Birds and humans share many behaviors. Birds sing, court, defend their homes, and feed their young. Birds surround us with their vibrant colors and songs. Even the most abundant species reward observers with opportunities to watch seldom – seen behaviors. Worldwide, we hold the future of the earth’s 10,000 species of birds in our hands today. Each species is an irreplaceable treasure that must be carefully passed from our generation to that of our children. And among birds, the greatest number of species known to inhabit any continent is South America with more than three thousand bird species, Africa with more than two thousand bird species, Asia with more than two thousand bird species, and Australasia (Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and several island groups of the southern pacific) with some fifteen hundred bird species inhabit the area.
- “I love music of the birds rather than music of the human being”
EDGARDO KABULWA WELELO
- “Bury me where the birds will sing over my grave”
- “Where is the thicket? Gone.
Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival”
The words attributed to Chief Seattle, in a speech to George Washington in 1855.
- “My bedroom, when I awoke this morning, was full of bird – songs, which is the greatest pleasure in life”.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
- “A thousand birds ………… gently twittering and ushering in the light”
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
- “The birds sing at dawn. What sounds to be awakened by! If only our sleep, our dreams, are such as to harmonize with the song, the warbling, of the birds, ushering in the day.”
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
- “When birds sang out their mellow lay, And winds were soft and woods were green, And the song ceased not with the day.”
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
- “Once more the song birds set the air athrill with symphonies of praise, And birds and blossoms grow to music’s trill In warm and sheltered ways.”
- “I hear the night – warbler breaking out as in his dream.”
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
- “It is with birds as with other poets; the smaller gift need not be the less genuine; and they whom the world calls great …………. May possibly not be the ones who touch us most intimately, or to whom we return oftenest and with most delight.”
- “There is no sorrow in thy song, no winter in thy year.”
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
- “A bubble of music floats.
The slope of the hill side over;
A little wandering sparrow’s notes;
And the bloom of yarrow and clover.”
- “It is with birds as with other poets: the smaller gift need not be the less genuine.”
- “Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard.
Praise of love or wine.
That panted forth a rapture so divine.”
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
- “The robin warbled forth his full clear note for hours, and wearied not.”
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
- “Why I would give more for one live Babolink than a square mile O’larks in printer’s ink!
JAMES RUSSEL LOWELL
- “And where the shadows deepest fell, The wood thrush rang his silver bell.”
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
- “Hard is the hert that loveth nought,
In May, when al this mirth is wrought,
When he may on these braunches here.
The smale briddes syngen clere
Her blesful swete song pitous.”
- “As long as I live, I will hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing”
- “The birds I heard (today) sung as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation.’
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
- “For, what ate the voices of birds……………….. But words, our words, only so much more sweet?
- “The birds pour forth their souls in notes of rapture from a thousand throats.”
- “O there is a song on the fragrant breeze, From every bird that sings, And the rapture of their melodies, through all the welkin rings
Known by some animal experts as the “bird continent,” South America has more than three thousand bird species, many more than any other continent. This high number is due to South America’s great variety of habitats, its many climates, and its complex landscapes, among other factors. Colombia and Peru, both much smaller than the enormous Brazil, each have over seventeen hundred bird species, more than any country in the world; Brazil and tiny Ecuador each have about sixteen hundred species. The continent’s other very large country, Argentina, has only about sixteen hundred species, because, for most part it is not a tropical region, and bird species are usually most diverse in the tropics. Some of the most celebrated bird watching and other wildlife – observing locations in the world are in South America – the wonderful Amazon River region, the Pantanal wetlands of southern Brazil, and the magnificent Andes Mountains, which form the spine of the continent and run from Colombia to Chile. A few of the birds for which South America is renowned are TINAMOUS - primitive, ground – dwelling birds that are very weak fliers; screamers – large birds of wetlands that graze on aquatic vegetation; and potoos – owl – like birds that hunt nocturnally. Motmots – among the world’s most beautiful birds with their brilliant greens and blues and toucans, with their amazing cartoonish bills, are two other spectacular birds characteristic of this region. A final group that must be mentioned is the tanagers, an enormous assemblage of small fruit - eating bird species that come in all the colors of the rainbow.
COMMON SPECIES OF BIRDS IN SOUTH AMERICA
- UNDULATED TINAMOU (Crypturellus undulatus)
- Are found in forest, savanna, and scrub habitats from Venezuela and Guyana southward to northern Argentina, an area that includes most of the Amazon region. Typical tinamou foods are fruits, seeds, and insects.
- HORNED SCREAMER (Anhima cornuta)
- The horned screamer has the broadest distribution of these, ranging from Colombia southward through Brazil and into northern Argentina. Horned screamers are almost always found near water in moist forests, flooded savannas, swamps, and grassy meadows near rivers.
- They graze mainly on aquatic vegetation, consuming roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds. They associate in pairs or small family groups, which are often part of a small flock.
- GREY – NECKED WOOD RAIL (Aramides cajanea)
- Grey – necked wood Rails inhabit wetlands and moist forest floors from southern Mexico in northern Argentina. These secretive birds favor marshy forests, but also spend time in swamps, among mangroves, and along forested rivers and streams. In settled areas, they invade sugarcane plantations and even brushy pastures, as long as the ground is wet and swampy. They are active during daylight hours, as well as at sunrise and dusk.
- Pairs forage by moving stealthily in search of a variety of foods, including crabs, snails, insects, frogs, and fruits.
- CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens)
- The species primarily inhabits wet forest areas from northern South America north to parts of Mexico. Associating alone, in pairs, or in small family groups.
- Crested Guans forage in trees for fruits such as figs and papaya, berries, seeds, and leaves, and they occasionally fly to the ground to take fallen fruit and beetles.
- HARPY EAGLE (Harpia harpyja)
- Harpy Eagles prey on a wide range of fairly large animals, especially monkeys and sloths, but also anteaters, raccoon like mammals called coatis, opossums, porcupines, young deer, large parrots, curassows, and reptiles such as iguanas and snakes. In inhabited regions these huge birds capture chickens, dogs, lambs, pigs and small goats. They rapidly kill their prey, then take it to a tree top to consume it.
- The Harpy Eagle is essentially the “top bird” from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.
- BARRED FOREST FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis
- A predatory bird of South and Central America, the Barred Forest Falcon is specialized to hunt in its dense, humid forest habitat. Barred Forest Falcons most frequently prey on Lizards, but these fast, usually hidden birds have a broad diet, also feeding on large insects, small birds, frogs, bats, and small snakes.
- SUN BITTERN (Eurypyga helias)
- They live along tropical, forested streams and around flooded forests, where they walk in search of insects, spiders, crabs, frogs, crayfish, and small fish. The species ranges from Guatemala southward to Peru and central Brazil.
- GREY – WINGED TRUMPETER (Psophia crepitans)
- They feed by patrolling the forest floor, looking for fallen fruits and scratching with their feet to stir up insects. Trumpeters almost always live in flocks of five to twenty or more. In some areas, local residents capture trumpeters to keep them as pets. Generally, trumpeters are highly vocal birds.
- HYACINTH MACAW (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)
- The Hyacinth Macaw is completely blue, except for bare yellow skin around its eyes and bill and some black under its wings and tail. These birds associate in pairs or in small groups, often in palm groves or tall trees near rivers. They nest in cavities high in palms and other large trees, as well as in cliff – side cavities in some regions.
- These magnificent birds forage for food on the ground or in trees, eating palm and other fruits and some snails.
- GOLDEN PARAKEET (Guaruba guarouba)
- The Golden Parakeet is among South America’s most striking birds. The species occurs only in Brazil, in two widely separated, relatively small northern regions. For much of the year it prefers living in hilly areas in dense rainforest habitat, but it tends to breed in more open areas with scattered trees. The Golden Parakeet is highly gregarious, almost always appearing in groups of five to ten. They usually feed on treetops. They wander significant distances in search of tree fruits, buds, and flowers.
- HOATZIN (Opisthocomus hoazin)
- The Hoatzin, which lives only in northern South America, is one of the continent’s most intriguing animals. A turkey - sized bird marked by a prominent crest and bluish face, it lives in the wet forests and marshes of the upper Amazon region. These strange birds usually flock in groups of two to eight and stay in bushes or small trees along the edges of slow – moving streams or forested lakes. They eat leaves only and have a digestive system similar to cow’s that uses fermentation to break down otherwise indigestible plant parts.
- PAVONINE QUETZAL (Pharomachrus pavoninus)
- It lives in many portions of South America’s Amazon region, usually remaining in the interior parts of humid lowland forests. Its food seems to consist mainly of fruit and insects.
- GREAT ANI (Crotophaga major)
- Great Ani inhabits much of northern and central South America. These anis live in tropical ever green forests, in dense vegetation near water, such as at river edges and around lakes, marshes, and mangroves. They are very social, usually sticking to flocks of three to four or more pairs, which feed together in trees and on the forest floor. They have a broad diet, consisting of insects, spiders, small lizards, fruit, berries, and some seeds.
- GREAT POTOO (Nyctibius grandis)
- They are medium – sized, forest – dwelling birds that range from Mexico south into Argentina. At night, potoos become active and hunt as solitary seekers of large insects and small birds and lizards. Their typical hunting strategy is to sit on a perch and make short flights out to catch flying insects. Potoos do not build nests; females lay a single egg in a crevice on a stump or large branch, often high in a tree.
- SWALLOW – TAILED HUMMING BIRD (Eupetomena macroura)
- This species occurs in the Guianas, Brazil, and parts of Peru and Bolivia. Despite being somewhat common in many regions, these birds are not always easy to see because they do much of their feeding in the middle and upper parts of tall trees.
- They live in a variety of natural habitats, including forests, forest edges, and open, savannalike areas, but also in plantations, parks, and gardens. Swallow – tailed Humming birds feed on flower nectar, both from the trees they visit and from epiphytes, or “air plants”, that grow on the trees’ branches. They also catch insects in the air.
- This particular humming bird species has a reputation for being highly aggressive, and actively defends good food resources from other humming birds by chasing intruders away from choice flowers.
- PARADISE JACAMAR (Galbula dea)
- The species, native to the Amazon region, is a forest – dweller that frequents clearings and river edges. It perches on tree limbs, alertly snapping its head back and forth until it spots a flying insect; then it darts out to grab the bug in midair with the tip of its sharp bill.
- RUFOUS MOTMOT (Baryphthengus martii)
- These beautiful birds, residents primarily of tall, humid woodlands, usually live singly or in pairs, but do appear in small groups more often than other motmot species. They are versatile feeders, pulling fruits from trees while flying, and, at ground level, catching insects, spiders, crabs, small frogs, and Lizards. They occasionally consume dangerous poisonous – dart frogs and capture small fish in water.
- TOCO TOUCAN (Ramphastos toco)
- These birds like to frequent tall trees to forage, vocalize, or socialize – although the Toco is reputed to be a bit less social than other toucans. Toco toucans are avid tree – fruit eaters, using their huge bill to reach for, cut down, and manipulate their favorite diet staple. However, they also eat insects, and have been seen robbing baby birds from nests and even grabbing and swallowing tarantulas from trees.
- COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus)
- The aracaris are a group of about twelve species of toucans known for being especially colorful, with brightly marked bills and long tails. They range from Mexico to Paraguay, occupying mainly forested lowland regions. They eat fruits such as figs, papayas, guavas, and palm fruits – which they sometimes acquire by raiding tree plantations – as well as insects, lizards, and bird eggs and nestlings.
- BLACK – THROATED HUET – HUET (Pteroptochos tarnii)
- The Black – throated Huet – huet is a predominantly ground – dwelling bird of the forests of southern Chile and adjacent parts of Argentina. It is part of the tapaculo family a group of small to midsized, mostly dark – colored birds of the Americas, many of which occur in the Andes Mountains. While foraging, they walk slowly along the forest floor, pecking at the leaf litter, turning over sticks and leaves, and scratching at the ground with their feet. They eat mostly insects but also some seeds and berries.
- CHACO EARTH CREEPER (Upucerthia certhioides)
- The Chaco Earthcreeper exists only in parts of Paraguay, Bolivia, and in northern and central Argentina. It chiefly eats insects that it finds on the ground or low in trees or shrubs.
- STOUT – BILLED CINCLODES (Cinclodes excelsior)
- The stout – billed cinclodes is a plainly attired member of the oven bird, a large group of mainly insect - eating, brown birds that live from southern Mexico to Southern South America. The stout – billed cinclodes itself lives only in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and Columbia, inhabiting very high – elevation grassland and scrub habitats, usually near water. These sturdily built birds spend a lot of their time on the ground, foraging for insects, spiders, some seeds, and the occasional small frog, but sometimes they perch in shrubs and trees. Most often, they live singly or in pairs.
- MATO GROSSO ANTBIRD (Cercomacra melanaria)
- These fairly common birds occur in woodlands of Bolivia, South western Brazil, and Northern Paraguay, usually near water. The ant bird family, residents of tropical America, is named for its members’ habit of following army ant swarms to feed on insects that rush from cover to escape the ants. Males are black with while spots, and females are gray. Mato Grosso Antbirds are generally quite vocal, their songs and calls heard frequently by visitors to their home areas.
- WHITE BELL BIRD (Proenias albus)
- The aptly named White Bellbird, a resident of northeastern America, is a midsized, pure white bird with a curious – looking wattle. The male of the species does indeed make bell – like sounds, and it is he, nor the more drably colored greenish female, that has a long, freshy wattle drapping down from the base of his bill. White Bellbirds prefer to live in the canopy of humid forests. They are members of the CONTINGA family, a group of Latin American birds known for eating fruit. Apparently, White Bellbirds in particular eat fruit only, which is rare in birds. They have very wide mouths, which allows them to consume large fruits whole.
- POMPADOUR COTINGA ( Xipholena punicea)
- A few species of cotingas, which are fruit – eating forest birds, are among the flashiest animals of South and Central America; the Pompadour cotinga is undeniably a part of this rare group. Males are a shiny purple or crimson - purple with bright white wings, which make these birds immediately visible against the green tree canopies of their Amazon rainforest habitat. Females are much less showy than the males, being mostly sooty grey. The species favors dense forest canopies and some woodlands, where it feeds on fruits, primarily from various palm, and fig tree species, as well as some insects.
- GUIANAN COCK – OF – THE ROCK (Rupicola rupicola)
These stunning, medium – sized birds gather near rocky outcroppings in groups of three to fifty or more to wait females looking for mates. The birds typically use the same group display sites, called “Leks” for many years, even decades. The dark – brown females enter Leks, decide which courting males to mate with, and then leave to nest on their own. Guinan cocks – of – the rock live only in northern South America and eat fruit and insects.
- HELMETED MANAKIN (Antilophia galeata)
The Helmeted Manakin is a splendid, crested bird native to interi or central Brazil and some adjacent portions of Bolivia and Paraguay. It often lives in habitats that are almost impenetrable to people, such as swampy woodlands and forests near water that have dense low – level vegetation. Manakins in general are small, stocky birds of the Americas that are known for their bright colors among other features. Male Helmeted Manakins are strikingly marked, with a bright red forehead, crest, crown, and back against their otherwise deep – black bodies; females are an overall olive color and have smaller crests. These birds consume fruits and inescts, both of which they usually pluck out of treas or from the air during flight. Helmeted Manakins are much more often heard than seen.
- BOAT – BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)
This striking bird is never abundant over its wide range, which extends from Mexico to Southern Brazil, but it is nonetheless frequently spotted by birdwatchers who seek it. Boat – bills hunt from perches, scanning for prey, typically large insects such as cicadas, and then suddenly flying out to snatch the prey, often from foliage. These birds mainly live in pairs or small groups in wooded habitats, seeming to prefer semi – open areas such as forest – edges and clearings with scattered trees.
- STREAMER – TAILED TYRANT (Gubernetes yetapa)
One of the most spectacular flycatchers of Central America is the pale grey streamer – tailed Tyrant. It prefers to live near water, frequenting marshes, streams, and wet grasslands. It perches on bushes or low trees, from where it makes repeated flights to chase and catch insects in the air, often swooping low over water or marsh vegetation. Both, males and females have long, deeply forked tails, although female tails are slightly shorter. The species ranges from Bolivia and Southern Brazil to northern Argentina.
- PLUSH – CRESTED JAY (Cynocorax chrysops)
The Plush – crested Jay is a conspicnous, slender – looking forest jay that ranges from central Brazil to northern Argentina. Its appearance is distinct. Its colors of violet – blue, black, and creamy white are striking, and its unusual crown of stiff, plush feathers forms a “cushion” on its head. Further more, it usually associates in notice able groups of up to ten or twelve individuals that forage together, making quite a racket. The birds vocalize often and loudly as they move actively through trees, hopping from high to low as they search leads them to the ground. They eat a variety of things, including insects, spiders, fruits, berries, and the eggs and nestlings of small birds. These handsome Jays sometimes visit orchards, plantations, and other agricultural areas, and are bold enough to take table scraps around settlements.
- THRUSH – LIKE WREN (Campy lorhynchus turdinus)
This long – tailed wren tends to remain obscured by the dense tree canopies in which it spends most of its time. Nonetheless, visitors to South America’s Amazon region often detect this plain – looking bird, because it produces some of the area’s most characteristic and striking sounds. Called “thrush, like” probably because it is more the size of a thrush than a typical small wren, the thrush – like wren inhabits humid forests and woodlands from Southern Brazil. It usually spends time in pairs or small groups of up to eight individuals, which move about in vine covered trees, usually well up in the canopy, searching for insects and other foods. These birds are not of two colors brown and spotted in the Amazon region, or unspotted grey and white, native to the Pantanal region of Southern Brazil.
