 2.6 times better than humans.
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Peregrine Falcon
Image courtesy of Frankzed/Flickr
  • A falcon’s diet, depending on the species, can consist of birds, bats, insects, reptiles and smaller mammals, such as rodents and rabbits.
  • Falcons have tapered wings that allow the bird to reach speeds that are faster than all extant animals, at 322 kilometres per hour (200 miles per hour).
  • Female falcons lay eggs in high, elevated locations, that are difficult for predators to reach, and around three eggs are laid over one period.
  • Normally, birds of prey would kill using their feet claws, however this is not the case with falcons, as they use their sharp beak and the extra point or ‘tooth’ that they have on the side of it.
  • Falcons generally live by themselves in areas where there are cliffs, mountains or places that have significant height; and some species are endangered, vulnerable or near threatened.
Bibliography:
Flacon, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/falcon/
Falcon, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon

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Apostlebird

The apostlebirds are preaching in the mornings.

  • Apostlebirds are birds native to inland eastern and southern woody habitats of Australia.
  • ‘Apostlebirds’ are also known as ‘grey jumpers’, ‘lousy jacks’, ‘family birds’, ‘happy jacks’, and a group of them is sometimes called ‘twelve apostles’ or a ‘happy family’.
  • Typically, apostlebirds have plumage that is mostly grey in colour, with touches of brown and black in various places.
  • The scientific name of an apostlebird is Struthidea cinerea, and it is from the family Corcoracidae, also known as Struthideidae, the family of Australian mudnesters.
  • Apostlebirds coexist helpfully in groups, actively caring for fellow birds, eggs and chicks, and all contributing to nest building.

Apostlebird, Animal, Australia, Ten Random Facts, Look, Single,

  • Female apostlebirds generally lay two to five very light blue to white coloured eggs, that have brown or grey coloured specks, and they are laid in a high, mud and grass nest.
  • The name ‘apostlebird’ is derived from the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, as the birds usually live in groups that number ten to twelve birds.
  • The diet of apostlebirds consists primarily of insects and vegetation, such as seeds and leaves.
  • Apostlebirds grow to lengths of 29 to 33 centimetres (11.4 to 13 inches), and weigh approximately 128 grams (4.5 ounces).
  • Apostlebirds are often seen foraging on the ground in their family groups, and in winter a number of groups may congregate together.
Bibliography:
Apostlebird, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostlebird
Apostlebird, n.d, Birds in Backyards, http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Struthidea-cinerea
Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea), n.d, Oz Animals, http://www.ozanimals.com/Bird/Apostlebird/Struthidea/cinerea.html

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Sulphur-crested Cockatoos

Sulphur-crested cockatoos are majestic and marvellous birds.

  • Sulphur-crested cockatoos are a group of birds that contain four subspecies, native to Papua New Guinea and eastern, northern and some southern areas of Australia.
  • The scientific name of a sulphur-crested cockatoo is Cacatua galerita, and it is from the family Cacatuidae, the family of cockatoos.
  • Sulphur-crested cockatoos have been introduced into Australia’s Perth in Western Australia, Asia’s Singapore, and New Zealand, along with other Pacific Islands.
  • Sulphur-crested cockatoos typically grow to heights of 44 to 55 centimetres (17 to 22 inches); they can weigh as much as 950 grams (34 ounces); and they can live up to 80 years, however, their lifespan in the wild is generally between 20 and 40 years.
  • A sulphur-crested cockatoo has white coloured feathers, a vivid yellow crest, and a grey coloured beak; and their feathers are waterproof due to a thin, special powder that they excrete.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Yellow, Bird, Australia, Parrot, Perch, Ten Random Facts, Queensland

