Clever Bird Hunts Fish by Turning Itself Into an Umbrella

Black egrets, a species of African herons, have a very unique hunting technique – they use their wings to from an umbrella, which not only reduces glare, but also lures fish into false sense of security.

Called “canopy feeding”, the hunting technique used by black herons has to be one of the sneakiest observed in the wild. The black wading bird walks about slowly through shallow water and then spreads its wings around its body, to create an umbrella of sorts that blocks out the light. Although it’s not perfectly clear why the African heron uses this specific technique, scientists hypothesize that it has several advantages, like reducing glare and attracting the fish into a trap.

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The Sad Story of the Last Free Macaw in Rio de Janeiro

Almost every morning for the past two decades, Juliet the macaw has been visiting the local zoo in Rio de Janeiro to interact with others of her kind through the metal enclosure. She is the only wild macaw in the Brazilian metropolis, and this is her only opportunity to socialize.

Macaws are social birds, so loneliness is a tough burden to bare for Juliet, a beautiful blue-and-yellow macaw who calls Rio home. She is the only wild specimen seen in city since 1818, and no one really knows much about her. Zoo staff named the bird Juliet, but they don’t even know if she is actually female. It’s really hard to tell with macaws, and to establish her true gender they would need to capture the bird, and either examine her gonads or take blood or feather samples. And there’s really no need to put Juliet through all that stress just to satisfy human curiosity.

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The World’s Smallest Chicken Breed Is Also the Most Pompous

Serama chickens are the smallest in the world, but you really couldn’t tell by their attitude. Seeing them pose with their head pulled back and chest sticking out, you’d think they were some sort of feathered bodybuilders.

The Serama chicken breed can be traced back all the way to the 1600s, to the Kelantan province of Malaysia, but the current strain can be attributed to Wee Yean Een, a breeder who popularized it during the 1970s and even gave the chicken the Serama name, after King Rama of Thailand. However, the breed was rendered almost extinct by the bird flu pandemic of the early 2000s. Luckily, they had already been exported to many countries around the world by that point, including the US and UK, and were able to make a comeback.

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Machine Gun Woodpecker Lives Up to Its Nickname

Male and female Northern Flickers are popularly known as “machine gun woodpeckers” because of the sound they make when hitting their beak on metal, which sounds a lot like the sound of a real machine gun.

The Northern Flicker is a woodpecker native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands. It is 7 to 15 inches long , with a brown, barred back and black spotted under-parts. From early spring and into midsummer, this bird likes to make its presence felt by making a loud, evenly spaced, rapid drumming sound by hammering their beaks against metallic surfaces. This sound is both a mating call and a way to establish territory, but to the human ear it sounds just like a machinegun, hence the bird’s nickname, machine gun woodpecker.

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This Rare Bird Could Go Extinct Because It Has Forgotten Its Mating Song

The regent honeyeater is already one of the world’s rarest birds, but experts are worried that it could soon go extinct, because they have forgotten how to sing.

Flocks of hundreds of regent honeyeaters could once be spotted all over south-eastern Australia on a regular basis, but today the species is critically endangered, with only 300 specimens believed to exist in the entire world. They were also known for the complexity of their mating songs, but as their numbers started dwindling, ornithologists started noticing this complexity diminishing, to the point where male regent honeyeaters didn’t even sound like their species anymore. Today, there is ample evidence that regent honeyeaters have forgotten how to sing, which could render the entire species extinct.

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Man And Swan Have Been Best Friends for the Last 37 Years

A retired postman from Turkey and a beautiful white swan have been inseparable for nearly four decades, and the story of their amazing friendship has melted the hearts of millions.

When Recep Mirzan spotted a wounded swan in a filed in Turkey’s Edirne province, in 1984, he had no idea that he was about to meet his best friend. He was in a car with a group of friends, when he spotted a swan that appeared to have a broken wing in an empty field. Mirzan quickly realized that leaving the bird there was the same as signing its death sentence, as predators would have most likely eaten it, so he stopped the car and took the bird with him. He kept in the car until evening, when he took it home and started nursing it back to health.

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Hundreds of Birds Mysteriously Drop Dead During New Year’s Eve Celebration

Photos and videos showing scores of dead birds on the streets of Rome following the recent New Year’s Eve celebration have been doing the rounds online, fueling all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Hundreds of dead birds were found lying around the Termini train station, in Rome, Italy, on New Year’s Eve, and although the exact cause of this tragedy remains a mystery, animal groups have blamed the traditional fireworks show. The Italian capital had announced a fireworks ban ahead of New Year’s Eve, but it was largely ignored. The Italian branch of OIPA (International Animal Protection Organization) has called for a nationwide ban on selling fireworks and firecrackers for personal use, following this sad incident.

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This Hawaiian Island Is Home to Thousands of Feral Chicken

The island of Kauai, in the Hawaiian archipelago, is home to thousands of feral chicken that have developed a complex relationship with the island’s human inhabitants.

