May 2, 2014 – Little Pied Cormorant, Little Shag, or Kawaupaka (Microcarbo melanoleucos)
Requested by: birdies-be-free
This cormorant is found in Australia (except the arid western interior), New Zealand, many sub-Antarctic islands, and most of Southeast Asia. There are three subspecies, one found only on Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands, and one in New Zealand and the sub-Antarctic islands that is sometimes considered a separate species. They catch small fish and crustaceans by diving in shallow water for 15-20 seconds at a time. Like other cormorants, they stand with their wings spread after fishing, most likely to help dry their feathers.
May 1, 2014 – Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)
Requested by: birdsfreefromcages
Found from South America to Mexico and into the forests of southern Texas, Great Kiskadees are large members of the tyrant flycatcher family. They are loud and aggressive, chasing off nest predators including snakes and birds of prey. These birds are omnivorous, eating fish, small animals, and fruits. The black patches around their eyes help to reduce glare in bright conditions.
April 30, 2014 – Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)
Requested by: suddenlysquids
The Gray Jay is found in northern forests of the United States and Canada year-round. They do not migrate and store food through the winter by sticking it to branches with their saliva. Their diverse diet ranges from berries to small animals. They have even been seen attacking large animals and eating blood-filled ticks off the backs of moose. These birds nest only in late winter, when temperatures can reach -20˚F (-29˚C). Their dense feathers, which they can puff up to cover their legs, help to keep them warm. In northern Eurasia, the Siberian Jay fills the same ecological niche, also using sticky saliva to glue food to branches.
April 29, 2014 – Rosy-faced Lovebird, Rosy-collared or Peach-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis)
Requested by: thegrish
This small parrot is native to the Namib Desert and other dry areas of southwest Africa. One of the most common captive parrots, there is also an established feral population in Phoenix, Arizona. This breeding population has been in the area since at least the mid-1980s and can be found nesting in saguaro cacti and palm trees. The Rosy-faced Lovebird’s diet is mostly made up of seeds and berries. The birds may form large flocks when these foods are plentiful. They carry nesting materials by tucking them into their tail feathers and build nests in rock crevices, old Sociable Weaver nests, and man-made structures.
April 28, 2014 – White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)
Requested by: serotina
This whistling duck is found in Africa and South America. They often form noisy flocks of over a thousand birds, feeding on plants and mollusks in bodies of fresh water. These ducks forage mostly at night and nest in smaller groups or pairs, usually near water. For an 18 to 25 day period after the nesting season, they go through a molt that leaves them temporarily flightless. This makes them particularly vulnerable to predators, causing them to stay in thick vegetation for protection.
April 27, 2014 – Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
Requested by: brahminykite009
These birds live in India and Southeast Asia. Like other bee-eaters, they catch insects in the air, beating them against the perch before swallowing them. This helps to remove most of the venom from the bees, wasps, and other venomous insects they frequently eat. Their long bills help to keep these dangerous insects away from their eyes. Blue-tailed Bee-eaters feed, roost, and nest communally, making a tunnel in sandy soil, where they lay a clutch of 5 to 7 eggs. Females and males both care for the young.
For Mother’s Day, a story of a mother bird from my childhood.
One of my backyard chickens, Superchick, began nesting for the first time, but did not have many eggs to sit on. Feeling sorry for her, I snuck a few duck eggs into the nest (our ducks were laying, but not sitting on the eggs). After several weeks of incubation, a duckling was born, which she kicked out immediately. I put the baby back under her, hoping for the best, and she seemed to accept him. Later, a chick hatched (I think another chicken had also added a few eggs to the nest later on, as duck eggs have a longer incubation period than chickens). She then rejected the chick. I placed the chick in her nest again, hoping she would take it back. Luckily, she did and had no more trouble with her mismatched babies, becoming a great mother to both of them. Baby, the duck, and Goldenseed, the chicken, became an inseparable pair, even as adults.
Happy Mother’s Day and special thanks to my mother for always encouraging my love of birds, science, and art.