  • Seeds, berries, nuts, roots, and other vegetation make up the diet of sulphur-crested cockatoos and they generally live in family groups in forest habitats or where there are plenty of trees.
  • Female sulphur-crested cockatoos have clutches of one to three eggs, which are laid in a tree cavity, and the young are raised by both parents.
  • Some people consider sulphur-crested cockatoos as pests, even in native areas, as large populations can destroy crops, and they can also damage buildings with their sharp parrot beaks, as they like to chew wood.
  • When a group of sulphur-crested cockatoos are scavenging for food on a ground surface, a single bird from the flock is commonly found perching on a high platform watching for predators.
  • Sulphur-crested cockatoos generally make loud screeching noises; they are capable of imitating speech and other sounds; and are occasionally kept as pets.
Bibliography:
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, 2015, Australian Museum, http://australianmuseum.net.au/sulphur-crested-cockatoo
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulphur-crested_cockatoo
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, n.d, Zoos Victoria, http://www.zoo.org.au/healesville/animals/sulphur-crested-cockatoo

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Old World Vultures

Old World vultures are necessary parts of many ecosystems.

  • Old World vultures are large birds native to Africa, Europe and Asia, classified by two subfamilies, Gypaetinae and Aegypiinae.
  • Old World vultures are from the family Accipitridae, the family of hooked-beak birds, while New World vultures belong to a different family.
  • The diet of Old World vultures consists primarily of meat that they extract from the bodies of dead animals and people.
  • The heads of many of the Old World vultures are generally featherless, which is said to help prevent overheating.
  • Livestock may be treated with chemicals, that can render meat for Old World vultures poisonous, and has caused the destruction of many populations of the birds, although the birds are generally not affected by animal diseases and bacteria.
Old World Vulture, Cape Griffon Vulture (Gyps coprotheres), Ten Random Facts, Bird, White, Perch, Feather, Black
Old World Vulture
Image courtesy of Heather Paul/Flickr
  • Old World vultures range from 60 to 150 centimetres (2 to 5 feet) in height, generally weigh between 0.85 to 2.2 kilograms (2 to 5 pounds), and typically have a wingspan that spreads 130 to 183 centimetres (51 to 72 inches) wide.
  • Old World vultures have feathers that are typically coloured black, brown, white, grey or tan, or a combination of these colours.
  • Old World vultures have superb eyesight, and they can turn red in the head when they are not happy about something.
  • Snakes, hawks and wild cats prey on Old World vultures, and the birds commonly play dead when they feel vulnerable.
  • People from Old World vulture’s native countries benefit from the bird, as they clean up rotting carcasses, that would otherwise spread disease and cause other health problems.
Bibliography:
Old World Vultures, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_World_vulture
Vulture, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/vulture/
Vulture, 2015, San Diego Zoo, http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/vulture

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Quetzal

Be striking like a male quetzal.

  • Quetzals are tropical birds native to Central American woody and rainforest habitats.
  • The scientific name of quetzals is Pharomachrus, which covers five species, and they are from the family Trogonidae, the family of trogons, although there is one more species, and it has the scientific name Euptilotis, and belongs to the same family.
  • Quetzals have a diet that generally consists of fruit, such as berries, and animals of small size, like lizards, frogs and insects.
  • Male quetzals have brightly coloured luminous feathers, that are mostly green and red, with an orange to yellow crest, while females generally have duller colours with the addition of brown or grey.
  • Quetzals grow to be around 32 to 40.5 centimetres (12.6 to 16 inches) in height, and they generally weigh between 200 to 225 grams (7 to 8 ounces).
Quetzal, Bird, Crested, Greed, Red, Colourful, South America, Peru, Ten Random Facts, Flickr, Animal, Bird, Splendid, Perch
Quetzal
Image courtesy of vil.sandi/Flickr
  • Quetzals have trouble walking on their unstable feet, that are designed for perching in the heights of trees, as they have two toes facing backwards, and the other two forwards.
  • The tail of quetzals consists of two feathers that can be between 65 cm (25.6 inches) and one metre (three feet) in length, although the females do not have such long tails.
  • The sounds made by quetzals range from whines, chirps and whistles; they mostly live alone; and they are most active during the twilight hours.
  • Quetzals lay eggs in holes that they carve in tree trunks, laying one to three at a time, and the eggs and chicks are looked after by both parents.
  • The population of quetzals is said to be threatened by illegal deforestation and exotic pet trades, with an estimated 50,000 left in the wild.
Bibliography:
Quetzal, 2013, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/quetzal/
Quetzal, 2015, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/birds/quetzal/
Quetzal, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzal

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