Many social species pass on knowledge across generations, which is considered a form of culture. Birds are social, communicating with visual signals, calls, and songs, and participating in such behaviours as cooperative breeding and hunting, flocking, and mobbing of predators. The vast majority of bird species are socially (but not necessarily sexually) monogamous, usually for one breeding season at a time, sometimes for years, and rarely for life. Other species have breeding systems that are polygynous (one male with many females) or, rarely, polyandrous (one female with many males). Birds produce offspring by laying eggs which are fertilised through sexual reproduction. They are usually laid in a nest and incubated by the parents. Most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.
Many species of birds are economically important as food for human consumption and raw material in manufacturing, with domesticated and undomesticated birds being important sources of eggs, meat, and feathers. Songbirds, parrots, and other species are popular as pets. Guano (bird excrement) is harvested for use as a fertiliser. Birds figure throughout human culture. About 120 to 130 species have become extinct due to human activity since the 17th century, and hundreds more before then. Human activity threatens about 1,200 bird species with extinction, though efforts are underway to protect them. Recreational birdwatching is an important part of the ecotourism industry. (Full article...)
Albatrosses are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring and slope soaring to cover great distances with little exertion. They feed on squid, fish, and krill by either scavenging, surface seizing, or diving. Albatrosses are colonial, nesting for the most part on remote oceanic islands, often with several species nesting together. Pair bonds between males and females form over several years, with the use of "ritualised dances", and last for the life of the pair. A breeding season can take over a year from laying to fledging, with a single egg laid in each breeding attempt. A Laysan albatross, named Wisdom, on Midway Island is the oldest-known wild bird in the world; she was first banded in 1956 by Chandler Robbins.
Of the 22 species of albatrosses recognised by the IUCN, 21 are listed as at some level of concern; two species are critically endangered, seven species are endangered, six species are near threatened, and six species are vulnerable. Numbers of albatrosses have declined in the past due to harvesting for feathers. Albatrosses are threatened by introduced species, such as rats and feral cats that attack eggs, chicks, and nesting adults; by pollution; by a serious decline in fish stocks in many regions largely due to overfishing; and by longline fishing. Longline fisheries pose the greatest threat, as feeding birds are attracted to the bait, become hooked on the lines, and drown. Identified stakeholders such as governments, conservation organisations, and people in the fishing industry are all working toward reducing this bycatch. (Full article...)
The tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is a migratory bird of the family Hirundinidae. Found in the Americas, the tree swallow was first described in 1807 by French ornithologistLouis Vieillot as Hirundo bicolor. It has since been moved to its current genus, Tachycineta, within which its phylogenetic placement is debated. The tree swallow has glossy blue-green upperparts, with the exception of the blackish wings and tail, and white underparts. The bill is black, the eyes dark brown, and the legs and feet pale brown. The female is generally duller than the male, and the first-year female has mostly brown upperparts, with some blue feathers. Juveniles have brown upperparts, and a grey-brown-washed breast. The tree swallow breeds in the US and Canada. It winters along southern US coasts south, along the Gulf Coast, to Panama and the northwestern coast of South America, and in the West Indies.
The tree swallow nests either in isolated pairs or loose groups, in both natural and artificial cavities. Breeding can start as soon as early May, although this date is occurring earlier because of climate change, and it can end as late as July. This bird is generally socially monogamous (although about 8% of males are polygynous), with high levels of extra-pair paternity. This can benefit the male, but since the female controls copulation, the lack of resolution on how this behaviour benefits females makes the high level of extra-pair paternity puzzling. The female incubates the clutch of two to eight (but usually four to seven) pure white eggs for around 14 to 15 days. The chicks hatch slightly asynchronously, allowing the female to prioritize which chicks to feed in times of food shortage. They generally fledge about 18 to 22 days after hatching. The tree swallow is sometimes considered a model organism, due to the large amount of research done on it.
