U-Z

May 15, 2009 by  
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Bird Species U-Z

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Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a very large bird at a length of 25 inches and a 72 inch wingspan. These broad wings allow the vulture to soar in the skies for great lengths of time. At intervals, the vulture will flap its wings slowly and then continue to soar. Both the males and females are similar in appearance, with the females generally larger than the males. They have bills that are of average length and are hooked at the tip. Their heads are red in color and have no plumage, with short red legs and are predominantly dark brown to black in color. Even though this scavenger of the sky is not much to look at, it is their graceful flight ability that attracts us to this species, as many of the practiced adult vultures rarely need to flap their wings, instead they are able to ride the wind elegantly while searching larges areas for food.

Turkey Vultures are commonly found throughout Northern America and Canada, and have also been sighted in South and Central America. These vultures are usually solitary hunters, and prefer rocky cliffs, open ranges, open forest areas, and can also be seen at near agricultural regions at times. The coastal shores will also be searched for any washed up fish or dead seals. But mostly they will feed on domestic and wild carrion, and eating takes place on the ground, as their claws are too weak to carry their food to another location. Vultures will often fly close to ground, as they use their sense of smell to pick up blood and other odors that can lead them to the dead animal. This ability to process smell makes it possible for the Turkey Vulture to locate food under the forest canopies. They will  only eat dead animals and contrary to popular belief, circling vultures do not necessarily mean that there is a dead animal. Vultures often circle the skies during play, to gain altitude and to search for their food.

Turkey Vultures will either nest on the ground or in caves. Nests are not built or constructed, but hollows are dug into the ground or in the cave soil. Vultures that live near agricultural lands will often use sheds or barns to offer protection to their nest. The female vulture can lay one to three eggs, but most commonly lays two. Both the male and female vultures will care for the eggs during the incubation period that can last for 38 to 41 days. Parents will feed the chicks regurgitated food, and chicks will fledge the nest between 70 to 80 days after hatching.

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

February 9, 2009 by  
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For many, the turkey is simply a large bird that you eat traditionally at Thanksgiving dinner. Few realize that there are two different species of turkey and that the Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is the heaviest of the two. The Wild Turkey is found naturally in North America and the other species – known as Ocellated Turkey – can be found in Central and South America. While the Ocellated Turkey is easily domesticated and has even been successfully introduced to Europe, it has been found that the best way to introduce Wild Turkeys to other regions is to capture wild groups and then release them at the desired location.

The Wild Turkey is a large, darkly coloured, ground-dwelling bird. The head and neck are bare and the head is bluish in colour while the throat is a strong red. These birds have a short, slightly down-curved bill and long, powerful reddish-orange legs. On the head there are a number of fleshy growths known as caruncles. There is also a fleshy flap on the turkey’s bill which expands and becomes engorged with blood when the turkey is excited. The average bird is between 110-115 cm long with a wingspan of 125-144 cm. The male is generally larger than the female and has red wattles on the throat and neck as well as spurs on their lower legs. Male turkeys may also have red, green copper, bronze and shiny gold on their feathers while females are quite dull. Turkeys have a long, fan-shaped tail with glossy bronze wings. The Wild Turkey of North America has a chestnut-brown tail while the Ocellated Turkey of Central and South America has a white tail. This makes it easy to distinguish between the resident wild birds and those re-introduced as a farm animal by European settlers who had bred with original Mexican stock in Europe.

While the most commonly recognised turkey sound is a ‘gobble’ noise, the bird is capable of making many other sounds. During breeding season, Wild Turkeys move out of heavily wooded areas to places with greater visibility. This may include pastures, fields, open woods and sometimes even quiet roads. These open areas give the birds a quick means of escape. The hens usually nest near the base of a tree or shrub, though they may also make use of tall grass. When they are not nesting, Wild Turkeys generally roost in trees. The males are polygamous and they may have as many as five hens in their territory. After performing several courtship rituals, the male mates with the females who then go off to search for nesting sites. Once they have found a suitable depression, the hen lays between 10-12 eggs which are incubated for 28 days. Being nidifugous, these young chicks quickly learn how to feed themselves and leave the nest between 12-24 hours later. Wild Turkeys are omnivourous and they feed on shrubs and small trees as well as acorns, nuts, berries, roots and insects. They may also eat snakes, frogs and salamanders.

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.

Do birds have a sense of smell?

July 3, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Perhaps you’ve heard this old-wives’ tale: “if you touch a baby bird, its parents will reject it because it smells like humans”. This tale isn’t true, because birds have a very poor sense of smell. They rely instead on good eyesight and hearing to find their food.

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