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The “Unbelievable” LyreBird

You’ll hardly believe this LyreBird is real!

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A Lyrebird is either of two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds, that are most notable for their superb ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. Lyrebirds have unique plumes with two large prominent banded feathers and many delicate intermediate neutral colored tail feathers.

They are among Australia’s best-known native birds. In addition to their extraordinary mimicking ability, Lyrebirds are notable because of the striking beauty of the male bird’s huge tail when fanned out in display.

Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebird - source: leesbird.com

The Lyrebirds are ground living birds with strong legs and feet and short rounded wings. They are generally poor fliers and rarely take to the air. The Superb Lyrebird is the larger of the two species. Females are up to 33 inches long, and the males are up to a larger 37 inches long. Albert’s Lyrebird is slightly smaller at a maximum of 35.5 inches (male) and 33 inches(female). They have smaller, less spectacular feathers than the Superb Lyrebird, but are otherwise similar.

LyreBird2

LyreBird - source: ibc.lynxeds.com

Lyrebirds sing throughout the year, but the peak of the breeding season, from June to August, is when they sing with the most intensity. During this peak they may sing for four hours of the day, almost half the hours of daylight. The song of the Superb Lyrebird is a mixture of seven elements of its own song and any number of other mimicked songs and noises. They have extraordinary ability, unmatched in vocal repertoire and mimicry. Lyrebirds render with great fidelity the individual songs of other birds and the chatter of flocks of birds, and also mimic other animals such as koalas and dingos. They are capable of accurately imitating almost any sound, and they have been recorded mimicking human caused sounds such as a mill whistle to a cross-cut saw, chainsaws, car engines and car alarms, fire alarms, rifle-shots, camera shutters, dogs barking, crying babies, music, and even the human voice.

The Superb Lyrebird’s mimicked calls are learned from the local environment, including from other Superb Lyrebirds. An instructive example of this is the population of Superb Lyrebirds in Tasmania, which have retained the calls of species not native to Tasmania in their repertoire, but have also added some local Tasmanian endemic bird noises. It takes young birds about a year to perfect their mimicked repertoire. The female Lyrebirds of both species are also mimics, and will sing on occasion but the females do so with less skill than the males.

Source: From Wikipedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA

And NOW, introducing the star of this show, the famous and unforgettable, LyreBird:

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If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Interesting Birds

 

My Life as a Turkey

My Life as a Turkey

Strutting Tom - brooklynbrewery.com

Strutting Tom – brooklynbrewery.com

Last nite my wife and I watched an excellent NATURE movie (on Netflix) called “My Life as a Turkey” by Joe Hutto. In our extensive travel around the US we’ve seen probably a thousand wild turkeys, so we’re pretty familiar with them. A decade ago when we lived in North Carolina we used to feed a herd of them every day.

Well, we like turkeys and were curious about this movie even though it didn’t really sound too exciting. Thought it would at least be interesting. Turns out it’s really good!

It’s cute and funny and sad and happy and surprising and even tragic, but most of all, the photography is STUNNING. Since you guys love birds too, We wanted to let you know about this. There are just excellent shots of all sorts of wild animals, not just the “stupid” turkeys. Watch it; you’ll likely be impressed.

Joe Hutto is a naturalist who raised a large clutch of wild turkeys from eggs. He dedicated about 1 1/2 years to this project and spent full time with his adopted family.

Wild Turkey Eggs - via flickr.com

Wild Turkey Eggs – via flickr.com

Turkey poults - www.suprmchaos.com

Turkey poults – http://www.suprmchaos.com

Awesome Turkey Colors - imgfrm.index.hu

Awesome Turkey Colors – imgfrm.index.hu

I found this film on the internet today, so you don’t even have to join Netflix. Don’t forget to press the “full screen” button on the lower right corner of the video…

My Life as a Turkey awarded Emmy for Outstanding Nature Programming! Watch the full film:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/my-life-as-a-turkey/full-episode/7378/

After a local farmer left a bowl of eggs on Joe Hutto’s front porch, his life was forever changed. Hutto, possessing a broad background in the natural sciences and an interest in imprinting young animals, incubated the eggs and waited for them to hatch. As the chicks emerged from their shells, they locked eyes with an unusual but dedicated mother. One man’s remarkable experience of raising a group of wild turkey hatchlings to adulthood.

Here’s a really interesting followup Q&A session with Joe answering many excellent questions from people who viewed the film…

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/my-life-as-a-turkey/qa-with-naturalist-joe-hutto/7389/

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Interesting Birds

 

The EMU

Hello - I'm Emmy Emu

Helllo – I’m Emmy Emu

Looking more like a hand puppet than a real bird, the common Emu inhabits northern, southeastern, and southwestern Australia (three different sub-species). They are stout-bodied and long-legged. Both sexes are brownish, with dark gray head and neck.

