Get To See The World today and Not Tomorrow
Look Deep Into Nature
With Lots of exciting things to do, getting some adventures through the Tropical Jungles is an unforgettable experience. Extreme Ziplining is the Perfect thing To Do if You are looking forward to be some kind of Adrenaline Junkie. contrary to what most people believe, outdoor adventures are not that dangerous, its high time that you should go out there and live your life to the fullest. in these times of extreme health problems emanating in our societies, every person deserves to take a nature walk once in their lifetimes. there are many nature conservancies that offer ecotourism as a way of managing the costs of running the organization. when endangered species are being protected at such a high cost and ways of acquiring resources is becoming more and more limited, it is a high time that people become attuned to ecotourism services.
Native Peoples have always used this mode of travel for thousands of generations
Just Living Is Not Enough
The Super thick jungles are fully packed with trees of all kinds that vary from place to place, depending on the nature of soil types as well as rainfall patterns Generally speaking a bird is any member of the class known as Aves that share certain common characteristics and traits. Birds are warm-blooded, bipedal animals whose anatomy is characterized by forelimbs modified through natural selection and evolution to become wings, whose exterior is covered by feathers, and that have, in most cases, hollow bones to assist in flight. Most birds are diurnal, or active during the day, but some are nocturnal, active during the evening
hours, such as owls, and still others feed either day or night as needed. Many birds migrate long distances to find the optimum or ideal habitats, while others rarely range from their original breeding spots. Shared characteristics of birds may include a bony or hard beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a light but strong skeleton, and a high rate of metabolism. Most birds are characterized by flight although several well-known species, particularly those that
reside on islands, have now lost this ability. Some common flightless birds include the ostrich, penguin, kiwi and now extinct Dodo. Birds feed on plants, seeds, insects, fish, carrion or other birds. Birds are also an important food source for humans. The most commonly eaten species is the Domestic chicken, although geese, pheasants, turkeys and ducks are also common fare, particularly around Thanksgiving Day and the holidays. Birds grown for human consumption are known as poultry. Humans have caused the disappearance of some species due to habitat destruction, hunting or over consumption. Other species of birds have come to depend on human activities for food and are so widespread as to be considered a nuisance such as the common pigeon or rock pigeon. In North America, sparrows, starlings, and finches are also widespread. Some birds have been used by humans to perform tasks, such as homing pigeons in the days before modern communications, and falcons to aid in hunting or for sport. Tropical birds are often sought after and kept as pets although some are now listed as endangered and their trafficking for this purpose has been restricted. The bird population, like many other fish and wildlife groups, is facing threats worldwide. According to Worldwatch Institute, bird populations are declining, with 1,200 species facing extinction in the next century. Among the most prevalent reasons cited are habitat loss, predation by nonnative species, oil spills and pesticide use, climate change and excessive rates of hunting and fishing. All these threats make it ever more important to understand, appreciate and protect the birds we see around us everyday. its hight time that alll humanity should thrive to protect alll nature. both plants and animals.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that nature is in big trouble, just look around you and you shall discover that we need to take urgent action right now, nearly everything you read in your local papers and online right now has content that reminds us of the deplorable state of our environment. we simply cannot afford to wait any longer. the slower we are to respond the worse things get. even little children are cutely aware of the environmental issues we are having right now. they are all informed and deeply concerned, which paves way for a better future in the world.
Since the time of our ancestors a very long time ago, man used to live in great harmony with mother nature. its such a sad story right now that so much has changed instead. when we should be taking care of nature, humanity is going out there to extract as much resources as they could and in the process do serious damage to the environment as a whole. our ancestors used to [pass down their stories and life skills to the young generation through oral tradition, they taught the next generation on how to best survive in nature and live in harmony with our social surroundings. People should keep in mind that they don’t have to destroy nature in order to find a way to survive. for the best personal experience, you have got to take only a little of what you need from nature and keep the rest intact.
There are lots of places to visit, if You have got the time You can just relax and enjoy yourself along the way.
Adopt the pace of Nature
Beautiful Landscapes that are best Enjoyed While Travelling through the Air
You don’t have to Look Twice to Like The Place
Go Along With Nature
Water is life, Fresh waterfalls are virtually everywhere in the Tropical Jungles of Africa and Asia.
The Nourishing Crystal Clear waters You can Almost Drink them Right away without any fear of anything.
The world is full of surprises, it is in our human nature to explore as much as we can
The World is always on the move. Nobody can afford to be left behind.
