Unique Birds of the Philippines

There is a good chance that the Philippines might have to change their conservation efforts when it comes to bird species. If the studies performed by Dr. David Lohman are correct, the Philippines could have more unique bird species than previously thought, and this would most certainly force the Philippine authorities to become stricter in regard to conserving these extraordinary birds. According to Dr. Lohman, it is one of the areas in the world that is overflowing with biodiversity and is astonishing in every way.

Over seven thousand islands make up the Philippines, and its wildlife is considered to be truly unique. Almost seventy-seven percent of the amphibians on the islands and sixty-four percent of the land mammals cannot be seen or found anywhere else in the world. When it comes to the bird life on the islands, it was believed that only thirty-one percent of the birds in the Philippines were endemic. Professor David Lohman then took it upon himself to begin a study to find out if some of the bird fauna could deliver distinct bird species that have not been recognized before. He decided to concentrate mainly on seven perching bird species, and by following the genetic lineages of these species, Professor Lohman has been able to determine a distinct history in regard to these bird species. In previous years, taxonomists would identify bird species through the color of their plumage and various markings found on birds, but Professor Lohman has pointed out that this form of identification is not accurate enough, saying: “Those features are not ideal, since closely related but distinct species can look similar.”

Due to the distance between the Philippines and the Asian mainland, it is believed that contact between mainland birds and those on the islands would be minimal, if none at all. By following the evolution of the bird species, Professor Lohman has found that a great number of Philippine populations were unique and not found in various Southeast Asia regions. “These unique genetic lineages were unknown before, however, our research hasn’t gone far enough to say these are new species”, explained Lohman, continuing by adding that “more rigorous analysis of the morphology may be needed to make that determination.”

Birds of the World

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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.

Alien Predators Outsmarted by Birds

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Recent research reveals that the New Zealand bellbird is able to change its nesting behavior if necessary in order to protect itself from predators. The finding is of massive importance since the introduction of alien predators has been a threat that shore birds have had to face for many years. Often this usually unintentional phenomenon results in the extinction of a number of endemic bird species and some 25 percent of all endangered species continue to be under threat from exotic predators.

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Have you Considered Birding in Taiwan?

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Not many people think of taking a birding trip to Taiwan, but this interesting country is home to a wide variety of bird species. Situated on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan is about 400 km long and 150 km wide. It features about 1000 km of coastline, a dense and scenic mountain range that rises to 3 998 m at its highest point and wide fertile agricultural plains. This is the perfect place to combine birding with culture, history and natural beauty.

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El Dorado Bird Reserve, Colombia

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The American Bird Conservancy, Conservation International and Fundacion ProAves serve as joint custodians of the El Dorado Bird Reserve situated in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range of northern Colombia. These custodians have successfully halted a holiday home development in the area, which would have proven devastating to the prolific bird life, including 21 endemic species, as well as migratory songbirds from the United States.

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Exceptional Birding in Cuba

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The Republic of Cuba is an archipelago of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Consisting of the main island (named Cuba) surrounded by four main groups of islands, Cuba has about 350 species of birds, including more than 30 endemic species. Add to this the temperate climate and friendly people and it is easy to see why Cuba is a popular birding destination. There are numerous prime birding locations and many tour operators offering birding tours.

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Bird Watching in Peru

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Bird watching in Peru is an unbeatable experience and one that will leave even the most seasoned bird watcher awestruck. Peru is the destination of choice for many international birders, and for good reason. Peru is home to 120 endemic species of birds, with no fewer than 42 new species being recorded in the past 30 years. Over 1,800 bird species have been recorded to date – including the endemic species – and researchers believe that the list will continue to grow as they explore new areas.

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Oxpeckers – Cleaners or Parasites?

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The two species of oxpecker which make up the family Buphagidae are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. The yellow-billed oxpecker (Buphagus africanus) is slightly larger and more widely found than its red-billed cousin (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) which is generally only found in the eastern part of sub-Saharan Africa.

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