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Category Archives: About Birds

The Stately Seriema Bird

The Stately Seriema Bird

Seriema Bird

Red-legged Seriema 043011bc by jt893x on Flickr

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There are two species of seriemas, the Red-legged Seriema (Cariama cristata) and the Black-legged Seriema (Chunga burmeisteri). Both species are long-legged terrestrial birds around 91 cm (36 in) long; the Red-legged Seriema is slightly bigger than the Black-legged. They live in grasslands, savanna, dry woodland and open forests of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

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Seriema Head

Seriema by dralun10 on Flickr

They forage on foot and run from danger rather than fly (though they can fly for short distances, and they roost in trees). They have long legs, necks, and tails, but only short wings, reflecting their way of life. They are brownish birds with short bills and erectile crests, found on fairly dry open country, the Red-legged Seriema preferring grasslands and the Black-legged Seriema preferring scrub and open woodland. They give loud, yelping calls (often compared with barking puppies) and are often heard before they are seen. The have sharp claws, with an extensible and very curved second toe claw.

The two extant species of seriema are thought to be the closest living relatives of a group of gigantic (up to 10 ft/3.0 m tall) carnivorous “terror birds”, the phorusrhacids, which are known from fossils from South and North America

Seriema with snake

Seriema killing snake

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They feed on insects, snakes, lizards, frogs, young birds, and rodents, with small amounts of plant food (including maize and beans). They often associate with grazing livestock, probably to take insects the animals disturb. When seriemas catch small reptiles, they beat the prey on the ground or throw it at a hard surface to break resistance and also the bones. If the prey is too large to swallow whole, it will be ripped into smaller pieces with a sickle claw by holding the prey in the beak and tearing it apart with the claw.

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

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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 October 12, 2012 in About Birds

 

Can you pass this BirdSong Test?

BirdSong Test

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird - source: http://en.wikibooks.org

Bird Calls and Songs are among the most common reminders that nature is all around us. Even in the deepest cities many birds are our close neighbors. Other birds are very reclusive, and will only be heard, but rarely seen, in the deepest of forests as we hike along the trails. Still others will be heard calling out while soaring at great heights above our heads – but we can still identify them by their unique sounds and by their underwing patterns.

Song #1 – Press Here.  Be patient, sometimes these audio files take a while to load. Try to match this song to the birds in this list:

1. Northern Cardinal          6. Northern Flicker
2. American Bittern           7. American Robin
3. Carolina Wren               8. House Sparrow
4. Eastern Bluebird           9. Red Tailed Hawk
5. Hermit Thrush              10. Mourning Dove

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Birds often have several vocalizations, usually categorized (by man) into songs and calls. The distinction between songs and calls is based upon complexity, length, and context. Songs are longer and more complex and are associated with courtship and mating, while calls tend to serve such functions as alarms or keeping members of a flock in contact. The distinction may also be based on function, so that short vocalizations, like those of pigeons, and even non-vocal sounds, such as the drumming of woodpeckers are, can be considered songs.

Song #2 – Press Here

American Robin

American Robin - flickr by bravedeer

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush - flickr by visionshare

All bird songs and calls function as commutations between members of the same species and with other species. The functions of the songs and calls are to attract mates, to establish and hold territory, express alarms, to recruit individuals (mobbing) in an area where an owl or other predator may be present, to identify each other and find their chicks (colony nesters), and many other specific functions. Most songs are sung by male rather than female birds, and are usually delivered from prominent perches, although some species may sing when flying. Some groups are nearly voiceless, producing only percussive and rhythmic sounds, such as the storks, which clatter their bills or by other mechanical means.

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Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren - flickr by palomino595

American Bittern

American Bittern - flickr by Dave 2X

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk - source: wikipedia

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Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker - flickr by lamoustique

House Sparrow

House Sparrow - sparrowdove.com CC-BY-SA

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal - flicka by searchnetmedia

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove - source: wikipedia

Here are the rest of the songs. Match them to the list of birds above. Good luck. The answers are at the bottom.

