American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Eastern or American Goldfinch, Latin name Carduelis tristis, is a member of the finch, Fringillidae, family. It is a typical North American seed eating bird and so only starts nesting in mid to late summer, when weed seeds are available. Because they are late breeders the goldfinch stays in a flock for much longer than other species of birds that have already formed pairs and have begun breeding. Due to late nesting, only one single brood is raised every year.

The goldfinch is about 11 to 13 cm long, smaller than a sparrow. These little birds breed all over southern Canada and from Newfoundland to British Columbia, as well as in the northern and southern states of America. They like open spaces with trees spotted around, like orchards and alongside the road.

American Goldfinches have been studied quite extensively and it has been found that when they migrate they often hesitate before they fly over water, with some even returning to the mainland. It takes the main leader of the group to head out over the water before the others, one by one, will follow along. It won’t be long before they will return to the water’s edge, chatting away noisily to each other almost as if they are gathering courage. Again they will try head over the water and those that remain will return to land until winter forces the birds to complete their migration.

The breeding male is bright yellow in colour with a white rump and a black forehead. The wings and tail are black with a white outer edge; the wings differentiate from the tail because of having an extra splash of yellow on the bend of each wing. The male and female have a dull olive-gray winter coat with black wings, tail and white stripes on their wings. When spring comes around again the goldfinches lose all their dark winter feathers and once again regain their striking orange bill. The male American Goldfinch differs from the female in that the rest of his body goes a canary yellow with a black cap.

Pet Birds

February 9, 2009 by  
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Owning a pet bird can be a lot of fun, but are also a big responsibility as they are totally dependent on their human owners. There are many species of pet birds and choosing the one best suited to you and your circumstances is very important.

Parrots are often the first birds that spring to mind when you think of pet birds. The types of bird that are included under the group name of parrots are: parrots, cockatoos, amazons, macaws, conures, lovebirds, parakeets, cockatiels and budgerigars. Many of the parrot species make interesting pets due to their ability to mimic speech. They are very intelligent and will amaze you with the size of their vocabulary and the tricks that they are able to master. The parrot group make lovely, affectionate pets with strong personalities. The different parrot species have the most splendid coloration. This, along with their fun personalities, makes them wonderful pet birds.

Some of the larger parrot species are quite expensive and therefore owners may wish to take out pet bird insurance. Pet bird insurance will cover death due to illness or accident, theft of the bird, public liabilities and equipment related to the bird, obviously depending on the type of insurance you select.

Finches are also popular pet birds. They come in many varieties and their lovely colors will complement any aviary. The most beautiful is the Gouldian finch, with its bright colors. You will gain much pleasure from watching these sweet little birds flitting around their enclosure. Canaries are also much loved pets due to their beautiful song and also come in many varieties.

Another group of pet birds are the softbills, which do well when kept in large aviaries. These include the white-eyes, touracos, robins, and mynahs.

People on plots may own pet chickens, geese, ducks and even peacocks. Pet chickens are often used to produce eggs, however their owners form quite an attachment to them and they are unlikely to land up on the dinner table.

It is best to carefully research the species you are interested in before purchasing it so as to make sure that you will be able to meet its needs. Visit your local pet shop where staff are likely to be able to advise you, while supplying you with the necessary equipment and food to keep your pet bird healthy and happy.

Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) is a lovely little bird which lives in North America. Although other Grosbeak species are found in Europe and Asia, the Evening Grosbeak is uniquely American. Originally the range of this sweet little finch was the Canadian Rockies, but today it is seen in Labrador and Newfoundland. Join us as we discover more about these wonderful birds.

Evening Grosbeaks are plump finches measuring about 7-8 inches in length. Most notable is their brilliantly adapted conical bill, relatively large for such a small bird. Male Evening Grosbeaks are an amazing yellow color with a gold band around the forehead which stands out. Feathers around the crown and neck are a glossy brown. Jet black feathers adorn the wings and tail of the male and white patches decorate the shoulder. Female Grosbeaks are much less striking. Their body feathers are a pale gray with yellow on the nape, rump and sides. Like the male, the wings and tail are black but have white patches. In the winter months the thick bill of the Evening Grosbeak is bone colored whilst in spring it transforms into a green color like that of newly showing deciduous buds. This provides ideal camoflage as it hides in the trees. Its little head resembles a young balsam cone. When in flight, the Evening Grosbeak can be spotted by its undulating flight pattern and rapid wing-beats. The little birds are very noisy and have an extensive call vocabulary.

Evening Grosbeaks prefer coniferous forest but will also reside in mixed deciduous localities. As seed-eaters, Evening Grosbeaks dine on the seeds of cones from pine, spruce and balsam fir. They will also feast on deciduous plant seeds. Whilst feeding, the Grosbeak is adept at shearing husks from seeds. Carefully maneuvering the seed into the correct position they are able to munch on the tasty inner contents of the seed. Evening Grosbeaks have also been known to feed on budworms in their various life stages and are thus a great asset in pest reduction. These lively birds will often frequent bird feeders, devouring sunflower seeds.

Not much information is known about the Evening Grosbeak’s breeding habits. Nests are constructed out of twigs, grass, moss and so forth. About 3 to 4 green, splotched eggs are laid in breeding season. Be sure to look out for this cute little creature when bird watching.

Father & Son Assess Strange Nesting Habits

November 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The Wilson Journal of Ornithology recently published an article documenting the unusual nesting habits of the White-winged Diuca Finch. This was the first research ever published which detailed the diminutive bird’s breeding habits.

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Birds Share Mammalian Sleep Patterns

July 2, 2008 by  
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It has always been thought that only mammals enjoy the somewhat varied sleep patterns that we are all so familiar with, but now it seems that birds are capable of REM, slow-wave sleep, transition stages and quick spikes too. Recent research conducted on the zebra finch has resulted in some alarming findings.

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