An aerial insectivore, the tree swallow forages both alone and in groups, eating mostly insects, in addition to molluscs, spiders, and fruit. The nestlings, like the adult, primarily eat insects, fed to it by both sexes. This swallow is vulnerable to parasites, but, when on nestlings, these do little damage. The effect of disease can become stronger as a tree swallow gets older, as some parts of the immune system decline with age. Acquired T cell-mediated immunity, for example, decreases with age, whereas both innate and acquired humoral immunity do not. Because of its large range and stable population, the tree swallow is considered to be least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In the US, it is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and in Canada by the Migratory Birds Convention Act. This swallow is negatively affected by human activities, such as the clearing of forests; acidified lakes can force a breeding tree swallow to go long distances to find calcium-rich food items to feed to its chicks. (Full article...)
The western jackdaw (Coloeus monedula), also known as the Eurasian jackdaw, the European jackdaw, or simply the jackdaw, is a passerine bird in the crow family. Found across Europe, western Asia and North Africa; it is mostly resident, although northern and eastern populations migrate south in the winter. Four subspecies are recognised, which differ mainly in the colouration of the plumage on the head and nape. Linnaeus first described it formally, giving it the name Corvus monedula. The common name derives from the word jack, denoting "small", and daw, a less common synonym for "jackdaw", and the native English name for the bird.
Measuring 34–39 centimetres (13–15 in) in length, the western jackdaw is a black-plumaged bird with a grey nape and distinctive pale-grey irises. It is gregarious and vocal, living in small groups with a complex social structure in farmland, open woodland, on coastal cliffs, and in urban settings. Like its relatives, jackdaws are intelligent birds, and have been observed using tools. An omnivorous and opportunistic feeder, it eats a wide variety of plant material and invertebrates, as well as food waste from urban areas. Western jackdaws are monogamous and build simple nests of sticks in cavities in trees, cliffs, or buildings. About five pale blue or blue-green eggs with brown speckles are laid and incubated by the female. The young fledge in four to five weeks. (Full article...)
The red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) is a passerine bird native to southern Australia. At 33–37 cm (13–14+1⁄2 in) in length, it is the second largest species of Australian honeyeater. It has mainly grey-brown plumage, with red eyes, distinctive pinkish-red wattles on either side of the neck, white streaks on the chest and a large bright yellow patch on the lower belly. The sexes are similar in plumage. Juveniles have less prominent wattles and browner eyes. John White described the red wattlebird in 1790. Three subspecies are recognized.
The species is found in southeast Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and southwest Western Australia in open forest and woodlands, and is a common visitor to urban gardens and parks. Loud and conspicuous, the red wattlebird is generally found in trees, where it gets most of its food; occasionally it forages on the ground. It is one of the largest nectarivorous birds in the world, feeding from a wide variety of flowering plants. Insects also comprise part of its diet. It is territorial and at times aggressive towards birds of other species, often defending rich sources of nectar. Breeding throughout its range, the red wattlebird builds a cup-shaped nest in a tree and raises one or two broods a year. Although it has declined in places from land-clearing, it is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. (Full article...)
A breeding male of the subspecies ammodendri in southeastern Kazakhstan
The saxaul sparrow (Passer ammodendri) is a passerine bird of the sparrowfamily Passeridae, found in parts of Central Asia. At 14–16 centimetres (5.5–6.3 in) and 25–32 grams (0.88–1.13 oz), it is among the larger sparrows. Both sexes have plumage ranging from dull grey to sandy brown, and pale brown legs. Females have less boldly coloured plumage and bills, lacking the pattern of black stripes on the male's head. The head markings of both sexes make the saxaul sparrow distinctive, and unlikely to be confused with any other bird. Vocalisations include a comparatively soft and musical chirping call, a song, and a flight call.
Three subspecies are recognised, differing in the overall tone of their plumage and in the head striping of the female. The subspecies ammodendri occurs in the west of the saxaul sparrow's range, while stoliczkae and nigricans occur in the east. This distribution falls into six probably disjunct areas across Central Asia, from central Turkmenistan to northern Gansu in China. A bird of deserts, the saxaul sparrow favours areas with shrubs such as the saxaul, near rivers and oases. Though it has lost parts of its range to habitat destruction caused by agriculture, it is not seriously threatened by human activities.