From the pristine beaches of Lumbahai, to airports, gas stations, even urban parking lots, feral chickens are everywhere on Kauai Island. They roam freely, and have adapted to lead a a variety of lifestyles in this Hawaiian paradise, from eating garbage and cat food, to depending on tourists for food, or foraging on native arthropods. It’s because of this lifestyle variety that the chickens relationship with humans is so complex. On one hand, everyone agrees that they have brought down the populations of pesky Hawaiian centipedes, but then again, they also crow 24 hours a day and they tear up foliage and grass, even destroying whole gardens.

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Japanese Fruit Farmers “Employ” Owls as Pest Control

Japanese field voles can seriously impact the profits of apple orchard owners, if left unchecked. For centuries, many farmers have relied on owls to keep vole numbers to manageable levels, and research has shown the night predators to be incredibly efficient.

Ural owls have been setting up their nests in orchards with high rodent populations for a very long time, but Japanese apple growers were the first to notice the beneficial effect the winged predators had on their orchards and actively try to use them as a means of natural pest controls. Apart from allowing the owls to set up nests in tree hollows, they also started installing man-made tree houses to encourage owls from settling on their properties. They soon noticed that the owls brought the vole population down significantly, which meant healthier trees and bigger profits.

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World’s Most Expensive Racing Pigeon Is Worth At Least $1.5 Million, Has Its Own Bodyguards

New Kim, a two-year-old racing pigeon from Belgium has recently been crowned the world’s most expensive pigeon after a South African collector bid a whopping 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million) in an online auction.

Hok Van De Wouwer, a renowned pigeon breeder in Antwerp, Belgium has recently put its entire collection of racing pigeons on sale this month. Father and son duo Gaston and Kurt Van De Wouwer have an enviable resume among pigeon breeders, winning numerous national ace pigeon titles and 1st place at nationals, so it’s no wonder that their birds are sought after in the still ongoing online auction. But even so, no one expected the star of the show, a two year-old female named New Kim, to break the world record for most expensive pigeon.

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Researchers Find Extremely Rare Half-Male, Half-Female Bird Specimen

Researchers at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania recently came across a “once in a lifetime discovery” – a half-male, half-female rose-breasted grosbeak.

Annie Lindsay and her colleagues at Powdermill Nature Reserve were catching and banding birds with identification tags on September 24, when a fellow researcher called her over via walkie-talkie to supposedly see something extraordinary. The moment she saw her colleague’s find, Annie knew what she was looking at, an extremely rare half-male, half-female creature known as a gynandromorph. The rose-breasted grosbeak exhibited male-characteristic plumage on one half of its body, and female coloration on the other.

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The Botanical Bird Art of Hannah Bullen-Ryner

Hannah Bullen-Ryner creates beautiful ephemeral artworks by arranging twigs, leaves, flower petals, and berries into detailed bird portraits.

A trained painter and a photographer, Bullen-Ryner found that going back to nature and channeling her creativity into ephemeral, botanical art was the perfect escape from her anxiety and the “chaos in her brain”.  Using only natural materials found locally and no permanent fixings, the artist creates hauntingly beautiful portraits of birds, complete with feathers made of twigs and tree leaves and eyes made of various berries.

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Man Leaves Window Open for Five Months, Finds Apartment Invaded by Pigeons

A UK student who left his apartment window open before going away for five months found his home covered in bird droppings after it was taken over by pigeons.

20-year-old Oluwageorge Johnson had to leave his rented apartment in Nottingham in a hurry back in March, after his parents turned up to take him home, because of Covid-19. He forgot a window open, and after seeing no activity for several days, pigeons decided to make the apartment their home. No one disturbed the birds for over five months, until a few days ago when accommodation workers heard some strange sounds coming from the flat and went in to investigate. They found the whole place covered in bird droppings, eggs in the kitchen sink and pigeon feathers everywhere.

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Finch Sitting – The Controversial Sport Where You Sit on a Chair And Count Bird Calls

Sports are usually associated with skill and effort, be they physical or mental, but in Vinkensport or vinkenzetting (literally ‘Finch Sitting), a traditional animal sport practiced in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, it’s all about sitting down and listening to birds singing.

In Vinkensport, small cages are lined up in a row about six feet apart on the street. Inside each box is a single male chaffinch whose job is to produce as many bird calls as possible in one hour. Sitting in front of the wooden cages are their owners, the vinkeniers (“finchers”) who tally the bird songs with chalk on a large wooden rod. Each chalk line represents one complete bird call which ends in a characteristic flourish known as a susk-e-wiet. Judges walk along the row of cages to make sure no one cheats. The chaffinch with the most bird calls in an hour is declared the winner. Vinkensport is a very passive sport, some would even call it boring, but it is also a very controversial one.

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World’s Largest Soaring Bird Can Fly 100 Miles Without Flapping Its Wings

According to a fascinating new study, the Andean condor spend almost all of their flying time in soaring mode, flapping their wings only 1.3 percent of the time.

Weighing up to about 16 kilograms and with a wingspan of roughly 3.3 meters, the condor is the largest flying bird in the world by combined measurement of weight and wingspan. With that in mind, it’s almost impossible to believe that it can stay airborne for at least five hours and cover a distance of over 100 miles without flapping its enormous wings once. But that was the most interesting finding of a study published by researchers at the University of Swansea after monitoring a group of condors for five years.

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