Water is life, Fresh waterfalls are virtually everywhere in the Tropical Jungles of Africa and Asia.
Lets Keep Up The Momentum
There is a bit More To See…
The adelie penguin spends
nearly all its time at sea in pack
ice that surrounds Antarctica.
When it comes ashore to
breed, it lands on barren
beaches and rocky coastal
slopes to gather in huge numbers.
After breeding, the penguin
then returns to sea,
swimming in groups to new
feeding grounds as winter ice
begins to push farther north.
The adelie penguin is an
excellent swimmer, but is
clumsy on land. With its
legs set so far back on its
body, it has to walk upright and
can manage only an awkward,
almost comical, shuffle on its short,
stiff legs. It hops nimbly over rocks and
other low obstacles, but drops onto its
breast at the top of ice slopes and toboggans
over the ice — making better
progress than by walking
The adelie penguin stays close to Antarctica’s pack ice to feed, since
krill (tiny crustaceans that form its main food) eat the algae that
grow on the underside of the ice. Diving to 65 ft for krill and other
prey, the penguin can remain underwater for up to seven minutes.
It catches faster-swimming prey — squid and fish — by putting on
sudden spurts of speed while cruising along underwater.
Each feeding trip may last
four hours or more; frequently,
the adelie feeds at night,
taking advantage of the nightly
migration of krill and squid
to the surface. Flocks also
travel many miles around the
fringes of the ice to exploit
the best feeding grounds.
Penguins return to breeding
colonies in September. Each
pair occupies, then defends,
a nest site before enacting
complex mating rituals.
Two chicks hatch following
six weeks of incubation by
both sexes. While one parent
feeds at sea, the other guards
and broods the young. After
two weeks, the adults feed
together; all the colony’s chicks
in the same stage of growth
join up in “crèches,” which offer
security against predators, such
as gulls. Chicks fledge after
eight weeks and head to sea.
The rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome)
is slightly smaller than the adelie and more widely
distributed over the Antarctic. It shares the adelie’s dumpy
appearance and blackish-blue and white plumage, but has
more elaborate facial decorations.
Above each eye and behind the cheeks is a thin crest
of golden tassels, which the rockhopper raises in courtship
displays. A black crest at the back of its head is just as
mobile.The rockhopper also has a thick, compact bill
for catching crustaceans, such as krill.
Whether lake, river or creek, water always abounds in the African
fish eagle’s territory. Near Lake Victoria or the lakes of Kenyan Rift
Valley, a pair of eagles may require less than 1 sq. mile of water to
find enough food. If the pair inhabits an area next to a small river,
however, they may need 15 miles of water. The African fish eagle
spends most of the day perched in a large tree that overlooks the
water, preferring fig and acacia trees.
The fish eagle hunts its prey from perches overlooking the
water. If it is lucky, it will catch two live fish in about 10 minutes
and be done hunting for the day. Its favorites are catfish and
lungfish, and it will occasionally snatch these from herons, pelicans
and storks. Young flamingos, ducks, storks and herons are
targets, as are lizards and turtles. The fish eagle plucks feathers
from birds and scales fish before eating the animals.
After food is ingested, it can be stored in a fleshy pouch in
the neck called a crop; this pouch will hold over 2 lbs. of food. It
allows the eagle to gorge itself when large amounts of food are
available, then regurgitate it for later consumption
During the breeding season displays become very intense. Rare
among other eagles but common among sea and fish eagles, the
whirling ritual occurs when a courting pair soars, locks claws and
then falls wing over wing toward the ground. The birds will not
release until the display is over, which occasionally can end in
death if the entwined birds crash to the ground. When the
female is ready to mate, she lowers her head and raises her tail
so that her whole body is parallel to the ground. The male then
jumps or flies onto her back. The pair usually mates for life. They
build their large stick-nest in a tree and use this nest year after
year, adding new material to it for each breeding season.
Awakening before dawn, the eagle
begins its serenade, a song
well known across Africa.
About 40 minutes before
sunrise, the air throughout the
sub-Sahara fills with the chorus of
singing pairs. The calls serve as a
territorial signal. The “tune” may
be produced in flight while the
eagle searches for potential
prey. When perched and
singing, the eagle theatrically
throws its head back and belts
out its song, which bears some
resemblance to the call of the
American bald eagle. The African
fish eagle sings this loud, cheerful
song throughout the day, often in
female-initiated duets. A pair will
normally remain together after the
As its name implies, the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus
albicilla) has a white tail, but lacks the distinctive white head
of the African fish eagle.Weighing in at 7–14 lbs. the whitetailed
is heavier than the African fish eagle and, in both
species, females are larger than the males.The white-tailed
eagle inhabits Europe and Asia, but rarely Africa. Like the
African fish eagle, it includes large areas of water in its territory.