Little is known of the saxaul sparrow's behaviour. Often hidden in foliage, it forages in trees and on the ground. It feeds mostly on seeds, as well as insects while breeding and as a nestling. When not breeding it forms wandering flocks, but it is less social than other sparrows while breeding, often nesting in isolated pairs. Nests are round bundles of dry plant material lined with soft materials such as feathers. They are built in holes in tree cavities, earth banks, rocky slopes, and within man-made structures or the nests of birds of prey. Two clutches of five or six eggs are typically laid in a season. Both parents construct the nest and care for their eggs and young. (Full article...)
The common starling or European starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known simply as the starling in Great Britain and Ireland, is a medium-sized passerinebird in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts and other gregarious situations, with an unmusical but varied song. Its gift for mimicry has been noted in literature including the Mabinogion and the works of Pliny the Elder and William Shakespeare.
The common starling has about 12 subspecies breeding in open habitats across its native range in temperate Europe and across the Palearctic to western Mongolia, and it has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Fiji. This bird is resident in western and southern Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in the winter within the breeding range and also further south to Iberia and North Africa. The common starling builds an untidy nest in a natural or artificial cavity in which four or five glossy, pale blue eggs are laid. These take two weeks to hatch and the young remain in the nest for another three weeks. There are normally one or two breeding attempts each year. This species is omnivorous, taking a wide range of invertebrates, as well as seeds and fruit. It is hunted by various mammals and birds of prey, and is host to a range of external and internal parasites.
Large flocks typical of this species can be beneficial to agriculture by controlling invertebrate pests; however, starlings can also be pests themselves when they feed on fruit and sprouting crops. Common starlings may also be a nuisance through the noise and mess caused by their large urban roosts. Introduced populations in particular have been subjected to a range of controls, including culling, but these have had limited success, except in preventing the colonisation of Western Australia. (Full article...)
The red-winged fairywren (Malurus elegans) is a species of passerine bird in the Australasian wren family, Maluridae. It is non-migratory and endemic to the southwestern corner of Western Australia. Exhibiting a high degree of sexual dimorphism, the male adopts a brilliantly coloured breeding plumage, with an iridescent silvery-blue crown, ear coverts and upper back, red shoulders, contrasting with a black throat, grey-brown tail and wings and pale underparts. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles have predominantly grey-brown plumage, though males may bear isolated blue and black feathers. No separate subspecies are recognised. Similar in appearance and closely related to the variegated fairywren and the blue-breasted fairywren, it is regarded as a separate species as no intermediate forms have been recorded where their ranges overlap. Though the red-winged fairywren is locally common, there is evidence of a decline in numbers.
Bearing a narrow pointed billadapted for probing and catching insects, the red-winged fairywren is primarily insectivorous; it forages and lives in the shelter of scrubby vegetation in temperate wetter forests dominated by karri trees, remaining close to cover to avoid predators. Like other fairywrens, it is a cooperative breeding species, with small groups of birds maintaining and defending small territories year-round. Groups consist of a socially monogamous pair with several helper birds who assist in raising the young. There is a higher proportion of female helpers recorded for this species than for other species of fairywren. A variety of vocalisations and visual displays have been recorded for communication and courtship in this species. Singing is used to advertise territory, and birds can distinguish other individuals by song alone. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display. (Full article...)
Up to 64 cm (25 in) in length, these flightless birds have finely blotched yellow-green plumage, a distinct facial disc, owl-style forward-facing eyes with surrounding discs of specially-textured feathers, a large grey beak, short legs, large blue feet, and relatively short wings and tail: a combination of traits making it unique among parrots. It is the world's only flightless parrot, the world's heaviest parrot, and also is nocturnal, herbivorous, visibly sexually dimorphic in body size, has a low basal metabolic rate, and does not have male parental care. It is the only parrot to have a polygynouslek breeding system. It is also possibly one of the world's longest-living birds, with a reported lifespan of up to 100 years. The weight is 1.5–3 kilograms (3.3–6.6 lb) for males and 0.950–1.6 kilograms (2.09–3.53 lb) for females.
