Black Swift (Cypseloides niger)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Black Swift (Cypseloides niger), like other swifts, spends most of its time in the air. A nearctic-neotropical migrant bird species, the Black Swift breeds in areas ranging from Alaska to California, Montana and Colorado. During the winter months you will spot them in the tropics. If you are traveling through mountains or near coastal cliffs in the range of the Black Swift you are more likely to see them.

How can you identify the Black Swift? This bird species has the typical swift shape with a cigar-shaped body and crescent wings. The Black Swift is, however, a large and rather bulky swift measuring 7 inches in length. The tail is short with a deep notch. All the plumage is black except for its whitish forehead which is only seen at close quarters. Juvenile Black Swifts are marked by little white flecks. To clarify your identification of this quick moving bird, listen out for its harsh ci-chi-chi-chit call.

Black Swifts tend to be habitat specific, requiring particular conditions for nesting. Their prefered habitat is in forests near rivers. Typically they will nest behind waterfalls or even on wet cliffs and sometimes in limestone caves. These swifts enjoy a nesting environment that is damp, dark and difficult for predators to reach. Another important factor when choosing a nest site is that it must have an easy flyway for entering and leaving the nest. Because of their very particular nesting requirements, Black Swifts’ distribution is very patchy. The nests are constructed in a cup-like shape made of mud, algae and moss. Black Swifts will either nest on their own or may become part of a small colony. The female bird will lay just one egg in June or July which both parents take turns incubating. Incubation lasts about 4 weeks. The young swift will be able to fly at between 45 and 49 days old.

Black Swifts forage whilst flying either singly or in groups. They frequently forage in wide open areas or above the forest canopy in search of small airborne insects. These are certainly fascinating birds that you will want to watch out for.

Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The smallest of the three different Kingfisher species found in the United States, the Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana), is about 19 cm long and features the large beak and short tail which is typical of the species. It is widely spread from southern Texas through Central and South America to central Argentina. It is often easily spotted whilst perched on a branch of some sort and tends to favor habitats fed by a stream, lake or river as well as coastal areas.

Despite the fact that the Green Kingfisher is said to lack the typical blue-grey coloration that is common with the Kingfisher species, it is quite a pretty little bird. It’s long, stout, dark bill tapers from a green head and crest. The Green head is divided from its green back and other upperparts by a bold white collar and a small white throat area. Often the green on the upperparts is broken by white spotting which helps to differentiate the Green Kingfisher from other kingfisher species. The male Green Kingfisher has a broad, rusty coloured band covering its breast which often features some green spotting on the flanks. The female tends to feature buff-white colouring on her underparts which is broken by two green chest bands. The fact that her breast features two bands and not one further helps to differentiate her from other kingfisher species. The green of the Green Kingfisher may vary from an oily dark-green to a rich hunter-green.

Generally speaking, the Green Kingfisher prefers to make its home near forest streams or in mangroves. Its nest takes the form of a horizontal tunnel that may measure up to a metre in length and is made in a river bank. Here the female may lay between three and four small eggs. They generally prefer to dive for fish as a main food source but they will feed on small lizards and grasshoppers if they are a considerable distance from water. Sometimes, if fish are scarce at their chosen body of water, the Green Kingfisher may choose to feed on small aquatic insects instead.

Exquisite Bird Watching in Turkey

January 21, 2009 by  
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Turkey is an incredibly beautiful place filled with all kinds of plants and animals. Birds are certainly found in abundance here and a large number of birdwatchers are fast discovering that Turkey is an ideal bird watching destination. In fact, if you’re busy planning your next holiday, why not consider going bird watching in Turkey?

There are a number of different travel companies that are already offering bird watching tours in Turkey. The country’s diverse geography provides a number of different bird habitats, making for excellent variety. In fact, it is the diversity of ecosystems combined with the country’s location between several migratory routes which have provided the massive abundances of birds that this country enjoys. Here you will find deciduous and coniferous forests, arid steppe, coastal areas, mountains and much more. Many birds can claim this beautiful part of the world as their permanent home. Many others regularly stop in Turkey en route from Europe to Africa and back each year. No wonder bird watching in Turkey is fast gaining a reputation for excellence!

The Turkish wetlands are often considered to be the most important ecosystems for wild birds. Many different species can be found in Manyas Kuscenneti, which is situated south of the Marma Sea and is regarded as being the most important wetland area in the country. The 64 hectare lake is home to more bird species than anywhere else in the country. Well over 60 different species make their way to Manyas Kuscenneti each year to breed. Other prime wetland areas include Sultansazligi, Izmir Kuscenneti, Yumurtalik, Akyatan, Agytan, Egirdir and Beysehir, amongst others. Rivers also provide an important habitat for birds, and here you will find that the Euphrates certainly isn’t the only one. Many river deltas, such as the Kizihrmak and the Göksu, simply cannot be overlooked when it comes to bird watching in Turkey. The country is also home to a wonderful number of mountain ranges which feature alpine meadows with heavily forested lower slopes. The most enjoyable bird watching experience to be enjoyed in the mountains can arguably be found at Soguksu National Park. Olympos National Park is also absolutely fantastic.

There is more than 8 000 km of coastline in Turkey, which features sandy beaches, salt marshes, jagged cliffs and more. This is yet another exciting part of the country’s natural habitat worth exploring as it is teeming with birdlife. If you would like to go on a bird watching tour in Turkey, you should definitely choose your seasons carefully. Spring is generally the best time to go bird watching, though it helps to go just before or after holiday season as this not only saves money but makes for a less stressful holiday. Book your ticket now to make the most of the abundant natural birdlife in the beautiful country of Turkey.