Really Weird Birds
Explore the World of Birds
Birds have more limitations than other animals by their physiological and physical adaptations for flight and yet there are still bodies and behaviors that are strange and extreme. There are some birds that are considered weird because of their facial features or because of the way their feathers are throughout their bodies. Some birds are considered weird because of their coloring, and some for their strange behaviors. Any way you look at it, there is striking diversity in this group of animals as in all others.
The Hoatzin is a primitive pheasant sized, brown feathered bird which has lighter colored under feathers, blue faces, maroon colored eyes and spiky feathers crowning its head. It's head is quite small and its neck is quite large.
The Hoatzin can be found mainly throughout the swamps of the Amazon rainforest and Orinoco Delta of South America and they are sometimes referred to as the 'stinkbird' as they have an odor like that of manure.
Newly-hatched hoatzins are almost featherless, but rapidly grow down, and have claws on first and second digits, so they can climb on vegetation. This feature has been compared to Archaeopteryx, the fossil proto-bird.
Something unique about this bird is that they ferment the vegetable matter they consume in their foregut like cows, sheep, deer and kangaroos, and thus have a specialized digestive system. Nestlings are fed this regurgitated matter.
If you live in New Zealand, you may no think that your national bird, the Kiwi, is all that unusual, but it truly is.
The Kiwi bird is the sole survivor of an ancient order of birds including the now extinct moas. It is a flightless, secretive and nocturnal bird about the size of a domestic chicken. Females are larger than males and both have coarse, bristly, hair-like feathers. They have no tail and only tiny 2 inch long wings.
Despite their ackward appearance, they are actually quite agile and fast, they can even out run a person. They have very sharp three-toed feet that allow them to slash out at their would be predators. Their nostrils are located at the tip of their very long slender bill and they have an acute sense of smell which allows them to find worms, insects and grubs. They will also supplement their diet with leaves, berries and seeds.
Female kiwis lay a clutch of 1 - 2 eggs which are proportionately larger compared to the size of the adult female than the eggs of any other bird. An egg may reach one-quarter of its mother's weight. After the first egg is laid, the male takes over incubation and nest maintenance.
Kiwis have suffered significantly since the introduction of predators, hunting and habitat loss. With suitable habitat now being set aside, the survival of the Kiwi should be assured.
The eyes of the woodcock are set so far back in its head that it has a 360 degree field of vision, enabling it see all round and even over the top of its head
Share Birds With Children
All children have natural curiosity and love of nature. Birds are everywhere, fun to spot and wonderful to learn about. My son and I spend hours looking for birds, listening to their song and reading about these amazing creatures. Here are some books I would recommend for sharing birds with your little ones.
The ostrich has the largest eyes of any land animal. Each eye can be up to 2 inches in diameter
Sri Lanka Frogmouth
Frogmouths are a group of tropical nocturnal birds. The Sri Lanka Frogmouth is a smaller species of Frogmouth found in dense tropical forest of Southern India and Sri lanka.
This species is very well camouflaged with a large flattened hooked bill and huge frog-like gape. At night, it hunts insects. its flight appears weak and fluttery, but quiet flying under the forest canopy is often observed.
The Sri Lanka Frogmouth makes a loud crackly frog like sound which sounds a bit like rattling pebbles.
Helmeted hornbills, found in South Myanmar and south Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo are large, dark brown and white birds with short red bills and a bare and wrinkled throat patch that is red in the males and blue in the females. The casque of this bird (feature that goes from the base of the bill halfway to the tip, where it ends abruptly) is solid in thei species and makes up for ten percent of the 5.9 to 6.8 pounds of it's weight.
The call is described as hoots followed by maniacal laughter. It eats mostly fruit and uses its casque as a digging tool to search for small insects and worms in rotting wood.
The Helmeted hornbill is hunted for its casque (hornbill ivory) and it is also losing habitat and is therefore listed as a Threatened species at this time.
The author presents portraits and accompanying descriptions of more than 130 species, all of whom are in some degree extreme. Many might know that the wandering albatross has the widest wingspan, but who has the longest legs (lesser flamingo) or the biggest mouth (tawny frogmouth)? Which birds are the fastest swimmers (penguins) or travel the longest nonstop journey (bar-tailed godwit)? How about the best fly-fisher (green heron) or the best soap-opera life (white-fronted bee eater)? And who is the hardest-working male (northern harrier) or makes the warmest nest (northern eider)? Fascinating facts and beautiful photography make this one a winner
The horned sungem (Heliactin cornuta), a hummingbird from South America, beats its wings up and down 90 times a second
Roseate Spoonbills are lager wading birds with big wingspans, a pink body and legs, a pale green bald head and a large spoon-shaped bill.
They feed on tiny crustaceans, snails, insects, and various other squishy denizens of the murky mangrove swamps of the Southern United States. Unlike most birds, roseate spoonbills are silent and often solitary when they feed. They swish their spoon-shaped bills back and forth in the water to find the small invertebrates, fish and crustaceans. Some scientists believe that the pink coloration that roseate spoonbills acquire as they mature is due to their diet. The more they eat, the pinker they get just like Flamingos, their close relative. Flamingos are much larger, with a longer neck.
Like many other bird species with beautiful plumage, roseate spoonbills were nearly hunted to extinction during the 1800s for their striking pink feathers which were popular on women's hats. Today, threats to roseate spoonbill populations come as a result of habitat loss
A Short Clip From The Planet Earth Series
The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) is the fastest living creature, reaching speeds of at least 124 mph and possibly as much as 168 mph when swooping from great heights
The Quetzal is a strikingly colored bird from central America. The male has such a long tail (up to 3 feet) that it can't take off from a branch in the normal way without ripping its tail to shreds. So instead it launches itself backwards into space like a parachutist leaving an aircraft. They are weak flyers.
The Quetzal nests in hollow trees but has to reverse into the hole. Once inside, it curls up its tail over its head and out of the hole.
The bird is of great relevance to Guatemalan culture, it is Guatemala's national bird, and an image of it is on the flag and coat of arms of Guatemala. It is also the name of the local currency. Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations considered the Resplendent Quetzal divine and associated it with the "snake god", Quetzalcoatl .
Get What You Need To Find and Identify Birds
The kea ( Nestor notabilis) from New Zealand is the only bird known to have a society in which the higher status individuals force others to work for them.
Male bee hummingbirds (mellisuga helenae), which live in Cuba, are the world's smallest birds weighing in at 0.056 ounces and 2.75 inches in length. The bill and tail account for half of this length.