Its anatomy typifies the tendency of bird-evolution on oceanic islands: with few predators and abundant food, there exhibits island syndrome development, (a generally-robust torso physique at the expense of flight abilities, resulting in reduced shoulder- and wing-muscles along with a diminished keel on the sternum). Like many other New Zealand bird species, the kākāpō was historically important to Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. It appeared in many of their traditional legends and folklore. It was also heavily hunted and was used as a resource by Māori (both for its meat and for its feathers, which were used to make highly-valued pieces of clothing). Rarely, Kākāpō were kept as pets. (Full article...)
A medium-sized warbler, the Nauru reed warbler has dark brown upperparts, cream underparts and a long, thin beak. It makes a low, cup-shaped nest into which it lays two or three white eggs, and it feeds on insects. However, details about its behavior and ecology are little known. It is found throughout Nauru, which has changed substantially in recent decades due to phosphate mining. The Nauru reed warbler is potentially threatened by introduced predators and habitat loss, and its small range means that it could be vulnerable to chance occurrences, such as tropical cyclones. Reports of a similar warbler from nearby islands suggest that it might previously have been found elsewhere, but was driven to local extinction by introduced cats. (Full article...)
in New Zealand
The song thrush (Turdus philomelos) is a thrush that breeds across the West Palearctic. It has brown upper-parts and black-spotted cream or buff underparts and has three recognised subspecies. Its distinctive song, which has repeated musical phrases, has frequently been referred to in poetry.
The song thrush breeds in forests, gardens and parks, and is partially migratory with many birds wintering in southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; it has also been introduced into New Zealand and Australia. Although it is not threatened globally, there have been serious population declines in parts of Europe, possibly due to changes in farming practices.
The black-breasted buttonquail (Turnix melanogaster) is a rare buttonquailendemic to eastern Australia. Like other buttonquails, it is unrelated to the true quails. The black-breasted buttonquail is a plump quail-shaped bird 17–19 cm (6.7–7.5 in) in length with predominantly marbled black, rufous and pale brown plumage, marked prominently with white spots and stripes, and white eyes. Like other buttonquails, the female is larger and more boldly coloured than the male, with a distinctive black head and neck sprinkled with fine white markings. The usual sex roles are reversed, as the female mates with multiple male partners and leaves them to incubate the eggs.
Breeding in a wider range of habitats than any of its relatives, the common tern nests on any flat, poorly vegetated surface close to water, including beaches and islands, and it readily adapts to artificial substrates such as floating rafts. The nest may be a bare scrape in sand or gravel, but it is often lined or edged with whatever debris is available. Up to three eggs may be laid, their dull colours and blotchy patterns providing camouflage on the open beach. Incubation is by both sexes, and the eggs hatch in around 21–22 days, longer if the colony is disturbed by predators. The downy chicks fledge in 22–28 days. Like most terns, this species feeds by plunge-diving for fish, either in the sea or in freshwater, but molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrate prey may form a significant part of the diet in some areas.
The tawny owl (also called the brown owl; Strix aluco) is commonly found in woodlands across Europe to western Siberia, and has seven recognized subspecies. It is a stocky, medium-sized owl, whose underparts are pale with dark streaks, and whose upper body may be either brown or grey. (In several subspecies, individuals may be of either color.) The tawny owl typically makes its nest in a tree hole where it can protect its eggs and young against potential predators. It is non-migratory and highly territorial: as a result, when young birds grow up and leave the parental nest, if they cannot find a vacant territory to claim as their own, they will often starve.
The tawny owl is a nocturnalbird of prey. It is able to hunt successfully at night because of its vision and hearing adaptations and its ability to fly silently. It usually hunts by dropping suddenly from a perch and seizing its prey, which it swallows whole. It hunts mainly rodents, although in urbanized areas its diet includes a higher proportion of birds. It also sometimes catches smaller owls, and is itself sometimes hunted by the eagle owl and the northern goshawk.
Although many people assume that the tawny owl has exceptional night vision, its retina is no more sensitive than a human's. Its directional hearing skill is more important to its hunting success: its ears are asymmetrically placed, which enables it to more precisely pinpoint the location from which a sound originates. (Full article...)