The white-tailed eagle shares the scaly, fish-grabbing
talons and the dietary habits of the African fish eagle, subsisting
mainly on freshly caught fish.
The African gray parrot lives in
dense lowland rainforest and
areas of open (secondary)
forest, spending nearly all its
time in the treetops. At
certain times of year, when
trees are fruiting, it’ll visit
wooded areas of savannah. In
the eastern Congo, the parrot
frequents upland forest at
6,600′; it also occurs at
sea level, in mangrove swamps
along the West African coast.
The African gray is an
adaptable species and takes
advantage of large oil palm
plantations in West Africa. The
plantations provide nesting
sites and a rich and reliable
food source: oil palm nuts.
Flying home near dusk, African grays congregate at their
roosting sites, usually in tall trees at the forest edge or a clearing
in the forest. Where available, they also roost on small islands
near the coast or in the middle of a large river, provided there’s
plenty of treecover. Some roosts may have hundreds, even
thousands, of birds.
African grays fly fast, with characteristic shallow and rapid
wingbeats. While in flight, they whistle and shriek constantly,
creating a huge amount of noise. Although they’re nearly always
seen high in the forest canopy, African grays may sometimes
visit the ground, since small pieces of quartz have been found
in their stomachs. These mineral fragments are probably
important in assisting the gizzard, or muscular stomach, to grind
down the hard nuts and berries that form the basis of the
Tool-use in birds is an uncommon phenomenon, but it has
been recorded in the African gray parrot. One bird was seen
preening its feathers with a small splinter of wood held in its bill.
Little is known about the breeding of African grays in
the wild, but they generally breed in the dry season.
The nest is usually in a knothole or broken
tree limb 70–100′ above ground. The female
lays 2–4 white eggs on a bed of wood dust at
the bottom of the nest hole and incubates the
clutch alone. Once the chicks hatch after about
a month, the male brings food while his mate continues
to brood them.They fledge at 2–3 months.
The frugivorous (fruit-eating)
diet of the African gray is varied,
comprised of seeds, nuts
and berries of many forest
trees. The species feeds mainly
in the canopy; small parties of
parrots clamber noisily on the
branches in an energetic quest
for ripe fruit.
Once African grays finish
feeding in a particular tree, they
are reluctant to fly and instead
make use of their climbing skills
to move to the next feeding
place. However, they will fly 3
miles out to sea to offshore
islands containing fruiting trees
The rose-ringed parakeet, Psittacula krameri, with
the African gray parrot, are two of only
20 or so parrot species in Africa.The
parakeet looks very different from the
African gray with a lighter, slimmer
build and long pointed tail.The parakeet occurs
across open, semidesert habitats of West and East Africa; the
parrot is almost exclusively a forest dweller. Flocks of parakeets
are commonly found in agricultural areas, where they sometimes
become serious pests when crops are ripe.
The African harrier hawk
frequents a variety of landscapes
throughout its range in central
and southern Africa, including
forest, woodland and savannah.
It is most often found at the top
of tall trees fringing the larger
rivers or in hilly country where
there are deep ravines and
Courtship for the African harrier hawk occurs in the air. At the
onset of the breeding season, the pair can be seen soaring together
in display flights involving shallow dives and upward swoops
accompanied by drawn-out whistles. These displays usually end in a
long glide to the nest area.
The stick nest is built in a tree by both sexes, usually from
30–150′ from the ground, and is lined with green leaves. Usually 2
eggs are laid and both sexes incubate. After about 35 days, the eggs
hatch at different intervals and
the younger sibling usually dies
of starvation as its older sibling
takes all the food.
The African harrier hawk’s most unusual behavior is that it blushes.
Whereas most raptors have feathered faces, this hawk’s face is
unfeathered to assist it in probing into holes for food. Unexpected
disturbances, such as a branch snapping, can trigger the face
(normally pale yellow) to blush a deep red. Encounters between
breeding pairs also result in blushing; this is believed to
represent an appeasement signal, especially during
courtship, and switches in incubation duty.