- SLATY- CAPPED SHRIKE – VIREO (Vireolanius leucostis)
These birds appear in several regions of northern and central South America, usually staying high in the Canopies of humid forests, rendering them difficult to glimpse from the ground. Observers usually spot these birds alone or in pairs. However, they characteristically join mixed – species flocks, particularly groups including tanagers, for their daily foraging.
- GRASS – GREEN TANAGER (Chlorornis riefferii)
Grass – Green Tanager inhabits forests and woodlands in mid – elevation slopes of the Andes mountain from Colombia to Bolivia. The species can be quite time, staying low in trees while birdwatchers study it, and they associate in small groups of three to eight. They eat insects, fruit, berries, and an occasional worm
- BLACK – CAPPED DONACOBIUS (Donacobius atricapilla)
The Black – Capped Donacobius was long considered a mystery bird because biologists could not definitely determine what Kind of bird it was. Now, after careful study, most believe this unique species is a type of wren, through this may not be the last word on the subject. They inhabit marshy vegetation and grassy areas near lakes and slow – moving rivers, and are usually seen perched atop tall grasses, in pairs or small family groups. They feed on insects and other small invertebrate animals.
- PARADISE TANAGER (Tangara chilensis)
Though it has the scientific name Chilensis, the small, multicolored Paradise Tanager lives from Colombia and Venezuela Southword to Brazil and northern Bolivia, excluding Chile. It is a bird of Amazonian forests, and often remains hidden in mid – to high – level tree canopies. Bird fanciers recognize it for its brilliant yellow – green head, its stiffered, scale – like head feathers, and its color Vanation: in some regions the bird’s lower back and rump are an intense red, but in other areas its rump is bright yellow – orange. Paradise Tanagers move through the tree canopy, searching for fruits and insects, usually in groups of five to ten individuals in mixed – species feeding flocks with other tanager species.
- OLIVE OROPENDOLA (Psaro colius yuracares)
Birdwatchers visiting South America’s Amazon region almost invariably see Oropendolas. They are easy to see / spot as they fly between treetops because they are large, strikingly marked, and usually in small flocks. The olive oropendola, at up to twenty inches long, is one of the largest oropendolas, and one of the most beautiful, with its olive – green and chest nut body, pink bare – skin face patch, and yellow tail. The species usually appears in the high tree canopy of forests and forest edges, where it forages for insects, other small animals, and perhaps some fruits. It ranges from Columbia and Venezuela southward to Central Brazil. Olive Oropendolas breed in small Colonies of up to ten to fifteen pairs, and their long, hanging, basketlike nests, common to Oropendolas, are a characterists, addition to high branches of tall trees in the areas in which they live.
- VENEZUELAN TROUPIAL (Icterus icterus)
The Venezuelan Troupial is a beautiful orange, black, and white oriole, a member of the American blackbird family. It in habits northern South America, as well as parts of the west Indies, to where, it is believed, people first transported it. Birds of drier, lightly wooded and semi – open, savanna – like habitats, they are also found in some forested regions. Venezuelan Troupials primarily eat insects, but also consume a great deal of fruits. They typically search for prey in pairs or small family groups, hopping about in trees or low shrubs and sometimes descending to the ground to feast on fallen tree fruit. The species is Venezuela’s national bird, probably due to its striking, bright colors and alluring voice.
- RED – CRESTED CARDINAL (Paroaria coronota)
The Red – crested Cardinal is an occasionally abundant, seasonally flocking bird of southern South America, including major portions of Argentina. Its handsome, crested appearance, its preference for woodlands and more open, shrubby areas, and its ground feeding habits allow many people to spot and appreciate the species. During the breeding season, Red – Crested Cardinals usually socialize in pairs or other water sources. Outside the breeding season, when they eat mostly seeds and grains, they tend to form large flocks. Males and females look alike, but the males red coloring is usually brighter than the females.
Bird watchers on wildlife safaris now frequently ask their guides and drivers to stop for viewing not just wildebeest, hippopotamuses, and crocodiles, but wonderful birds such as ibises, storks, and cranes. The storied landscapes of Africa – the deserts, scrubs, grasslands, wooded savannas, and rainforests – support an amazing array of birds, a total of about nineteen hundred species. Four countries each have more than thousand species within their borders; Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A small number of bird groups that occur only in Africa are especially intriguing. One of these, the turacos, are large, tree – dwelling birds that often have brilliant plumage of blue, green, or purple. Some have interesting names, such as “go – away – bird” and “plantain – eater.” The mouse birds and sugarbirds are also restricted to Africa. Mouse birds remind people of mice because they are drably colored and scuttle energetically through their habitats like small rodents as they search for food; sugarbirds are nectar – eating birds of Southern Africa that have very long bills and tails. Finally, the Hamerkop, an odd, stork like bird with an anvil – shaped head, is one of the avian world’s mysteries – it has no existing close relatives and consequently is usually placed alone in its own bird family. Africa also has an abundance of birds of prey, as well as many coursers – ground birds that favor running over flying, and honey guides, one species of which leads people to beehives. Hornbills, with their massive bills and fascinating nesting behavior, are common in Africa, as are Kingfishers, barbets, shrikes, starlings, and weavers.
COMMON SPECIES OF BIRDS IN AFRICA
- WATTLED IBIS (Bostrychia carunculata)
The wattled Ibis, a large dark bird with a hanging throat wattle, lives only in the highland regions of Ethiopia. These ibises spend much of their day foraging in flocks of up to a hundred or more in open habitats such as grasslands, crop fields, marshes, swamps, and open woodlands. At the end of the day small groups fly to their night roosts, which are typically located on rocky cliffs or along rivers; these roosts usually serve as nesting sites as well. Wattled Ibises feed by slowly and methodically walking about, probing the ground for worms, insects, and frogs: they sometimes follow cattle or other domestic animals to catch insects drawn to their manure.
- HAMERKOP (Scopus umbretta)
The Hamerkop is a unique, stork like bird with a distinctive silhouette: its head, with its backward – pointing crest, looks like a hammer or anvil. In fact, Hamerkop means “hammer – head” in the Afrikaans language, and the species is also commonly called Anvil – headed stork. These wading birds inhabit wetlands, including estuaries, lakesides, riverbanks, and fish ponds. They feed primarily on frogs and tadpoles, but also eat fish, crustaceans, worms, and insects. Occasionally they snatch prey as they fly low over water. Hamerkops are usually seen alone or in pairs, but sometimes they gather in groups of ten to fifty birds. These birds are often considered magical, and local people have developed numerous taboos concerning them. Consequently, most people do not bother or harm them, and the birds sometimes even become semi – tame. In addition to their broad range in sub – Saharan Africa, Hamerkops live in Madagascar and parts of Arabia.
- MARABOU STORK (Leptoptilos crumeniferus)
Considered by some to be one of the world’s ugliest birds, the Marabou stork stands about four feet tall and has a very impressive wingspan of up to nine feet. Observers often describe this stork as gaunt – looking because of its nearly featherless red or pink head with dark spots and similarly colored large hanging throat sac. Marabou inhabit much of tropical Africa, where they flourish both in open, dry savanna and grassland and in wetlands such as swamps, riversides, and lake shores. They often forage in groups, both on land and in shallow water. They frequently scavenge at animal carcasses, and they also eat a wide array of live animals, such as fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, mice, rats, and birds as large as flamingos. Marabou also follows herds of the large mammals to catch the insects they scare up.
- EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Egyptian Geese are now found mainly in sub – Saharan Africa, but in ancient times they were common and widespread in the entire Nile River Valley, and were considered sacred animals. These bulky brown geese inhabit wetlands, including coastal areas. Large groups of these birds congregate where they find adequate open water and food. They forage both in the water, where they submerge their heads to feed on aquatic plants, and on land, where they eat grass, seeds, grain, and plant shoots , as well as the occasional worm or insect. These social birds are quiet when alone but vocal in groups.
- YELLOW – NECKED SPURFOWL (Pternistis leucoscepus)
The yellow – necked spurfowl is a large chicken like bird with a distinguishing bare, yellow throat. It lives in the shrublands, wooded grasslands, and farmlands of East Africa, from Ethiopia and Somalia south to Tanzania, where they usually associate in pairs or small family groups. Spurfowl scratch at the ground with their feet, exposing foods, primarily plant roots, seeds and insects such as termites, as well as grain from farmed fields. Male yellow – necked spurfowl search for mates by mounting perches such as termite mounds, tree stumps or fence posts and broadcasting loud, deep, and grating advertising calls: ko - warrrk, Ko- warrrk, Koweear.
- AFRICAN FISH EAGLE (Haliaeetus vocifer)
This majestic fishing eagle, with its gleaming white head and tail reminiscent of the American Bald Eagle, inhabits most of sub - Saharan Africa. The African Fish Eagle perches for long hours along the shores of rivers, lakes, and swamps, keeping a lookout for prey. Then, with a quick swoop, the eagle snatches its prey – usually fish – from the water’s surface and flies to a perch or the beach to eat it. They also consume waterbirds and amphibians, as well as reptiles, small mammals, insects, and carrion. These aggressive birds are also “pirates”, stealing food caught by herons, storks, and King fishers. African Fish Eagles are typically seen alone, but sometimes gather in groups where food is concentrated, such as at a shallow pond with stranded fish. Observers frequently hear the calls of African Fish Eagles at shorelines in many parts of Africa.
- GREY CROWNED CRANE (Balearica regulorum)
The Grey Crowned Crane, with its white and reddish – brown wing patches and bristling golden crown, has an exceptionally stately appearance. These striking birds usually associate in pairs or groups of up to twenty, but sometimes form gatherings of a hundred or more. They roost along rivers or marshes, or in trees. Around dawn, they leave their night roosts to fly to the day’s foraging area, returning just before sunset. They prefer open habitats – wet or dry - including grasslands, open woodlands near rivers, and flooded plains. Grey Crowned Cranes eat by rapidly pecking at food on the ground to snatch seeds, grains, insects such as grasshoppers and locusts, worms, crabs, frogs, or lizards. The cranes’ range is limited to eastern and southern Africa, from Kenya to South Africa. Pairs of Grey crowned cranes give loud booming or bugling sequences of low – pitched calls that can last up to a minute.
- THREE – BANDED COURSER (Rhinoptilus cinctus)
The Three – banded courser is a beautiful, largely nocturnal ground bird native to eastern and southern Africa. It inhabits mainly dry, open woodlands, savannas, and bushy grasslands, but its camouflaging, or “cryptic”, patterns of rich dark brown, reddish – brown, buff, and black and white render it very difficult to spot in these environments. Often staying in pairs or small groups of five or six, these birds spend most of the day in the shade of a bush or small tree. They emerge at night to forage for insects, which they sometimes chase along the ground before catching. They are called coursers because they often seem to prefer running to flying, both to feed and to escape predators. When they do take wing, their flights are usually low and brief.
- GREAT BLUE TURACO (Corythaeola cristata)
The twenty – plus turaco species are all confined to the African continent, where they prefer forests, woodlands and savannas. These large, tree – dwelling birds have long been hunted for their brilliantly colored feathers. The Great Blue Turaco, the largest of the family, has exquisite coloring: it is one of Africa’s loveliest birds. A resident of the rainforests of central and west Africa. Great Blues usually congregate in small groups of three to seven. They feed all day, especially during the early evening, eating various fruits, leaves, flowers, and tree buds. When they finish foraging in one tree, they fly to the next in single file, one bird after another gliding from tree to tree.
- GREY GO – AWAY – BIRD (Corythaixoides concolor)
The Grey Go – away – bird, large and smoky – grey with a tall crest and very long tail, is a member of the turaco family. It lives in the dry, broad savannas and open woodlands of southern Africa, usually gathering in groups of three to ten or more, although up to thirty may congregate at good feeding or drinking sites. They are arboreal birds, climbing and jumping from tree to tree in single file as they look for fine fruit, their main food. They also eat flowers and flower nectar, and move to the ground to feast on termites. Grey Go – away – birds are considered pests because they tend to more into suburban parks and gardens and raid cultivated fruits. The call for which the Grey Go – away – bird is named is a loud, plaintive g’away g’ away with the accent on “way”.
- AFRICAN WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus senegallus)
Ranging over many regions south of the Sahara Desert, the African wattled lapwing is a member of the plover shorebird family. It favors marsh edges and damp grasslands near lakes, ponds, and wet cultivated areas such as flooded rice fields. In pairs or small groups, these long – legged birds slowly walk along, pausing when they spot prey, usually insects or worms. They then step or jump toward the prey and catch it. Grass seeds round out their diet.
- COQUEREL’S COUA (Coua coquereli)
A large slender ground bird found in forests on the western side of Madagascar, the Coquerel’s Coua sports a patch of bare blue skin marked with a reddish spot, around each eye. Alone or in pairs, this secretive member of the cuckoo family typically walks about on the forest floor looking for food, and people sometimes see it as it crosses trails. These birds also forage in bushes and small trees, looking for insects, spiders, berries, and fruit. When alarmed, Coquerel’s Couas are more likely to run away than to fly.
- WHITE – BROWED COUCAL (Centropus superciliosus)
The white – browed coucal, a large, bulky bird with a long, broad tail, inhabits the marshes, thickets, dense grassy areas, and riverside vegetation of eastern and southern Africa. These birds spend much of their day furtively foraging, often in pairs, in dense cover provided by grass and bushes. When they do fly, they usually do not travel very far. Their prey includes many small animals, from insects, spiders, snails, and crabs to lizards, frogs, snakes, small birds, and tiny rodents. White - browed coucals also stake out the borders of grass fires and catch insects and other animals as they flee the flames. Because Coucals typically give loud, bubbling calls that remind some observers of the sound of water “glug – glugging” from a bottle, they are also called water – bottle birds.
- WHITE – BROWED HAWK – OWL (Ninox superciliaris)
A plump medium – sized, brown owl with a round head, the white - browed Hawk – owl lives only in Madagascar. It is found in both rainforests and dry forests, but favors more open sites with fewer trees, such as wooded savannas, woodland clearings, and even semi – arid scrub areas. Only active at night, it perches on a tree branch near an open space such as a road or trail, and waits for its prey – mostly insects but also reptiles and small birds and mammals. The owl then swoops and catches its quarry and takes it to a resting place to eat.
- SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD (Colius striatus)
The speckled mousebird is one of six mousebird species, all of which are restricted to Africa. They are known as mousebirds not because they feed on rodents, but because of their drab, long – tailed appearance and their habits of scuttling through vegetation and huddling together in a tight group of four to eight when resting or sleeping. Larger groups may gather together at good food sources. Found in many regions south of the Sahara, speckled mousebirds mostly consume fruit, but also buds, flowers, and nectar. They live in a variety of habitats, from thickets to open woodlands to forest edges. These mousebirds also live in parks and gardens and eat cultivated fruits, vegetables, and flowers, giving them a bad reputation among farmers and gardeners.
- GIANT KINGFISHER (Megaceryle maxima)
Africa’s largest Kingfisher species, the Giant Kingfisher, ranges across much of the continent south of the Sahara Desert. A generally shy bird, it lives in many wetland environments, such as around lakes, rivers, streams, coastal lagoons, and estuaries, and along sandy ocean shores. It usually hunts alone or in pairs, sitting above water or over hanging branches or on bordering rocks, scanning for prey. When it spots a fish near the surface, the Kingfisher makes a quick dive to catch it, frequently fully submerging itself in the water. It then flies to a perch to eat, usually swallowing the fish whole. They also consume crabs, frogs, small reptiles, and insects, which they smack against their perch a few times to make them easier to swallow. Observers have seen these Kingfishers diving into freshwater to rinse themselves after diving into the sea for food.
- WHITE – FRONTED BEE – EATER (Merops bullockoides)
Bee – eaters live in the warm climates of southern Europe, southern Asia, Africa, and Australia. However, most of the species Inhabit Africa, including the very attractive white - fronted Bee – eater. These elegant, brilliantly colored birds feed by catching and eating bees with their long, thin bills. In fact, bees, wasps, and hornets – which they can handle relatively safely with their bills – make up about eighty percent of their diet, with other insects such as beetles, flies butterflies, and grasshoppers, making up the remainder. White - fronted Bee – eaters associate in small groups but often separate during the day to hunt alone. The birds perch on tree branches or bushes and upon spotting an appropriate insect, fly out to catch it, then return to a resting spot to eat it. White – fronted Bee – eaters often live in woodlands along rivers or lakes, but also in other habitats with trees or bushes. They inhabit eastern and central Africa south to parts of southern Africa.
- LILAC – BREASTED ROLLER (Coracias caudatus)
Rollers are striking colorful birds with relatively large heads and short necks. In most regions of Africa outside the Sahara Desert, they are often seen perching conspicuously in trees. One of the most beautiful is the Lilac – breasted Roller, which hails from the eastern and southern portions of the continent. The species has a reputation as an aggressive defender of its breeding territories, diving at intruders – including people that dare to enter. Like other rollers, they give amazing flight displays in which males plunge toward the ground, then level off quickly and roll left and right, all the while shrieking loudly. Usually spotted alone or in pairs. Lilac – breasted Rollers mainly live in dry, open woodlands and grassy savannas with scattered trees. They feed by swooping down from an elevated perch on a wide variety of animal prey, including insects, spiders, scorpions, snails, frogs, Lizards, and small birds. They swallow small creatures whole while on the ground, and beat and dismember larger animals before consuming them at their perch.
