Coraciiformes

Kingfishers, todies, hoopoes, and relatives (also called coraci-iforms) include some interesting bird families with many of the most beautiful species in the world. The eight families in the order Coraciiformes include kingfishers (Alcedinidae), todies (To-didae), motmots (Momotidae), bee-eaters (Meropidae), rollers (Coraciidae), hoopoes (Upupidae), woodhoopoes (Phoeniculi-dae), and hornbills (Bucerotidae). Appearance between adult males and females are similar in most species, except for most...

Malaysian Honeyguide Indicator archipelagicus

Physical characteristics Malaysian honeyguides have brownish gray plumage with small, bright yellow shoulder patches, dark olive-brown upperparts, a light gray breast, and red eyes. They have a brown pointed bill, white under parts, and black legs and feet. Females do not have the yellow shoulder patch. Adults are about 2.5 inches (16 centimeters) long and weigh between 0.8 and 1.4 ounces (23.0 and 38.5 grams). Geographic range These honeyguides live in the Malaysian Peninsula, Sumatra, and...

Gray Parrot Psittacus erithacus

Physical characteristics The African gray parrot's plumage consists of various shades of gray. Tail feathers are red. Birds are 13 inches (33 centimeters) from head to tail and weigh up to 0.8 pounds (407 grams). Geographic range Gray parrots are found in western Africa in coastal countries including Sierra Leone, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast. Birds also range inland in central and east Africa. Habitat Parrots make their nests in tree holes, sometimes choosing locations abandoned by birds like...

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus

Physical characteristics Manx shearwaters weigh anywhere from 12.3 to 20.3 ounces (350 to 575 grams) and are 11.8 to 15 inches (30 to 38 centimeters) long. Their wingspan is 29.9 to 35 inches (76 to 89 centimeters). The upper body is black with white underneath. Geographic range Manx shearwaters breed mostly on the coastal cliffs around the North Atlantic Ocean, with a large population in Britain and Ireland. They spend the winter months off the coast of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Habitat...

Ara macao

Physical characteristics Scarlet macaws are colorful birds. The macaw's head, tail, and much of its body is red. Wings are blue, green, and yellow. Birds measure 33 inches (85 centimeters) from head to tail. The tail accounts for most of the length. Macaws weigh from 2.1 to 2.2 pounds (1.06 to 1.12 kilograms). The colorful scarlet macaw lives in southern Mexico, Central America, and northwestern South America. (Robert J. Huffman Field Mark Publications. Reproduced by permission.) Geographic...

Whitenecked Puffbird Notharchus macrorhynchos

Physical characteristics White-necked puffbirds look a little bit like kingfishers, being identified mainly by their white forehead and wide, glossy black breast band. They have glossy black-blue upperparts, a white collar, throat, sides of face, and belly. The bill is White-necked puffbirds dig nests into former termite nests built in trees, or nest in holes in the ground. (Illustration by Dan Erickson. Reproduced by permission.) black, there is variable dark barring on the flanks, the tail is...

False Sunbirds And Asities Philepittidae

Class Aves Order Passeriformes Family Philepittidae Number of species 4 species Asities are very small, compact birds with tails so short that individuals look almost spherical, ball-shaped. The velvet and Schlegel's asities grow up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and weigh up to 1.5 ounces (40 grams). The common and yellow-bellied sunbird-asities (also called false sunbirds) are smaller, up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) long and up to 0.88 ounces (25 grams) in weight. Both of these species...

Monarch Flycatchers Monarchidae

Class Aves Order Passeriformes Family Monarchidae Number of species 96 species Monarch flycatchers are small to medium birds that are 5 to 21 inches (13 to 53 centimeters) long. Their tails can be relatively short compared to their body length but some species have tails that measure 6 inches (15 centimeters). Monarch flycatchers have wide, bluish gray bills with bristles characteristic of insect eaters. They have short legs, long wings, and sharp, curved claws. Coloring is often quite...

Hypsipetes madagascariensis

Physical characteristics The black bulbul is approximately 7.8 to 10 inches in length (20 to 25.4 centimeters). The bird can be slate gray to shimmering black in color, with a crest that is less than full, but fluffy, and has a forked tail. The black bulbul has bright red legs and feet. Variations among the species include some black bulbuls that have a white head. The birds that live in the western regions of the distribution have plumage that is grayer. Both sexes are similar. The juvenile...

Great Tit Parus major

Physical characteristics Great tits are larger than other titmice. They have a yellow underside, with a powerful-looking head and bill. Plumage varies with specific physical location, but generally has a black throat, crown, and vertical breast stripe, white cheeks, green back, blue rump, wings, and tail with a yellow breast. They are about 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) long, and weigh between 0.5 and 0.8 ounces (14 and 22 grams). The sexes look alike, but males are generally larger in size than...

Cephalopterus ornatus

Physical characteristics Amazonian umbrellabirds are black birds with a whitish eye and strong black claws. They are about the size of a crow, 18 inches (46 centimeters) in length. Their most impressive physical feature is the tall crest of hair-like feathers with white shafts that stands up over its head like an umbrella. In fact, the bird's Latin scientific name roughly means fancy head. This bird also has a long wattle of feathers that hangs down from its throat to its belly. Amazonian...

