This Adorable Little Bird Is a Real-Life Vampire

Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis, aka the Vampire Finch, is a small bird with a very unusual diet – other bird’s blood.

Found on only two small islands in the Galapagos Archipelago – Darwin and Wolf – the vampire finch is a subspecies of the sharp-beaked ground finch, a relatively small and harmless-looking bird. However, as the specie’s name suggests, it has a very sharp beak, which it sometimes uses to break through more than just fruits and nuts. The vampire finch got its name from its bizarre habit of pecking at larger birds’ skin and feeding on their blood whenever other food sources are scarce.

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This Bird Is the Heaviest Animal Capable of Walking on Water

Using their large feet and fast stride, the Western and Clark’s grebes can run as far as 20 meters on water, making them the only bird and the heaviest animal on Earth capable of doing so.

If you exclude Jesus Christ, whose biblical feat of walking on water is literally considered a miracle of the New Testament, only a handful of creatures are known to be able to walk or run on water. Most of them are small insects, but there is also a small basilisk nicknamed the Jesus Christ lizard for very obvious reasons, but the largest of them all are two bird species – the Western and Clark’s grebes. They can run on water for up to 7 seconds and distances of about 20 minutes as part of an impressive mating ritual.

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Hooded Pitohui – The World’s First Scientifically-Confirmed Poisonous Bird

The hooded pitohui, a small bird endemic to Papua New Guinea, is the first and only scientifically-confirmed poisonous bird in the world.

The Melanesian people of Papua New Guinea have long known to keep their hands off of hooded pitohui, but to the western world, the bird’s toxic potential was only discovered by chance just over three decades ago. In 1990, ornithologist Jack Dumbacher was on the Pacific island looking for birds of paradise. He had set up delicate mist nets between the trees to catch them and ended up with some hooded pitohui birds in them as well. As he tried to grab the birds out of the traps, they scratched and bit his fingers, and he instinctively put his hands in his mouth to soothe the pain. Almost immediately, Dumbacher felt his lips and tongue go numb. They then started to burn and did so for hours. Later, suspecting that the symptoms were caused by the bird, he took a pitohui feather and put it in his mouth. The numbness and ensuing pain quickly returned. He had unknowingly discovered the world’s first poisonous bird.

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Africa’s Feathered Locust – These Little Birds Cause the Cutest Plague Imaginable

To most of the world, the red-billed quelea is a cute, sparrow-like bird native to Sub-Saharan Africa, but to the farmers of the regions that this little creature calls home, it is a pest capable of wiping out their crops.

Biblical plagues mention insects like locusts, lice and flies, but to the people of African countries like  Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, birds – one species in particular – are more dangerous than any of them. There is a very good reason why the red-billed quelea is popularly known as Africa’s feathered locust. This small, adorable bird eats about four grams of plant seeds per day, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that it feeds in flocks of millions of individuals, the math starts to get pretty scary for farmers and those who depend on their crops.

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Indian Runner Ducks Stand Upright Like Penguins, Can Outrun Most Humans

The Indian Runner duck has the most distinctive body type among all the world’s duck breeds. With legs positioned further back on the body than all other duck breeds, they stand upright like penguins and run rather than waddle.

Native to the Asian continent, the Indian Runner duck is a development of the wild mallard. However, its unique evolution is believed to have been determined more by human interference than natural evolution. First encountered by European sailors during the 1800s in Indonesia, where it wasn’t uncommon for farmers to have heards of over 1,000 ducks. It stood out because of its unusual body posture and running ability, which were unusual for European duck breeds. Today, the Indian Runner is found on all the world’s continents, although it is still considered somewhat of an oddity outside of Asia.

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Qatar’s Falcon Hospital – A Medical Facility Literally for the Birds

Souq Waqif is a state-of-the-art hospital in Doha Qatar, where 150 patients are treated every day. Only patients here all have feathers, as Souq Waqif is a hospital for falcons.

To say that Qatar’s Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital is a medical facility unlike any other would be fairly accurate. But then again, few countries around the world have a falconry tradition as old as the small Arab nations. Keeping the birds in the best possible physical shape is considered an essential duty by those who choose to keep and train falconids, and many of them spare no expense doing it. So it’s really no wonder that Souq Waqif is better equipped and staffed than many human hospitals in some of the world’s most developed countries.

Founded in 2008, the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital is located in one corner of the main square in Doha’s old city. Everything, from the shiny glass doors at the entrance to the comfortable sofas of the waiting room, lets you know that falcons are the most revered animals in Qatar.

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The Thriving Parakeets Taking Over London

Ring-necked parakeets are native to the foothills of the Himalayas and temperate regions of North Africa, but for the past century and a half, they’ve also made a home for themselves in London.

No one knows exactly when and how London became a home for feral parakeets. In fact, there are so many urban myths tied to these green exotic birds that it’s hard to settle on just one explanation. Many of the theories going around on the streets of London as well as on the internet involve legendary artists like Jimi Hendrix or Audrey Hepburn, but no one can truly say how the birds came to the English capital. One thing is for sure, though – London’s parakeets are here to stay, they are thriving, and they are expanding, with recent estimates placing their number in the tens of thousands.

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Onagadori – A Japanese Chicken Breed With Majestically Long Tail Feathers

The Onagadori (‘honorable fowl’ in Japanese) is a rare chicken breed known for its exceptionally long tail, which can reach over 10 meters, putting even peacocks to shame.

