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Bird Species Identification | Tips on How to Identify Bird Species

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: , — Nik @ 4:35 am

Bird Species Identification

Bird species identification is one of the most pleasurable sports for nature lovers and bird lovers alike. Since specific birds are found only in specific places, bird watching and identification can be a very interesting exercise. Birds have some characteristic identification marks as well as calling sounds. For identifying bird species, ornithologists not only note physical characteristics, but also observe the nesting and other behavioral traits that can help them identify one species from another similar subspecies. In order to identify bird species, an enthusiast may have to be extremely patient.

How to Identify Bird Species

Here are some common birds and the tips to identify them in the wild.

  • Whooping Crane: The crane is so called because of the whopping sounds it makes when calling out. This is a beautiful, however, endangered bird. Like all other types of cranes, the whooping crane also has a long neck and is white in color. When the crane flies up, the neck is kept perfectly straight. During flight, its long and dark legs trail backwards. It also has black tips on its wings and this is only noticeable when it is taking flight. Great Egret. Egrets are commonly found near water bodies. Also known as the white heron, the egret is a large bird. The egret is a wading bird and is typically found in tropical and warmer climates. The bird has completely white plumage. The flight is slow and deliberate. The neck remains retracted during flight.
  • Golden Eagle: The golden eagle is a commonly spotted bird of prey in the Northern hemisphere. This bird is not seen in areas that are densely populated but can be noticed in woodlands. The color of the plumage ranges from blackish brown to dark brown. The nape of the eagle is golden in color, from which it gets its name. The bird has a large wingspan which ranges from 7 feet to a whopping 2 meters.
  • Pileated Woodpecker: This woodpecker is of the size of a medium crow. The pileated woodpecker is the largest bird in its species. It makes characteristic rectangular shaped excavations in the trees. It has a loud call that can often be heard ringing through the trees. The bird is easily identifiable because of the red colored crest on its head. The wings contain white colored markings and the underwing lining can be seen when the bird is in flight. Just below the red colored crown, a white stripe can be seen extending from the bill down to the neck.

Freckled Duck Bird Species Information, Diet, Characteristics

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: — Nik @ 6:36 am

Freckled Duck Bird

The Freckled Duck is a broad-bodied, moderately large duck, which is also referred to as Speckled Duck, Oatmeal Duck, Canvasback or the Diamantina Duck. It has a dark grayish-brown back, with fine speckles in white, off-white, buff or pale brown. Its most identifiable feature is its large head, with a peaked crown, unlike most other ducks which have rounded heads. Its bill is narrow and slightly upturned.  The base of the male duck’s bill becomes crimson during the mating season. During flight, the Freckled Duck beats its wings rapidly and rather clumsily, while holding its head low, thus giving it a hunch-backed look. The Freckled Duck is commonly found in south-western and south-eastern Australia, especially along the Murray-Darling river system and around the Bulloo and Lake Eyre basins. The duck prefers swampy areas created by floods, and along rivers, creeks, reservoirs, lakes and even farm dams and sewage ponds, wherever there is dense growth of vegetation especially lignum, tea-tree or Cumbungi. This allows it good cover and a chance to feed on aquatic grasses and algae, which grow in the water.

During inland droughts, they are forced to travel far until they find a suitable water body. During such times, they travel as far as Victoria and New South Wales. The Freckled Duck generally feeds at dawn, dusk or night. It eats a wide variety of seeds, sedges, algae, aquatic grasses and small invertebrates. They usually feed by wading near the edge and dabbling in the shallow water. Freckled Ducks generally breed from October to December, but if conditions are favorable, they breed at other times too.

Their nests are situated in dense vegetation, near or at water level, and are made by weaving together fine twigs, cushioned with a layer of down. While males remain close to the females during the incubation, it is the female which does the incubation and he rearing of the babies. Freckled Ducks face a threat from humans in many ways:

  • Clearing and draining swamps and wetlands. Dams and irrigation channels change natural course of rivers and their flood patterns.  These changes deprive them of wetlands where they can breed and feed naturally.
  • Besides, much of their wetland habitats are now taken over by grazing cattle, further reducing their living areas. Another major threat is from illegal hooting. In some places such as New South Wales, they are listed as vulnerable and laws have been formulated in respect to shooting of these ducks.