- GREEN WOOD HOOPOE (Phoeniculus purpureus)
The Green Wood Hoopoe is a striking tree dweller, with highly iridescent coloring and a long, bright, down curved bill. It usually moves about in families of four to eight. It lives in a variety of wooded and forested lands, especially savannas and open woodlands, in central and southern Africa. This species requires large trees to thrive because it feeds in trees, and sleeps and nests in tree cavities. Green Wood Hoopoes forage acrobatically on tree trunks and branches, frequently hanging upside – down or at odd angles to probe bark and crevices for prey. Their sharp bills hammer at the bark to pry it away in search of hiding insects, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes. The birds also eat small lizards and some fruits. Green Wood Hoopoes often engage in cackling group displays.
- TRUMPETER HORNBILL (Bycanistes bucinator)
Hornbills are some of the world’s most extraordinary birds, notable for their immense bills and for their unique breeding practices – the female secludes herself in a tree cavity to incubate eggs and feed her young, and her mate feeds her through a small hole. The trumpeter Hornbill is a denizen of forests and woodlands, especially near water. Groups of thirty to forty birds often spend nights together at sunrise they head off in smaller groups to forage in trees for the day. They eat mainly fruit, particularly figs, but they also consume insects, crabs, and small birds and nestlings. Despite their large size, these uncommon hornbills are excellent flyers, their flight paths twisting and turning through tree canopies. Trumpeter Hornbills range from Kenya south to Mozambique and parts of South Africa and westward to Angola.
- RED – AND – YELLOW BARBET (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus)
The Red – and - yellow Barbet is easily one of the most stunning smaller birds of East Africa. With its colorful head and chest and black – and - white patterning, this species stands out in the open woodlands and wooded grasslands it favors. Red – and - yellow Barbets associate in pairs or small family groups of three to ten. They often forage along the ground, looking for fruits – especially figs – seeds, insects, spiders, and small birds and their eggs. They also sometimes feed on trash and pick dead insects from automobile radiator grills. Red – and - yellow Barbets often burrow into termite mounds to nest. Birdwatchers love barbets not only for their good looks but for their melodic singing. Red – and – yellow Barbet are known for their spectacular loud duets, during which a paired male and female erupt into waves of precisely coordinated, repeated vocalizations. The male utters three whistled notes and the female joins in with three to five higher – pitched short notes that fit in with the male’s notes.
- GREATER HONEY GUIDE (Indicator indicator)
The Greater Honey guide is a rather drab – looking known bird that eats bees, termites, ants and flies – and loves beeswax, the yellow substance secreted by bees for building honey combs. It prefers the open woodlands and woodland edges of sub – Saharan Africa, but is also found in stream side woods and farmlands with scattered trees. The Greater Honey guide is famous for leading people to honeybee hives. The guiding is mutually advantageous: people procure honey, and the guides, by tradition, are left some of the beeswax after the humans break into the hive. A bird catches the attention of a honey hunter by giving a distinctive “guiding call” from a tree. As the person approaches the bird, it flies to the next tree closer to the beehive, and continues calling there, and so on until they reach the hive. The Greater Honey guide’s guiding call is a noisy, nasal chattering sound, sometimes combined with various peeping or piping notes.
- EASTERN NICATOR (Nicator gularis)
The three species of nicators, which look quite similar, are mysterious both because ornithologists have trouble classifying them and because they are secretive, usually staying concealed in dense vegetation. They are heard often but are spotted only in frequently. The Eastern Nicator is patchily distributed in several regions of forests, woodlands, and thickets in eastern and southern Africa. They search for their prey, insects such as beetles and caterpillars, by hopping leisurely about branches within tree canopies, sometimes descending to the ground. The Eastern Nicator is very vocal, typically singing its loud songs from hidden perches.
- WHITE – BROWED ROBIN – CHAT (Cossypha heuglini)
The white - browed Robin – Chat, a robin like bird with a bold white eye – stripe, is found in many habitats in eastern and southern Africa, although it avoids dense forests. It seems to prefer areas near water and even moves into parks and gardens. Usually spotted alone or in pairs, white – browed Robin – chats often emerge from dense vegetation around dusk to forage on open ground. They move around with quick, bounding hops, catching insects such as ants, termites, and beetles, and sometimes flipping over leaves with their bills to look for hiding prey. Bird lovers consider robin – chats fine singers. Males give the species’ distinctive song, a repeated refrain of a few high notes followed by a few low notes, which increases in volume and tempo with each repetition.
- BLACK – THROATED APALIS (Apalis jacksoni)
The tiny, attractive Black – throated Apalis is a member of a large family of warblerlike birds that also includes prinias and cisticolas, and that is distributed throughout Africa, Eurasia, and Australia. This crisp - looking apalis inhabits only higher elevation forests in scattered parts of central and eastern Africa. It typically associates in pairs or small family groups of three to four. These active birds hop along the branches of trees, rooting about twigs and leaves for insects and spiders and swooping after flying insects. They stay mainly within the tree canops, often at middle levels.
- BLACK – THROATED WATTLE – EYE (Platysteira peltata)
Wattle – eyes, known for the rings of brightly bare skin around their eyes, are small flycatchers – like birds that live only in Africa. The rare Black – throated wattle – eye, with its broad bill, and conspicuous red eye wattle, resides in forests and woodlands, mainly in the southern and eastern regions of the continent. These generally quiet birds are found flitting about tree foliage, foraging for insects. They often rapidly open and close their wings, which may help them flush bugs from hiding spots. Black – throated wattle – eyes usually associate in pairs or small family parties.
- VARIABLE SUNBIRD (Cinnyris Venustus)
Sunbirds, which remind many birdwatchers of humming birds, are small birds with long, down – curved bills that help them draw nectar from flowers; the Variable Sunbird is an exquisite, iridescent example. It ranges through many regions of western, eastern, and southern Africa and inhabits a variety of environments, including forests, woodlands, savannas, mangroves, and gardens. The species was probably named the Variable Sunbird because males during their breeding season vary in appearance, depending on the region: birds in parts of Ethiopia have a white belly, in Mozambique a yellow belly, and in Uganda an orange and – yellow belly. This sunbird is very active as it searches leaves and flowers for insects and spiders and takes nectar from flowers, sometimes hovering to do so. It also catches flying insects in the air. Male variable sunbirds sit on exposed perches, spread their tails, and sing.
- MAGPIE SHRIKE (Urolestes melanoleucus)
Magpie Shrikes are noisy, highly social birds of eastern and southern Africa. Their generous size, striking black – and – white coloring, and very long tails render them conspicuous residents of the woodlands and open, park like savannas they favor. Usually in groups of up to a dozen. Magpie shrikes perch high up on tree branches, fence posts, or utility wires and scan the ground for food – insects, mice, and small reptiles. When it spots a likely meal, the Magpie shrike swoops down to grab it, then returns to a perch to eat. They also occasionally eat fruit. Magpie shrike groups defend territories together and give group displays, during which the birds perch near each other with their heads held low, raise their wings and tails, and whistle loudly. Magpie shrike songs consist of attractive, clear, liquid whistles, such as teeyoo, too ee yoo, and tuweer, repeated for long periods without breaks.
- CAPE SUGARBID (Promerops cafer)
The two species of sugarbirds, which are long – tailed songbirds, are found only in southern Africa, and are sometimes used as symbols of the wildlife of this beautiful region. The cape sugarbird, the male of which has an extremely long, wispy tail, lives only in South Africa, in the southern portion of the country. This bird’s life is intimately tied to a single type of plant: a group of shrubs known as Proteas. From these plants the birds obtain food, shelter, nest sites, and nest materials. Cape sugarbirds, which generally associate in pairs or small family groups, perch or protea flowers and use their long, thin bills and sucking tongues to draw nectar from the flowers. They also eat spiders and small insects such as beetles and flies that they find on the flowers.
- WHITE – CRESTED HELMET SHRIKE (Prionops plumatus)
The white – crested Helmet shrike is one of eight helmet shrike species all of which occur only in Africa. Helmet shrikes have stiff, bristle – like head feathers that look like a helmet and, usually, fleshy wattles around their eyes. The white – crested Helmet shrike which ranges through many regions of western, eastern and southern Africa, prefers savanna woodlands but also inhabits forest edges, open shrub areas, and tree plantations. They are highly social: white – crested Helmet shrikes spend their days in tightly Knit groups of ten or more. They travel slowly over their home area each day, the birds moving one after another from tree to tree, searching branches, leaves, and tree trunks for insects: they also forage on the ground. Their diet also includes spiders, small reptiles such as geckos, and some fruits. Helmet shrikes breed cooperatively, the dominant pair in a group nesting while the others help to care for their young.
- BLACK – HEADED ORIOLE (Oriolus larvatus)
The Black – headed Oriole is a handsome yellow – and – black bird native to eastern and southern Africa; African Orioles are not close relatives of American orioles. A tree dwelling - species of forest edges, woodlands, shrub country, and gardens, often near water, the Black – headed Oriole is typically spotted either in pairs or alone. It forages primarily in the canopies of larger trees, taking insects from leaves; it also moves down to small trees and shrubs to take berries and fruits, and to the ground, where it searches for a particular favorite, caterpillars. They carry these soft insects to a perch, beating them until they are pulpy before eating them.
- SUPERB STARLING (Lamprotornis superbus)
Many starling species inhabit Africa, and the glossy superb starling, with its deep – blue breast, is one of the prettiest. A very social bird that often associates in small flocks, the superb starling is distributed over much of eastern Africa, from Ethiopia south to Tanzania. It lives in open habitats in arid and semi – arid areas, including open woodlands, savannas, and grasslands. During the warmest portion of the day these birds rest in leafy trees, but at other times they forage on the ground. Their diet consists mostly of insects, but they also eat fruit, berries, flowers, and seeds.
- RED – BILLED OXPECKER Buphagus erythrorhynchus)
Africa’s two species of Oxpeckers are starling relatives with an interesting but somewhat distasteful lifestyle; They spend almost all day perched on large, grazing mammals, picking and eating the ticks, lice, beaches, and other blood – sucking parasites that infest the mammals. Red – billed oxpeckers have sharp, curved claws that help them cling to the hairy hides of such favored hunting grounds as giraffes, rhinoceroses, buffaloes, and zebras. Although they usually congregate in groups of four to eight, up to twenty of these gregarious birds may gather on a single large mammal. Red – billed oxpeckers range from Eritrea south to northern South Africa.
- DARK – BACKED WEAVER (Ploceus bicolor)
Weavers are small songbirds of Africa and Asia famous for their nest - building skills. They construct elaborate, roofed nests woven of grass or other vegetation: trees loaded with hanging weaver nests are a common sight in their habitats. The nest of the Dark - backed weaver is round and made of rough, dry vines and grass, with an entrance that hangs down, spoutlike. This attractive yellow – and – black bird with red eyes resides in forested areas, in scattered localities over the southern half of Africa. They usually consort in pairs or small family parties of up to five, searching for food among middle level tree canopies. This bird feeds mostly on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and flies, but also consumes spiders, some fruit, nectar, and flowers.
- PIN – TAILED WHYDAH (Vidua macroura)
Whydahs, small African finches, are known for their splendid long tails and for their unusual breeding. They are brood parasites, which means they do not nest, but rather lay their eggs in the nests of other species, which then incubate their eggs and raise their young. The elegant Pin – Tailed Whydah prefers to place its eggs in the nests of other small finches called WAXBILLS. The PIN – Tailed Whydah ranges across most of sub - Saharan Africa, where it prefers grassy and open shrubby habitats, as well as woodlands, agricultural areas, and gardens. Whydahs live mainly on grass seeds, kicking aside top soil with their feet and then picking up exposed seeds. They also occasionally catch flying termites. Only male Pin – Tailed Whydahs have a long tail, during the breeding season: females are brown, plain – looking, and sparrow like.
Asia supports an amazingly variety of birds – more than two thousand species. Much of this diversity lies in the tropical belt of southern Asia, from Pakistan and India in the west to southern China and southeast Asia in the east, and the birds detailed here are concentrated in this region. Environments characteristic of this area include deciduous, evergreen, and swamp forests, and also bamboo habitats, grasslands, scrub, and various wetlands. Leaf birds, fairy – blue birds, and ioras are the only types of birds found in this region and nowhere else. All three groups are composed of striking tree – dwellers. Leaf birds are a beautiful, bright leaf green, fairy – blue – birds a shiny, stunning blue and black, ioras are yellow and green. Several other bird groups, although not restricted to Asia, are nonetheless quite characteristic of the Asian continent, especially in the south. These include the pheasants, which are very diverse and often especially gaudy in Asia. Some of these pheasants, such as the widely recognized peafowl (known usually as the Pea – cock and Pea – hen) and the lesser – known Great Argus, have extremely long, decorative tails and can be more than six feet long overall. Hornbills, also common in Africa, are plentiful in Asia, and their large size and extraordinary bills render them one of the most compelling bird types of the continent. Parrots, although not as common or diverse as on some of the other continents, are present here, as are trogons, handsomely colored, compact arboreal birds with short necks and long tails. Finally, Asia has a large number of babblers, very noisy, usually gregarious birds with names such as laughing thrush, Mesia, and Leiothrix.
COMMON SPECIES OF BIRDS IN ASIA
- GERMAIN’S PEACOCK – PHEASANT (Polyplectron germaini)
Germain’s Peacock – Pheasant is a rare, secretive, medium – sized pheasant that occupies parts of southern Vietnam and eastern Cambodia. A grey – brown color overall, this chicken like bird has dull red facial skin and plumage decorated with many bluish and green “Ocelli,” or eye – like markings. It lives in moist bamboo forests at low and middle elevations. A terrestrial forager, the Germain’s Peacock – Pheasant looks for food by strolling slowly and quietly across the forest floor, scratching the ground with its feet and turning over pieces of leaf litter. The species consumes a wide range of foods, including fruits, berries, leaves, shoots, and small animals such as insects and snails. It occurs in only a few scattered localities, and its populations are threatened by hunting and by development of its habitat for agriculture.
- GREAT ARGUS (Argusianus argus)
Pheasants are a broadly distributed groups of birds, but they reach their zenith of beauty and diversity in Asia. One of the most incredible pheasants is the GREAT ARGUS, which lives only in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo. The male Great Argus can grow to a length of more than six feet, most of which is its amazingly long tail; female’s tails are much shorter. These large, very shy birds live mainly in lowland forests, often in hilly locations. They are often solitary, walking slowly along the forest floor in search of food. Unlike many other pheasants, Great Arguses do not scrape soil or rake leaf litter to expose hidden food: they simply pack at food on the ground, such as large ants and other insects, leaves, and fruits.
- CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE (Spilornis cheela)
The Crested Serpent Eagle frequently soars over the forests and wooded areas of southern Asia, from India east to the pacific coast. It varies somewhat in size, but its body is always a dark brownish color; its head is topped by a short, bushy crest that it erects when alarmed. A resident of forests, woodlands, savannas, mangroves, and tree plantations, the Crested Serpent Eagle is usually solitary or part of a pair. As its name implies, this bird often eats snakes, which can be up to three feet long. It sits on exposed perches near forest edges and clearings or along waterways, keenly eying the surrounding trees and ground for prey. When it spots a snake or any of its other prey such as lizards, frogs, crabs, and small birds and mammals, the eagle quickly flies down to snatch its food.
- BRAHMINY KITE (Haliastur indus)
The Brahminy Kite is an unmistakable, elegant bird with a rich chestnut colored body, a white head and chest, and black wing tips. Found throughout southern Asia and northern coastal Australia, this medium – sized raptor primarily inhabits estuaries, wetlands, and coasts, but sometimes ranges far inland, often perching near water. Brahminy Kites are social enough that they occasionally roost overnight in groups. Their broad diet includes mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and carrion. These birds have several foraging methods. They often fly low over open water, mudflats, or fish ponds to find prey, but they also hunt from perches. At other times these Kites walk along the ground looking for prey, dash after flying insects, and even steal food from other birds.
- BROWN WOOD OWL (Strix leptogrammica)
A large, purely nocturnal owl, the Brown Wood Owl is a somewhat inconspicuous resident of various regions of India, China, and Southeast Asia. It generally keeps to dense forest areas at middle and high elevations, tending to stay away from people and their settlements. These owls spend the daylight hours hidden on high tree branches among dense foliage, emerging at night to hunt. Alone or in mated pairs, they search for such animal prey as rodents, shrews, and bats. They also take reptiles, large insects, and many small birds, including doves, mynas, and partridges.
- ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET (Psittacula eupatria)
The Alexandrine parakeet, distinguished by its bright red bill and pink – red neck band, is a medium sized parrot with a long tail that ranges from Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan to portions of Southeast Asia. It makes its home in lowland forests and most other wooded areas, including mangroves, tree plantations, and parks. These birds usually mingle in small groups during day, but at night they gather in the hundreds, and sometimes in the thousands, to roost communally in large, leafy trees. At dawn they depart the roost with incredible screeching sounds to begin the day’s activities. The Alexandrine Parakeet eats fruits such as guavas, seeds, flowers, flower nectar, and some new leaves. It also raids orchards and crop fields for food, sometimes causing considerable damage. Unfortunately, populations of these beautiful birds are declining rapidly in some areas, particularly in Southeast Asia, where people capture an increasing number for the pet trade.