The rock martin (Ptyonoprogne fuligula) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family that is resident in central and southern Africa. It breeds mainly in the mountains, but also at lower altitudes, especially in rocky areas and around towns, and, unlike most swallows, it is often found far from water. It is 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in) long, with mainly brown plumage, paler-toned on the upper breast and underwing coverts, and with white "windows" on the spread tail in flight. The sexes are similar in appearance, but juveniles have pale fringes to the upperparts and flight feathers. The former northern subspecies are smaller, paler, and whiter-throated than southern African forms, and are now usually split as a separate species, the pale crag martin. The rock martin hunts along cliff faces for flying insects using a slow flight with much gliding. Its call is a soft twitter.
The rock martin builds a deep bowl nest on a sheltered horizontal surface, or a neat quarter-sphere against a vertical rock face or wall. The nest is constructed with mud pellets and lined with grass or feathers, and may be built on natural sites under cliff overhangs or on man-made structures such as buildings, dam walls, culverts and bridges. It is often reused for subsequent broods or in later years. The rock martin is a solitary breeder, and is not gregarious, but small groups may breed close together in suitable locations. The two or three eggs of a typical clutch are white with brown and grey blotches, and are incubated by both adults for 16–19 days prior to hatching. Both parents then feed the chicks. Fledging takes another 22–24 days, but the young birds will return to the nest to roost for a few days after the first flight.
The rock martin is often predated on by several fast and agile species of falcon, such as the hobby, and it sometimes carries parasites. Because it is common within its large range with an apparently stable population, it is assessed as a least-concern species on the IUCN Red List. (Full article...)
Nominate subspecies graculina, Blue Mountains
The pied currawong (Strepera graculina) is a black passerine bird native to eastern Australia and Lord Howe Island. One of three currawong species in the genus Strepera, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian magpie of the family Artamidae. Six subspecies are recognised. It is a robust crowlike bird averaging around 48 cm (19 in) in length, black or sooty grey-black in plumage with white undertail and wing patches, yellow irises, and a heavy bill. The male and female are similar in appearance. Known for its melodious calls, the species' name currawong is believed to be of indigenous origin.
Within its range, the pied currawong is generally sedentary, although populations at higher altitudes relocate to lower areas during the cooler months. It is omnivorous, with a diet that includes a wide variety of berries and seeds, invertebrates, bird eggs, juvenile birds and young marsupials. It is a predator which has adapted well to urbanization and can be found in parks and gardens as well as rural woodland. The habitat includes every kind of forested area, although mature forests are preferred for breeding. Roosting, nesting and the bulk of foraging take place in trees, in contrast with the ground-foraging behaviour of its relative, the Australian magpie. (Full article...)
The greater crested tern has grey upperparts, white underparts, a yellow bill, and a shaggy black crest that recedes in winter. Its young have a distinctive appearance, with strongly patterned grey, brown and white plumage, and rely on their parents for food for several months after they have fledged. Like all members of the genus Thalasseus, the greater crested tern feeds by plunge diving for fish, usually in marine environments; the male offers fish to the female as part of the courtship ritual.
This is an adaptable species that has learned to follow fishing boats for jettisoned bycatch, and to use unusual nest sites such as the roofs of buildings and artificial islands in salt pans and sewage works. Its eggs and young are taken by gulls and ibises, and human activities such as fishing, shooting and egg harvesting have caused local population declines. There are no global conservation concerns for this bird, which has a stable total population of more than 500,000 individuals. (Full article...)
The Eurasian nuthatch or wood nuthatch (Sitta europaea) is a small passerine bird found throughout the Palearctic and in Europe. Like other nuthatches, it is a short-tailed bird with a long bill, blue-grey upperparts and a black eye-stripe. It is a vocal bird with a repeated loud dwip call. There are more than 20 subspecies in three main groups; birds in the west of the range have orange-buff underparts and a white throat, those in Russia have whitish underparts, and those in the east have a similar appearance to European birds, but lack the white throat.
Its preferred habitat is mature deciduous or mixed woodland with large, old trees, preferably oak. Pairs hold permanent territories, and nest in tree holes, usually old woodpecker nests, but sometimes natural cavities. If the entrance to the hole is too large, the female plasters it with mud to reduce its size, and often coats the inside of the cavity too. The 6–9 red-speckled white eggs are laid on a deep base of pine or other wood chips.
