Birds of the World

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

Around the world, birds are amongst the most loved creatures due to their variety, beauty and amazing vocal abilities. They are also popular due to their accessibility, that is, even if you live in a built up city you will still be able to see wild birds.

If you are going to be traveling, you may find it useful to purchase a handbook of the birds of the world. Some of the most fascinating bird species live in Australia and New Zealand. The emu is the second largest bird in the world (the largest is the ostrich). These flightless birds are nomadic, feeding on grains, fruits, insects and whatever else is available as they travel. They are able to run at speeds of 50 km/h. Folklore states that Emus have the ability to detect rain from hundreds of miles away.

The kiwi bird of New Zealand differs from other birds of the world in that its nostrils are at the end of the beak and proportionally it lays the largest egg in relation to its body. It can be compared to a chicken laying an ostrich egg.

The world’s smallest bird is the bee hummingbird from Cuba. It is only 2.5 inches in length (6.2 cm) and weighs a mere 0.06 oz (1.6 g).

On the other hand the largest bird in the world is the ostrich. The ostrich is indigenous in Africa, however it is farmed throughout the world. It reaches 9 ft (2.7 m) in height and its eggs weigh in at about 3 pounds (1400 g).

Another interesting creature in the avian world is the Gentoo penguin. This flightless bird is the fastest swimming bird in the world. Their primary colony is on the Falklands.

Certain of world’s birds are endemic. This means that they are found only in that specific area. For example the helmeted woodpecker, black-fronted piping-guan and russet winged spadebill are endemic to the Atlantic forest. Endemic to the Nicobar Islands of India are the Nicobar sparrowhawk, Andaman cuckoo-dove, white-headed starling and Nicobar Megapode.

From the world’s smallest bird to the largest, from the fastest in air to the fastest in water, they are all fascinating and worthy of our attention.

Ostrich (Struthio camelus)

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under

The Ostrich (Struthio camelus) is undoubtedly the largest bird on the planet. Ostriches can grow to a height of 2.7 meters and can easily weigh in the region of 156 kilograms. They have no plumage over their heads, and extremely long necks. The male Ostrich is covered in thick, soft black feathers over his body and wings, with white plumage at the tips of his wings and tail. The female is similar in appearance, with gray and brown coloring. Ostriches also have the biggest eyes of any bird species, and the eyeball measures 5 centimeters. These beautiful flightless birds used to naturally roam Asia and Africa, but as the human knows no limits where there is profit to be made, these birds were hunted to near extinction for their feathers. Today they are still found in the wild, but are limited to southern Africa and central Africa. Many countries have started farming with these flightless birds, causing them to be introduced to various areas. The decrease in the demand for ostrich feathers has insured the survival of the population. Ostriches are now farmed not only for their feathers but also for meat and eggs.

Ostriches live off fruit, nuts, seeds, lizards, succulents and shrubs. To adapt to the dry, desert regions, they are able to get water through the plants. Stones are often eaten to assist with food digestion. As the Ostrich is not capable of flying, they are capable of running speeds of up to 70 kilometers an hour, and their powerful legs can fatally injure predators. Even though Ostriches are not dependant on water, they enjoy taking a bath or refreshing splash when they are able to. In the wild, the Ostriches tend to move together with the antelope and other grazing animals. They themselves are usually in flocks of up to 50 birds, but will tend to break into smaller groups during the breeding season, which is approximately five months.

Once the smaller breeding groups have been established, a hole is dug into the ground that serves as a communal nest. Between 15 to 60 eggs are laid in the nest that are approximately 18 centimeters in length, 11 centimeters in width and can weigh about 1400 grams. These shiny, creamy white eggs can stand the weight of a human. The incubation period is close to 40 days, and the females take turns during the day, and the males at night, to incubate the eggs. If an Ostrich feels threatened while on the nest, they will stretch their necks out along the ground to avoid detection, and do not stick their heads into the ground as many believe. The town of Oudtshoorn, in South Africa, is the largest Ostrich farming community in the world. At present there are approximately 900,000 domesticated Ostriches in this region. Here, you are able to visit the farms, be educated on these amazing birds, see the various product ranges and even ride one, if you are brave enough!

The Fascinating Flightless Cassowary

August 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a large flightless bird found in the Seram Islands of Indonesia and the tropical rainforests of Aru, as well as New Guinea and northeastern Australia. Cassowaries have a reputation for being bad tempered and dangerous, a reputation that has been reinforced by the 2004 edition of the Guinness World Records, which lists the Cassowary as the most dangerous bird in the world.

Read more

Flightless Birds

September 4, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Not all birds can fly. Though many people think flying is what defines birds as a group, in actuality several bird species are flightless birds.

Read more

Guide to Birds and Birding

March 29, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Birds are warm-blooded species, that lay eggs in order to reproduce, they are characterized by feathers, hollow bones and forelimbs that are modified as wings. They range in size from tiny hummingbirds to humongous Ostriches and Emus. There are approximately 10 000 bird species in the world that are known to man, making them the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates.

Read more