Running Emu

Running Emu – wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com

The soft-feathered flightless birds reach up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. They have long thin necks and legs. Emus can travel great distances at a fast, economical trot and, if necessary, can sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph). Their long legs allow them to take strides of up to 275 centimetres (9.02 ft) They are opportunistically nomadic and may travel long distances to find food; they feed on a variety of plants, fruits and insects, but may also damage crops. Emus have been known to go for weeks without food. They also ingest stones, glass shards and bits of metal to grind food in the digestive system. They drink infrequently, but take in copious fluids when the opportunity arises. Emus will sit in water and are also able to swim. They are curious birds who are known to follow and watch other animals and humans. Emus do not sleep continuously at night but in several short stints sitting down.

Emu Feet

Emu Feet can be dangerous – via Flicka

Emus use their strongly clawed feet as a defense mechanism. Their legs are among the strongest of any animal, allowing them to rip metal wire fences. They are endowed with good eyesight and hearing, which allows them to detect predators in the vicinity. The plumage varies regionally, matching the surrounding environment and improving its camouflage. The feather structure prevents heat from flowing into the skin, permitting Emus to be active during the midday heat. Males and females are hard to distinguish visually, but can be differentiated by the types of loud sounds they emit by manipulating an inflatable neck sac. The peculiar structure of the trachea of the emu enables the loud booming note of the bird during the breeding season.

Emus breed in May and June and are not monogamous; fighting among females for a mate is common. Females can mate several times and lay several batches of eggs in one season. The animals put on weight before the breeding season. The male incubates from 7 to 10 dark green eggs, 13 cm (5 inches) long, in a ground nest for about 60 days, losing significant weight during this time as he does not eat.

Emu Mega Egg.

Emu Mega Egg. Football anyone? – en.wikipedia.orgen.wikipedia.org

Emu Chicks and Eggs

Emu Chicks and Eggs – kalayaemuestate.com

The striped young are nurtured by their fathers, and soon run with the adults. They reach full size after around six months, but can remain with their family until the next breeding season half a year later. Emus can live between 10 and 20 years in the wild and are predated by dingos, eagles and hawks. They can jump and kick to avoid dingos, but against eagles and hawks, they can only run and swerve.

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Interesting Birds

 

Mystery Bird of July 2013

Mystery Bird of July 2013

Mystery Bird of July 2013 – via Pixdaus at Pinterest

Gotta love the colors on this majestic little beauty!

OK, someone, tell us who he is…

There are so many excellent photos of UNIDENTIFIED beautiful birds available on the Internet. This is the next in a series of Monthly Mystery Birds from around the world. This series seeks to tap the knowledge of people who recognize these beauties, and to spread that knowledge to the rest of us. There’s something satisfying about knowing the names of birds. They become more familiar to us and seem more like friends when we know what to call them. Sort of like, “Oh, there’s Brad Pitt”, rather than, “Oh, there’s some guy on the street.”

After some expert supplies the name of our Mystery Bird, we’ll add some details about just who that bird is and where it’s from.

If you recognize this bird, please respond in the Comments Section below, and help to enlighten our readers.

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Mystery Birds

 

Mystery Bird of June 2013

Mystery Bird of June 2013

Mystery Bird of June 2013 – via pinterest j-p,m pixdaus.com

This dazzling little guy (maybe in the grossbeak or finch family?) has really yellow feet that I won’t forget for a while!

OK, someone, tell us who he is…

There are so many excellent photos of UNIDENTIFIED beautiful birds available on the Internet. This is the next in a series of Monthly Mystery Birds from around the world. This series seeks to tap the knowledge of people who recognize these beauties, and to spread that knowledge to the rest of us. There’s something satisfying about knowing the names of birds. They become more familiar to us and seem more like friends when we know what to call them. Sort of like, “Oh, there’s Brad Pitt”, rather than, “Oh, there’s some guy on the street.”

After some expert supplies the name of our Mystery Bird, we’ll add some details about just who that bird is and where it’s from.

If you recognize this bird, please respond in the Comments Section below, and help to enlighten our readers.

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in Mystery Birds

 

Freaky Frillback Pigeon

Freaky Frillback Pigeon

Frillback Pigeon - via www.kimballstock.com

Frillback Pigeon – via http://www.kimballstock.com

I ran across this image on the internet, and it caught my eye. My first thought about this bird was that was indeed “freaky”. Although birds exist in a myriad of different forms, this was the first I’ve ever seen that wasn’t, well, “streamlined” in design for efficient flight. Even the flightless birds have a certain smooth gracefulness about them.