Brown Quail Bird Species Information, Diet, Characteristics

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: — Nik @ 6:31 am

Brown Quail Bird

The Brown Quail also goes by different names such silver quail, swamp quail or partridge quail in the different regions where it is found. It is a plump ground-dwelling bird with short rounded wings. Quails rarely fly. They prefer to hide in the undergrowth, and when flushed out by an intruder, they fly in short, low bursts, with a rapid whirring sound, seeking cover and hiding in the grass. In New Zealand, the Brown Quail is only about seven to eight inches long, while in Tasmania it is larger and darker. The bird’s color varies from a dusky grey brown back to reddish chestnut brown below. The back is also heavily freckled with black and rust brown markings.  They have fine white streaks since each feather has a thin white line down the middle. The bill is thick, short and black. Quails have eyes ranging from yellow to red, while the feet and legs are also orange-yellow. The female bird is bigger. Its belly is paler but the back is more heavily marked. The young bird is like the adult female, but its eyes are dark brown and the markings on its back and chest are less distinct.

The Brown Quail is found on the low lands along the seashore of eastern and northern, Western and south-western Australia. It is also found in Tasmania, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Fiji.

The Brown Quail is usually found wherever suitable breeding and feeding conditions are available, and where they can find places to hide. These would be dense wet grasslands near a brook or a bog, freshwater wetlands, shrub lands and even agricultural area. In fact, they have been often spotted and hunted in open pastures or in roadsides adjacent to farms. Brown Quail eat insects, green shoots, and seeds of grasses, fruits and vegetables. They usually feed in the early morning or evening, and may be seen crossing roads or feeding along roadsides. Quails which are kept in aviaries also eat commercial poultry pellets. Brown Quails breed round the year. They make a nest in the ground, not far from water, and hidden in thick grass, with some overhanging vegetation for further protection. Both adults take turns in incubating the eggs. The chicks leave the nest immediately after hatching.  Quails can be bred in aviaries along with finches, pigeons, doves and parrots. It is best to keep only one pair per aviary, as they are noisy birds.

However, they are often hunted for their meat. E encroachment of dense grasslands where they can hide, has also caused a significant decline in their numbers.

Spangled Drongo Bird Species Information, Diet, Characteristics

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: — Nik @ 6:28 am

Spangled Drongo Bird

The Spangled Drongo is characterized by glossy black plumage which has a metallic sheen, coupled with iridescent blue, purple and green highlights. These spots or spangles give it the name ‘spangled’. The tail is remarkably long with a distinctive fork, and it has bright blood-red eyes. Occasionally white spots are found on the under-wings and breasts. Bordering its bill are long, sensitive wire-like bristles called rictal bristles, which help it to guide its food into its bill. Both sexes look alike, with the only a slight difference in size – the female being a little smaller. In young birds, the eyes are brown, the black is more sooty than glossy, and there are no spangles. It varies in size from 30 to 33 cm long. Although mostly silent, the Spangled Drongo has an astonishingly loud voice and can be quite noisy when it wishes to. It is an amazing mimic, and can weave entertaining and complex calls into its extensive vocabulary. While some sound raucous, others are like a soft ‘sneeze’.

Spangled Drongo Habitat

Spangled Drongos are commonly found throughout eastern and northern Australia. In fact, it probably gets its name from the Australian slang ‘drongo’ which means ‘idiot’, possibly because of the bird’s comical and uninhibited behavior as it calls and swoops down in search of food. They are migratory birds and the Spangled Drongo and some of its related species are also found in Tasmania, New Guinea, Indonesia, throughout south-east Asia, China, Philippines, India and even up to some south-west Pacific islands. They generally avoid the interiors of dense forests preferring more open woodlands and wet forests, and also mangroves and parks. They are usually seen singly or in pairs. While Spangled Drongos also eat fruits and nectar, they prefer to eat insects. They are usually seen perching on open branches or telegraph wires, awaiting a passing insect. The moment they spot their prey, they pursue it in a graceful, acrobatic display, and catch them easily while in flight. It returns to its perch to eat. Drongos also love to eat scraps of meat, and many people make them regular garden birds, by throwing them small bits of mince, just to watch their acrobatic displays. Spangled Drongos usually have one clutch per season. Both adults share in making a simple, shallow cup-shaped nest made of grasses, twigs and vine tendrils, held in place with spider web. This is usually built about 10 to 20 meters above the ground in the fork of a tree.

