RESEARCH: Birds that live near the Equator are more colourful

Birds that live near the Equator are more colourful than birds living further away from the Equator, thought naturalists Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). In fact, von Humboldt noted that insects and even aquatic creatures, such as crayfish, seemed to be more colourful nearer the Equator.  

The Equator is the imaginary circle at zero degrees latitude that divides the Earth between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. It is a line at the centre of the Earth (the ‘waist line’) halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole. Countries on and near the Equator have tropical climates.

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What is the difference between the Australian Magpie and the Eurasian Magpie?

What is the difference between the Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) and the Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)?

The Australian Magpie is a bird in the Artamidae family of butcherbirds, whereas the Eurasian or European Magpie is a bird in the Corvidae family of crows. The Australian Magpie is an artamid and the Eurasian Magpie is a corvid. They are both passerine songbirds.

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Brown Thrasher

The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a bird in the Mimidae family of passerine (songbirds) such as mockingbirds, that mimic other birds. 

The Brown Thrasher is reddish-brown with dark streaks. Its underparts are white or buff-coloured with dark streaks. It has a teardrop shape on its chest. It has a long, rounded rufous (reddish) tail with pale corners. Its eyes are bright yellow. Its beak is brown, long, and curved downward. The male and the female look similar. 

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Mekong Yellow-Vented Bulbul

The Mekong Yellow-Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier jambu) is a small passerine songbird. It is also known as the Eastern Yellow-Vented Bulbul.

The Mekong Yellow-Vented Bulbul has a slight black crest and black mask on a white head. It has brown upperparts, pale underparts, and yellow feathers at the top part of its under-tail, which is called the vent. The male and the female look similar.

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Oriental Magpie-Robin

The Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) is a small passerine (perching) bird in the Muscicapidae family of flycatchers. 

The Oriental Magpie-Robin is black and white with an upright long tail. The male has black upperparts, black head and black throat, with a white shoulder patch. Its underparts and the sides of the long tail are white. The female has greyish-black upperparts and greyish white chest.

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Barn Swallow

The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is the most common and abundant swallow in the world. It is a small migratory songbird (a passerine). It often heralds the spring weather.

The Barn Swallow, or Eurasian Swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica) is found in the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe and Asia. It is dark iridescent blue with a rufous (reddish-brown) forehead, chin and throat, white underbelly, and black wings and tail. It has a deeply forked tail with large white spots.

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Rosy-Patched Bush-Shrike

The Rosy-Patched Bush-Shrike (Rhodophoneus hilgerti cruentus) is a small species of passerine (songbird) found in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, East Kenya, and North Kenya.

It is a small bird of about 22 centimetres (8-9 inches) tall. It is light brown with a distinctive blood-red stain from its throat and down its white chest. It has a long tail and hooked beak.

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What is a passerine?

Many birds are passerines. Passerines are the most common birds in the world.

A passerine is a songbird – a bird that sings. A passerine is also a perching bird – a bird that perches on branches and wire fences (for example).

A perching bird has four toes. Three toes point forward and one toe points backward.

A passerine includes Blue Jays, Sparrows, Crows, Finches, Warblers, Wrens, Bowerbirds, Lyrebirds, Shrikes, and many other birds.

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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