Of the seventeen chicken breeds considered Japanese national treasures, the Onagadori is the only one to have “special” status. Ever since it received this status in 1952, exports of Onagadori birds and eggs were forbidden, so there are very few specimens, if any, found outside of Japan today. The breed is famous for the non-molting, and thus incredibly long tails of roosters, which, if kept in the best conditions with high levels of animal husbandry, can grow for the lifetime of the bird.

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This Fascinating Bird Looks Like a Feathered Dragon

What do you get if you mix a bird, a squirrel and a lizard? Well, I think you’ll have a tough time finding a better answer than the Great Eared Nightjar.

Seeing a great eared nightjar for the first time, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a squirrel or even a lizard. The fact is it kind of looks like a combination of animals, or even a real-live version of Toothless, the dragon from DreamWorks Studios’ hit animation “How to Train Your Dragon“. You could say it’s living proof that birds are more closely related to dinosaurs than reptiles.

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Shocking Video Shows Flock of Birds Crashing Into Pavement

A viral video showing a flock of hundreds of yellow-headed blackbirds flying straight into the pavement in the Mexican town of Cuauhtémoc has left a lot of people scratching their heads about the cause.

Footage from a security camera shows a large flock of yellow-headed blackbirds descending upon on a house before brutally crashing into the asphalt. Although most of the birds manage to take to the skies after the bizarre crash, many can be seen scattered on the street, barely moving. Subsequent videos showing dozens of bird carcasses confirm that the unusual descent had been fatal for some of the birds.

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Modern Game Bantams – Poultry Fashion Models With a Fighting Spirit

Because of their slender physique, incredibly long legs and upright pose, Modern Game Bantams are considered by many the fashion models of the poultry world, but few know that they also have a mean streak.

Modern Game chickens take their name from the ‘old English game’, a chicken breed brought to the English Isles in the 1st century by the Romans. Bred exclusively for cock fighting, the old English game grew immensely popular over the century because, well, raising a chicken was relatively affordable, and cockfighting was a “sport” anyone could partake in. However, things changed in 1849, when cock fighting was officially banned in England, by order of the Queen. All of a sudden, the old English game was retired, and a new, modern variant took its place.

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Australian Parrots Are Getting Drunk on Fermented Mangoes

Red-winged parrots in Western Australia’s Kimberley region are reportedly “flying under the influence” and acting bizarrely after feasting on fermented mangoes.

We may be putting on another layer of clothes in the northern hemisphere, but Down Under it’s the end of the mango season, and red-winged parrots are reportedly taking full advantage of the last available orange fruits, even if they’re a little overripe. The problem is that mangoes are particularly sugar-rich, and can produce relatively high levels of alcohol as they ferment. Humans are unlikely to consume fruits that have reached a certain fermentation point because they have a mushy texture and a taste that is no longer considered pleasant. But to red-winged parrots, a mango is a mango, even if the ethanol level in it is likely to get them drunk.

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This 70-Year-Old Albatross Is the World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird

The world’s oldest known wild bird is a Laysan albatross named Wisdom that biologists first identified and banded in 1956. She is now at least 70-years-old and just hatched another chick.

First banded in 1956, by biologist Chandler Robbins, who found her nest near a US navy base on the Midway Atoll that the world’s largest colony of albatross calls home, Wisdom has now outlived the man who discovered her, as well as all her male mates. Although cockatoos in captivity have been known to live nearly 100 years, for wild birds the odds of living over seven decades are extremely slim. Predators, food scarcity and, more recently, plastic waste, are all life-threatening factors that wild albatross deal with on a regular basis. And, yet, despite having the odds stacked against her, Wisdom has managed to live longer than any wild bird known to man.

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Wild Sparrow Refuses to Leave the Human Couple That Raised Her

A young couple in Koper, Slovenia are the proud parents of a wild sparrow that refuses to leave their side, even though she always has the freedom to go anywhere she wants.

Alesh and Janja, a young couple from Koper, in Slovenia, adopted their “child”, Chibi, when she was about 10-days-old. A friend of theirs found her while walking her baby. She was lying on the ground next to another dead sparrow, and her parents were nowhere to be found, so the woman took the baby sparrow home. Unfortunately, she had her own baby and couldn’t take care of another, especially one from a species she knew nothing about. That’s where Alesh and Janja came in; they didn’t know anything about sparrow chicks either, but there was plenty of information online, and they were willing to put in the work.

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The Parlor Roller – A Unique Pigeon Breed That Does Backflips Instead of Flying

Although there are plenty of flightless bird species on Earth, the Parlor Roller pigeon is believed to be the only one selectively bred by humans until it lost its capacity to take to the skies and developed a completely new and bizarre means of getting around – backflips.

Seeing a parlor roller pigeon roll on the ground, you would think it was having some sort of seizure, but in reality, the birds are rolling on the ground because it comes naturally to them. No one knows exactly how or when the breed was created, but experts and enthusiasts speculate that its origins can be traced back to mid-19th century Scotland when someone probably encountered a specimen with a slight tendency to roll on the ground and decided it was worth emphasizing via selective breeding. It is believed that over years of selective breeding, pigeons that rolled over long distances were obtained.

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