Pitohui kirhocephalus

Physical characteristics A medium-sized bird, the variable pitohui is 9 to 10 inches (23 to 25.5 cm) long and weighs 3 to 3.5 ounces (85 to 100 grams). It has a black head and wings, a reddish back, an orange breast and belly, and black legs. This general coloring, however, varies among its twenty subspecies. Geographic range This species can be found in New Guinea and neighboring islands. Habitat The variable pitohui nests in thick undergrowth at the edge of forests up to 4,950 feet (1,500...

Alberts Lyrebird Menura alberti

Physical characteristics The male Albert's lyrebird (also known as Prince Albert's lyrebird) is not as dramatic looking as the superb lyrebird, since its tail lacks the outer lyre-shaped tail feathers of its cousin. The Albert's species is slightly smaller than the superb as well, with adult females measuring 33 inches (84 centimeters) and adult males measuring 35.5 inches (90 centimeters). Both sexes have small heads, long tails, and long, powerful legs and claws. They are virtually...

Herons And Bitterns Ardeidae

Herons, egrets, and bitterns are medium to very large wading birds, birds with long legs who walk through shallow water searching for prey. They are 9.7 to 58.5 inches (25 to 150 centimeters) long from beak to tail, and they weigh between 0.16 and 9.9 pounds (73 grams and 4.5 kilograms). They have long necks, which they fold over their backs when flying, and long legs and toes. With the exception of the boat-billed heron, which has a wide, flat bill, these birds all have long, sharply-pointed...

Victorias Riflebird Ptiloris victoriae

Physical characteristics The male Victoria's riflebird has a curved bill a bright green cap, throat, and belly and a black back and breast band. It also sports short, iridescent blue-green tail feathers. The female of the species has a brown back and head, a spotty buff belly and throat, and a buff stripe above the eye. Average length for both is 9.5 inches (24 centimeters). Geographic range The species is found in northeast Queensland, Australia between Townsville and Cooktown. Habitat The...

Stilts And Avocets Recurvirostridae

Class Aves Order Charadriiformes Family Recurvirostridae Number of species 8 species Stilts and avocets range from 14 to 20 inches (35 to 51 centimeters) in height and from 5.8 to 16.2 ounces (166 to 461 grams) in weight. All species have striking bill shapes. In avocets, the bills curve upward, particularly in females. The ibisbill has a bill that curves downward. In stilts, the bills are generally straight or slightly curved. Stilts and avocets have the longest legs (in proportion to body...

Physical Characteristics

Swifts are aerial birds, meaning that they spend much of their lives in the air. Birds eat, drink, mate, and are believed to sleep while flying. Swifts are powerful flyers because they have strong breast muscles and long wings that are large and narrow. Their legs and feet are so small that they cannot walk. When swifts are on the ground, they are unable to quickly take off and fly. As a result, swifts land on tall trees or structures like chimneys. Swifts cling to surfaces by using their four...

Aegotheles insignis

Physical characteristics Feline owlet-nightjars look somewhat like cats. Their faces have a feline shape. Tufts of feathers above the eyes look like cats' ears, and they have whiskery bristles around the bill. Feline owlet-nightjars have long feathers that appear fluffy. Plumage color ranges from rufous to brown. Feather patterns include brown and black vermicular, twisted, lines and white spots on the body. There are two white stripes on the head, and birds have white bars on their tails....

Monotypic order

Class Aves Order Cuculiformes One family Cuculidae Number of species 129 species The Cuculidae family is also called the cuckoo family. It is a large family, with more than 128 species. Species in this family include common cuckoos, anis, and roadrunners. Birds range in length from the 5.1-inch (13-centimeter) pheasant cuckoo to the greater roadrunner, which is 22.1 inches (56 centimeters) long. Anis (ah-NEEZ) are also known as black cuckoos because of their dark plumage. The birds' heavy bill...

Eupodotis caerulescens

Physical characteristics The blue bustard has a brown back and blue-gray neck and belly. It is about 21.5 inches (55 centimeters) in length and 2.5 to 3.5 pounds (1.1 to 1.6 kilograms) in weight. Geographic range Blue bustards are found in eastern and central South Africa and in Lesotho. Habitat Blue bustards are found in grasslands as well as in cultivated fields. They are a high altitude species that is generally found above 4,900 feet (1,500 meters). Diet Blue bustards eat plant matter as...

Behavior And Reproduction

Most rails are solitary, meaning they live alone, although some can be found in pairs, usually male and female breeding partners, or in small groups. Some species, however, including most coots and some gallinules and moorhens, sometimes gather in large flocks during the nonbreed-ing season. The black-tailed native-hen, an Australian rail, can form flocks of as many as 20,000 individuals. Breeding strategies vary across the rails. Many species are monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), with one male...

