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,
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
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...)
The Goldfinch is unusual for the Dutch Golden Age painting period in the simplicity of its composition and use of illusionary techniques. Following the death of its creator, it was lost for more than two centuries before its rediscovery in
Brussels. (Full article...)
The European rock pipit (Anthus petrosus), or simply rock pipit, is a species of small
passerine bird that breeds in western Europe on rocky coasts. It has streaked greyish-brown upperparts and buff underparts, and is similar in appearance to other European
pipits. There are three subspecies, of which only the
Fennoscandian one is
migratory, wintering in shoreline habitats further south in Europe. The European rock pipit is
territorial at least in the breeding season, and year-round where it is resident. Males will sometimes enter an adjacent territory to assist the resident in repelling an intruder, behaviour only otherwise known from the
African fiddler crab.
European rock pipits construct a cup nest under coastal vegetation or in cliff crevices and lay four to six speckled pale grey eggs which hatch in about two weeks with a further 16 days to
fledging. Although insects are occasionally caught in flight, the pipits feed mainly on small
invertebrates picked off the rocks or from shallow water.
The King Island emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae minor) is an
emu that was
King Island, in the
Bass Strait between mainland Australia and
Tasmania. Its closest relative may be the extinct
Tasmanian emu (D. n. diemenensis), as they belonged to a single population until less than 14,000 years ago when Tasmania and King Island were still connected. The small size of the King Island emu may be an example of
insular dwarfism. The King Island emu was the smallest of all known emus and had darker
plumage than the mainland emu. It was black and brown and had naked blue skin on the neck, and its chicks were striped like those on the mainland. The subspecies was distinct from the likewise small and extinct
Kangaroo Island emu (D. n. baudinianus) in a number of
osteological details, including size. The behaviour of the King Island emu probably did not differ much from that of the mainland emu. The birds gathered in flocks to forage and during breeding time. They fed on berries, grass and seaweed. They ran swiftly and could defend themselves by kicking. The nest was shallow and consisted of dead leaves and moss. Seven to nine eggs were laid, which were
incubated by both parents.
Europeans discovered the King Island emu in 1802 during early expeditions to the island, and most of what is known about the bird in life comes from an interview French naturalist
François Péron conducted with a
sealer there, as well as depictions by artist
Charles Alexandre Lesueur. They had arrived on King Island in 1802 with
Nicolas Baudin's expedition, and in 1804 several live and stuffed King and Kangaroo Island emus were sent to France. The two live King Island specimens were kept in the
Jardin des Plantes, and the remains of these and the other birds are scattered throughout various museums in Europe today. The logbooks of the expedition did not specify from which island each captured bird originated, or even that they were
taxonomically distinct, so their status remained unclear until more than a century later. Hunting pressure and fires started by early settlers on King Island likely drove the wild population to extinction by 1805. The captive specimens in Paris both died in 1822 and are believed to have been the last of their kind. (Full article...)
Male in breeding plumage
The variegated fairywren (Malurus lamberti) is a
fairywren that lives in eastern Australia. As a species that exhibits
sexual dimorphism, the brightly coloured breeding male has chestnut shoulders and azure crown and ear
coverts, while non-breeding males, females and juveniles have predominantly grey-brown
plumage, although females of two subspecies have mainly blue-grey plumage.
Like other fairywrens, the variegated fairywren 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. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display. These birds are primarily
insectivorous and forage and live in the shelter of scrubby vegetation east of the
Great Dividing Range. Populations across central, northern and western Australia were considered subspecies of this species until 2018, when they were reclassified as the
purple-backed fairywren. (Full article...)
The Puerto Rican amazon reaches sexual maturity at between three and four years of age. It reproduces once a year and is a
cavity nester. Once the female lays eggs she will remain in the nest and continuously incubate them until hatching. The chicks are fed by both parents and will
fledge 60 to 65 days after hatching. This parrot's diet is varied and consists of flowers, fruits, leaves, bark and nectar obtained from the forest
The species is the only remaining native parrot to Puerto Rico and has been listed as
critically endangered by the
World Conservation Union since 1994. Once widespread and abundant, the population declined drastically in the 19th and early 20th centuries with the removal of most of its native habitat; the species has completely vanished from
Mona Island. Conservation efforts commenced in 1968 to save the bird from extinction. (Full article...)
The site has a long history of human occupation, from
prehistoric farming to its use as a
prisoner of war camp in the
Second World War. The reserve attracts large numbers of visitors, contributing significantly to the economy of Cley village. Despite centuries of
embankment to reclaim land and protect the village, the marshes have been flooded many times, and the southward march of the
coastal shingle bank and
encroachment by the sea make it inevitable that the reserve will eventually be lost. New
wetlands are being created further inland to compensate for the loss of coastal habitats. (Full article...)
The turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) is the most widespread of the
New World vultures. One of three species in the genus Cathartes of the family
Cathartidae, the turkey vulture ranges from southern Canada to the
southernmost tip of South America. It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts.
Like all New World vultures, it is not closely related to the
Old World vultures of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The two groups strongly resemble each other because of
convergent evolution; natural selection often leads to similar body plans in animals that adapt independently to similar conditions.
The turkey vulture is a
scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on
carrion. It finds its food using its keen eyes and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gasses produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses
thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a
syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by
regurgitation. It has very few natural
predators. In the United States, the vulture receives legal protection under the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. (Full article...)
Turner spent part of each year in
Norfolk, and her 1911 image of a nestling
bittern in Norfolk was the first evidence of the species' return to the United Kingdom as a breeding bird after its
local extinction in the late 19th century. She also travelled widely in the United Kingdom and abroad photographing birds.
Pale crag martin flying in the Eastern Desert, Southern Egypt.
The pale crag martin (Ptyonoprogne obsoleta) is a small
passerinebird in the
swallow family that is resident in
Northern Africa and in
Southwestern Asia, east to Pakistan. It breeds mainly in the mountains, but also at lower altitudes, especially in rocky areas and around towns. Unlike most swallows, it is often found far from water. It is 12–13 cm (4+1⁄2–5 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. It was formerly considered to be the northern
subspecies of the
rock martin of southern Africa, although it is smaller, paler, and whiter-throated than that species. The pale crag martin hunts along cliff faces for flying insects using a slow flight with much gliding. Its call is a soft twitter.
This 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 and bridges. It is often reused for subsequent broods or in later years. This species is often a solitary breeder, 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, although the young birds will return to the nest to roost for a few days after their first flight.
The pale crag martin is caught in flight by several fast, agile
falcon species, such as
hobbies, and it sometimes carries parasites, but it faces no major threats. Because of its range of nearly 20 million square kilometres (7,700,000 sq mi) and a large and apparently increasing population, it is not seen as vulnerable and is assessed as
Least Concern on the
IUCN Red List. (Full article...)
songbird with reddish-brown and black plumage, this species is one of the few known
poisonous birds, containing a range of
batrachotoxin compounds in its skin, feathers and other tissues. These toxins are thought to be derived from their diet and may function both to deter predators and to protect the bird from parasites. The close resemblance of this species to other unrelated birds also known as pitohuis which are also poisonous is an example of
convergent evolution and
Müllerian mimicry. Their appearance is also mimicked by unrelated non-poisonous species, a phenomenon known as
Batesian mimicry. The toxic nature of this bird is well known to local hunters, who avoid it. It is one of the most poisonous species of pitohui, but the toxicity of individual birds can vary geographically.
The hooded pitohui is found in forests from sea level up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) but is most common in hills and low mountains. A social bird, it lives in family groups and frequently joins and even leads
mixed-species foraging flocks. Its diet is made up of fruits, seeds and invertebrates. This species is apparently a cooperative breeder, with family groups helping to protect the nest and feed the young. The hooded pitohui is common and is currently not at risk of
extinction, with its numbers being stable. (Full article...)
The Réunion swamphen (Porphyrio caerulescens), also known as the Réunion gallinule or oiseau bleu (French for "blue bird"), is a
hypothetical extinct species of
rail that was endemic to the
Mascarene island of
Réunion. While only known from 17th- and 18th-century accounts by visitors to the island, it was
scientifically named in 1848, based on the 1674 account by
Sieur Dubois. A considerable literature was subsequently devoted to its possible affinities, with current researchers agreeing it was derived from the
swamphen genus Porphyrio. It has been considered mysterious and enigmatic due to the lack of any physical evidence of its existence.
This bird was described as entirely blue in plumage with a red beak and legs. It was said to be the size of a
Réunion ibis or chicken, which could mean 65–70 cm (26–28 in) in length, and it may have been similar to the
takahē. While easily hunted, it was a fast runner and able to fly, though it did so reluctantly. It may have fed on plant matter and invertebrates, as do other swamphens, and was said to nest among grasses and aquatic ferns. It was only found on the
Plaine des Cafres plateau, to which it may have retreated during the latter part of its existence, whereas other swamphens inhabit lowland swamps. While the last unequivocal account is from 1730, it may have survived until 1763, but overhunting and the introduction of cats likely drove it to
extinction. (Full article...)