The Eurasian nuthatch eats mainly insects, particularly caterpillars and beetles, although in autumn and winter its diet is supplemented with nuts and seeds. The young are fed mainly on insects, with some seeds, food items mainly being found on tree trunks and large branches. The nuthatch can forage when descending trees head first, as well as when climbing. It readily visits bird tables, eating fatty man-made food items as well as seeds. It is an inveterate hoarder, storing food year-round. Its main natural predator is the Eurasian sparrowhawk. (Full article...)
Facilities include three bird hides, a seawatching platform, two nature trails, and a visitor centre. Because of concerns about climate change, a major project in 2010 and 2011 brought improvements to the banks around the freshwater lagoon and the conversion of the brackish lagoon to tidal saltmarsh, a more effective barrier to encroachment by the sea. (Full article...)
The Australian raven (Corvus coronoides) is a passerinebird in the genus Corvus native to much of southern and northeastern Australia. Measuring 46–53 centimetres (18–21 in) in length, it has all-black plumage, beak and mouth, as well as strong grey-black legs and feet. The upperparts are glossy, with a purple, blue, or green sheen, and its black feathers have grey bases. The Australian raven is distinguished from the Australian crow species by its throat hackles, which are prominent in adult birds. Older adult individuals have white irises, younger adults have white irises with an inner blue rim, while younger birds have dark brown irises until fifteen months of age, and hazel irises with an inner blue rim around each pupil until age two years and ten months. Nicholas Aylward Vigors and Thomas Horsfield described the Australian raven in 1827, its species name (coronoides) highlighting its similarity with the carrion crow (C. corone). Two subspecies are recognized, which differ slightly in calls and are quite divergent genetically.
The preferred habitat is open woodland and transitional zones. It has adapted well to urban environments and is a common city bird in Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Brisbane. An omnivorous and opportunistic feeder, it eats a wide variety of plant and animal material, as well as food waste from urban areas. In eastern Australia, its range is strongly correlated with the presence of sheep, and it has been blamed for killing lambs. However, this is very rare, and the raven most often scavenges for afterbirth and stillborn animals as well as newborn lamb faeces. The Australian raven is territorial, with pairs generally bonding for life. Breeding takes place between July and September, with almost no variation across its range. The nest is a bowl-shaped structure of sticks sited high in a tree, or occasionally in a man-made structure such as a windmill or other building. (Full article...)
The common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), or simply the chiffchaff, is a common and widespread leaf warbler which breeds in open woodlands throughout northern and temperate Europe and the Palearctic.
It is a migratorypasserine which winters in southern and western Europe, southern Asia and north Africa. Greenish-brown above and off-white below, it is named onomatopoeically for its simple chiff-chaff song. It has a number of subspecies, some of which are now treated as full species. The female builds a domed nest on or near the ground, and assumes most of the responsibility for brooding and feeding the chicks, whilst the male has little involvement in nesting, but defends his territory against rivals, and attacks potential predators.
A small insectivorous bird, it is subject to predation by mammals, such as cats and mustelids, and birds, particularly hawks of the genus Accipiter. Its large range and population mean that its status is secure, although one subspecies is probably extinct. (Full article...)
The ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii) is a bird related to the waders, but sufficiently distinctive to merit its own family Ibidorhynchidae. It is grey with a white belly, red legs and long down-curved bill, and a black face and black breast band. It occurs on the shingle riverbanks of the high plateau of central Asia and the Himalayas. (Full article...)
The Chinese pond heron (Ardeola bacchus) is an East Asian freshwater bird of the heron family. Generally measuring 47 cm (19 in) in length, this heron feeds on insects, fish, and crustaceans. The specimen shown here, photographed in Laem Phak Bia, Thailand, is in its winter plumage.
The marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris) is a small North American songbird of the wren family. The adult has a dark cap, brown upper-parts, a white throat and breast, and light brown underparts. It breeds in southern Canada and the United States; some birds are resident while others migrate to overwinter in the southern United States and Mexico. Its habitat is marshland where it nests in tall vegetation, the male building several oval structures with side entrances, only one of which is eventually used by the female. The male is fiercely territorial, attacking the eggs and young of other birds nesting in the vicinity. This photograph was taken in the Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area in the province of Quebec, Canada.
