“The Dodo’s external appearance is evidenced only by paintings and written accounts from the 17th century. Because these vary considerably, and because only a few sketches are known to have been drawn from live specimens, its exact appearance in life remains a mystery.”
Freckled Ducks (Stictonetta naevosa), male (top) and female. Native to southern Australia, it is protected by law in all states. The ducks are easily identified by their large heads with a peaked crown. The Freckled Duck feeds by dabbling in shallow water, often by wading near the edge. It prefers large, well-vegetated swamps, but moves to open water after breeding or in dry periods.
Long, long ago, O Best Beloved, the ancestor of the penguins could soar through the air. So why did the penguin give up flight? Rudyard Kipling never wrote a Just So story with an answer, but now scientists have one: The penguin doesn’t fly because it would rather swim.
A new study of murres, penguinlike seabirds that retain the ability to take wing, shows just how costly and inefficient it is to be both a diver and a flyer. The new findings back the long-held hypothesis that penguins gave up the heavens more than 70 million years ago to become kings of the waves.
“This study contributes a lot by putting hard numbers on the energy costs of moving through both the aerial and aquatic realms,” writes Daniel Ksepka of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who studies penguin evolution and was not involved with the research, in an e-mail…
Female Scissor-tailed Flycatchers select males to pair with, based on the male’s ornate tail plumes. Males will perform elaborate aerial courtship displays to females, showing off their tails, to try to encourage her to mate. Longer tail feathers are more energetically costly to grow and maintain, so a male with very long tail feathers must therefore be in top physical shape. Males with longer feathers are typically snatched up sooner than those with shorter tails. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are kingbirds, members of the flycatcher genus Tyrannus, along with the closely-related Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
Also known as the red-striped flowerpecker, the red-keeled flowerpecker is a species of passerine bird endemic to the Philippines. Like most flowerpeckers the red-keeled flowerpecker feeds mainly on nectar and berries (and insects) which it collects with its modified tongue tip. The Black-belted Flowerpecker (D. haematostictum) was once thought to be a subspecies of the red-keeled flowerpecker but recent data shows it as a separate species.
Nipped fingers and handfuls of guano will be the order of the day for wildlife rangers on the Farne Islands as they embark on an epic census on Friday to discover whether puffin numbers have plummeted after a year of extreme weather.
The 10 National Trust rangers living on the islands must dangle their bare fingers down 60,000 puffin burrows in the next two months to determine whether breeding pairs have fallen after the worst puffin “wreck” for 66 years.
The wreck in March, which saw 3,500 birds wash up dead along the north-east coast of Britain, was caused by icy easterly winds. It followed a summer when the puffins on the archipelago off Northumberland were flooded out of their underground homes, with more than 40% failing to breed…
Though Spring migration of birds isn’t over yet this year, its winding down along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Its been a good year for me, as it was a good year in general in SE Texas. This is a major stop and refuel area for birds who have spent the winter in central and South America, and are migrating back to their breeding range, in more northerly climes.
I had 3 birds that kept eluding me season after season, and I had hoped to get at least one of them this season. However, I GOT ALL 3!!! These 3 birds are rare here, but not unheard of. I saw a Swainson’s Warbler (bttm), a very secretive bird, here at the park where I work, and finally saw a Black-billed Cuckoo (2nd row) and a Cape May Warbler (top R), who usually migrate far east of here, at the bird watching mecca of High Island, TX.
I’ve also seen a lot of shorebirds this season, and I’m still hoping to get a Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler; Prairie Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler.
A rich, rolling “churee churee churee” rings out from the lush understory of the woods, then the songster itself flits up to a low branch and sounds out again. This golden and olive warbler with the black mustache spends much of its time on the ground in deep woods, where it nests, but the patient birder can often catch a glimpse of one, especially as males stake out their territories each spring.
The Kentucky Warbler’s characteristic loud song is heard less frequently today, and continued losses of bottomland hardwood forests across the southeastern United States may be the reason why. However, destruction of habitat on its wintering grounds through clearing for agriculture and pasture may pose an even greater threat…