Although the book was a financial failure, Lear's paintings of parrots established his reputation as one of the best natural history artists of his time. It found him work with
John Gould, Stanley and other leading contemporary naturalists, and the young
Queen Victoria engaged him to help her with her painting technique. Parrots was a forerunner to the major volumes of bird paintings by Gould, and Lear's work has influenced children's illustrators such as
Beatrix Potter and
Maurice Sendak as well as bird specialists like
William Y. Cooper,
Elizabeth Butterworth and
The northern bald ibis, hermit ibis, or waldrapp (Geronticus eremita) is a migratory bird found in barren, semi-desert or rocky habitats, often close to running water. This 70–80 cm (28–31 in) glossy black
ibis, which, unlike many members of the ibis family, is non-wading, has an unfeathered red face and head, and a long, curved red bill. It breeds colonially on coastal or mountain cliff ledges, where it typically lays two to three eggs in a stick nest, and feeds on lizards, insects, and other small animals.
The northern bald ibis was once widespread across the Middle East, northern Africa, southern and central Europe, with a fossil record dating back at least 1.8 million years. It disappeared from Europe over 300 years ago, although reintroduction programs in the region are underway. In 2019 there were about 700 wild birds remaining in southern
Morocco, and fewer than 10 in
Syria, where it was rediscovered in 2002 but where their number declined in the following years, maybe to zero.
To combat these low numbers,
reintroduction programs have been instituted internationally in recent times, with a semi-wild breeding colony in Turkey which counted almost 250 birds in 2018 as well as sites in Austria, Italy, Spain, and northern Morocco. These programs and the natural growth in Morocco from about 200 birds in the 1990s helped to downlist the northern bald ibis from
Critically Endangered to
Endangered on the
IUCN Red List in 2018. There are about 2000 northern bald ibises living in captivity. (Full article...)
The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a large
bird in the
stork family, Ciconiidae. Its
plumage is mainly white, with black on the bird's wings. Adults have long red legs and long pointed red beaks, and measure on average 100–115 cm (39–45 in) from beak tip to end of tail, with a 155–215 cm (61–85 in) wingspan. The two
subspecies, which differ slightly in size, breed in Europe (north to
Finland), northwestern Africa,
southwestern Asia (east to southern
Kazakhstan) and southern Africa. The white stork is a long-distance
migrant, wintering in Africa from tropical
Sub-Saharan Africa to as far south as
South Africa, or on the
Indian subcontinent. When migrating between Europe and Africa, it avoids crossing the
Mediterranean Sea and detours via the
Levant in the east or the
Strait of Gibraltar in the west, because the air
thermals on which it depends for soaring do not form over water.
carnivore, the white stork eats a wide range of animal prey, including insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and small birds. It takes most of its food from the ground, among low vegetation, and from shallow water. It is a
monogamous breeder, and both members of the pair build a large stick nest, which may be used for several years. Each year the female can lay one
clutch of usually four eggs, which hatch
asynchronously 33–34 days after being laid. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and both feed the young. The young leave the nest 58–64 days after hatching, and continue to be fed by the parents for a further 7–20 days.
The white stork has been rated as
least concern by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It benefited from human activities during the
Middle Ages as woodland was cleared, but changes in farming methods and industrialisation saw it decline and disappear from parts of Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Conservation and
reintroduction programs across Europe have resulted in the white stork resuming breeding in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It has few natural predators, but may harbour several types of parasite; the plumage is home to
chewing lice and
feather mites, while the large nests maintain a diverse range of
mesostigmatic mites. This conspicuous species has given rise to many legends across its range, of which the best-known is the story of babies being brought by storks. (Full article...)
Looking west over the scrape, an area of shallow water and bare mud
The nature reserve is managed primarily for bird conservation, particularly through control and improvement of wetland,
heath and grassland habitats, with particular emphasis on encouraging nationally uncommon breeding species such as the
nightingale. The diversity of habitats has also led to a wide variety of other animals and plants being recorded on the site.
Before becoming a nature reserve, the area was the site of an ancient abbey and a
Tudorartillery battery. The marshes were reclaimed as farmland in the 19th century, but were re-flooded during
World War II as a protection against possible invasion. (Full article...)
The Cuban macaw or Cuban red macaw (Ara tricolor) is an extinct
macaw native to the main island of
Cuba and the nearby
Isla de la Juventud. It became extinct in the late 19th century. Its relationship with other macaws in its
genus was long uncertain, but it was thought to have been closely related to the
scarlet macaw, which has some similarities in appearance. It may also have been closely related, or identical, to the
hypotheticalJamaican red macaw. A 2018
DNA study found that it was the
sister species of two red and two green species of extant macaws.