Conservation Status

Two species of tinamou are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction the Magdalena tinamou and Kalinowski's tinamou. Four species are listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction the black tinamou, dwarf tinamou, Taczanowski's tinamou, and Choco tinamou. Four species are listed as Near Threatened, in danger of becoming threatened the solitary tinamou, pale-browed tinamou, yellow-legged tinamou, and Colombian...

Diomedea cauta eremita

Physical characteristics Chatham mollymawks weigh in at 6.8 to 10.4 pounds (3.1 to 4.7 kilograms) and is the largest of the molly-mawk family. They have a white body, dark gray head, and black upper wing and tail. The underwing is white except for wingtip and small dark patch at base of wing. Their bill is yellow with a dark tip and the cheek has an orange stripe across it. Geographic range Chatham mollymawks breed only at The Pyramid, a small rocky area of the Chatham Islands. They rarely...

Greater Thornbird Phacellodomus ruber

Physical characteristics Greater thornbirds are the reddest in color and among the largest in size of the ovenbirds. This species has a stout, plump, body and a long tail. They have a short, pointed bill that is slightly downcurved. The upper part of the bills is blackish and the lower part of the bill is pale gray to grayish green. They have a rufous-brown to grayish brown face with a light brown stripe over the eyes. Greater thornbirds move about cautiously, not wanting to be seen, usually...

Charadriiformes

Birds of the order Charadriiformes range in size from 0.06 to 4.4 pounds (25 grams to 2 kilograms). They vary greatly in body length, body shape, leg length, and bill shape, making generalizations about their physical characteristics difficult. Charadriiforms are found worldwide, including all seven continents. Species in the order Charadriiformes occupy diverse habitats. They are generally found near water, whether coastal, inland, or on the ocean. Many charadriiforms inhabit wetland areas,...

Todies Todidae

Todies are tiny, delicate, rather chunky kingfisher-like birds. They have a broad head a long, narrow, and somewhat flattened bill that is colored red or orange-red below and black above sky-blue to gray cheeks bright scarlet-red throat patch short, slightly rounded tail and shining green wings. All species have brilliant emerald-green feathers on their upper bodies, with various colors on the breast, sides, and stomach depending on the species, some pale (whitish, cream, or grayish) and others...

Plectoryncha lanceolata

Physical characteristics Striped honeyeaters are about 8.5 inches (22 centimeters) long and weigh about 1.4 ounces (40 grams). Their cheeks and the area from the forehead to the nape (back part of the neck) is dark with white stripes. Their underparts are a pinkish buff, and upperparts and tail are grayish. Geographic range The birds are located in eastern Australia, from mid-north Queensland to northern Victoria and west to the York Peninsula, especially inland from the Great Dividing Range....

Cissa chinensis

Physical characteristics Green magpies have bright green heads and reddish brown wings. Their bodies are a lighter green, and their long, tapered tails have white tips. Black coloring on the face resembles a mask. Flesh around the eyes is red, and their bills, legs, and feet are also bright red. Green magpies range in length from 14.43 to 15.21 inches (37 to 39 centimeters). They weigh from 4.55 to 4.65 ounces (120 to 124 grams). Geographic range Green magpies live on the continent of Asia and...

Nightjars And People

Nightjars received their name because their loud night call jarred (disturbed) sleeping people. The birds are also known Many nightjars have whisker-like bristles around their mouths, but opinion is divided about why the birds have bristles. Some researchers think that the bristles help the birds capture prey while flying by helping to push insects into nightjars' mouths. Others disagree with that explanation, saying the bristles may protect the nightjars' eyes from being injured by prey...

Rhipidura leucophrys

Physical characteristics Willie wagtails are larger than the average fantail, with a length of 7.1 to 8.7 inches (18 to 22 centimeters), and an average weight of 0.6 to 0.8 ounces (17 to 24 grams). They have black plumage and a white brow and breast. Geographic range Depending on the particular population of willie wagtail, they can be found throughout Moluccas, New Guinea and the surrounding islands. One population can be found on the Bismarck Archipelago, Solomon Islands, and northern...

Climacteris rufa

Physical characteristics Rufous treecreepers have faces that are cinnamon-rufous, reddish brown, with rufous brows, and cheeks that have a black eye stripe. Their undersides are rufous with white streaks for the female, and black with white streaks on the male. Their upperparts are gray-brown. Their length averages 6.7 inches (17 centimeters). These birds weigh between 1.1 and 1.2 ounces (30 and 33 grams). Geographic range Rufous treecreepers can be found throughout southwestern Australia and...

Shearwaters Petrels And Fulmars And People

Procellariid eggs and meat are eaten by people in a number of cultures, including Eskimos and Europeans. Every year Manx shearwaters migrate over 6,210 miles (10,000 kilometers) every winter on their way to South America. This is an amazing fact in and of itself, but consider how far the oldest known wild bird has flown. A Manx shearwater was tagged in Northern Ireland and identified as an adult (at least five years old) in 1953. It was trapped again in July 2003, making it at least fifty-five...