- WARD’S TROGON (Harpactes wardi)
The Ward’s Trogon is a stunning species whose range is restricted mainly to mountainous regions from Bhutan and northeastern India to Myanmar, southern China, and northwestern Vietnam. These fairly rare birds inhabit tail, vine – thick forests and bamboo groves. They eat large insects such as moths, grasshoppers, and stick insects, as well as fruit, berries, and big seeds. Like other trogon species, Ward’s Trogons spend most of their time alone or in pairs. They are shy, but they do not always fly away immediately if they see humans. Whereas males are greyish with maroon tinge and have red patches, females are olive brownish with yellow patches. When observers are present, Ward’s Trogons are usually silent.
- GREAT BARBET (Megalaima virens )
Barbets occur in several continents and are among the globe’s most glamorous birds – they are beautiful, exotic, and often fabulous singers. The Great Barbet, which ranges from north eastern Pakistan and northwestern India to eastern China and parts of Southeast Asia, is the largest species in the barbet family; with its magnificent colors, large, stout bill, and husky silhouette, it is truly a distinctive bird. Great Barbets occupy forests and wooded valleys, often on mountain slopes. They are usually alone or in pairs during breeding seasons, but they congregate in groups of up to thirty or more at food sources during non - breeding periods. Barbets are fruit – eaters, and the Great Barbet favors such fruits as figs and wild plums. It also eat berries, flower parts, and tree buds, and has a taste for insects as well.
- STORK – BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis)
The Stork – billed Kingfisher, a large Kingfisher with an immense red bill, is found over a broad region of Southern Asia, from India and Sri Lanka eastward to most of Southeast Asia. Its coloration varies regionally; some sport a brown cap: others, in parts of the Philippines, have a white head, as well as white underparts in place of the usual buff or reddish – brown belly. A denizen of lowland wooded wetlands, the stork – billed Kingfisher frequents such environments as riversides and lakesides, paddy fields, seashores, and mangroves, but prefers large, slow streams. Often perched quietly on a branch over water, it scans for prey, then dives to grab it, either from the water or from land. After bringing its prey back to its perch, the bird stuns it by smacking it a few times before swallowing it. The stock – billed Kingfisher’s primary diet consists of fish and crabs, but it also eats beetles, frogs, lizards, and small birds and rodents.
- RHINOCEROS HORNBILL (Buceros rhinoceros)
For birders travelling to Southeast Asia, one of the most sought – after sightings is a glimpse of the Rhinoceros Hornbill, found only in Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo. Aptly named, this bird is very large, with an amazing, mostly hollow, upturned “Casque” atop its huge bill. It usually breeds in pairs and associates in small groups after breeding season ends; however, some observers have spotted flocks as large as twenty or more. Hornbills are primarily fruit – eaters, and the Rhinoceros Hornbill favors the many species of figs native to its rainforest habitat. They also eat insects, tree frogs, Lizards, and bird eggs, plucking these foods mainly from trees but also from the ground. Currently, these splendid birds survive only in areas where there are still plenty of large, old trees, in which they roost and nest.
- WHITE – BELLIED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus javensis)
The white – bellied woodpecker is a large, striking woodpecker native to India, Southeast Asia, South western China, and Korea. It resides in various forest habitats, including pine forests and bamboo forests and along forest edges. It prefers areas with many dead and rotting trees, where it finds much of its food. White – bellied woodpeckers typically live in pairs or small groups. They forage in trees, usually starting low in a tree and moving upward: they also find food in shrubs, on fallen logs, and on the ground. They seek beetles and their larvae, large ants, termites, and other insects, as well as some fruits. They catch many of these wood – dwelling insects by pecking and hammering at trees to strip away bark, by prying up pieces of underlying wood, and by digging deep holes in trees.
- GREATER GOLDEN BACK (Chrysocolaptes lucidus)
A handsome woodpecker with a pointed red crest and long bill, the Greater Golden back is particularly notable for the exquisite black – and - white patterns on its neck and underparts. Also commonly called the Greater Flameback, this species lives in Nepal, India, and eastward into southern China, southeast Asia, and the Philippines. It prefers forests and their periphery, as well as mangroves, but it also frequents old, decaying tree plantations, such as those that formerly produced teak or rubber. Greater Golden backs, generally associating in pairs or family parties, forage almost always in large trees, both living and dead, and only very occasionally come to the ground. They peck and hammer away at wood to excavate holes, in search of caterpillars, ants, the larvae of wood – boring beetles, and various insects.
- BANDED PITTA (Pitta guajana)
Although relatively little is known about them, Pittas are some of the most gorgeous of the world’s birds, and often among the favorites of globe – trotting birdwatchers. Different species are found in Africa, southern Asia, and Australia, but the Banded Pitta, one of the most strikingly marked, occurs only in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Banded Pittas inhabit lowland forests, typically with limestone cliffs nearby. Like other Pittas, they are shy and elusive. Their wonderful coloring is usually difficult to appreciate because they remain primarily on the dark forest floor. Banded Pittas walk on the ground in search of prey, occasionally scratching the leaf litter with their feet, looking for insects such as ants, termites, caterpillars, and beetles. They also consume earthworms, snails, and some berries. Populations of this beautiful species are, unfortunately, declining rapidly due to habitat destruction and the bird’s popularity in the local pet trade.
- BANDED BROADBILL (Eurylaimus javanicus)
Broadbills are husky, forest – dwelling birds with large heads and wide bills that help them catch insects. They generally have bright, unusual coloring, and the Banded Broadbill’s purplish, black, and yellow hues are a good example of the family’s distinctive coloration. This species occupies Southeast Asia, including much of Indonesia, living in forest areas, typically near rivers, streams, and swamps, but also venturing into old, overgrown plantations and even into parks and gardens. In addition to insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, Katydids, beetles, and caterpillars, Banded Broad bills eat spiders, small snails, a bit of fruit, and perhaps the occasional tiny lizard. In pairs or small groups they sit motionless in trees and scan for moving prey; when they spot a likely meal, usually in the foliage, they fly out to grab it.
- ASIAN FAIRY – BLUE BIRD (Irena puella)
The Asian Fairy – bluebird is one of Southern Asian’s most radiant birds. The Males’ glossy, deep black – and – blue bodies are brilliant against their usual setting in leafy green tree canopies, so they are easy to spot. Females are a duller blue – green shade overall. A species of tropical and subtropical forests, the sturdy – looking Asian Fairy- bluebird is found from India to Southeast Asia, including many of Indonesia’s islands. These comely birds often occur alone or in flocks of up to seven or eight, usually in the middle to upper levels of trees. They are fruit – eaters, grabbing small to medium – sized fruits while they are perched or while flying through foliage: they sometimes consume flower nectar as well. Asian Fairy – blue birds also pursue and catch flying termites. The species frequently forages in tree canopies in mixed – species flocks.
- SCARLET MINIVET (Pericrocotus flammeus)
A dazzling bird, the Scarlet Minivet is a favorite of bird watchers, not just for the male’s bright orange – red and black coloring, but also for its energetic personality. These small birds, which have long tails and rather upright perching postures, range from India, including the Himalayan region, through Southeast Asia to the Philippines. Females are a vibrant yellow and gray. During nonbreeding periods of the year they flit about tree canopies in flocks of up to thirty birds, creating spectacular scenes when they fly and reveal their pretty tail and wing color patterns. In addition to forest areas, scarlet minivets inhabit orchards and parks with many tall trees. They primarily eat insects, such as cicads, grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars, which they locate in tree foliage or chase after in the air. These birds also visit trees with ripe fruit, probably to catch insects attracted to the sweetness of the fruit, and hover briefly over flowers to search for hiding bugs.
- ORANGE – BELLIED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis hardwickii)
Leaf birds are such stunning symbols of Southeastern Asia that illustrations of them frequently grace the covers of books about the region’s birdlife. The eleven leaf bird species are all a bright, leaf green, lending the family its name, but the Orange – bellied leaf bird male, with its orange yellow underparts and black mask, stands out as most attractive in the group. (Female orange - bellied leaf birds lack the black mask). These lovely birds inhabit forest canopies in Southeast Asia, southern China, and northern India. Orange – bellied leaf birds are difficult to spot against green foliage, and they move about solitarily, in pairs, or in small groups. They typically forage around a tree’s outer leaves, searching for spiders and insects such as caterpillars; they also catch moths and butterflies in the air and take some nectar from flowers. Fruit is part of their diet as well; they swallow small fruits whole and pierce and pulp larger ones with their bills.
- LONG – TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach)
The long – tailed shrike is a bold, handsome, medium – sized songbird that behaves like a small hawk. Like other shrikes, it catches mice, small birds, lizards, frogs, crabs, and even large insects, and then impales them on thorns or other sharp objects or wedges them into crevices. Shrikes, sometimes called butcherbirds, do this both to more easily dismember and eat their prey, and to store the prey for later consumption. The long – tailed shrike in particular hunts by perching in the open, scanning for prey. When it detects an animal, the shrike swoops down and snatches it from the ground; it eats small prey immediately, but brings larger items back to a perch to dispatch and eat them, or in some cases, to impale them. This shrike has an enormous ranges, from Afghanistan and Pakistan southward and eastward to India, China, southeast Asia, and New Guinea. It is an open – country bird, frequenting forest edges, clearings, roadsides, and gardens.
- RED – VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer)
Mostly tropical songbirds common to many parts of Asia and Africa, bulbuls are highly versatile, as indicated by their successful habitation of regions outside their native ranges, where people have introduced them. The Red – Vented Bulbul, which naturally inhabited southern Asia only, now also lives on many pacific Islands, including Fiji and Hawaii. These birds prefer dry, open habitats, such as scrub and grass areas, orchards, gardens, and roadsides, where they forage in pairs or small groups, often in trees or bushes. They eat primarily fruits, but also some insects and nectar.
- RUFOUS TREEPIE (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
The Rufous Treepie is a tree dwelling, crow like species common over many regions of southern Asia, from Pakistan eastward to mainland southeast Asia. It is a wary bird, often staying high in the trees, but bold enough to sometimes enter buildings in pursuit of geckos. Rufous Treepies inhabit woodlands, agricultural areas, and large trees in villages, parks, and gardens. They usually remain in pairs or family groups, feeding in the tree canopy and not often coming to the ground. They east insects, bird eggs and nestlings, lizards, and small rodents, and also take certain fruits, berries and seeds.
- COMMON GREEN MAGPIE (Cissa chinensis)
The common Green Magpie is a beautiful, Pea – green bird that, unfortunately for observers, is highly camouflaged in its lush, green forest environment. It is also shy, usually remaining in the dense cover of the tree canopy. Interestingly, when these green birds stray too often into open habitats, the increased sun exposure turns their feathers from green to blue. This member of the crow and Jay family ranges from the foothills of the Himalayas in north western India to southeast Asia. It favors forests and forest edges, bamboo thickets, and vegetation along watercourses. Typically in pairs or small groups, these attractive birds move through the lower and middle parts of tree canopies, through shrubs, and along the ground in search of food. They eat mainly animals, such as large insects, amphibians, small reptiles, and small birds, and perhaps some fruit and carrion as well.
- MAROON ORIOLE (Oriolus traillii)
The Maroon Oriole is a shy bird that tends to stay obscured in the high, leafy foliage of tall trees. Males are a striking purplish – red color with black markings; females have dusky – brown backs and streaks on their whitish bellies. The species occupies dense forests and forest edges from the Himalayan region to southwestern China and Southeast Asia. It eats insects, which it plucks from the leaves and twigs of trees.
- WHITE – THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis)
Fantails are a group of small, insect – catching birds of Asia and Australasia, named for the way they repeatedly spread their tail feathers into a fan shape as the forage. The purpose of their constant tail movements is probably to scare hiding insects and flush them into the open where the birds can see and catch them. White – throated Fantails, highly active birds of forests, bamboo areas, and wooded gardens, range from Pakistan and India to China and Southeast Asia. They tend to forage in the middle levels of tree canopies, usually near the main tree trunks.
- GREATER RACKET – TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus)
The spectacular Greater Racket Tailed Drongo is truly an unusual sight for bird watchers in Asia. It has a glossy, black body crowned with a helmet like crest and amazing, wire – like tail extensions with pendant – shaped endings. The drongos elaborate tails, in conjunction with their long, pointed wings, may increase their aerial maneuverability, enhancing their ability to catch flying insects. Greater Racket – Tailed Drongos range from India and Sri Lanka to China and Southeast Asia. They are forest – dwelling birds, but they also visit tree plantations. They forage for a wide variety of insects, from small flies to large butterflies and beetles, in the middle and lower levels of forests, often joining other birds to form mixed species feeding flocks. A bold bird, the Greater Racket – Tailed Drongo sometimes attacks much larger birds that come too close to it, including huge hornbills.
- COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia)
Ioras are small, greenish – and – yellow birds of southern Asia that flit energetically and acrobatically about tree foliage as they forage. The very pretty common Iora is native to Southern China, Southeast Asia, and India. It prefers to live in open forests, forest edges, tree plantations, wooded roadsides, mangroves, and parks. Usually alone or in pairs, these ioras hop methodically through trees and bushes, searching mainly for fruits. They frequently hang upside down from twigs to reach choice items, including some insects. Females are often a bit more pale – colored than males.
- BLUE THROAT (Luscinia svecica)
The Blue throat, a small, pretty bird with a bright blue bib, populates parts of four continents, from South and East Asia to northern Africa, and Europe and Alaska. It is often secretive typically foraging on or near the ground. On long legs, it runs and hops about in paddy fields, scrub areas, tall grass, and shrubbery along water courses. The Blue throat’s foods include insects, snails, seeds, and berries. Outside of the breeding season, these birds can be furtive, quiet, and difficult to see.
- SIBERIAN RUBY THROAT (Luscinia calliope)
The male Siberian Ruby throat is decorated with the dazzling red throat that gives the species its name, but the female’s throat is a plainer, grayish white. These birds are small ground – dwellers with a wide distribution, encompassing much of Asia, including Japan and the Philippines. They are found around bushes, dense undergrowth, and long grass and reeds, often near water. Siberian Ruby throats move about with quick hops and fast, brief runs as they search for insects and seeds. They are known for frequently drooping their wings while they cock tails upright.
- MANGROVE BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis rufigastra)
The Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, a relatively little – known species, is an attractive, small bird of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Indonesia. In some regions it lives primarily in and around mangroves, near coastal bays and Lagoons. Elsewhere the species occupies various other habitats, including forests, forest edges, scrub areas, and even roadside vegetation. Usually alone or in pairs, these little birds forage for insects in the middle and lower parts of mangroves and trees, often searching close to the ground.
- COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa)
The common Hill Myna is an intriguing bird, celebrated for its ability to mimic the human voice when in captivity. Native to India, southern China, and Southeast Asia, but transported by people fascinated by its vocal mimicry, the species now also lives in the wild in such far – flung outposts as Florida and Puerto Rico. These mynas are active birds that stay in trees of forests and forest edges, occasionally coming down into shrubs to forage. They are gregarious birds, often perching high in trees in pairs or small flocks. Their food consists mainly of fruits and berries, but also some flower buds, nectar, and insects. Larger flocks of Common Hill Mynas sometimes gather at trees that are heavily laden with edible fruit, and forage noisily with other fruit – eaters such as hornbills and barbets.
- SULTAN TIT (Melanochlora sultanea)
This gaudy songbird is the largest member of the broadly distributed tit family, which has representatives on four continents. About eight inches long, the Sultan Tit ranges from Nepal, India, and Bangladesh to Southeast Asia and parts of China. Males are a glossy bluish black and bright yellow; the females are a duller shade of blackish olive. The bird erects its splendid long crest when excited. Sultan Tits inhabit forests and forest edges, generally preferring the top or middle regions of tall trees, where they forage singly, in pairs, or in small groups of up to ten or more. With the jerky, almost constant movements characteristic of their Kind, they make their way through foliage, often hanging at odd angles to reach insects and spiders on leaves and twigs; they also eat buds, seeds, and some fruit.
- SPOT – BREASTED LAUGHING THRUSH (Garrulax merulinus)
The spot – breasted laughing thrush is a rather scarce and secretive resident of Southern Asia, found from north – eastern India eastward into southwestern China and Southeast Asia. It makes its home in forest edges, overgrown clearings, and bamboo thickets. Spot – breasted laughing thrushes forage on the ground in dense undergrowth, usually in pairs or in groups of up to ten to twenty birds. They hop about, turning over leaves and sticking their bills into nooks and crevices, in search of insects and other small invertebrate animals to eat; they also consume some seeds and fruit.
- SILVER – EAREDMESIA (Leiothrix argentauris)
This stunningly colored little songbird, sometimes called the silver - eared leiothrix, is native to the Himalayan region and Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and parts of Indonesia. It resides in forested areas where bushes are plentiful, such as at forest edges and clearings. The silver – eared Mesia finds its food mainly in bushes, but sometimes in tree canopies as well. In pairs or in groups of thirty or more, these restless birds flit about in foliage, searching for insects and fruit. They commonly associate in foraging flocks with other bird species.