Song #3 – Press Here
Song #4 – Press Here
Note: Some birds don’t really sound like birds at all, like in this next one which sounds more like a old water pump.
Song #5 – Press Here
Note: Birds have a dual trachea, enabling some to sing two notes at the same time. This can produce an eerie, haunting sound as in the next bird.
Song #6 – Press Here
Song #7 – Press Here
Song #8 – Press Here
Song #9 – Press Here
Song #10 – Press Here

Some birds are excellent mimics, although the advantages of this habit is not well agreed upon. Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Catbirds are common in the America. Mockingbirds usually repeat phrases (of other bird’s songs) 3 to 6 times. Catbirds usually repeat twice, and often throw in their alarm call “Meow”. Thrashers normally repeat each phrase only once.

But perhaps the most accomplished mimic is the Australian Lyrebird. This guy is almost unbelievable! See the next post: The Unbelievable LyreBird. You’ll be glad you did. It’s unforgettable.

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Here are the answers to the quiz. Hope you did well.

1. Northern Cardinal..Song #4
2. American Bittern………..#5
3. Carolina Wren…………..#9
4. Eastern Bluebird………..#2
5. Hermit Thrush…………..#6
6. Northern Flicker………..#7
7. American Robin………..#10
8. House Sparrow…………#3
9. Red Tailed Hawk……….#8
10. Mourning Dove………..#1

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 7, 2012 in About Birds

 

The Famous 9 Legged Killdeer?

The Famous 9 Legged Killdeer

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, you heard right, a NINE Legged Killdeer – Step right up to see this remarkable Freak of Nature. It’s awesome, it’s frightening, and is sure to bring a big smile to your face. This unusual bird is probably too heavy to take off, but it sure can run like hell. Only problem is figuring out which way it’ll run.

It also has the ability to spontaneously break apart into FOUR or even FIVE separate parts, each with only TWO legs – running in all different directions. Well, maybe only 4 1/2 parts, or … OK, now I’m really confused.

Anyway, sure is a cute sight!

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.

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Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in About Birds

 

Major Bird Brain – The Crow

The Intelligence of Crows Rivals Chimps!

Crow

Crow—Moyan Brenn (Flickr.com)

Yes, the common crow may be the third most intelligent creature on the face of the Earth. It’s long been known that crows display really intelligent behavior, but recent studies and experiments have shown some surprising results. Read more details and see videos at TheNatureOfHiking.com/intelligence-of-crows.html

Watch them closely. It’s fun, and maybe we’ll learn something new about our clever feathered friends.

Crow

credit – info.woodoom.com

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.

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Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in About Birds

 

Flamingo with Chick

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Flamingos, for some unknown reason, often stand on one leg. For some other unknown reason I’ve been known to do that too – especially when watching them. They usually do it standing the water, though.

Adults range from light pink to bright red due to substances obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae. Their beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. The pink or reddish color of flamingos comes from carotenoid proteins in their diet of animal and plant plankton.

Flamingos are very social birds that live in colonies that can number in the thousands. These large colonies are believed to serve three purposes for the flamingos: predator avoidance, maximizing food intake, and exploiting scarce suitable nesting sites. The most basic and stable social unit of flamingos are pair bonds which are made up of one male and one female.

Flamingos will viciously defend their nesting sites and young. In the first six days after hatching, the adults and chicks stay in the nesting sites. At around seven to twelve days the chicks begin to move and explore their surroundings. After two weeks, the chicks join groups and their parents soon leave them in these groups.

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in About Birds

 

RoadRunner-o-saurus

RoadRunner-o-saurus

Here’s a gigantic RoadRunner we discovered in New Mexico – their State Bird. Most astonishing of all – It’s made completely from TRASH. See the full story on how we found this big RoadRunner at TheNatureOfHiking.com

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in About Birds

 

RoadRunner

Male RoadRunner with Lizard

This is a Greater RoadRunner with a lizard in his beak. It’s the start of a story about the fascinating RoadRunner mating ritual. See full story on RoadRunner Sex at TheNatureOfHiking.com

Jack
TheNatureOfHiking.com
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in About Birds