In researching the Frillback Pigeon I learned immediately that it “evolved” through man’s tinkering with selective breeding. Now don’t get me wrong – selective breeding has produced many wonderful things from highly productive crops that help to feed the world to a vast array of dazzling flower breeds. I’m all in favor of using selective breeding to improve the positive qualities of earth’s plants and animals. (As opposed to the abomination of Genetically Modified foods, plants, and animals which are threatening to kill us all so the big “Pharma” companies can get richer faster.)

The thing that bugs me is that some people use selective breeding to change animals to “improve” their “beauty” – even if it means producing something that is “unnatural” or even unhealthy. Common examples of this are often found in dogs and cats whose appearance is downright ugly to most nature lovers. For example hairless or grossly wrinkled dogs, or those with legs so short they move more like lizards than dogs. Or cats whose faces look like they ran into a brick wall at high speeds. These seem to be beautiful to some people. Or maybe they just wanted to produce a “deformed” breed to get a name for themselves, or to make money breeding more of the poor animals. Next will probably be six-legged creatures that look like cute furry insects curled up on our laps.

Can you tell I’m not really in favor of pigeons with deformed feathers? Anyway, here’s some more photos so you won’t be so shocked to see one show up at your bird feeder. I’m sure some will regard them as beautiful.

Blue bar grizzle FrillbackPigeon - via Flika frillback(blue bar)

Blue bar grizzle FrillbackPigeon – via Flika frillback(blue bar)

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Interesting Birds

 

The Famous Snipe Hunt!

Wilson's Snipe - via discussions.texasbowhunter.com

Wilson’s Snipe – via discussions.texasbowhunter.com

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The Snipe Hunt (a futile search or endeavor) is probably better known than the Snipe itself. This common elaborate practical joke is typically played on inexperienced unsuspecting campers who are told about a bird called the “snipe”, as well as a usually preposterous method of catching it – such as running around the woods carrying an open bag while making ridiculous smooching noises or banging rocks together.

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Normally played at night, the conspirators may also run around the woods yelling “snipe!” to help convince the victim that the birds are plentiful. Sometimes the victim is told to stand still and aim his flashlight into the bag so that the snipes will fly in. The schemers will then often leave the victim(s) alone in the woods “holding the bag”.

Real snipes (a family of shorebirds) are difficult to “bag” by experienced hunters due to their erratic flight pattern, so much so that the word “sniper” is derived from it to refer to anyone skilled enough to shoot one.

The Real Snipe

A snipe is any of about 25 wading game bird species in three genera in the family Scolopacidae. They are characterized by a very long, slender bill and camouflaged plumage. The Gallinago snipes have a nearly worldwide distribution. They prefer marshland, and are extremely difficult to see unless flushed – then they’re very difficult to shoot.

Interestingly, snipes search for invertebrates in the mud with a “sewing-machine” action of their long bills. The sensitivity of the bill, though to some extent noticeable in many sandpipers, is in snipes carried to an extreme by a number of nerve filaments which run almost to the tip. Thus the bill becomes a very delicate organ of sensation giving the bird the ability to instantly distinguish the nature of the objects out of sight under the mud.

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Check out this unusual cool Music Video on Wilson’s Snipe…

Here is an excellent link to detailed accounts of the Wilson Snipe behavior, courtship, nesting, eggs, young, plumages, food, voice, field marks and snipe as a game bird. Most of the comments on this site were written over 100 years ago by bird experts. Very interesting!

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share,
We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Interesting Birds

 

Mystery Bird of May 2013

Mystery Bird of May 2013

Mystery Bird of May 2013 – by vipuchol on Flickr


Strange, but beautiful. Love that breast color!

OK, someone, tell us who he is…

There are so many excellent photos of UNIDENTIFIED beautiful birds available on the Internet. This is the next in a series of Monthly Mystery Birds from around the world. This series seeks to tap the knowledge of people who recognize these beauties, and to spread that knowledge to the rest of us. There’s something satisfying about knowing the names of birds. They become more familiar to us and seem more like friends when we know what to call them. Sort of like, “Oh, there’s Brad Pitt”, rather than, “Oh, there’s some guy on the street.”

After some expert supplies the name of our Mystery Bird, we’ll add some details about just who that bird is and where it’s from.

If you recognize this bird, please respond in the Comments Section below, and help to enlighten our readers.

If you have any views on this, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, We’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
Find us on , Facebook, and Twitter

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Mystery Birds

 
 
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