At about 45–50 centimetres (18–20 in) long, the Cuban macaw was one of the smallest macaws. It had a red, orange, yellow, and white head, and a red, orange, green, brown, and blue body. Little is known of its behaviour, but it is reported to have nested in hollow trees, lived in pairs or families, and fed on seeds and fruits. The species' original distribution on Cuba is unknown, but it may have been restricted to the central and western parts of the island. It was mainly reported from the vast
Zapata Swamp, where it inhabited open terrain with scattered trees.
The Cuban macaw was traded and hunted by
Native Americans, and by Europeans after their arrival in the 15th century. Many individuals were brought to Europe as
cagebirds, and 19 museum skins exist today. No modern skeletons are known, but a few
subfossil remains have been found on Cuba. It had become rare by the mid-19th century due to pressure from hunting, trade, and
habitat destruction. Hurricanes may also have contributed to its demise. The last reliable accounts of the species are from the 1850s on Cuba and 1864 on Isla de la Juventud, but it may have persisted until 1885. (Full article...)
The Australian boobook (Ninox boobook), is a species of
owl native to mainland Australia, southern New Guinea, the island of
Timor, and the
Sunda Islands. Described by
John Latham in 1801, it was generally considered to be the same
species as the
morepork of New Zealand until 1999. Its name is derived from its two-tone boo-book call. Eight subspecies of the Australian boobook are recognized, with three further subspecies being reclassified as separate species in 2019 due to their distinctive calls and genetics.
owl on the Australian mainland, the Australian boobook is 27 to 36 cm (10.5 to 14 in) long, with predominantly dark-brown plumage with prominent pale spots. It has grey-green or yellow-green eyes. It is generally nocturnal, though sometimes it is active at dawn and dusk, retiring to roost in secluded spots in the foliage of trees. The Australian boobook feeds on insects and small vertebrates, hunting by pouncing on them from tree perches. Breeding takes place from late winter to early summer, using tree hollows as nesting sites. The
International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the Australian boobook as being of
least concern on account of its large range and apparently stable population. (Full article...)
The Siberian accentor (Prunella montanella) is a small
passerinebird that breeds in northern Russia from the
Ural Mountains eastwards across
Siberia. It is
migratory, wintering in Korea and eastern China, with rare occurrences in western Europe and northwestern North America. Its typical breeding habitat is
subarcticdeciduous forests and open
coniferous woodland, often close to water, although it also occurs in mountains and
sprucetaiga. It inhabits bushes and shrubs in winter, frequently near streams, but may also be found in dry grassland and woods.
The Siberian accentor has brown upperparts and wings, with bright chestnut streaking on its back and a greyish-brown rump and tail. The head has a dark brown crown and a long, wide pale yellow
supercilium ("eyebrow"). All
plumages are quite similar. The nest is an open cup in dense shrub or a tree into which the female lays four to six glossy deep blue-green eggs that hatch in about ten days. Adults and chicks feed mainly on insects, typically picked off the ground, but sometimes taken from vegetation. In winter, the accentors may also consume seeds or feed near human habitation.
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
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.
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...)
Flight feathers (Pennae volatus) are the long, stiff, asymmetrically shaped, but symmetrically paired
pennaceous feathers on the
wings or tail of a bird; those on the wings are called remiges (/ˈrɛmɪdʒiːz/), singular remex (/ˈriːmɛks/), while those on the tail are called rectrices (/rɛkˈtraɪsiːs/), singular rectrix (/ˈrɛktrɪks/). The primary function of the flight feathers is to aid in the generation of both
lift, thereby enabling
flight. The flight feathers of some birds perform additional functions, generally associated with territorial displays, courtship rituals or feeding methods. In some species, these feathers have developed into long showy plumes used in visual courtship displays, while in others they create a sound during display flights. Tiny serrations on the leading edge of their remiges help
owls to fly silently (and therefore hunt more successfully), while the extra-stiff rectrices of
woodpeckers help them to brace against tree trunks as they hammer on them. Even flightless birds still retain flight feathers, though sometimes in radically modified forms.
The remiges are divided into primary and secondary feathers based on their position along the wing. There are typically 11 primaries attached to the manus (six attached to the metacarpus and five to the phalanges), but the outermost primary, called the remicle, is often rudimentary or absent; certain birds, notably the flamingos, grebes, and storks, have seven primaries attached to the metacarpus and 12 in all. Secondary feathers are attached to the ulna. The fifth secondary remex (numbered inwards from the carpal joint) was formerly thought to be absent in some species, but the modern view of this diastataxy is that there is a gap between the fourth and fifth secondaries. Tertiary feathers growing upon the adjoining portion of the brachium are not considered true remiges. (Full article...)