Both adults co-operate in incubating the eggs, and in aggressively defending their nest and in caring for the young

Sacred Kingfisher Bird Species Information, Diet

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: — Nik @ 6:24 am

Sacred Kingfisher Bird

A medium-sized bird, the Sacred Kingfisher is about 22 to 23 cm long. The head, shoulders, rump and tail are a dusky turquoise, with brilliant turquoise wings. It has a broad white collar, while the areas like the throat and chin are buff-colored darkening to light ochre. A broad black stripe runs from its bill to the eyes and right up to the neck. There is a little black on the feathers of its wings too, while the feet range from black to dark grey-brown. Females are almost similar, but the colors, especially of the upper body, are slightly dull and light. The young birds too, are almost similar, but have a rusty-brown edging on the underside, wings and collar.

Sacred Kingfisher Habitat

The Sacred Kingfisher is commonly found throughout the coastal areas of Australia. They can be found inland too, almost all over Australia where there are rivers or lakes, except in the most arid parts of the continent. They are also found, in slightly lesser numbers, around New Zealand, Tasmania, and in the small islands right up to Indonesia. They usually migrate to northern parts of Australia in winter, returning south in the spring, which is their breeding season. The Sacred Kingfisher likes to inhabit mangroves, woodlands, wooded rivers, as well as open eucalyptus and paperbark forests.

Sacred Kingfisher Breeding and nesting

The Sacred Kingfisher is mainly a solitary bird, which pairs up only to breed. Breeding is during spring and summer. They usually lay two clutches in a season. The male and female co-operate in making a nest. This is usually in the hollow limbs of dead trees or fence posts, and are located a few meters above the ground for safety reasons. But sometimes, they also make their nest in a small burrow in the soft banks of a river or in a termite mound. The chamber of the nest is kept unlined. The female lays 3 to 6 eggs, with both parents taking turns to incubate them. The male and female also co-operate in rearing, feeding and defending their nest and chicks.

Sacred Kingfisher Diet

The Sacred Kingfisher has a varied diet and eats insects like grasshoppers, beetles, crickets and larvae. They also eat small reptiles, fish and crustaceans. The kingfisher sits motionless on a wire or branch, looking intently for prey. When it spots something worthwhile, it swoops down from its perch, grasps its prey in its bill and returns back to its perch to swallow it.

Satin Bowerbird Bird Species Information, Health, Diet and Nutrition

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: , , , — Nik @ 12:54 am

Satin Bowerbird Bird:

The satin bowerbird is a species of small bird that has gained fame among scientists because it has one of the most elaborate mating rituals in the animal kingdom. It is also highly noted because of the stark difference between genders with the males being some of the most brightly colored of the genders. The male is also an ace builder of bowers and is also quite an adept dancer as well; though it is also considered a threatening display and it takes a seasoned female to not be alarmed by this display.

The satin bowerbird is found in Australia form Queensland all the way to Victoria. The courtship display of the males of this species starts with bower building. It is this activity that distinguishes it from most other types of birds. After the bower is built, there is an elaborate decoration exercise that is carried out by the male. The male will then start to put all sorts of colored objects in the bower including berries, flowers, and even discarded shiny objects that are discarded by human populations. The male is also an established dancer though the mating dance is quite intimidating to young females who can perceive the dance as some kind of threat display. Once a bower is built female behavior of choosing a mate is even more curious and eventful. The female will try to either visit the bower when the male is not around and inspect the workmanship of the bower, visit the bower when the mail is in the bower, or will simply visit as many bowers as it can and then choose the best bower. Younger females tend to choose their mates almost completely on the basis of the impressive stature of the bower. Older females tend to look more at the attention to details within the bower paying more attention to the colored decorations of the nest, especially the amount of blue objects collected.