Village Weaver Ploceus cucullatus

Physical characteristics Also called the spotted-back weaver and black-headed weaver, the adult body length runs 6 to 7 inches (15 to 17 centimeters), males being larger than females. During the breeding season, the male is a combination of brilliant yellow on the under parts, and back of the neck and crown, as well as shiny black on the face and bib. The posterior belly may be bright orange-red. The folded wings show alternating streaks and spots of yellow and black, hence the common name,...

Falco peregrinus

Physical characteristics A peregrine falcon's body is designed for speed, and it is the fastest, most skillful bird of prey on Earth. It also has remarkable eyesight and hearing. The birds are between 13.4 and 19.7 inches (34 and 50 centimeters) long from their beaks to the end of their tails. The female usually weighs about twice as much as her mate. Peregrines have dark feathers on their upper parts and lighter-colored feathers below, with streaks on their under parts. Geographic range...

Cyanocitta cristata

Physical characteristics Blue jays are colorful members of the crow family. They have a crest of blue feathers that tops their head. Their rounded wings and fan-shaped tails are dark blue with black and white markings. Blue jays have pale gray faces and bodies. There's a necklace of black feathers around the throat. The bird has a long black bill, long legs and black feet. Adult blue jays range in length from 9.36 to 11.7 inches (24 to 30 centimeters). Birds weigh from 2.27 to 3.8 ounces (65 to...

Colius striatus

Physical characteristics Bar-breasted mousebirds, also called speckled mousebirds, have mostly brownish gray plumage, and their crests are the same color. The length of the long-tailed birds ranges from 10.2 to 14.2 inches (26 to 36 centimeters). Weight ranges from 1.3 to 2.8 ounces (36 to 80 grams). The white-eared bar-breasted mousebirds of East Africa have white feathers on the sides of their heads. A subspecies in the northern range has a white spot on its upper mandible (jaw). Birds in one...

Loons And People

People are attracted to loons because of the birds' vocalizations. Thousands of tourists flock to the northwoods each year to hear the loons. In this way, loons are beneficial to the tourist industry of these regions. On the flip side, the other human activities involved in these vacations, such as canoeing, are threatening to the birds. When canoes hit the waters of Lake Superior, for example, the loons panic and over-react by abandoning their nests and any eggs in them. Often, they do not...

Psophia crepitans

Physical characteristics Common trumpeters are 18 to 20 inches (42 to 52 centimeters) in length and 2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1.5 kilograms) in weight. They are dark in color with a patch of light gray on the back. They have long legs and a long neck. Young common trumpeters are dark gray with reddish stripes. Geographic range Common trumpeters are found in northwestern Brazil as well as portions of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, and the Guianas. Habitat Common trumpeters are found in dense...

Corvus corax

Physical characteristics Northern ravens have shiny black plumage, black bills, and black legs and feet. These birds have long bills. There are long, pointed feathers around the neck. The length of northern ravens ranges from 22.62 to 26.91 inches (58 to 69 centimeters). Birds weigh from 2.02 to 3.43 pounds (92 to 156 grams). Geographic range Northern ravens are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In North America they range from Alaska to Greenland, south through Canada, and into the...

Dodos Solitaires And People

Dodos and solitaires were driven to extinction by human hunting. They were frequently killed for food, particularly by sailors visiting the islands they once inhabited. They also suffered from the introduction of non-native species such as pigs, cats, and rats by humans. Some dodos and solitaires were brought to Europe where they were associated with exotic islands. Because dodos were so quickly hunted to extinction, they continue to serve as symbols of extinction. Dodos and solitaires were...

Gymnogyps californianus

Physical characteristics The California condor is one of the largest birds in North America and one of the rarest. They have black feathers except for a triangle of white under each wing. Adults also have red heads and necks and collars of fluffy black feathers at the bottom of its neck. California condors are between 46 and 53 inches (117 and 134 centimeters) long from their beaks to the end of their tails, and they weigh from 17 to 24 pounds (7.7 to 10.9 kilograms). Geographic range The last...

Roseringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri

Physical characteristics The rose-ringed parakeet has green feathers, black feet, and a red beak with a black band around it. The rose ring is the black-and-red collar around the bird's neck. Birds measure 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) from their heads to their tails. They weigh from 4.1 to 4.9 ounces (116 to 139 grams). Geographic range Rose-ringed parakeets live naturally in the African countries of Sudan, Mauritania, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. In Asia, they range in India, Sri...

Limpkin Aramidae

One species Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Limpkins are medium-sized gruiform (member of the order Gruiformes) species that have long legs with spread toes, a long, downward-curving bills, and rounded wings and tails. Limpkin bills curve slightly to the right at the tip, a feature that helps them extract its primary prey item, the apple snail, from its shell. There is also an unusual, small gap in the bill which appears to help limpkins carry and manipulate apple snails. Finally, the tip of the...