- GREAT PARROT BILL (Conostoma oemodium)
Parrot bills, a bird group primarily confined to Asia, are known for their wide, stubby, powerful bills, which may help them strip and manipulate bamboo pieces. The Great parrot bill is a fairly rare species that occurs in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, and northeastern India, as well as in northern Myanmar and Southwestern China. It dwells in middle to high elevations, in summer at altitudes of up to twelve thousand feet. In pairs or groups of as many as twenty individuals, Great parrot bills tend to stay in dense thickets to forage slowly in low vegetation, occasionally on the ground. They hop and clamber around, looking for insects, berries, seeds, and plant buds. Although they are not shy birds, they go largely unnoticed because they keep to the undergrowth of their habitats, typically bamboo stands and rhododendron thickets.
- RED – BILLED LEIOTHRIX (Leiothrix lutea)
The Red – billed Leiothrix is a small, stocky member of a very large family of birds known as babblers. Like most others in this group, the leiothrix is gregarious and quite vocal. But whereas most other babblers have non – descript brown – and – grey colors, this leiothrix is beautifully marked with patches of yellow and orange. The species inhabits dense undergrowth at forest edges and also in forest clearings, ravines, and scrub areas. It usually associates in pairs or small parties of four to six. They forage actively in thick undergrowth and on the ground, sometimes moving upward into trees, in search of insects, fruit, and seeds. The Red – billed leiothrix is native to parts of China, India, and Southeast Asia. It also occurs now in the wild on several of the main islands of Hawaii, where people imported it during the early nineteen hundreds.
- STREAKED SPIDER HUNTER (Arachnothera magna)
The streaked spider hunter is one of ten spider hunter species, small birds of tropical Asia that have very long, down – curved bills. They use these bills as hummingbirds do, to help draw nectar from flowers. In addition to nectar, spider hunters eat many insects and spiders plucked from webs, giving the group its name. The streaked spider hunter ranges through most of Southeast Asia, but also appears in southern China, Bangladesh, Nepal, and northeastern India. It favors forests with dense layers of undergrowth, and particularly prefers banana trees. Although they find much of their food in high trees, they often descend to the relatively low banana trees to feed at their flowers. These fast – moving birds are usually solitary or in pairs, and they fly strongly and quickly from tree to tree.
- ORANGE – BELLIED FLOWER PECKER (Dicaeum trigonostigma)
Flower peckers are very small, bullet – shaped birds of southern Asia, and Australasia; the male Orange bellied flower pecker, with its orange – and – blue coloring, is undoubtedly one of the most striking of the group. Female Orange – bellied flower peckers are not quite as brilliant as the males, colored mostly a dull greyish brown with only a hint of orange on the belly and rump. The species is found from India eastward to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. It dwells in lowland forest areas, particularly at forest edges, as well as in clearings, gardens, and mangroves. These birds move rapidly through tree foliage as they forage, feeding at all levels but favoring the high canopy. Typically alone or in pairs, they take soft fruits, berries, seeds, flower nectar and pollen, and tiny insects from flowering or fruit – bearing trees.
- RED AVADAVAT (Amandava amandava)
The Red Amadavat is a beautiful, very small bird native to Pakistan, India, Nepal, Southern China, and Southeast Asia. It is so pretty that people transported the species to other regions, often to keep it as a caged pet. Now, many years later, the Red Avadavat is a naturalized resident of such far – flung places as Fiji and Hawaii in the mid – Pacific, the Philippines, and quite recently, Italy. Males are red with white spots; females are grayish brown with white spots. The Red Avadavat, sometimes called the strawberry Finch, inhabits open, grassy areas, including grasslands, marshes, scrub areas, paddy fields, and agricultural districts. They are quite social, generally travelling in flocks of up to thirty during nonbreeding periods. These flocks often join up with other small birds, such as sparrows, to forage together for grass seeds and other small seeds.
The region includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and several island groups of the Southern Pacific. In total, some fifteen hundred bird species inhabit the area, fewer than most other continents. But what this breathtaking lacks in numbers is more than made up for by its birds’ exceptional beauty and amazing behavior. Australia has about seven hundred forty bird species, a number close to that of the United States or Europe. To mention but a few stand outs; Parrots, including the large and striking Cockatoos; the Ostrich like Emu and Southern cassowary; beautiful bower birds that create elaborate stick structures to attract mates; and the Megapodes, which construct enormous mounds of decaying vegetation to incubate eggs. New Zealand, an island nation located South east of Australia, has stunning natural scenery. Bird watchers from around the globe visit to glimpse birds that live nowhere else. These include Kiwis, rotund, flightless birds that are the national symbols of New Zealand; the Kea, a particularly curious alpine parrot; and the Rifleman, a tiny insect – eater. The huge island of Papua New Guinea, located just north of Australia, is best known by birders as home to a great majority of the beautiful birds – of – paradise – tropical wet – forest birds, many with long, elaborate tail feathers or head plumes. Other birds characteristic of the Australasian region are Kingfishers, with ten species in Australia, including two Koo Kaburras, and more than twenty species in Papua New Guinea, Lyrebirds, which display their spectacular long tails during courtship rituals; fairy wrens, small, colorful birds that usually hold their long tails stiffly upward; and honey eaters, a group of nectar – eating species.
- COMMON SPECIES OF BIRDS IN AUTRALASIA AND OCEANIA
- SOUTHERN CASSOWARY (Casuarius casuarius)
The Southern Cassowary is a huge, Ostrich – like bird restricted to the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea and small portions of north eastern Australia. Undeniably strange – looking with their featherless blue neck, red wattles, and unique bony crest, these impressive birds weigh up to one hundred and twenty pounds. They are found alone, in pairs, or in groups of up to five or six. During the day, these birds spend their time foraging for fruit, which they usually take from the ground after it was fallen; they also eat seeds, mushrooms, and insects and some other small animals. Cassowaries can become quite aggressive during breeding season, defending their young by charging and kicking. The Southern Cassowary is a threatened species in Australia, where habitat destruction and road collisions have decimated populations. The species is still hunted in Papua New Guinea.
- NORTH ISLAND BROWN KIWI (Apteryx mantelli)
Kiwis, native only to New Zealand, are undoubtedly this island nation’s most celebrated animal inhabitants. These fairly large ground birds are active mostly at night, spending the daylight hours asleep in burrows or hollow logs. The North Island Brown Kiwi, restricted to New Zealand’s northern main island, lives in forests, shrub lands, and agricultural areas. These shaggy – looking, pear – shaped birds emerge at night from their lairs and begin to forage, usually in pairs. They walk along, sniffing loudly; Kiwis use their powerful sense of smell to help locate food. Their main prey is earthworms, supplemented by beetles, spiders, crickets, centipedes, and small amount of seeds, fruits, and leaves. The Kiwis plunge their bills deep into the soil to locate food and even dig small holes to extricate particularly large worms.
- MAGPIE GOOSE (Anseranas semipalmata)
The Magpie Goose is a very large, lanky, black – and – white goose with a knobbed head. It ranges only over the tropical areas of northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea, mainly near coasts, and favors wet grasslands and swamps. These geese are usually seen in small to large flocks, grazing on land or feeding in shallow water. Their food consists of seeds, leaves, and roots; the geese dig the latter out of the ground with their hooked bills.
- BLACK SWAN (Cygnus atratus)
Native swans present a startling sight to bird watchers and others visiting Australia: In contrast to the swans they are familiar with back home, these swans are almost all black. Black swans, large birds with wingspans of up to six and a half feet, occur in large lakes, rivers, lagoons, estuaries, and coastal waters. They are seen in pairs, family groups, and in flocks that reach into the thousands. Feeding in the water, flooded fields, or pastures, these stately birds mainly eat the shoots and leaves of aquatic plants, algae, pond weeds, and pasture grasses. Black swans are also common in New Zealand, where they were introduced.
- BROLGA (Grus rubicunda)
A tall, silver – grey crane striding confidently across an Australian wetland is probably a Brolga, or Australian crane. In addition to its broad range in Australia, this large bird lives in parts of Papua New Guinea. Brolgas inhabit freshwater wetlands, marshes, and woodland swamps: they also range into pastures and wet meadows. Walking slowly along in water or on swampy ground with their heads down, they search for insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. Brolgas also dig tubers of marsh plants from the mud with their powerful, sharp bills. Occasionally, Brolgas use their bills to grab, spear, or hammer frogs, snakes, and small mammals; in cultivated areas, they eat cereal crops. Brolgas are quite gregarious, usually staying in pairs or small flocks typically composed of family members, although larger flocks form at good feeding sites or at communal roosts.
- MICRONESIAN MEGAPODE (Megapodius laperouse)
Megapodes, or mound – builders, are chicken like birds that scrape together huge mounds of dirt and vegetation, burry their eggs in the mounds, and then allow the heat of the rotting vegetation to incubate the eggs. Some in the group, such as Micronesian Megapode, also place their eggs in burrows in the soil or sand and let the sun or geothermal energy warm them. This species, the smallest Megapode at about twelve inches long, is found only on the Pacific Ocean Islands of the MARIANAS, including GUAM and SAIPAN, and in PALAU. It inhabits mainly patches of forest, but also occurs in coconut groves, Coastal scrub, and beach side thickets. Usually noticed foraging in pairs, these megapodes pick from the ground seeds, small fruits, and tiny animals such as spiders, insects, and snails.
- WHISTLING FRUIT DOVE (Ptilinopus layardi)
Fruit doves are a large group of mostly green dove species that have successfully colonized many of the Pacific’s small, isolated islands. One of these, the Whistling Fruit Dove, is found only on two of Fiji’s small islands, Ono and Kandavu. It prefers forested areas, but is also found in shrub lands and occasionally in gardens in local villages. Like most fruit doves, the Whistling Fruit Dove is a tree – dwelling fruit eater, swallowing small fruits whole. It forages in the middle and lower sections of tree canopies and also lower down, in dense thickets. Males have greenish – yellow heads, but females’ heads are a dark olive green. The glossy green camouflaging plumage of fruit doves renders them difficult to spot in leafy tree canopies, so the these birds are far more often heard than seen. Whistling Fruit Dove vocalizations are very unlike the typical cooing calls most people associate with pigeons and doves.
- KEA (Nestor notabilis)
The Kea is a large, bulky, olive – brown parrot that lives only in portions of New Zealand’s southern main islands. Also called the Mountain Parrot, the Kea is a bird of alpine meadows and valleys and higher – elevation forests, although it does sometimes descend to lower – altitude river valleys. These gregarious parrots, which often associate in groups of five to fifteen, also frequent alpine ski resorts, hiking areas, and parking lots, where, in their playfulness, they sometimes damage buildings, equipment, and motorized vehicles with their powerful feet and bills. Keas mostly eat plant materials such as berries, fruits, shoots, and leaves, but they also scavenge at trash heaps and have been known to feed on dead animals. Kea are now locally common, and the birds are not considered endangered – but before being placed.
Under conservation protection in 1970, Keas were commonly hunted and Killed because people believed that they Killed large number of sheep.
- NEW ZEALAND KAKA (Nestor meridionalis)
A distinctive rust – red and brown forest parrot, the New Zealand Kaka is found at low and middle elevations on both of New Zealand’s main islands. The species has become quite rare in many regions because humans have increasingly altered its forest habitats for development, and its nests are often destroyed by the rats and weasel – like mammals called stoats introduced to New Zealand by people. Kakas are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, when they feed noisily in trees in pairs or groups of up to ten. They are great flyers, often playing, tumbling, and diving in the air above the forest canopy. During the middle of the day, these birds often perch quietly in trees and are typically unseen. Kakas eat Kiwi and other fruits, berries, seeds, flowers, buds, nectar, and insects.
- YELLOW – TAILED BLACK COCKATOO (Calyptorhynchus funereus)
The yellow – tailed Black Cockatoo, a large black parrot, is one of Australia’s nine or so cockatoo species. It occurs in the south eastern part of the country and also in the island state of Tasmania, in a variety of habitats, including woodlands and rainforests. Bird watchers and hikers often spot these birds because they tend to perch at the tops of large trees in open areas, such as clearings and parking lots in national parks. They associate in pairs, small family groups, or, outside of breeding seasons, large flocks. They eat seeds, which they take from the ground or from foliage, and insect larvae. The cockatoos use their powerful bills to strip away bark and dig into the underlying wood to reach the larvae. Yellow – tailed Black cockatoo are noisy and conspicuous.
- GREEN ROSELLA (Platycercus caledonicus)
Rosellas are a group of small to medium – sized parrots that have a characteristic mottled color pattern on their backs and relatively long legs for feeding on the ground. The striking Green Rosella, with its red forehead and blue cheeks, lives only in the Australian island state of Tasmania and some of the small islands located between Tasmania and the Australian Mainland. It is found in almost all wooded habitats in Tasmania, from forest and woodlands to fruit orchards and gardens. These birds are typically seen in small parties of four or five, but larger flocks, often composed of juvenile birds, usually form after breeding seasons. Green Rosellas feed in trees and on the ground, eating seeds from trees, shrubs, and grasses, and also leaf buds, berries, fruit, grain crops, and some insect larvae.
- GREATER SOOTY OWL (Tyto tenebricosa)
The Greater sooty owl is a secretive owl native to Papua New Guinea and Australia’s eastern Coastal region. It usually lives in tall, wet forests, often in more sheltered areas such as deep valleys. These owls spend the daylight hours resting in a hollow tree or in dense vegetation, emerging at night to hunt. They search for food from treetops and from tree trunks and branches, also capture prey on the ground. Their main foods are small mammals found in trees, such as rats, mice, bats, and possums, but they also take such ground mammals as rabbits and small wallabies.
- ORIENTAL DOLLAR BIRD (Eurystomus orientalis)
A handsome, stocky, large – headed bird with a red bill, the Oriental Dollar bird ranges across a wide swath of northern and eastern Australia, and is also found in Southeastern Asia, China, and India. It lives in woodlands, on the edges of rainforests, among trees along watercourses, and in open country with scattered trees. These birds are called Dollar birds because of the large, pale blue, “dollar – sized” patches on their open wings. They feed, usually starting during the late afternoon, by catching large insects in the air. They also take prey such as small lizards from the ground.
- LAUGHING KOO KABURRA (Dacelo novaeguineae)
After Kangaroos and the Koala, the Laughing Kookaburra may be Australia’s most famous animal resident. Its maniacal laughing call is familiar to many around the world from movies and nature documentaries, even if the particular species that makes the call is less well known. The laughing Kookaburra occurs naturally in Australia, and via human transport also in parts of New Zealand. The world’s largest species of Kingfisher, these bulky birds are up to eighteen inches long. These Kookaburras inhabit woodlands, forest clearings, parks, orchards, and trees along rivers. They are often spotted in pairs or small groups, perched quietly, looking for prey. They swoop quickly from trees to catch a variety of foods on the ground; earthworms, snails, crabs, spiders, insects, Lizards, snakes, and tiny mammals. They also occasionally catch a bug in flight or snatch a fish or frog from shallow water.
- SUPERB LYREBIRD (Menura novaehollandiae)
Lyrebirds, renowned for their courtship displays, are secretive, pheasant – sized birds that live only in southeastern Australia. The superb lyrebird, a resident of temperate rainforests and woodlands, is the larger of two Lyrebird species. During courtship, the male lyrebird displays his spectacular long gaudy tail to females by spreading it and inverting it over his head, then quivering the tail and jumping and spinning about. These birds, which are poor flyers, spend their days on the forest floor but roost in trees at night. When observed, usually as they cross roads or trails, they are alone, or in pairs, or in small groups. They forage by walking along and stopping at intervals, using their feet to dig into the soil or tear apart rotting wood in search of worms, spiders, and insects.
- NOISY SCRUB BIRD (Atrichornis clamosus)
The Noisy Scrub bird, a small, skulking ground bird, is known for its rarify. It was thought to be extinct until a small population of the species was rediscovered in 1961 in a tiny coastal area of southwestern Australia. This spot is now a protected nature reserve, and the scrub bird is thriving. These fast, alert birds run and creep through the dense undergrowth of their favored habitats; thickets, dense scrub, and shrubby forest floors. They poke about in leaf litter, turning pieces over with their bills and snatching mainly insects, but also small lizards and frogs.
- BROWN TREE CREEPER (Climacteris picumnus)
The Brown Tree Creeper is a small, sticky forest and woodland bird native to eastern Australia. It is often called “ Woodpecker” by Australians because it acts somewhat like a woodpecker, foraging on tree trunks, although Australia has no actual woodpecker species. Brown Tree Creepers are typically seen alone, in pairs, or in small groups of three to eight. They look for their insect food, chiefly ants and beetles, in trees, , poking their slender bills into holes and crevices in trunks and larger branches, and also on the ground.
- RIFLEMAN (Acanthisitta chloris)
The Rifleman is a very active, tiny bird restricted to New Zealand. Males have green backs; those of females are brown and streaked. These birds live in upland forests, scrub areas, and tree plantations, and sometimes move into parks and gardens. In pairs or small groups, they move rapidly among tree trunks, branches, twigs, and leaves, constantly flicking their wings open and closed. They eat mostly insects such as beetles, crickets, flies, moths, and caterpillars, but also consume spiders and small snails, some berries, and ripe fruits.
- SUPERR FAIRYWREN (Malurus cyaneus)
Fairy wrens are among the Australian region’s most charming and beautiful birds. Outfitted partially in a bright spectrum of blues, these small birds occupy a variety of habitats and often are easy to see in open areas and parks. The superb Fairy wren ranges over much of southeastern Australia, in grassy areas, shrubby parts of forests and woodlands, and also in marshes, riverside thickets, orchards, and gardens. It usually congregates in small family parties that defend communal territories. These groups move quickly through thickets and hop about on grass, foraging for small insects, seeds, flowers, and some fruits. Female Superb Fairy wrens have none of the Male’s glittering blues; their feathers are a mousy brown above and whitish below.