The Cape Petrel (Daption capense) is a seabird common to the Southern Ocean. The species are aggressive eaters which feeds mostly on crustaceans, although they are also known to eat fish, squid, and edible waste. When feeding they may spit their stomach oil at competitors.
The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae which breeds in southern Europe and in parts of north Africa and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka. The species predominantly feeds on insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch.
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, of birds. They are the outstanding characteristic that distinguishes the class Aves from all other living groups.
The Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus), also known as the Goolayyalibee, is a species of pelican widespread on the inland and coastal waters of Australia and New Guinea. Compared to other pelican species, they are medium-sized: 1.6 to 1.8 m (5.25 to 6 ft) long with a wingspan of 2.3 to 2.5 m (7.6 to 8.25 ft) and weighing between 4 and almost 7 kg (9 to 15 lbs). They are predominantly white, with black and white wings and a pale, pinkish bill which, like that of all pelicans, is enormous—particularly in the male.
The White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) is a common heron found throughout most of Australasia. It can be found almost anywhere near shallow water, fresh or salt. Adults are relatively small, averaging about 550 g (19 oz) in weight and 60–70 cm (24–28 in) in height. They are pale blue-grey in colour, with white on the forehead, crown, chin and upper throat. The crown pattern is variable, with the white occasionally spreading down the neck; the variability makes identification of individuals possible. The beak is black and often pale grey at the base.
The Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) is a large South American parrot with blue top parts and yellow underparts. These birds are quite intelligent and are popular in aviculture. This specimen was photographed in Jurong Bird Park.
The great-winged petrel (Pterodroma macroptera) is a species of petrel endemic to southern Australia and New Zealand; this specimen was photographed east of Tasmania. Two subspecies of the great-winged petrel are recognized.
The village weaver (Ploceus cucullatus) is a species of bird in the family Ploceidae, found in much of sub-Saharan Africa. This often abundant species occurs in a wide range of open or semi-open habitats, and frequently forms large, noisy colonies in towns, villages and hotel grounds. This male, of the subspecies P. c. bohndorffi, was photographed building a nest in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Male birds make elaborate nests, each incorporating about 300 strips of palm or grass leaves that they have torn off the plant and transported individually. These are woven together to form roofed, dangling structures with the entrance at the bottom. The only involvement of the female is in the creation of the lining of the egg-laying cup.
The noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) is a bird in the honeyeater family endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia and feeds mostly nectar, fruit and insects. This highly vocal species has a large range of songs, calls, scoldings and alarms, lives in large groups, and is territorial. Populations have grown in numerous places along this miner's range, and as such there is now an overabundance.
The goldcrest (Regulus regulus) is a passerine bird in the kinglet family, Regulidae. It occurs in mature lowland and mountain coniferous woodlands and has a wide range which extends from Iceland, the Canary Islands and Western Europe through southern Siberia to Sakhalin, Japan and Central China. It has olive-green upperparts, buff-white underparts, two white wing bars, and a plain face with conspicuous black irises. The black crown has a distinctive yellow crest with an orange centre in the male while the female's crest is pure yellow; in other respects the sexes are similar. It is the smallest European bird, with a weight of 4.5–7.0 g (0.16–0.25 oz). This picture shows a female goldcrest photographed in Lancashire, England.
The common raven (Corvus corax), also known as the northern raven, is a large all-black passerine bird in the crow family. Found across the #Northern Hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids. There are eight known subspecies. It is one of the two largest corvids, and is possibly the heaviest passerine bird. common ravens typically live about 10 to 15 years in the wild, although lifespans of up to 40 years have been recorded. Young birds may travel in flocks, but later mate for life, with each mated pair defending a territory. The common raven has coexisted with humans for thousands of years. Part of its success comes from its omnivorous diet; common ravens are extremely versatile and opportunistic in finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion, insects and food waste, in addition to cereal grains, berries, fruit and small animals. Some remarkable feats of problem-solving have been observed in the species, leading to the belief that it is highly intelligent. Over the centuries, it has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art and literature in many cultures.