Pelecaniformes And People

Pelicans and other birds in this group are the subjects of many legends and stories for children. Many of these birds seem to enjoy the company of humans and follow their fishing ships and even rest on them. Farmers gather the droppings from seabird nesting sites to make fertilizers for crops. In the Far East, cormorants are trained to catch fish for their owners, and some peoples on South Pacific islands still use the long tail feathers of tropicbirds for decorating their clothing.

New World Quails Odontophoridae

Class Aves Order Galliformes Family Odontophoridae Number of species 32 species These small birds have plump bodies and short wings. They weigh 4 to 16 ounces (125 to 465 grams) and measure 7 to 15 inches (17 to 37 centimeters). Males are slightly larger and, in some species, have slightly more dramatic plumage (feather) coloring. Many species have red rings around the eyes, and some have crests on their heads ranging from tiny tufts of hair to long feathers. Quail bills have serrated (sharply...

Trichoglossus haematodus

Physical characteristics The bird named for the rainbow has an orange beak and red, yellow, green, and blue feathers. Body color varies by location. Some birds have blue and purple heads and green feather collars around their necks. Lorikeets measure 10 inches (26 centimeters) from head to tail. The birds weigh from 3.5 to 5.8 ounces (100 to 167 grams). Unlike other members of the parrot family, the lorikeet can't open seeds with its beak. The lorikeet has a pointed bill and a brush-tipped...

Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus

Physical characteristics Adult body length is 5.9 inches (15 centimeters). Outside the breeding season, the male and female are similarly colored, yellow-brown with dark streaks on the upper body, off-white below. During the breeding season, the male has a yellow crown and breast, the upper body dark brown with yellow streaks, and off-white under parts. Geographic range India and Sri Lanka through southwestern China, Singapore, Sumatra, and Java. Habitat Baya weavers live in grassland, scrub,...

Sarothrura elegans

Physical characteristics The male buff-spotted flufftail has an orange-chestnut head and neck and spotted body. The female is golden brown in color with a spotted back and barred belly. Buff-spotted fluff-tails range from 6 to 6.7 inches (15 to 17 centimeters) in length and 1.4 to 2 ounces (39 to 61 grams) in weight. Geographic range Buff-spotted flufftails are found in Africa from Guinea east to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda and south to northern Angola, as well as from...

Getting to Know Birds

Bird Muscles

It is easy to tell that an animal is a bird. If it has feathers, it is one of the more than 8,600 kinds of birds in the world. Birds can also be recognized by their bills, wings, and two legs, but feathers are what make them different from every other animal. Scientists are not sure when feathers first appeared on animals. They might have begun as feather-like scales on some of the dinosaurs. In 1861, fossils of a feathered animal, Ar-chaeopteryx (ar-key-OP-tuh-rix), were found in Germany....

Nocturnal Birds

Many thick-knee species are crepuscular (kri-PUS-kyuh-lur active at dusk) or nocturnal (active at night). The bold, black-and-white wing and tail markings that characterize thick-knees are easy to see in fading light. Because they are nocturnal, thick-knees also defend their territories using loud calls, rather than the visual postures and displays used by other bird species. Their calls are loud and carry a long distance, and thick-knees have become an important part of the folklore in parts...

Gulls Terns Relatives And People

In the 1800s, gull and tern feathers, and sometimes even whole birds, were used to decorate women's hats. The eggs of certain species have been, and continue to be, collected for food. Some eggs are considered aphrodisiacs (aff-roh-DEE-zee-acks), substances that enhance sexual desire, in parts of the world. Adult gulls and terns are also sometimes hunted for food. Gulls and terns were sometimes used as a sign that land was nearby by sailors, and terns are still used to locate schools of fish....

Neodrepanis coruscans

Physical characteristics Adult body length is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) and adult weight is 0.88 ounces (25 grams). The breeding-season male's coloration is black fringed with royal blue on the crown, nape and shoulders, with yellow fringing of some of the wing feathers, deep yellow on the ventral surface (undersides) with olive-brown streaks on the breast. The caruncles are squarish and turquoise blue except for green closest to the eye. Females have dull yellowish underparts, yellow on...

Astrapia mayeri

Physical characteristics As is typical with most birds of paradise, the male of the ribbon-tailed astrapia species is both larger and more colorful than the female. Males average 12.6 to 13.8 inches (32 to 35 centimeters) in body length, and 0.30 to 0.36 pounds (134 to 164 grams) in weight. Their plumage is primarily iridescent green, blue, and olive, with a bright green bib and cap and a band of red across the chest. A dark green tuft sits at the top of the beak. The male ribbon-tailed...

Mimidae

Mimids, members of the Mimidae family, average in length from 8.2 to 12.2 inches (20.5 to 30.5 centimeters). Their plumage, feathers, is not bright or colorful. Most species are shades of gray or brown and gray with some black or whitish markings. Many have long, curved bills used for foraging for prey on the ground or in trees. Mimids are found throughout North and South America, and on a number of islands, including the Falklands, West Indies, Bermuda, the Gal pagos, and some islands in the...