- STRIATED PARDALOTE (Pardalotus striatus)
The stunning little Striated Pardalote is one of only four Pardalote species, which are only found in Australia. Sometimes called diamond birds, Pardalotes are tiny, thick – set birds with short bills that dart about the higher foliage of eucalyptus trees. Their brightly patterned plumages, with accents of yellow and red, make these birds favorites of many bird fanciers. Striated Pardalotes inhabit rainforests and woodlands, and also settled areas such as roadsides, parks, and gardens. They are quite fast and agile in the air, flying quickly from one tree to the next. Alone, in pairs, or in small family groups, the creep and scurry around tree canopies, snatching small insects from the surfaces of leaves. Pardalotes often hang upside down from twigs to search a leaf or grab an escaping insect.
- EASTERN BRISTLE BIRD (Dasyornis brachypterus)
Like most of the other continents, Australia has a collection of small – and - medium – sized dull brown birds that flit shyly among low, dense vegetation and over the ground. Usually more often heard than seen, these numerous, unglamourous species are the bane of bird watchers, who have difficulty seeing and identifying them despite frequent attempts. The Eastern Bristle bird is one such bird. It lives in the coastal regions of southeastern Australia, in woodlands, dense scrub areas, and shrublands. Mainly terrestrial birds, the forage by moving rapidly and quietly over the ground, hopping around and searching for insects and seeds. They also occasionally fly up to take bugs from foliage or in the air. Mated pairs usually forage together on their territories.
- RED WATTLEBIRD (Anthochaera carunculata)
The Red Wattlebird, distinguished by the fleshy red wattles that hang below its red eyes, is one of Australia’s many species of honey eaters, birds that specialize in eating plant nectar. It occurs predominantly in forests and woodlands made up of eucalyptus trees, and also in more open areas with trees such as orchards, parks, and gardens. A noisy, aggressive bird, the Red Wattlebird is typically seen in pairs or small flocks, which forage high and low among trees, and occasionally on the ground. They mostly take nectar from eucalyptus flowers, but also some insects from the air. The species ranges over the Southern quarter of Australia.
- NOISY MINER (Manorina melanocephala)
If you drive almost anywhere in eastern Australia and pull off the highway to take in a view, the active, quarrel – some birds in the trees nearby are probably Noisy Miners. These grey birds live in open forested and woodland areas, as well as in parks and gardens. They are highly gregarious, associating year – round in groups, usually of five to eight birds. The groups roam circumscribed feeding areas, foraging in tree foliage and on the ground for nectar, insects, and fruits.
- TUI (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae)
New Zealand boasts relatively few native songbirds, and many of them are rare and difficult for visitors to see. The TUI, however, is fairly easy to find. It is a blackish bird with an unusual tuft of white feathers at its throat and, in the right light, glossy iridescence. The TUI inhabits chiefly forests and scrub areas, but frequently visits small towns, rural gardens, and suburbs. The TUI is the dominant honeyeater in New Zealand and aggressively chases other TUIS, as well as other nectar – eating birds, away from its feeding areas. TUIS are usually seen solitarily or in small groups, energetically feeding in trees. They prefer to eat nectar, but take fruits and large insects when nectar is scarce.
- NEW ZEALAND BELL BIRD (Anthornis melanura)
Named for its bell – like vocalizations, the New Zealand Bellbird is a small, agile, greenish bird with a short, down – curved bill that it uses to help draw nectar from flowers. It lives throughout most of New Zealand. The bell bird is a mainly arboreal resident of forests, scrub areas, orchards, and parks. It feeds at all levels of trees and occasionally comes to the ground. Its diet consists primarily of flower nectar, but it also eats insects and spiders, which it takes from tree surfaces and catches in the air; when flowers are in short supply, it also eats fruit. Bellbirds, especially the males, are known for being extremely aggressive about defending good nectar sources, and when there are other bellbirds in the same tree, they chase the competing birds from their own small feeding area.
- SCARLET ROBIN ( Petroica boodang)
Australasia boasts a good number of small, rather plump bird species called robins that have large, rounded heads and squarish tails; many also have white wing – bars. Some of these birds are yellow, some are mostly brown or grey. Others, including the Scarlet Robin, have red breasts, which may be the reason this group of birds was long ago named the Australasian “robins” – they reminded European colonists of the red - breasted robins at home. The Scarlet Robin occurs in three areas; in Southwestern and Southeastern Australia, and in Tasmania. These forest and woodland dwellers forage on or near the ground, mainly for insects. They are known as “perch – and – pounce” feeders because they tend to sit quietly on a low perch, such as a branch or tree stump, waiting for food to happen by; when it does, they quickly pounce on it or fly out to grab it.
- AUSTRALIAN LOGRUNNER (Orthonyx temminckii)
The Australian Logrunner is a chunky, attractive, somewhat common inhabitant of the leafy, viney rainforest floor of Australia’s southeastern coast. An unusual feature of this bird is the collection of “spines”, or short pieces of bare feather shafts, that protrude from the end of its tail. The species lives on defended territories in permanent communal groups of up to five or six birds. Logrunners sometimes lean back on their spines to balance and prop themselves up while using their strong legs and large feet to scratch and scrap the ground for insects, snails, and other tiny forest – floor invertebrates. Logrunners fly little, and only for short distances when they do, foraging and escaping danger mostly via rapid running and hopping.
- GREY – CROWNED BABBLER (Pomatostomus temporalis)
Grey – Crowned Babblers are handsome, medium – sized songbirds that inhabit open forests and woodlands in many parts of Australia. They are active and highly gregarious, spending their days in groups of related individuals of ten or more that feed and sleep together. Each babbler group lives on a communal territory, which it aggressively defends. To forage, the babblers bound quickly along the ground and through shrubs. They use their bills to turn over dead leaves and fallen bark pieces in search of hiding bugs, and they also fly to low portions of tree trunks and shrubs to hunt for prey. Babblers also eat spiders, tiny frogs and reptiles, and occasional seeds and fruit. As its name suggests, the Grey – Crowned Babbler – sometimes called “barking bird” and “chatterer” – is a very vocal species.
- EASTERN WHIPBIRD (Psophodes olivaceus)
The Eastern whipbird is a striking, crested bird native to Australia’s eastern coastal rainforests and moist woodlands, where it is famous for its year – round, deafening whip crack calls. Whip birds, which usually associate in mated pairs or small family parties, are terrestrial birds that hop about rapidly through forest undergrowth. They forage on or close to the ground mainly for insects, but also eat some seeds and an occasional small lizards. Eastern whipbirds are far more often heard than seen. Pairs call back and forth to each other in brief duets as they forage.
- AUSTRALIAN GOLDEN WHISTLER (Pachycephala pectoralis)
Whistlers are small, stout, tree – dwelling songbirds sometimes called thick heads due to their characteristic thick, rounded heads. The Australian Golden Whistler, with its bright yellow coloring, is surely one of the prettiest of the group. It occurs widely over southern and eastern Australia and in Papua New Guinea, inhabiting rainforests, eulycalyptus forests and woodlands, and scrub areas. This whistler is usually seen alone or, when breeding, in pairs. The birds tend to stay in tree canopies, hopping rapidly to perch as they search for insects. The Australian Golden Whistler ranks among the region’s outstanding singers.
- GREY CURRAWONG (Strepera versicolor)
The Grey Currawong is a large, grey, crow like bird with yellow eyes and an extremely robust bill. The species is often a conspicuous presence over large swaths of southern Australia, and in some central regions of the continent as well. It lives in a variety of habitats, from forests and woodlands to scrub areas, shrub lands, orchards, and parks. Usually spotted foraging noisily in trees, these currawongs move about alone, in pairs, or in family groups; in winter they sometimes form larger flocks. They prey mainly on large insects that they locate on tree bark, in foliage, or on the ground. They catch vertebrates such as smaller birds and lizards, and they also take fruit and scavenge in garbage. Currawongs, sometimes called bell – magpies, are recognized for their ringing, clinking vocalizations.
- SADDLE BACK (Philesturnus carunculatus)
The Saddleback is a threatened New Zealand species, now occurring only on small islands off the coast, where it is safe from predators such as rats and cats introduced by people. A striking bird with glossy black plumage and bright reddish – brown saddle, it is further distinguished by the small, reddish, fleshy wattles that hang from the base of its bill. These forest and scrub dwellers spend much of their time moving about in trees, but they also forage extensively on the ground. They consume insects, other small invertebrate animals, berries, and some nectar. Saddlebacks have short wings and limited flight ability; instead of flying they usually prefer using their strong legs to jump and bound along tree branches or the ground. When they do fly, it is only over short distances. Saddlebacks live in territorial pairs and use vocalizations to announce their territories loudly and frequently.
- RAGGIANA BIRD – OF – PARADISE (Paradisaea raggiana)
Birds – of – paradise are undoubtedly among the most exotic and visually stunning of the world’s birds. The Raggiana Bird – of – Paradise exemplifies the group with the male’s fantastic long reddish plumes and bright patches of yellow and green. Females are plainer and lack the abundant, long plumes. This bird – of – paradise occurs in many parts of Papua New Guinea, mainly in forests at low and middle elevations and other wooded habitats, but it also appears at forest edges and even in gardens. Birds – of – Paradise are fruit – eaters, and the Raggiana Bird – of – Paradise takes figs and many other Kinds of fruit. It also catches insects on bark surfaces and leaves within the tree canopy. In addition to their bizarre plumages, birds – of – paradise are celebrated for their courtship displays. Males attract females to communal courting areas called LEKS with long series of loud, high - pitched notes. When females arrive, the males launch into visual displays to impress them, beating their wings and pumping their heads up and down, calling all the while.
- TOOTH – BILLED BOWER BIRD (Scenopoeetus dentirostris)
Bowerbirds are among the most intriguing birds of all. They build large “bowers”, or courtship structures, often from twigs or other plant materials. Males construct the bowers, then show them to females to convince them to mate. The bower of the Tooth – Billed Bowerbird is simple; a cleared circular space on the forest floor, which the male has decorated with a few larger green leaves. This species, with a notched bill that helps it cut down, rip, and chew leaves, is found only in mountain rainforests in a small corner of northeastern Australia. Tooth – Billed Bowerbirds forage in trees and on the ground, alone, in pairs, and sometimes in small groups. They eat fruit and a lot of leaves; small animals such as insects, spiders, and worms form a minor part of their diet. Tooth – Billed Bowerbirds vocalize most during the breeding season.
- IIWI (Vestiaria coccinea)
There are about eighteen surviving species of Hawaiian honey creepers, small finch like birds with specialized bills that live only in the Hawaiian Islands chain. The IIWI, a brilliant red bird with black wings and a long, sickle – shaped bright – orange bill, is one of most stunning and distinctive. It resides on most of Hawaii’s main islands, in middle – and – upper elevation forests. The IIWI’S primary food is nectar from flowers of trees and shrubs, and it also eats some insects. The bird is usually seen flying between trees or foraging on leafy branches, often hanging upside down. Although the IIWI has good – sized populations on a few islands, it is less secure on others, and it is very susceptible to some local bird diseases; the Hawaii state government considers it a threatened species.
- PALILA (Loxioides bailleui)
The Palila is an endangered Hawaiian species, found only on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is a pretty yellow, white, and grey bird with a short, stout black bill that looks like it belongs to a finch. Indeed, the Palila is one of a group of birds known as the Hawaiian finches, or the Hawaiian honey creepers. It now lives only in higher – elevation forests found on the upper slopes of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Volcano. Primarily a seed – eater, the Palila uses its bill to pluck seedpods from a native plant, the mamane. They fly with the separated pods to a tree perch, hold the pods with their feet, and rip them open with their bills to get at the seeds. Palilas also eat some fruit, flowers, leaves, and occasional insects. They usually congregate in small groups of three to five birds.
The North American region, includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the West Indies (Caribbean Islands). Most people do not realize it, but Mexico has an enormous number of animal species, including birds. One reason for the large number of species is that the country (Mexico) spans tropical and temperate climate zones, and so has animals characteristic of each. Also, Mexico boasts a great variety of – habitats – from dense, wet tropical forests in the south, to high – elevation pine and fir forests in the mountains, and parched, open deserts in the north and in general, the more habitat types in an area, the greater the variety of species. More than one thousand bird species (over 1,000) live in Mexico, fully one – tenth of the world’s species (9000 to 10,000). More than seven hundred and fifty (over 750) remain all year and breed there; the remainder winter in Mexico after migrating from the north. Some of the bird types of Mexico include Turkeys - the world’s only two species occur there; chachalacas, very vocal chicken like birds; more than sixty species of humming birds; silkies, or silky – flycatchers, mostly crested birds found only in North and Central America; and the American blackbirds, including the grackles, orioles, meadow larks, and caciques. The United States and Canada share many of the bird types that live in Mexico, particularly those of northern Mexico. These two countries together (The United States and Canada) have about six hundred and fifty bird species (over 650), with good numbers of ducks, woodpeckers, wrens, jays, thrushes, warblers, sparrows, and finches. The islands of the Caribbean, known as the WEST INDIES, have a tropical climate and share most of their bird types with nearby regions of North and South America. A few kinds, however, are unique to the islands, especially TODIES – tiny, exquisite kingfisher relatives, and Lizard cuckoos.
COMMON SPECIES OF BIRDS IN NORTH AMERICA & WEST INDIES(CARIBBEAN ISLANDS)
- PHEASANT CUCKOO (Dromococcyx phasianellus)
This intriguing bird is one that few people see, even bird watchers seeking it. A species from the lowland regions of Southern Mexico, the Pheasant Cuckoo is secretive and skulking, almost always sticking to dense undergrowth in the evergreen forests it prefers. It also occurs in Central and South America. Pheasant Cuckoos are fourteen to fifteen inches in length, with long, broad tails. They typically walk slowly and quietly through their wooded habitats, usually solitarily, foraging for insects (especially grasshoppers) and Lizards. When alarmed, they run quickly from the source of disturbance, madly flapping their wings. The Pheasant Cuckoo is a brood parasite, which means that females lay their eggs in the nests of other species so the “host” birds raise their young. Although people rarely see pheasant cuckoos, they often hear their calls. These birds, which spend most of the day on the ground, fly up to the middle or upper levels of trees to vocalize.
- JAMAICAN LIZARD CUCKOO (Saurothera vetula)
Birdwatchers visiting Jamaica often search for the Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, one of more than twenty – five bird species found only on that Caribbean Island. In fact, the world’s four species of Lizard Cuckoos – large cuckoos that eat lizards – live only in the West Indies. The Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo occupies wet forests or woodlands. It forages by moving slowly through tree canopies in search of its wide range of animal foods, including many kinds of insects, lizards, and nestling birds.
Jamaican lizard cuckoos, because they tend to stay in tree foliage, are more likely to be heard than seen.
- RUFOUS – BELLIED CHACHALACA (Ortalis wagleri)
Chachalacas and their close relatives, the guans and curassows, are chicken like birds that live in tropical and subtropical regions of the western hemisphere. Perhaps the most attractive chachalaca species, the richly colored Rufous – bellied chachalaca is confined to western Mexico. There it inhabits lowland deciduous and thorn forests and sometimes moves into agricultural areas, such as tree plantations. This bird usually appears in pairs or small groups, foraging in trees or on the ground for tree fruit, its staple food.
- OCELLATED TURKEY (Meleagris ocellata)
The world’s only two species of turkey are native solely to North America. The wild Turkey, familiar to many, ranges widely over the United States and many other locales where people have transported it, such as Europe and Australia. But the lesser – known Ocellated Turkey lives only in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent parts of Guatemala and Belize. It inhabits low elevation wet forests and clearings, as well as open brushy areas. These large, striking, ground – dwelling birds are an iridescent bluish black to blue green, with bright blue, featherless heads that sport yellow – orange “warts”. They usually spend their time in small groups, foraging for seeds, berries, nuts, and insects. The Ocellated’s name comes from the eye - like images (Ocelli) adorning the bird’s plumage. Owing to overhunting and destruction of its forest habitats, the Ocellated Turkey is now at risk; it has been eradicated from some parts of its native range, yet is still hunted, even in nature preserves. Ocellated Turkeys make a variety of sounds, including some similar to the well – known gobbling of wild turkeys and domestic turkeys.
- MEXICAN PARROTLET (Forpus cyanopygius)
The Mexican Parrotlet belongs to a group of small, stocky, green parrots that can be very difficult to spot against a tree’s green foliage, despite their vocal chattering. Often, this tiny green – and – blue parrot is clearly visible only in flight. The Mexican Parrotlet lives only in western Mexico in a variety of habitat types, including deciduous forests, dry scrublands, open grasslands with scattered trees (Savannas), plantations, and woodlands along watercourses (riverine vegetation / Gallery). It eats fruit such as figs, berries, and some seeds, which it finds in trees or on the ground. Mexican parrotlets are highly social / gregarious birds, typically convening in flocks of twenty to fifty or more individuals, although they are also sometimes found alone or in small groups. These small parrots often call while perched in trees or flying.
