Black Crowned Crane

The Black Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina ceciliae) is a rare bird native to the wetlands of eastern and western Africa. It is a subspecies of the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum).

The Black Crowned Crane has a black neck, and a white and pink naked (featherless) head. Its wings are mainly white. Its head has a crown of stiff golden feathers. Its cheeks are pinkish-white, and it has a pink throat pouch. Its beak is short and grey, and its legs are black.

Continue reading “Black Crowned Crane”

CREATURE FEATURE: Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture

The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) is a large critically endangered vulture from Africa. They are related to the White-Backed Vulture.

The Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture has mottled brown or black feathers with a whitish-brown underbelly and thin, cream-white fluff covering its head and neck. The base of its neck has a white collar. Its eyes are dark or amber, and its crop patch is deep brown. Its head does not have feathers. It has sharp talons and a powerful dark black.

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture”

Lappet-Faced Vulture

The Lappet-Faced Vulture (Torgos torgos tracheliotus) is a massive African vulture. It is also called the Nubian Vulture. It is a raptor and accipiter (like hawks, eagles, kites, and buzzards).

The Lappet-Faced Vulture is black-brown with white streaked underparts. Its head and its back of head are bare, with no feathers, and are bright pink and wrinkled. The wrinkles are called fleshy lappets. It has a large ivory or brown beak, with a grey cere.  It has dark-brown eyes. Its legs and feet are blue-grey with white thigh feathers called boots.

Continue reading “Lappet-Faced Vulture”

Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly

The Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio anactus) is a medium-sized Australian butterfly. It is also called the Dingy Swallowtail or Small Citrus Butterfly.

The Dainty Swallowtail (adult butterfly) is generally black with rows of pale yellow spots and patches. On the tail, it has several small, light blue, red, or white spots. Its head is large and black with a white V-mark. The back edge of its hindwing is scalloped and the tip of its body is yellow. It can have a patch of red underneath its head.

Continue reading “Dainty Swallowtail Butterfly”

Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret: what’s the difference?

What’s the difference between the Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, and Great Egret?

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), the Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia or Mesophoyx intermedia), and the Great Egret (Ardea alba melanorhynchos or Casmerodius albus melanorhynchos) have all white plumage (feathers).

The Little Egret has a black beak. The Intermediate Egret has a shorter, thicker yellow beak that may turn red or black in the breeding season.  The Great Egret has a long, thin, yellow beak that may become darker in the breeding season.

The Little Egret does not have a black line underneath its eye. The breeding adult Intermediate Egret has a black line underneath its eye, but it does not extend past the eye. The Great Egret has a fine black line from its beak to beyond its eye (like eye-liner underneath the eye).

Continue reading “Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret: what’s the difference?”

Intermediate Egret

The Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia or Mesophoyx intermedia) is also known as the Median Egret, or Yellow-Billed Egret. It is a medium-sized egret found in the wetlands of Asia, Africa, and Australia. It is a member of the heron family.

The Intermediate Egret has all white feathers, and a yellow beak (which may turn red or black in the breeding season). It has black legs and feet.

Continue reading “Intermediate Egret”

African Little Egret

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) is a small, common egret found in Asia, Africa, Europe, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. It is a member of the heron family.

The African Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta) is found in the wetlands of tropical eastern and southern Africa.

The African Little Egret has all white feathers, and a long, thin, black beak. It has black legs and yellow-soled feet. In the breeding season, it has two long plumes (feathers) on the nape (neck) that form a crest. These plumes are about 15 centimetres (6 inches) long, and are pointed and very narrow.

Continue reading “African Little Egret”

CREATURE FEATURE: Cinereous Vulture

The Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) is a large bird, called a raptor or accipiter. It is also called the Eurasian Black Vulture because it is native to Eurasia. It should not be confused with the American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), which is a different species. It is related to the Lappet-Faced Vulture.

The Cinereous Vulture is brown with some black feathers and white patches. It has a bald, blue-grey head and a ruff of white feathers around its neck. There is a white patch above its brown eyes. It has a blue-grey beak with a purplish cere. Its beak is the largest beak of all raptors. It has pale blue-grey legs.

It is almost 1.2 metres long (4 feet), with a wingspan of 3.1 metres (10 feet). It is one of the world’s heaviest flying birds, but it can fly at a very high altitude.

Continue reading “CREATURE FEATURE: Cinereous Vulture”

Ostrich Wing: why the ostrich can’t fly

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is a large African flightless bird.

Its wings are also large, with a wingspan of about two metres (6 feet and 7 inches).

Ostriches have many differences from flying birds.

Flying birds have external feathers with hooks that lock together. The Ostrich external feathers do not have tiny hooks that lock together. These hooklets are called barbules. They zip the vanes of individual feathers together to make the feather strong enough to hold the airfoil (the shape of the wing that makes it aerodynamic). Similar foils in water are called hydrofoils.

Continue reading “Ostrich Wing: why the ostrich can’t fly”