Diet

Motmots eat invertebrates, or animals without a backbone (such as beetles, butterflies, caterpillars, centipedes, cicadas suh-KAY-duhz , crabs, dragonflies, earthworms, mantids, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and snails), small vertebrates, or animals with a backbone (such as frogs, lizards, nestling birds, small fishes, and small snakes), and fruits (such as the fruit of figs, heliconia, incense, palms, and nutmegs). It appears that the larger the species, the more fruit it has in its diet....

Common Bulbul Pycnonotus barbatus

Physical characteristics The common bulbul is normally 3.6 to 4.2 inches (9.1 to 11 centimeters), and can weigh from 0.8 to 2.1 ounces (23 to 60 grams). They tend to be the size of thrushes with a dark crest on the head, dark eye-ring, and a black bill. Upperparts tend to be grayish brown, with a similarly colored breast, a white belly, and a white or yellow undertail. Both sexes are similar in appearance, though the female is slightly smaller. Young birds are duller in color than adults, and...

Pitangus sulphuratus

Physical characteristics Great kiskadees, also called kiskadee flycatchers, are one of the larger, more colorful tyrant flycatchers. These birds are about 9.8 inches (25 centimeters) long. Males and females look the same. They have a black and white lined head, brown back and wings, white throat patch, and bright yellow undersides. Geographic range Great kiskadees are found in the United States in southwest Texas, and from northern Mexico through Central America, and in South America east of...

Lonchura punctulata

Physical characteristics Spotted munias look alike with respect to males and females. They have big heads and large, conical bills, brown, scale-patterned feathers on a white breast and flanks, and a dusky brown face and throat. They also have plain brown upperparts and small grayish traces on rump. Juveniles have brown upperparts and buffy under parts, but do not have the scaled pattern on their under parts. Adults are 3.9 to 4.7 inches (10 to 12 centimeters) long. Geographic range They range...

Desert

American cliff swallow American mourning dove Barn swallow Cactus wren California condor Collared pratincole Crab plover Crested caracara Crimson chat Egyptian vulture Emu Gray catbird Gray hypocolius Greater hoopoe-lark Greater roadrunner Harris's hawk House sparrow Malleefowl Namaqua sandgrouse Northern lapwing Ostrich Pallas's sandgrouse Peregrine falcon Peruvian plantcutter Rock pigeon Snow finch Splendid fairy-wren Striated grasswren Verdin

Merops apiaster

Physical characteristics European bee-eaters are considered one of the loveliest bee-eaters, with bright color patterns blue underneath bronze above chestnut on top of the head and golden-yellow around the throat and shoulder. Since this bird is usually seen flying, this color combination is not often seen clearly. Females are slightly paler than males. Juveniles are mainly green and lack any chestnut or gold in their feathers, but still possess pale yellow throats. Adults also have a dark eye...

Cotinga cayana

Physical characteristics Spangled contingas are 8.5-inch (22-centimeter) long birds that live in the rainforest. The males are brightly colored. Their backs are brilliant turquoise blue spattered with black. They have black wings, a black tail, and a large purple patch under their throat. The females are dull, with dark brown backs and light brown, spotted breasts. Geographic range Spangled cotingas are found in the Amazon River basin of Brazil, the rainforest of Venezuela, French Guiana,...

Pipra filicauda

Physical characteristics Wire-tailed manakins are about 4.5 inches (11 centimeters) long. The females are dull olive-colored birds, but the males are brilliantly colored. Males have red from the top of their head through their upper back, a black back, bright yellow undersides, and long, thin tail feathers. Geographic range These birds are found in northeastern Peru, southeastern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, and in the rainforests of Venezuela and Brazil. Habitat Wire-tailed manakins prefer the...

Habitat

Just as shrikes inhabit many different areas of the world, they also live in many kinds of environments. For instance, many of the larger bush-shrikes occupy lowland and montane woodland up to 9,800 feet (3,000 meters), tending to keep to canopies, upper level of the forest, of trees or their undergrowth. Some shrikes, including the puffbacks, like to live in the tops of high trees in suburban gardens, whereas gonoleks and boubous prefer to look for prey near the ground in thick vegetation and...

Fratercula arctica

Physical characteristics Puffins have a very distinctive large, yellow and orange bill with a blue-gray base. Their faces are white to gray with a thick black band from the forehead back. Their backs are black and their bellies white. Their legs and feet are orange. Geographic range Puffins breed on seashore areas of North America and Europe. They spend the winter in the waters of the North Atlantic. Habitat Puffins inhabit rocky seashore areas and islands during the breeding season. They spend...

Euplectes orix

Physical characteristics The southern red bishop is also called the grenadier weaver because of the bright colorings of the male in the breeding season. The adult body length is 4 inches (12.5 centimeters). During the breeding season, the neck, tail and wings of the male become brilliant red-orange, while the breast, underside, and the top of the head and face become a lustrous black. Even the beak changes to black. Out of season, the male's coloring reverts to dull shades of brown. The females...

