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May 15, 2009 by  
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Bird watching in Thailand

May 5, 2009 by  
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Many bird watching enthusiasts have already discovered the magnificent opportunities that wait in Thailand. With almost a thousand bird species, Thailand is a treasure trove of birding experiences that can be enjoyed in various provinces around the country. Tourist operators also specialize in bird watching excursions, offering daily hikes and even week long hiking packages, through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Thailand. Bird watching here, is a unique and unforgettable experience.

Some of the more popular bird watching sites include Khok Kham, the Khao Kieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaeng Krachan National Park, Doi Chiangdao Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Pra-Bang Kam Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiangsaen and the Koh Similan National Park. Although there are various bird species that overlap in all the provinces, some bird species prefer specific provinces according to landscape and food supply.

In the Samutsakhon Province for instance, the habitat is blanketed in fish ponds, swamps, mangroves and mudflats, luring species such as the Nordmann’s Greenshank, Streaked Weaver, Malaysian Plover, Ruddy-Breasted Crake, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana and the Asian Dowitcher to this region. Birds such as the Large Hawk Cuckoo, Asian Golden-Weaver, Forest Wagtail and Black Blaza prefer the woodlands and rice fields of the Nakhonpratom Province, while Grey Peacock Pheasants, Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, Violet Cuckoo, Green Magpie and White-hooded Babbler feel at home in the forests, by water streams and waterfalls located in the Petchburi Province.

Some of the larger national parks have a variety of habitats within their borders, having a larger variety of birds in one area. The Khao Yai National Park, in North-Eastern Thailand, gives visitors the opportunity to see birds such as the Siamese Fireback, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Scaly-breasted Partridge, Coral Billed Ground Cuckoo and many more. Other breathtaking species to be seen in Thailand include the Black-backed Forktail, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Long-tailed Minivet, Collered Owlet, Hume’s Pheasant, White-bellied Redstart, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Sapphired Flycather and the Crested Tree Swift. In general, many national parks have more than two hundred different species of bird living and breeding within the park, giving visitors the experience of a lifetime. To see truly amazing bird life, Thailand is the perfect bird watching destination.

Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) is a relatively common bird species found in habitats extending from Oregon, California and Western Mexico, right through to the highlands of Central America as well as the Colombian Andes. Described as having a clown-face, the Acorn Woodpecker is a very social creature, with groups living together in a complex social system. A fascinating bird, the Acorn Woodpecker is worth looking out for.

Acorn Woodpecker’s can be quickly identified by the following distinctive features: a white eye ringed by black; black around the classic woodpecker bill; white on the cheeks and forehead; a red crown and a soft yellow throat. Other physical characteristics to look out for are the white rump, white belly with thin dark streaks along the flanks, a black tail and a body length of 8 inches. An adult male Acorn Woodpecker’s red cap merges directly with its white forehead. The females differ in that there is a black section separating the white forehead from the red cap.

As implied by its name, the Acorn Woodpecker’s preferred diet consists of acorns. They will also dine on insects, fruit, sap and nectar. They have also been known to feed on grass seeds, bird eggs and lizards. Foraging typically takes place near the tree canopy and the woodpecker species will seldom be found on the ground. The bird will either remove single acorns from a tree or they may remove an entire twig with up to 3 acorns attached. Sap is eaten as a group with all family members gathering at the sapsucking holes. Acorn Woodpeckers are known for storing acorns for the winter months. The nuts are carefully stored in what is referred to as a granary. A granary tree may be a dead tree or a very old tree with thick bark. Holes are drilled into the tree, some trees have had as many as 50,000 holes counted on them. By living in groups, the Acorn Woodpeckers are able to gather large quantities of nuts as well as defend their stash.

Due to their diet and method of storage, Acorn Woodpeckers are usually found in pine-oak woodlands, riparian corridors, hardwood forests and suburban areas with many trees. They are permanent residents and therefore do not migrate at all. Reproduction rituals can be quite complicated amongst Acorn Woodpeckers. Whilst some are monogamous, other groups engage in cooperative polygyny. Groups may have up to 7 breeding males and 3 egg-laying females. Females will lay their eggs in a joint nest cavity. Nest cavities are located within trees and are gently lined with wood chips. Eggs are white and elliptical in shape numbering up to 6 in a clutch (that of the entire group). The incubation period of Acorn Woodpecker eggs is 11-12 days with both females and males involved in incubation. Nestlings are ready to leave the nest cavity after 30-32 days.

Endangered Bird Species on the Road to Recovery

October 15, 2008 by  
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Most people may not know much about the red cockaded woodpecker. Even if they have been fortunate enough to see one, they probably won’t know that these special little birds are a federally endangered species. In fact, the bird was declared endangered in 1970 and currently has the same endangered status as the much better known bald eagle and whooping crane.

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A Look at the Intriguing Lives of Honeyguides

April 24, 2008 by  
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Honeyguides, also known as indicator birds or honeybirds, are a relatively small Old World family of near-passerine birds, related to woodpeckers and barbets. Honeyguides are entirely parasitic, laying their eggs in the already occupied, but temporarily vacated, nests of other hole-nesting species such as barbets, kingfishers, bee-eaters, woodpeckers and tinkerbirds. For this reason, honeyguides are often treated as pariahs by other birds in their neighborhood. Birding enthusiasts agree that these aggressive, opportunistic little birds are fascinating to watch.

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