Once a bower and its owning mate have been selected, the pair will then mate. What then follows from here is the female starting to build a nest for the new arrivals. Exceptionally interesting is the changing patter of nest building among older members of this species as against the younger members. As the bird grows older, its ability to see and focus on objects that are bluer in coloring improves. This is what eventually helps it to secure a mate.

Brahminy Kite Bird Species Information, Health, Diet and Nutrition

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: , , , — Nik @ 12:52 am

Brahminy Kite Bird:

The Brahminy Kite is a bird of prey native to South East Asia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Australia. It is known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle. The Brahminy Kite belongs to the family Accipitridae and is usually about medium-sized in appearance.

The coloring of the Brahminy Kite tends to be rather distinctive and is usually contrasting – the bird has chestnut colored feathers and a stark white colored head. This white coloring extends right down to the breast and the wing tips tend to be black. Young Brahminy Kites have a much deeper coloring from the adults. It is simple enough to differentiate these birds from resident and migratory Black Kite in Asia by keeping in the mind that the Brahminy kite has smaller wings accompanied by a generally paler appearance. The Brahminy Kite has a typical kite flight pattern – it flies with its wings angled. However, its tail is usually rounded which is completely dissimilar to the Red Kite or the Black Kite because these birds have forked tails.

A Brahminy Kite usually makes its nest from small twigs and it sometimes uses smaller branches and sticks as well. The nest is constructed with a bowl inside and the kite usually makes a lining of leaves inside the bowl. The Brahminy Kite tends to nest in the same area repeatedly. It is possible for them to nest in the same area for years at stretch. It is also possible for them to make their nests under a tree instead of in the branches. They lay their eggs in clutches of two and the eggs are usually dull white or bluish-white and oval in appearance.

The Brahminy Kite is listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN List of Threatened Species. But it must be noted that the population of Brahminy Kites is diminishing in some parts of South East Asia like Java. The Brahminy kite’s diet consists mainly of scavenging on dead fish and crabs that are found in marshlands and mangroves. Brahminy kites have also been known to hunt smaller prey including hares and bats. If Brahminy kites are fishing in water, it is possible that they could land in the water. However, they can manage to swim and fly again without much strain. Social as far as their roosting habits are concerned, Brahminy kites usually select very isolated trees capable of holding a number of birds – there have been reports of as many as 600 being spotted at a single location.

Southern Cassowary Bird Species Information, Health, Diet and Nutrition

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: , , , — Nik @ 12:50 am

Southern Cassowary Species of Bird:

Native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea, the Southern Cassowary is a flightless black bird. The binomial name of the bird is Casuarius casuarius and it is also called the Two-wattled Cassowary, the Double-wattled Cassowary, or the Australian Cassowary or.  The Southern Cassowary and is a close relation of the Emu, Ostrich, and Rhea.

The plumage of the Southern Cassowary tends to be rather hard and stiff and it has a blue face and neck. The nape of the neck is usually red with two wattles hanging down. It also has a brown casque. The Southern Cassowary’s feet have 3 toes which are thick and powerful. The feet also have a claw that grows on the inner toe and this claw can grow up to 12 cm in length. While the plumage remains the same for both male and female birds, it is important to note that the female Southern Cassowary is larger than the male and usually more dominant as well. Interestingly, young Southern Cassowaries have plain, dull brown plumage. The Southern Cassowary is the biggest of all the members of the cassowary family and it should also be noted that it is the second heaviest bird on the Earth. It is both the largest Asian and Australian bird. The largest a Southern Cassowary is estimated to be is 190 pounds, standing 75 inches tall. The normal weight and height for Southern Cassowary ranges from 50–65 inches, with the females weighing about 130 pounds and the males weighing between 64–75 pounds.