Oriolus oriolus

Physical characteristics Eurasian golden orioles are covered with a golden color except for black wings, tails, and a stripe through the eyes. Females are duller than males with a greenish back. Geographic range They range in Europe and far northwest Africa east to Asia Minor, the Caspian Sea, western Siberia, and, in winter, sub-Saharan Africa Central Asia, from western Siberia south in winter to Afghanistan and Himalayas, peninsular India, and north Sri Lanka. Habitat Eurasian golden orioles...

Cinclus cinclus

Physical characteristics Eurasian dippers, also known as English dippers or white-throated dippers, are small round-bodied birds with short tails. They are only 6.7 to 7.9 inches (17 to 20 centimeters) long. Males weigh between 1.9 and 2.7 ounces (53 to 76 grams), and females weigh 1.6 to 2.5 ounces (46 to 72 grams). Most of them have dark brown feathers on their heads, backs, and bellies, with white chests and throats. Some birds have blackish feathers on their backs with chestnut brown on...

Cinclus mexicanus

Physical characteristics The American dipper is also called the Mexican dipper, the water ouzel, and the waterthrush. It is 6 to 7 inches (15 to 17.5 centimeters) long. The male weighs 2 to 2.4 ounces (57 to 66 grams), and the female weighs 1.5 to 2.3 ounces (43 to 65 grams). Its body is slate gray with a paler throat. A flap covers their nostrils to keep water out. Geographic range They are found along the western coast of North America from the Arctic Circle, through Canada and into Oregon,...

Pronunciation Guide for Scientific Names

Acanthisitta chloris uh-kan-thuh-SIT-tuh KLOR-is Acanthisittidae uh-kan-thuh-SIT-tuh-dee Acanthiza chrysorrhoa uh-KAN-thih-zuh KRIH-soh-ROH-uh Acanthizidae uh-kan-THIZ-uh-dee Accipitridae ak-sip-IT-ruh-dee Aceros cassidix AH-ser-uhs KAS-sid-iks Acridotheres tristis AK-rid-uh-THER-eez TRIS-tis Actenoides concretus ak-TEN-oi-deez con-CREE-tuhs Actinodura sodangorum AK-tin-uh-DYOOR-uh soh-dan-GOH-rum Actophilornis africanus ak-tuh-FIL-or-nis AF-rih-kan-uhs Aechmophorus occidentals ek-MOH-for-uhs...

Australian Chats And People

Due to their secretive behavior and habits, quail thrushes and whipbirds are unknown to the average person, with the exception of the eastern whipbird. The eastern whipbird's call is known throughout the Australian bush, with its distinctive sound though more people have heard this species than have seen it. Ifrits carry a variety of poisons in their tissues, especially in the feathers. The poison's true purpose has not yet been determined, but it does seem to be connected to the bird's diet....

Australian Chats Epthianuridae

Class Aves Order Passeriformes Family Epthianuridae Number of species 5 species Australian chats are small birds that range in length from 4.3 to 5.5 inches (11 to 14 centimeters), and weigh between 0.3 and 0.6 ounces (9 and 18 grams). These birds have long and delicate legs. Some species have bills that are decurved, curve downward. The bills of all species are fine, or smooth. Like their relatives, the honeyeaters, their tongues are brush-tipped, which allows some species to eat nectar. Male...

Titmice And Chickadees Paridae

Class Aves Order Passeriformes Family Paridae Titmice and chickadees are perching songbirds that are small and compact with short, stout bills. The bill's shape can vary depending upon the habitat and the type of food the birds eat. In most species, the bill, legs, and iris (colored part of eye) are dark and dull. However, in a few species the iris is pale yellow. Generally, the birds have brightly colored, soft, thick plumage (feathers), with striking differences in plumage features depending...

Frogmouths Podargidae

Order Caprimulgiformes Family Podargidae Number of species 13 species Frogmouths received their name because their large beaks look like the mouths of frogs. Like others in the order Caprimulgiformes, frogmouths have large heads and large eyes. Members of this order are nocturnal, and their large eyes help the birds see at night. Their middle toe is longer than their other toes. Unlike other Caprimulgiformes, frogmouths do not have a toe on each foot that is serrated, separated into parts like...

Unique Kiwi Parenting

Little spotted kiwis have a way of raising their young that is unique among kiwis. The male incubates the eggs for seventy days. Once the chicks hatch, the female helps in the rearing. Adult little spotted kiwis do not feed their young but the males and females escort their chicks into the forest to search for food, mainly berries and worms. With other species, the chicks are left on their own to find food after hatching. The little spotted kiwi is one of the most endangered of all kiwis. Human...

Eclectus Parrot Eclectus roratus

Eclectus Parrot

Physical characteristics The coloring of male and female eclectus parrots is so different that they were once thought to be two different species. The female bird has red and blue feathers and a black bill. The male has green plumage and a yellow bill. All eclectus parrots have feathers of a smooth texture that have been compared to silk. The birds are 16.5 inches (42 centimeters) in length and weigh 0.9 to 1.2 pounds (440 to 660 grams). Geographic range Eclectus parrots live in Indonesia in...