- VINCENT AMAZON (Amazona guildingii)
The St. Vincent Amazon is one of the most spectacularly colored Parrots of the western hemisphere. This large bird is found only on the tiny island of St. Vincent, in the lesser Antilles region of the west Indies (Caribbean), where it appears in two different colors; either primarily yellow and brown, or with an overall greenish hue. The species favors moist, mature forests, where it searches the tree canopy for its staple diet of fruit, seeds, and flowers. The St. Vincent Amazon is now rare and endangered. Its numbers started plunging in the early twentieth century, when developers cleared much of the birds’ old – growth forest habitat for agriculture. The large, mature trees in which the St. Vincent Amazon nests were felled to make cooking charcoal. Furthermore, traders frequently captured these parrots for the illicit trade of exotic pets. By the mid – 1980s, only about five hundred individuals remained; currently, with conservation efforts, probably more than eight hundred exist. Although the St. Vincent Amazon has not been extensively studied, some of its vocalizations are known.
- ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)
One of North America’s most unusual – looking wading birds, the Roseate spoonbill is truly flamboyant, with a pink body, red on its wings and tail, a naked head, and a bill shaped like a spatula, which gives the bird its name. In the United States, spoonbills are found mainly in Florida and along the Gulf Coast, where they frequent shallow aquatic habitats, both inland and along the coast. The species also dwells / inhabits along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of Mexico and southward into South America. These striking birds feed in marine and freshwater areas, such as bays, estuaries, wet meadows, marshes, swamps, and mudflats. The spoonbill forages by walking along and swinging its head and the slightly open “spoon” of the bill from side to side in the water; the bill snaps shut when it touches prey – mainly fish, crustaceans, and insects. The spoonbill is gregarious while feeding, nesting, and roosting. Roseate spoonbills produce only a few vocalizations.
- MAGNIFICENT FRIGATE BIRD (Fregata magnificens)
Frigate birds are large, beautiful seabirds with huge, pointed wings and long, forked tails. A pleasure to watch as they soar silently along coastal areas, they occupy most of the world’s tropical Ocean regions. The Magnificent Frigate bird occurs along Mexico’s coasts and, in the United States, mainly in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Frigate birds feed on the wing, swooping low to catch fish and pluck squid and jellyfish from the wave tops. However, these birds cannot swim and so do not rest on the water; they alight only on land, often on remote islands. Male frigate birds have a large, red throat pouch that they inflate, balloon like, during courtship displays. The Magnificent Frigate bird is generally quiet during non - breeding periods. Breeding colonies can be very noisy with courtship calls and an array of twittering, rattling, or whinning sounds.
- RUFOUS SABREWING (Campylopterus rufus)
The Rufous Sabrewing is an attractive, medium – sized humming bird with an especially broad tail. Resident only along the Pacific slope of southern Mexico and in small areas of central America, it lives in rainforest habitats, some pine – oak forests, along forest edges, in canyons, and around plantations. Rufous Sabrewings hover at flowers to feed on nectar, and they capture insects in midair. When males discover particularly good nectar sources, they establish territories and defend the flowers from other hummingbirds.
- PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)
A broadly distributed member of the nightjar family, the Pauraque ranges from northern Argentina northward through Southern Texas, chiefly inhabiting forests and woodlands. It has a longish tail and appears in two different colors; either mostly greyish brown or reddish brown. Nightjars like the Pauraque are active at night and sometimes at dusk or dawn. They spend the daylight hours perched quietly either on the ground or on tree branches, where, because of their camouflage, they are almost impossible to spot. In parts of its range the Pauraque is known as tapacaminos, or “road – blocker” because of its habit of sitting on roadways at night and flying up only when people or vehicles get too close. Pauraques eat flying insects, which they hunt in the air, either by circling low over open areas or with repeated short flights from the ground. Male Pauraques produce several different whistling songs, some loud and some soft.
- AMETHYST – THROATED HUMMING BIRD (Lampornis amethystinus)
The small Amethyst – throated Humming bird is one of the prettiest of Mexico’s more than sixty species (over 60) of humming birds. It is a highland species, found in mountain forests at elevations up to almost ten thousand feet, zipping through the lower and middle levels of humid evergreen forests as it seeks flower – nectar nourishment. The species also lives in parts of Central America. The Male’s brilliant throat patch, or gorget, varies by region, from rose – pink to violet – purple. Females lack these colorful marks, and instead have throats of a dusky – cinnamon color. Information on the ecology and behavior of this bird is limited, but researchers know that its cup – shaped nest is constructed from moss and lichens and secured to a small branch of a bush or tree. In addition to flower nectar, this humming bird eat insects, which it chases and captures in the air.
- CITREOLINE TROGON (Trogon citreolus)
Wildlife lovers consider trogons to be among the world’s most beautiful birds. They are found in the Americas (North & South America), Africa, and Southern Asia, but the Citreoline Trogon is uniquely Mexican, inhabiting the country’s western slope in forests, woodlands, plantations, and mangroves. Trogons spend most of their time either singly or in pairs. Despite their brilliant colors, they are difficult to see as they sit motionless against green foliage on tree branches. More than most birds, trogons perch quietly for long periods, neither moving nor making sounds. The Citreoline Trogon eats fruit that it finds in trees, as well as insects plucked from tree leaves. Although these birds gather most food while they perch, observers have sometimes seen them taking tree fruit while hovering. Generally, trogons possess simple, distinctive songs made up of various brief hootlike notes placed in different patterns and arrangements.
- AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)
Handsome Kingfishers occupy most parts of the globe, and in the Americas they are almost always associated with water. The Amazon Kingfisher, which is found from central Mexico to South America, is a beautiful dark – green representative of this group. In Mexico it lives along large rivers, lake shores, and in mangrove areas, and eats fish and crustaceans. To obtain food, this species observes quietly from a perch beside the water, then swoops and dives into the water to catch prey.
- GOLDEN – CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysogenys)
The Golden – Cheeked Woodpecker is a resident of western Mexico, where it inhabits forests, forest edges, open areas with scattered trees, and plantations. It is one of the region’s handsomest woodpeckers, with its golden – yellow cheek and neck patches and black – and - white barred back, wings, and tail. Only the male has a red crown; the female’s is greyish. The ecology and behavior of this species are relatively unknown. It is usually spotted singly or in pairs, and is known to consume insects, including beetles and beetle larvae taken from trees, in addition to some seeds and fruit.
- CUBAN TODY (Todus multicolor)
Todies are tiny forest and woodland birds that live only on the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico. All five tody species look much alike, with bright emerald – green backs and heads, ruby – red throats, and whitish underparts tinged with yellow or pink. In fact, through most of the nineteenth century, they were all thought to be a single species. These little birds, related to kingfishers, are distinguished by their dazzling colors, their relative tameness, and their voracious feeding. Like hummingbirds, their tiny size means they have fast metabolisms, so they must feed frequently to replenish their energy. They eat insects caught in the air or pulled off leaves, as well as spiders, tiny lizards, and small fruits. Todies vocalize often, sometimes almost continually, using brief, buzzy calls.
- IVORY – BILLED WOODPECKER (Compephilus principalis)
Widely regarded as extinct, the Ivory – billed woodpecker was reportedly rediscovered in 2005 in eastern Arkansas. The largest woodpeckers in the United States, they grow as long as twenty inches. Historically these striking, crested birds lived only in mature river forests and cypress swamps of the Southeastern United States; however, development in the late – nineteenth and early twentieth centuries significantly altered their habitat, causing the species’ populations to plummet. Before their recent rediscovery, the last confirmed sightings of these birds were in 1950s. Ivory – bills use their strong bills to strip bark from recently dead trees in search of their primary food, the Larvae of large beetles. They also eat termites, fruit, nuts, and seeds.
- WHITE – STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes leucogaster)
Wood creepers are small, slender, brown birds of the Americas. Like woodpeckers, they forage for insects by climbing quickly over tree trunks and branches, clinging to vertical and angled surfaces with the sharp, curved claws on their powerful feet and using their stiff tail feathers for support. Whereas woodpeckers attract attention with their “drumming” sounds and often bright color patches, wood creepers are relatively quiet birds, usually drably dressed in brown, chestnut, and tan. The white - striped wood creeper is limited in its distribution to the highland forests and woodlands of western and southern Mexico. The species is usually encountered singly or in pairs, moving up tree trunks in search of insects hidden in bark crevices; they also join other kinds of birds in mixed – species feeding flocks. Wood creepers are known for their unadorned, unmelodic songs, most often consisting of simple rattles and trills.
- SCALED ANTPITTA (Grallaria guatimalensis)
The Scaled Antpitta is a shy and retiring bird that occupies humid forests from central and southern Mexico South through parts of South America. A fairly uncommon bird that is rarely spotted, this species lives in the lower levels of the forest and on the forest floor, where it favors shady, dense vegetation, ravines, and areas near water. It forages by hopping about on the ground or fallen trees, sometimes using its bill to turn over dead leaves as it searches for insects, worms, and millipedes.
- BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)
The Barred Antshrike, as its name implies, eat ants, but also many other kinds of insects. It is a small but striking representative of the anti bird family, a large group of species restricted mainly to tropical areas of the Americas. The family is known especially for following swarms of menacing army ants in pursuit of the insects and other small animals that flee the advancing ants. However, the Barred Antshrike only occasionally forages by following ant swarms, often searching for food in ground thickets of the forest regions it inhabits from Brazil north to southern Mexico.
- RED – LEGGED THRUSH (Turdus plumbeus)
The Red – Legged Thrush makes it home throughout much of the West Indies (Caribbean Islands). An often secretive denizen of forests, woodlands, plantations, and gardens, it is more noticeable during its breeding season, when its singing and aggressive behavior make it stand out. In settled areas this thrush tends to forage along roadsides during morning hours for its diet of insects, spiders, snails, and small frogs, lizards, and snakes. The appearance of this attractive thrush differs a bit by locale – on some islands, these birds have a reddish – brown belly and black throat, but in other regions they lack these markings.
- BLACK – THROATED MAGPIE – JAY (Calocitta collici)
One of the handsomest member of the globally distributed jay and crow family, the Black – Throated Magpie – Jay inhabits woodlands and arid, brushy regions of northwestern i Mexico. These jays, so striking that they are highly unlikely to be confused with any other bird in the areas they frequent, are usually spotted on shrubs or slowly flying between leafy trees. They have a black head and chest, a blue back, and a white belly; their extremely long tail, the longest of any of the world’s jays, is deep blue edged with white. Black – Throated Magpie – Jays usually associate in pairs or small groups, and feed on berries, fruits, insects, and spiders. Jays are known for their often varied, piercing vocabulary, and the Black – Throated Magpie Jay is no exception.
- GREY SILKY – FLYCATCHER (Ptilogonys cinereus)
A very handsome, slender bird with a bushy crest and long tail, the Grey Silky – flycatcher is one of only four species in the silky – flycatcher family. Members of this family live in North and Central America: the Grey Silky – flycatcher in particular occurs in highland areas over many regions of Mexico and in Guatemala. The group consists of medium sized songbirds called silky – flycatchers, or “silkies” due to their soft and sleek feathers. These birds inhabit forests and woodlands, but also move about in more open areas with scattered trees. They feed chiefly by “fly catching” – they sit high on exposed perches, such as bare tree branches or tops of trees, and then dart out to capture flying insects. They also eat berries, particularly from mistletoe plants. Grey silky – flycatchers typically keep company in pairs during breeding periods, but they form loose flocks, sometimes of more than a hundred birds, during other times of the year. Silky – flycatchers are not considered strong singers, although two species in the family can imitate sounds of other birds.
- BLACK – CAPPED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila nigriceps)
Gnatcatchers are active, agile forest and woodland birds that wave or twitch their tails as they flit about tree foliage, seeking insect prey. The birds’ rapid movements and constant tail – waving may help flush bugs from their hiding places. There are fifteen species in the gnat catcher family, which is found only in the Americas; the Black – Capped Gnatcatcher is a typical representative and lives in northwestern in Mexico. Very small, slender birds, gnatcatchers are mainly bluish gray, with long, narrow, black – and – white tails and usually some black on their heads. The Black – Capped Gnatcatcher inhabits arid and semi – arid thorn forest and scrub areas at low and middle elevations, and often forages in dense vegetation.
- RED WARBLER (Ergaticus ruber)
One of the most striking and distinctive of the more than 110 species of American warblers is a bright red variety native only to mountainous regions of Mexico. Appropriately named the Red Warbler, this inhabitant of pine, pine oak, and fir forests moves alone or in pairs through shrubs and the lower to middle parts of trees, in search of its main food, insects. Red Warbler pairs remain together all year, breeding at higher elevations and then moving to lower, warmer elevations for winter. They build nests of grasses, pine needles, and other plant materials on the ground amid dense vegetation.
- WESTERN SPINDALIS (Spindalis zena)
There are more than two hundred species of TANAGERS, which are petite, often gaily colored birds of North and South America, with reputations as fruit eaters. One small group of tanagers found only in the West Indies (Caribbean Islands) is called the spindalises. All four (4) spindalis species, which in the past were known as STRIPED – HEADED TANAGERS, look, much alike. Males have a black – and – white – striped head and yellow underparts, and females are more brownish or olive colored overall. The Western Spindalis is a fairly common bird in the Bahamas, Grand Cayman Island, Cuba, and the Mexican Island of Cozumel. It occupies a variety of habitats in these regions, including forest edges, woodlands, scrub, and shrub areas. In some places, the species favors pine trees during breeding. Usually seen in pairs or small groups, the Western Spindalis forages anywhere from low shrubs to high in trees, chiefly looking for berries. Vocalizations of the Western Spindalis are numerous.
- GREEN HONEY CREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza)
Honey creepers are members of the tanager family, a large group of small, beautifully colored songbirds that are confined to North and South America. Tanagers have a reputation as fruit – eaters, but honey creepers have specialized tongues and slightly down – curved bills that they use to probe flowers for nectar, sometimes by punching holes in the bottom of the blossom to drain it out. They also take small fruits, seeds, and some insect prey. Green Honey Creepers, which range from southern Mexico to parts of South America, usually frequent the high canopy of wet forests, but also come closer to the ground at forest edges, in clearings with scattered trees, and in gardens. They are typically alone or in pairs, often at flowering trees, where they occasionally hang upside down from leaves to reach particularly fine foods. Males are a brilliant, glistening green or blue – green with red eyes: females are yellowish green.
- BANANA QUIT (Coereba flaveola)
An abundant bird of many Caribbean islands, southern Mexico, and much of South America, the tiny, yellow – breasted Banana Quit has a checkered history. At various times it was considered a kind of tanager or a warbler, but recent research suggests that it is not closely related to any other bird group, and therefore is the sole member of its own avian family. Banana Quits use their distinctive, slightly down – curved bill to search and pierce small flowers for nectar and to pierce fruits for juice. They also eat insects and spiders, and in some regions approach bird feeders that dispense fruit, especially bananas. The species, affectionately called reinita or “Little Queen” in parts of its range, lives in forests, wooded areas, gardens, and plantations, and in some areas visits outdoor restaurants to take sugar from tables. Banana Quits sing during most of the year, and their vocalizations differ somewhat depending on the region, even among various islands.
- YELLOW – WINGED CACIQUE (Cacicus melanicterus)
The Yellow – Winged Cacique is a striking black – and yellow representative of the American black bird family, which also includes such birds as grackles, meadow larks, cowbirds, American orioles, and oropendolas. It stands out as one of the few members of the family with a notice able crest. The species occupies lowland sites all along Mexico’s western coast, and is found in habitats as diverse as forest edges, open areas with scattered trees (Savannas), coastal scrub, and fruit plantations. These casiques are very conspicuous birds, usually spotted in the middle or upper parts of trees, in pairs or small flocks. They gather in the hundreds for night roosts, and breed alone or in small colonies of up to ten hanging nests placed near each other high in tall trees.
- ORANGE – BREASTED BUNTING (Passerina leclancherii)
The pretty little Orange - Breasted Bunting is limited in its distribution to arid areas of western Mexico, where it favors brushy woodlands, woodland edges, and thickly vegetated clearings. The bird is one of a group of seven colorful American species called buntings, which live mainly from southern Canada south to central America, and which are closely related to birds known as saltators, cardinals, and grosbeaks. Orange – breasted Buntings, locally common in some areas, usually live in pairs or small groups. They typically search for food on or near the ground, taking seeds, fruits, flower buds, and some insects. Male and female Orange – breasted Buntings look much alike, although females are less blue and more green than males.
The Europeans have been an enormous influence on Ornithology, particularly in the naming of birds. During the early eighteenth century, Carolus Linnaeus of Sweden initiated the scientific system of naming animals that is still in use today. As Europeans fanned out to explore and settle parts of the world previously unknown to them, they named the new bird species they found, and many of these names persist to this day. European settlers named some of the birds of eastern North America, such as robins, warblers, and sparrows, for their resemblance to European birds. The number of regularly occurring bird species in the European region, which is often considered to include Europe, northern Africa, and parts of the Middle East, is approximately seven hundred and twenty (over 720). Europe has many representatives of several bird groups, including ducks, geese, and swans; pheasants, partridges, and grouse; and larks, pipits, old world warblers, sand finches. Europe also boasts a number of charismatic birds that many people might not expect to find there, including two species of cranes, two flamingos, and a few bustards – large ground birds that favor open areas such as grasslands. Also of note in the region, and delightful surprises to visitors not versed in local bird knowledge, are the Eurasian Hoopoe, a striking open - country bird with a huge crest, and the European Roller, the only European representative of a group of beautifully colored birds found mainly in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific.