The Southern Cassowary is a forager and it usually feeds off fruit on the forest floor. They are also able to consume some fruits which have been known to be poisonous to other animals. The Southern Cassowary can also consume fungi, and some insects and some vertebrates. Usually, the Southern Cassowary is solitary and usually finds a mate only in the breeding season. The male begins by starting a nest on the ground. This nest is usually made up of a pile, almost like a mattress, of plant material approximately 3 inches deep and about 3 feet in width. The male also incubates the eggs and raises the chicks alone. The Southern Cassowary is currently on the Endangered list in Australia and it is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The greatest threats to this species include a loss of their habitat, their eggs being preyed upon by wild animals, and urban development.

Little Egret Bird Species Information, Health, Diet and Nutrition

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: , , , — Nik @ 12:48 am

Little Egret Species of Bird:

The little egret is a species of wading bird that is one of the few birds that owes its massive success and survival as a species to its migratory pattern. In evolutionary terms, this bird is extremely old and is quite widespread across all continents. Its success lies in the fact that there are no boundaries that this bird will not cross in its quest to find a good nesting site. Like most migratory birds, the little egret is also a colony dweller. The bird has been famous in history because of its plumage that was a major craze amongst people in the earlier centuries. It was so rampant as a fashion icon that the bird was even farmed for its plumage though most supplies of feathers did come from poached wild populations that seriously threatened its existence.

The little egret is an innocuous swamp dweller with a size of about 55 centimeters and a 105 centimeter wingspan. The bird and all of its subspecies are mostly white in color with a red and blue marking near the eyes. Just like another wading bird, the ibis, this species also undergoes some color transformations during its mating seasons. A breeding pair is extremely territorial and marks out an area that is four meters in diameter when the breeding pair has a nest. The chicks are looked after by both parents and are covered in a fluffy down. The diet of the bird consists of swamp reptiles like frogs, as well as insects, crustaceans, and small entities.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the bird remains its spread. Most species of little egrets do not migrate if they are indigenous to the tropics. However, this changes in egrets that hail from Europe. These birds will regularly fly to the warmer regions of the South during winter travelling as far as Africa only to return after winter is over. This travel has caused the spread of the habitat of the bird to extend to Ireland and Netherlands. The bird also spread to the American subcontinent as has become a regular feature of the winter migration of birds there as well. They usually are found in the company of other wading birds and avian swamp dwellers. The little egret is one of the few birds to have enjoyed a status of conservation way back in 1889. This was in response the widespread hunting of the bird for the fashion industry.

Glossy Ibis Bird Species Information, Health, Diet and Nutrition

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: , , , — Nik @ 12:47 am

Glossy Ibis Bird:

The ibis is a species of birds that are classified as wading birds. These are birds that are native to most continents. The theory is that this is one of the old world birds that have existed during a time when the continents of Africa and South America were connected. This is was a time many millions of years ago after the mega continent of Pangaea started to break up and South America drifted away from Africa. Incidentally, this continental shift is still underway. The Ibis’ major fame comes from being a resident of Egypt and the Nile where it feeds in near marsh like conditions of the river bank.

The glossy ibis is a resident of the American, African, Australian, and parts of the Asian continent. The bird can be found in the marshy parts of the area it inhabits. It preys mostly on small fish and frogs that are endemic to the wetlands. It is also quite common to see this bird near areas where herons are abundant. One of the curious bits of information of this bird is that it is not one of the endangered species of birds in America. This is because of good breeding success inherently in the bird and the fact that massive wetland conservation effects have ensured good populations and that the species is not one of those covered under threatened species lists. This does not mean that the bird is completely free from human dangers. In the state of Florida, one of the most potent threats to the bird comes from the fact that its habitat is slowly being eroded and run off from farmland into areas of wetland is an ever growing threat to this species of the ibis.

The bird is known to have a very boisterous personality when in its native domain, which is wetlands and creates a variety of sounds that include some grunts and croaks. The bird is physically not that dominating in stature, just like other members of its species. It usually just measures 55 centimeters in length and 105 centimeters in wingspan. The bird is characterized by a brown bill, a dark face, and a dark brown or blue plumage. When they do fly, they do not follow the regular aerodynamic flying formation that most migratory birds use, preferring to instead just fly in a single line, south towards their winter hideouts away from the chill.

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