The accentors are a
birds in the family Prunellidae, which is
endemic to the
Old World. This small group of closely related
passerines are all in the genus Prunella. All but the dunnock and the Japanese accentor are inhabitants of the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia; these two also occur in lowland areas, as does the Siberian accentor in the far north of Siberia. These birds are not strongly
migratory, but they will leave the coldest parts of their range in winter and make
altitudinal movements. (Full article...)
A nesting Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans), a
passerine bird native to
Papua New Guinea. It was previously known as the Brown Flycatcher, but is more closely related to
crows than to true
flycatchers. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, subtropical or tropical dry forests, and Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation.
The Red-capped Plover (Charadrius ruficapillus) is a small
plover native to Australia. Adult males have a
rufous crown and hindneck. Adult females (shown here in breeding plumage) have a paler rufous and grey brown crown and hindneck, with pale
loreal stripe. Non-breeding plumage is duller in both sexes.
The Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) is a large bird endemic to Australia. This nocturnal bird is a terrestrial predator which specialises in hunting small grassland animals. Though it lives mostly on the ground, it is also capable of flight.
A female Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), a
passerine bird native to
Australasia. The Willie Wagtail is a common and familiar bird throughout much of its range. Males and females are coloured with almost entirely black upperparts and white underparts. The
common name is derived from its habit of wagging its tail horizontally when foraging on the ground.
The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a small wading bird in the sandpiper family,
Scolopacidae. It is a highly
migratory bird, breeding in northern parts of Eurasia and North America and flying south to winter on coastlines almost worldwide. This adult ruddy turnstone in non-breeding plumage was photographed at
Boat Harbour in
New South Wales, Australia.
The red-billed streamertail (Trochilus polytmus) is the most common hummingbird in Jamaica, where it is the national bird. The female, shown here in hovering flight, lacks the red bill and long tail streamers of the male. The species's diet consists of nectar and small insects caught on the wing.
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or
birds. They are the outstanding characteristic that distinguishes the class
Aves from all other living groups.
A Skylark (Alauda arvensis), with two
beetles in its beak. Skylarks are found throughout much of the world. It is a mostly dull-looking bird, being mainly brown above and paler below. They are known for the
song of the male, which is delivered in hovering flight from heights of 50 to 100 m (160–330 ft).
An Eastern Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus ornatus) with nesting material in its mouth. This
subspecies of the Striated Pardalote, the least colourful and most common of the four pardalote species, is found in
subtropical areas of
Eastern Australia. They are more often heard than seen, foraging noisily for
lerps and other small creatures in the treetops.
The great tit (Parus major) is a
passerine bird in the
tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common species throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and Northern Asia, and parts of North Africa; this female was photographed in
Lancashire. Most great tits do not
migrate except in extremely harsh winters.
The Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) is a small
owl native to eastern
North America. Usually solitary, they nest in a tree cavity, either natural or excavated by a woodpecker; they will also use nesting boxes. They are strictly nocturnal, roosting during the day in cavities or next to tree trunks. They mainly eat large
insects and small
rodents, as well as small birds. They are active at night or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey.
Pygostyle describes a skeletal condition in which the final few
caudalvertebrae are fused into a single
ossification, supporting the tail
feathers and musculature. In modern
rectrices attach to these. The pygostyle is the main component of the uropygium, a structure colloquially known as the bishop's nose, parson's nose, pope's nose, or sultan's nose. This is the fleshy protuberance visible at the posterior end of a
bird (most commonly a
turkey) that has been dressed for
cooking. It has a swollen appearance because it also contains the
uropygial gland that produces
preen oil. (Full article...)
The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the
dovefamily Columbidae. The bird is also called the American mourning dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina pigeon or Carolina turtledove. It
Central America to southern
Canada, including offshore islands. Many individuals in northern areas
migrate south to spend winter within the breeding range where January temperatures are above −12° Celsius (10°F). Habitats include various open and semi-open environments, including agricultural and urban areas. The species has adapted well to areas altered by humans. The bird is abundant, with an estimated population of 130 million birds. In many areas, the mourning dove is hunted as a
game bird for both sport and its meat. Its plaintive woo-oo-oo-oocall is common throughout its range, as is the whistling of its wings as it takes flight. The species is a strong
flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).
Mourning doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally
monogamous, with two squabs (young) per
brood. Both parents care for the young for a time. The species is a prolific breeder, and pairs will often have several broods per year. In warm areas, a pair may have up to six broods a year. Mourning doves eat mainly seeds, including those of both native and introduced plants.