COMMON SPECIES OF BIRDS IN EUROPE
- GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Nature lovers immediately recognize flamingos by their upright stance and distinctive pink coloring. The Greater Flamingo, the largest of the world’s five species, inhabits many regions, including southern Spain and southern France, where it is usually called, simply “Flamingo”. These stately birds, up to four – and - a – half feet tall, usually spend their time in salty Ocean lagoons or alkaline inland lakes. Flamingos are famous for their “filter feeding”. With the heads upside – down under the water and their bills resting on the bottom, they suck in water and mud, push it through comb like bill filters, and consume the tiny invertebrate organisms that they strain out. Greater Flamingos also eat mollusks, crustaceans, insects, worms, and even some seeds and decaying leaves. They are highly social, feeding and breeding in large groups. Greater Flamingos are noisy birds, frequently uttering loud, gooselike calls.
- LITTLE BUSTARD ( Tetrax tetrax)
Bustards are large, long – necked, long – legged birds that are usually considered game birds. Most bustards live in Asia and Africa, but two species, including the relatively small, pheasant – sized Little Bustards inhabit flat, open, grassy areas, as well as agricultural lands such as pastures and crop fields. Gregarious during nonbreeding periods, these curious birds often keep to small groups, foraging for both plant materials, such as leaves, shoots, seeds, and flowers, and small invertebrates such as insects. Male Little Bustards have bold black – and – white neck patches when breeding, but females and nonbreeding males do not. Rather quiet animals, Little Bustards vocalize primarily when breeding.
- BEAN GOOSE (Anser fabalis)
The Bean Goose is a scarce winter visitor to parts of central and northern continental Europe. During the winter, these birds gather in flocks of varying sizes and inhabit open – country sites such as marshes and agricultural lands where they feed on leftover crops, including beans, corn, and potatoes. The species breeds at arctic and subarctic latitudes in Scandinavia and northern Asia, usually around lakes, rivers, or marshes. During breeding, they eat wild grasses, herbs, and berries. Like other geese, the Bean Goose is monogamous and seems to mate for life.
- WESTERN CAPERCAILLIE (Tetrao urogallus)
The Western Capercaillie is the largest and perhaps most striking member of the grouse family, which consists of medium and large – sized game birds restricted to the northern hemisphere. The species ranges from Western Europe eastward to parts of Siberia, but is now scarce in many regions due to the destruction and alteration of its forest and woodland habitats, as well as over hunting. In Europe it is now most abundant in Scandinavia and in mountainous areas south of this region. Fortunately, conservation efforts have reintroduced the Western Capercaillie to areas from which it was formerly eliminated, such as Scotland. These grouse eat pine needles, leaves, and plant buds in winter and berries, sedges, and mosses in summer.
- DEMOISELLE CRANE (Anthropoides virgo)
Most Europeans are aware of the charismatic Eurasian crane, also known as the Common Crane, which breeds over many parts of the continent. But few recognize that another crane species, the Demoiselle Crane, also lives in Europe. However, it breeds there fairly rarely, and only appears in the extreme southeast, around the Black sea. This mainly grey and black bird is the smallest of the world’s fifteen cranes, but still quite large at about three feet tall with a five – to six foot wingspan. Demoiselle Cranes favor savanna – like habitats and grasslands, usually remaining within easy flying distance of streams, lakes, or other wetlands and sometimes moving into agricultural districts. They forage on the ground for grass seeds and other seeds, worms, large insects like beetles, and lizards. At their wintering grounds in Africa, India, and China, they are quite social and sometimes roost in flocks of thousands.
- ROUGH – LEGGED BUZZARD (Buteo lagopus)
A predatory bird of northern climes, the Rough – legged Buzzard breeds in often – treeless Scandinavian tundra and is a rare winter visitor to some portions of western and central Europe. This widely distributed species also breeds in high latitude regions of Asia and North America, where it is sometimes called the Rough – legged Hawk. This buzzard hunts during the day and occasionally at dusk in open areas or clearings in wooded sites. Unlike raptors that search for prey while flying, the Rough – legged Buzzard sits quietly on a well – positioned perch to scan for prey. Its main foods are small rodents such as voles, lemmings, and mice, but they also eat hares, squirrels, and occasional small birds. Voles and Lemmings vary greatly in abundance from year to year, and when they are very scarce, Rough – legged Buzzard move farther south to winter than they normally do, in search of other foods. Therefore, during winters when food is in short supply, they appear in parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, that rarely see them.
- LANNER FALCON (Falco biarmicus)
The large, beautiful Lanner Falcon is a rare bird in Europe. Perhaps three hundred pairs breed in Sicily, Italy, and farther eastward, but it is more common in the Middle East and in Africa. Falcons are predatory birds known for fast aerial pursuit of avian prey, and the amazingly quick Lanner Falcon captures small and midsized birds, especially doves, pigeons, and quail. It also hunts from perches, and consumes rodents, bats, lizards, and insects in addition to birds. Lanner Falcon pairs sometimes stake out a water hole or another wildlife gathering spot and then cooperate to drive, chase, and catch their prey. These falcons inhabit a great variety of habitats, from lowland deserts to forested mountainsides, wherever there are open or lightly wooded hunting sites nearby.
- BLACK – BELLIED SANDGROUSE (Pterocles orientalis)
Because they strongly resemble pigeons, scientists once thought sandgrouse were part of the pigeon family: at other times the birds were classified as grouse relatives. Currently, the sixteen (16) sandgrouse species are considered closely related to neither and are placed in their own family. Sandgrouse are birds of hot, dry environments, mainly in Africa and southern Asia. The Black – bellied Sandgrouse is no exception, residing in the Iberian Peninsula, Turkey, Cyprus, and parts of western Asia and northern Africa. It prefers to live in arid, flat or rolling grassland and in semi desert areas, usually where there is a sparse ground cover of low vegetation. It has recently begun to inhabit scrubby pastures and some cultivated areas. These birds eat small seeds and some cereal crops, which gives them a reputation as a crop pest. Since Sandgrouse are frequently hunted as game birds, they are scarce in some regions; the Black – bellied Sand grouse is considered a threatened species in Spain.
- GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO (Clamator glandarius)
Cuckoos are known in many parts of the world for their breeding habits. Many cuckoo species, including the Great Spotted Cuckoo, lay their eggs in the nests of other bird’s species, forcing the involuntary foster parents to raise their young. The Great Spotted Cuckoo, a handsome, generally uncommon species found in Spain, southern France, western Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, and broadly in Africa, seeks out crow and magpie nests to host its eggs. It prefers savanna – like habitats with scattered pine and oak trees, and olive groves. These birds eat insects, such as grasshoppers, termites, moths, and especially large, hairy caterpillars, as well as lizards. Cuckoos often forage for their food on the ground, hopping about in search of prey.
- EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops)
The Eurasian Hoopoe, a medium sized, open – country bird, is one of Europe’s most distinctive birds. Its magnificent crest, which it usually spreads briefly upon alighting, makes the Eurasian Hoopoe stand out, a do its long, sharp bill and bold coloring. Hoopoes inhabit grasslands, parklands, pastures, vineyards, olive groves, and orchards, either alone or in pairs. They typically forage on the ground for larger insects, spiders, and centipedes, as well as small frogs, lizards, and snakes. Other hoopoes, very similar in appearance to the Eurasian Hoopoe, are found in Africa and Asia.
- LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos minor)
Only about six inches long from bill tip to tail tip, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is Europe’s smallest woodpecker. It is uncommon in many areas but ranges over much of the continent, also occurring eastward through a broad swath of Asia. This shy bird inhabits forests, woodlands, orchards, parks, and tree - filled gardens. It usually searches for insects on tree trunks, smaller branches, and even twigs, where it frequently hangs upside down to better reach hiding prey. Caterpillars are these woodpeckers favorite summer foods, and they occasionally consume fruits as well.
- EUROPEAN ROLLER (Coracias garrulus)
Rollers are vividly colored birds of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia named for their spectacular, acrobatic aerial displays. In these performances, which are often directed aggressively at territorial intruders, the rollers fly straight up into the air, then dive toward the ground while twisting around, beating their wings, and giving loud calls: near the ground they level off and fly up again to repeat the process. The European Roller, unmistakable with its turquoise head and wing patches, is the continent’s only roller species. It lives in the Mediterranean region from Portugal and Spain to Turkey, inhabiting mostly dry, flat or rolling wooded landscapes, including woodland edges, orchards, and agricultural areas with scattered trees. Rollers feed alone or in pairs by perching on high vantage points such as dead tree branches or utility wires and scanning for prey. They take both flying insects and prey from the ground, such as small frogs, lizards, snakes, and mice.
- CALANDRA LARK (Melanocorypha calandra)
The Calandra Lark, typical of the Lark family, is a superbly camouflaged ground bird that enjoys open – country habitats. It lives in southern Europe as well as the Middle East and northern Africa, frequenting grassy plains, plateaus, and open agricultural areas. In other ways similar to several European lark species, including the famed common skylark, the Calandra lark is distinguished by the black patch on the side of its chest. It forages singly or in small flocks, walking or running along the ground in search of food; insects during spring and summer, and seeds and other plant materials in winter. Like other lark species, male Calandra larks engage in song flights, during which they circle and hang high in the sky while singing, sometimes for extended periods, before flying away or spiraling back to the ground. These flight displays are probably instrumental in attracting mates or maintaining territories.
- RED – THROATED PIPIT (Anthus cervinus)
The Red – throated pipit is a slender, brownish ground bird that breeds in the northernmost reaches of EUROPE, in northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway, as well as Siberia. A species of open habitats, these birds breed in cool, swampy meadows and tundra areas, but they make long migrations to winter in the grasslands and marshes of tropical Africa and southern Asia. Red – throated pipits are sociable birds that usually group in small, loose flocks when not breeding. They feed on caterpillars, beetles, spiders, centipedes, mollusks, worms, and occasionally vegetable matter. These pipits often forage in muddy areas, walking quickly along the ground and, like others of their family, frequently wagging their tails. Pipits are known for their singing flight displays. Male Red – throated pipits fly to heights of fifty feet or more before slowly floating downward toward the ground, singing loudly with wings held out and up. Their song, which they also sometimes give from a treetop perch, is a long series of ringing, musical notes that usually ends with a repeated swee – ur or tswee - tswee sound.
- RING OUZEL (Turdus torquatus)
The Ring Ouzel, named for an old English word for blackbird, is a shy bird of mountain slopes, cliff sides, rocky outcrops, and other open, rocky landscapes. During its breeding season in spring and summer, it lives in various parts of northern and central Europe; it moves to southern Europe and northern Africa for winter. A thrush similar in size and coloring to the all black common Blackbird, also a thrush and one of Europe’s most familiar birds, Ouzels have a striking white chest band and are much less abundant. Ouzels are usually seen alone or in pairs during breeding, and in small groups when on their wintering grounds or migrating. They eat insects, worms, and seeds, and are often seen picking berries while migrating. The Ring Ouzel’s sad – sounding sound is loud and carries far.
- RUFOUS BUSH ROBIN (Cercotrichas galactotes)
The Rufous Bush Robin, also called the Rufous Scrub Robin or Rufous - Tailed Scrub Robin, is a pretty little thrush that lives in parts of southern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and Greece. It breeds in dry, open habitats with dense shrub cover, and when living near people, favors such locales as fruit orchards and hedges. After breeding, this small bird moves to sub – Saharan Africa for the winter. Rufous Bush Robins feed by quickly hopping about on the ground, in search of insects, spiders, worms, and similar prey; they occasionally fly up to pick bugs off short vegetation.
- MOUSTACHED WARBLER (Acrocephalus melanopogon)
The Moustached Warbler is a small, highly camouflaged brown bird that lives in waterside environments, instead of among trees like most warblers. It frequents marshes with tall aquatic vegetation, and also borders of lakes, rivers, and streams in southern and central Europe, in particular along the Mediterranean coast. It forages in reedbeds and on muddy banks and floating rafts of vegetation for insects and other small invertebrates. This warbler typically cocks its tail upward or flocks it up and don hen agitated.
- RED – FLANKED BLUETAIL (Tarsiger cyanurus)
Quite rare in Europe, where it breeds only in the cool, dense forests of the continent’s extreme northeast, the Red – flanked Blue tail is more common in parts of Asia. Also known as Blue – tailed Robin, Orange – flanked Bush Robin, and Siberian Blue Start, this species mostly eats insects that it catches in trees. It also flies down to hunt in low shrubs and hop about in search of prey. In addition to their regular diet, during nonbreeding periods they eat seeds and fruit. After breeding in the far north of Europe, these small, shy birds make an astounding long – distance migration to the south and east, skirting the Himalayas, to winter in southeastern Asia. During this trip, Red – flanked Blue tails inhabit open woodlands, orchards, and even gardens. At their breeding grounds, male Red – flanked Blue tails often sing at dawn or just before, from the top of a tall tree.
- WESTERN ROCK NUTHATCH (Sitta neumayer)
Nuthatches are small, highly agile birds celebrated for their unusual ability to walk both upward and downward – head - first – on tree trunks in search of insects. The Western Rock Nuthatch, a resident of rocky terrain often with cliffs and boulders, uses this skill in its own surroundings to move up and down large rocks and cliff faces. This white and blue- grey bird with a bold eye – stripe is sometimes spotted alone or in small family parties, hopping energetically among rocks on stony hillsides or in ravines or gorges. Western Rock Nuthatches occur in southeastern Europe, from Albania and Greece through Turkey, where visitors can spot them at many ancient, rocky archaeological ruins. Observers often describe the Western Rock Nuthatch’s vocalizations as loud and strident.
- ORPHEAN WARBLER (Sylvia hortensis)
This small, plain, secretive bird breeds across a wide stretch of southern Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean regions. It prefers warm, dry, open woodlands with brushy undergrowth, but also inhabits shrubby hillsides, hedgerows, olive groves, parkland, gardens, and scrub areas along the coast. These warblers mostly dwell in trees, but they forage from low bushes to high treetops, moving constantly to search for insects on branches and leaves. Orphean warblers migrate to spend winters in Sub – Saharan Africa.
- ROCK SPARROW (Petronia petronia)
The Rock Sparrow, also known as the Rock Petronia, is a small, inconspicuous bird of barren hills and mountains in southern Europe, northern Africa, and parts of central Asia. Mostly a patchy and streaky pale brown, black, and white, they inhabit rocky outcrops, cliffs, ravines, stony desert areas, and archaeological ruin sites. The Rock sparrow runs and hops along grass and rocks, searching for foods such as seeds, grain, fruit, berries, and insects. Rock sparrows breed in colonies of up to a hundred pairs, and are also quite gregarious outside the breeding season, when they remain in their flocks.
- ALPINE CHOUGH (Pyrrhocorax graculus)
Alpine Choughs are large black birds that swoop and glide along the cliff faces and ridge lines of the high mountains in central and Southern Europe, including the Alps and Pyrenees. They are part of the jay and crow family, though differing from crows in their brightly colored bills and legs, among other features. Alpine Choughs are very social, often associating in flocks of a hundred or more that fly together daily to feeding and roosting sites. When foraging, the birds tend to break up into smaller groups or pairs. Their favorite foods are insects and other small invertebrates such as beetles and snails, which they pick up or dig from the ground in grassy or rocky areas. They also eat berries, seeds, and some carrion. These cheeky birds frequently visit alpine ski resorts, where they eat garbage and beg for handouts; even curious, choughs also follow hikers and accept food from them. Alpine Choughs produce a number of different calls, many of which are squeaky, chittering, or churring.
- TWITE (Carduelis flavirostris)
The Twite is a small, streaky, dark finch that lives in open habitats in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia, as well as the Middle East and central Asia. During breeding season, they favor open hillsides, moorlands, alpine meadows, and high – elevation plateaus: Observers have spotted them on mountains as high as sixteen thousand feet. In autumn, following breeding, Twites descend to lower elevations and spend the winter in river valleys, pasture areas, marshes, lower hillsides, and along the seacoast. Twites forage either on the ground or in low vegetation, hopping along and searching for insects and seeds among weeds or in cultivated fields; they also scavenge at garbage dumps. They are social birds, and typically breed in small colonies and flock in fairly large groups in the autumn and winter.
- BLACK – HEADED BUNTING (Emberiza melanocephala)
The Black – headed Bunting, a yellow – and - brown bird with a striking black head, breeds in southeastern Europe, from Italy eastward to Turkey, and in parts of the Middle East. They live in dry, open country, often with scattered bushes or trees, and in thickets and agricultural lands. In late summer and early autumn, these buntings migrate in small flocks to winter in India, and frequently forage in cultivated fields and scrubby areas. Black – headed buntings mostly eat grass seeds and cereal grains, as well as insects during the breeding season.
- TWO – BARRED CROSSBILL (Loxia leucoptera)
A small, red bird of far – north forests, the Two – barred Crossbill has incredible criss – crossed bill tips. Used as a feeding tool by other cross bill species as well, the crossed tips permit them to extract conifer seeds from hard, stiff pinecones. Two – barred Crossbills are found in both the eastern and western hemispheres, and are sometimes called white – winged crossbills. They occasionally move into Sweden and Norway, but in Europe these crossbills mostly live in the extreme northeast, in Finland and western Russian, where they prefer stands of Larch and cedar trees. Two – barred crossbills tend to socialize in pairs in the southern parts of their range, and in the northern parts, in small groups; in winter, they form flocks of up to several hundred. In addition to seeds from larch, hemlocks, and spruces, these birds eat berries, insects, and spiders.