Bluecrowned Motmot Momotus momota

Physical characteristics Blue-crowned motmots have a large head with down curved, short, broad beaks, which are serrated along the upper edge. They have bluish black crowns that are bordered with violet and turquoise, and have a black mask with turquoise above and below. The back of the neck is rufous (reddish brown), and its upper Blue-crowned motmots capture prey by sitting quietly on wires, fence posts, or tree branches, and then suddenly flying toward the prospective meal, taking it while...

Guianan Cockoftherock Rupicola rupicola

Rupicola Scientific Illustration

Physical characteristics Male Guianan cocks-of-the-rock are bright orange birds with large orange crests on their heads. They have black and white wing bars and black on their tails. Females are a drab brown color. Geographic range Guianan cocks-of-the-rock are found in southern Guyana, Colombia, Venezuela and in northern Brazil. Habitat Guiana cocks-of-the-rock live in lowland forests below 4,900 feet (1,500 meters). Male Guianan cocks-of-the-rock have a large orange crest on their heads....

Dicrurus paradiseus

Physical characteristics The body length is 13 inches (33 centimeters). The plumage is black all over with iridescent shades of blue on the upper wings. The head bears a crest of feathers that begins at the upper base of the beak. The eyes are bright red. The bill is gray. The tail is as long as the body, forked into two narrow, almost wirelike feathers, each of which flares into a rounded shape at the tip, thus the racket-tail. Geographic range Greater racket-tailed drongos live in all of...

Cicinnurus regius

Physical characteristics The male king bird of paradise can be spotted by his brilliant red coloring and two long, wire-like ornamental tail feather shafts, which are tipped at the bottom with a circular swirl of bright green feathers. His underside is white, with a green band across the chest. The male also has a black spot over each eye. Both male and female have blue legs and feet the female's coloring is much more subdued with an olive-brown back, head, and throat and a variegated buff...

Plectrophenax nivalis

Physical characteristics Snow buntings show differences between males and females, but all have a rounded head, stocky body, and white outer tail feathers. Generally, females are browner in color, with less white on the plumage. Males (in summer) have a white head, black back that sometimes has brown patches, a black rump patched with white, white outer tail feathers partially tipped with black, and white under parts. The white areas, in winter, are thinly coated with pale rusty brown. Females...

Attagis gayi

Physical characteristics Rufous-bellied seedsnipes are 10 to 11 inches in length 27 to 30 centimeters and weigh between 10.6 and 14.1 ounces 300 to 400 grams . The head, neck, back, and breast are barred black, brown, and cream, a pattern that allows individuals to blend in with their environment. The belly is reddish brown or a pink cinnamon in color. Geographic range Rufous-bellied seedsnipes are found in the Andes of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. They generally occupy high...

Raphus cucullatus

Dodos Could Not Fly

Physical characteristics Dodos were large birds about the size of a turkey. They had dark gray feathers on the back and somewhat lighter gray feathers on the belly. The wings were tiny and yellowish white in color. The tail was small and short, made up of five curled feathers. Dodos had large, yellow hooked bills. The face was feather-less, with gray skin. Geographic range Dodos were found on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, about 500 miles 800 kilometers east of Madagascar. Habitat...

Lesser Rhea Pterocnemia pennata

Pterocnemia Pennata Peru

Physical characteristics The lesser rhea is 36 to 39 inches 92 to 100 centimeters in height and weighs 33 to 55 pounds 15 to 25 kilograms . Geographic range Lesser rheas are found in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Habitat Lesser rheas live in the grassy, open high plains of South America. The male lesser rhea sits on the eggs until they hatch, and then cares for the chicks for a few days. N.H. Dan Cheatham Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission. Diet Lesser rheas are omnivores,...

Nothocercus bonapartei

Nothocercus Bonapartei

Physical characteristics The highland tinamou is 15 inches 38.5 centimeters long and weighs 2 pounds 0.9 kilograms . Its coloring is mottled spotted or barred with black and cinnamon on its back and wings. Its throat is usually rust-colored. Geographic range Highland tinamous live in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Habitat This tinamou lives in tropical and subtropical rainforests, usually above 5,000 feet 1,500 meters . The highland tinamou prefers wet areas,...

Redlegged Seriema Cariama cristata

Physical characteristics The red-legged seriema has, as its name suggests, red legs. It also has a red bill. The eyes are yellow and surrounded by a patch of featherless blue skin. The tip of the tail is white in color. The feathers are generally brownish on the back and pale on the belly. The red-legged seriema also has a 3- to 4-inch 7- to 10-centimeter crest of stiffened feathers on top of its head. Males and females are generally similar in appearance, although the males are slightly larger...

Procellariidae

Order Procellariiformes Family Procellariidae Procellariids members of the family Procellariidae have hooked bills that assist them in handling slippery food. The tubular tube-shaped nostrils are credited with the birds' well-developed sense of smell used for locating food from far away as well as nests in the dark. These birds range from 9.1 to 11 inches 23 to 28 centimeters to 31.9 to 39 inches 81 to 99 centimeters , depending on the species. Wingspans measure about 6.6 feet 2 meters ....