How do birds know when winter is coming?
Many bird species migrate when winter is coming. They are called migratory birds. They migrate to locations near and far to find food, to find nesting grounds, to return to breeding colonies, to find new places if their habitat is damaged or destroyed, to escape predators, or for other reasons.
The birds that do not migrate are called residential birds. They stay in the same location and prepare themselves for winter.
Birds need to know when winter is coming so that they can start their migration, protect themselves from winter storms, start hoarding food for the coming winter, or fluff-up their feathers to protect themselves from the winter chill.
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How does an Australian bird eat a poisonous Cane Toad?
In Australia, the poisonous Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) is not native to the country. It is an introduced, invasive pest living in tropical northern Australia that has rapidly spread due to the lack of predators. Animals that eat the warty amphibian die from the toxic secretions from large glands on the Cane Toad’s shoulder. The cardiac toxins can give all predators, such as snakes, goanna lizards, and even freshwater crocodiles, a deadly heart attack.
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There are some disadvantages of long distance travel for migrating birds says a scientific study.
The New Scientist’s LIFE magazine (November 2022) reports on the high rate of break-ups – ‘divorce’ – in bird species with longer migration routes. But why would there be a high rate of bird divorce?
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A research study in 2021 found that the number of Turtle Doves were declining in the United Kingdom. Volunteers, farmers, study groups, bird clubs, and other organizatios all contributed to the research.
The first national survey of Turtle Doves in the UK in fifty years showed that there were only 2,100 pairs of Turtle Doves that now breed in the country, which is a decline of 98% from 125,000 pairs in 1970.
The survey found that the Turle Dove is now concentrated in south-eastern and eastern England, and as far north as Yorkshire.
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Do birds hibernate?
Hibernation is a state when animals sleep during winter, especially where the winters are extremely cold and/or snowy. Not all animals hibernate. Animals such as bears, squirrels, bats, and hedgehogs hibernate. Some lizards and snakes hibernate.
When these animals hibernate, they will eat a lot of food and gain body weight beforehand to enable them to sleep throughout the winter. For example, squirrels can gain 50% of their body weight before hibernating.
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What is migratory and residential?
An animal that is migratory moves from one location to another, mostly in groups, usually to go to a warmer location in winter or to look for food or a breeding site. The movement is called migration.
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The Burmese Python (Python bivittatus) is a non-venomous constrictor snake and a reptile.
The Burmese Python is a dark-coloured snake with many brown markings on its back. It has a clearly defined large head with dark eyes. It can also be albino (no pigmentation) or leucistic (partial pigmentation), and can look caramel, whitish, or yellowish. Albino pythons have pink eyes, but leucistic pythons have brown eyes.
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The Glasswing Butterfly (Greta oto) is an insect in the Danainae sub-family of brush-footed butterflies.
The Glasswing Butterfly has transparent wings that enable it to camouflage without the use of colour – which is very rare among butterflies. Its wings have dark-brown borders tinted with red or orange. Its body is dark-brown.
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The European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a long bony fish. It is an anguillid eel.
The European Eel has a long, snake-like grey-silver body with a slender head and a paddle-tail. Its underbelly is creamy-white. Along its back is a long dorsal fin, and it has two pectoral fins (fins behind the eel’s head).
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The European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is a medium-sized bird from the Middle East, Central Asia, and Morocco. It is also called the Blue Roller or the Eurasian Roller.
The European Roller is mainly blue with an orange-brown back. It has a thick short black beak, dark eyes, and pale-yellow legs.
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The Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) is a small wetland wading bird.
The Temminck’s Stint has brown upperparts and head, and white underparts. Its legs and beak are grey-black.
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What’s the difference between immigrant, emigrant, and migrant?
An immigrant animal is an animal that moves to, or travels to, another country to stay permanently. It becomes established in an area where it was previously unknown. The immigrant country is the country of the animal’s destination.
An emigrant animal is an animal that has left a country that was previously their habitat, usually permanently. The emigrant country is the country that the animal was from.
A migrant animal is an animal that moves from one country, region, or area to another (for breeding, food, safety, etc.) temporarily or permanently. The migrant is the actual animal. It is the mover.
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The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is a large North American migratory bird of Canada and the northern United States in the Anatidae family.
The Canada Goose has a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. It has a white eye-ring.
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The Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) is a medium-sized wading bird found in wetlands. A shank is a leg.
The Common Greenshank has a dark brown or grey-brown back and wing feathers, a white chest, and mottled brown and white neck. It has long greenish legs. It has black eyes, and its beak is long, grey, and upturned.
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The Black Kite (Milvus migrans) is a common medium-sized African raptor – a bird of prey. It is commonly found in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Black Kite has brown feathers, dark brown eyes, and a slightly forked tail. It has yellow feet with black talons (claws).
The subspecies Milvus migrans parasitus has a yellow bill, and is often called the Yellow-Billed Black Kite. It is a resident raptor, living in the region all year round.
The subspecies Milvus migrans migrans has a black beak with a yellow cere (ridge between the beak and the feathers). It is a migratory Black Kite that visits the region between October and March. Continue reading “Black Kite and Yellow-Billed Black Kite: what’s the difference?”
The Common Zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchellii) is also known as the Plains Zebra or Burchell’s Zebra. It is common in the treeless plains of East Africa to almost southern Africa. It is an ungulate (a hoofed mammal).
The Common Zebra is like a horse or pony with short legs, and is black and white striped. The stripes continue all the way to its hooves. No two zebras are alike, as they all have slightly different markings. Its nose is grey to black.
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The Great Tit (Parus major) is a common and widespread passerine bird in the Paridae family of song birds. It is also known as the Great Titmouse.
The Great Tit has a distinctive black head and neck, large white cheeks, olive upperparts and yellow underparts. Its wings are green to blue-grey with white wing-bars. The tail is blue-grey with white tips.
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The Bewick’s Tundra Swan is smaller than the Mute Swan.
The Bewick’s Tundra Swan has a more rounded head shape than the Mute Swan.
The Bewick’t Tundra Swan has a yellow eye-ring and the yellow of its beak extends to the forehead.
The Mute Swan has black towards it eyes and the black of its beak extends to the forehead.
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The Bewick’s Tundra Swan (Cygnus bewickii) is a bird in the Anatidae family of swans. It is a smaller Eurasian waterfowl than the Mute Swan.
It is white with a yellow and black beak, a yellow eye-ring, and a rounded head. It has dark-grey legs.
The Bewick’s Tundra Swan can grow to 115-140 centimetres (45-55 inches) tall.
It lives in Europe and into southern Russia and China. It is a migratory bird, flying to warmer climates in winter in a V-formation flock.
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