Although population numbers are unknown, the African
harrier hawk is fairly common throughout its entire range
and is not currently in danger.As are all members of the
hawk family, the African harrier hawk is protected by law
from hunters and is not allowed to be kept without a permit.
The African harrier hawk and the other member of its
genus, the Madagascar harrier hawk (Polyboroides radiatus),
are both listed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention for
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora) and are not allowed to be exported.
The African harrier hawk seeks out elusive prey. With its ability to
bend its legs forward and backward, this hawk can reach deep
into holes or crevices and grab prey that is safe from other
raptors.The African harrier hawk shows a variety of hunting skills:
it climbs around on the branches of trees, using its wings for
balance; it hangs upside down for long periods of time as it
explores nooks and crannies for a hidden meal; it soars slowly
along the edge of hillsides and ravines and scans carefully for
Unlike other raptors, this hawk is not a very powerful bird
and normally settles for prey about as large as a lizard. In certain
parts of its range, the African harrier hawk is known to eat
the fruit of the oil palm, but mostly its diet consists of lizards, small
birds, insects and rodents.
At 20″, the eastern chanting goshawk, Melierax
poliopterus, is slightly smaller than the African harrier
hawk.The goshawk inhabits dry open woodland and semidesert
areas of eastern Africa, compared to the forest,
woodland and savannah habitats of the harrier hawk.The
goshawk’s feeding methods differ from the harrier: it feeds
mostly on lizards and insects that it spots from a perch, or
the goshawk may take small birds after a vigorous pursuit.
This contrasts with the harrier hawk, which extracts its prey
from holes or flies slowly when searching for prey.
The African pygmy falcon lives
in two distinct and widely
separated populations in Africa:
one in the southwestern part of
the continent and the other in
the northeast. In either part of
the continent, the pygmy falcon
inhabits the arid and semiarid
savannah and scrubland, which
features sparse groundcover
and scattered large trees
dotting the landscape. The
African pygmy falcon typically
avoids open forests and forest
edges. This falcon also frequents
the huge nests of weavers,
especially the sociable weaver,
Philetairus socius, sharing its
roosting and nesting site.
The pygmy falcon occasionally
shares the nests of the whiteheaded
buffalo weaver and
those of the sparrow weaver.
The African pygmy falcon mostly feeds on insects and lizards, though
occasionally rodents and small birds are consumed. In spite of its
small size, the African pygmy falcon is a voracious predator, like birds
of prey. Perching from a tall tree, the pygmy falcon watches the
ground below for movement from a potential meal. Once its victim
is sighted, the pygmy falcon quickly dives to the ground, snatching its
victim in its talons, and taking it back to the perch to be eaten. Like
all falcons, the African pygmyfalcon
regurgitates 1–2 pellets
daily, which contain all the indigestible
food fragments, such as
fur and bones.
Courtship begins in the summer and includes the male feeding
his mate. The female performs exaggerated tail-wagging displays.
No nest is built; instead the pair moves into a chamber in
the nest colony of sociable weavers, which is comprised of a
huge haystack structure built into a tree and contains chambers
of up to 50 active weaver nests. Each chamber is enclosed and
is reached from below through a narrow vertical tunnel.The falcon
pair evicts 1–2 pairs of weavers from their nests, then the
female lays from 2–4 eggs. While both parents incubate for
about 30 days, the female’s share of the task is larger.The male
provides his mate, and later the chicks, with food.The chicks are
helpless at birth, but fledge in 28–30 days. They remain with
their parents for 1–2 months after fledging before becoming
African pygmy falcons are
diurnal, with activity peaks in
the early morning and late
afternoon. They usually roost
during the hotter parts of the
day.These falcons are rapid and
agile in flight, darting through
the air in quick bursts, similar to
those of a woodpecker. Because
of their small size, African pygmy
falcons are able to share the
nest colony of sociable weavers.
These huge nests provide a
safe, weatherproof environment
for the falcons. The falcons do
not bother the weavers beyond
the eviction of 1–2 pairs and
occasionally killing a chick when
other food is scarce. While
the falcon pairs enjoy the
benefits of the weavers’ work,
the weavers gain a pair of
bodyguards to protect them
from snakes, such as cobras, that
prey upon the nest chambers.
The sociable weavers happily
continue to add and maintain
the nest in spite of having an
The African pygmy falcon is
a fairly common resident
throughout its range and is
not currently endangered. It
is listed in Appendix II of
CITES (Convention in
International Trade in
which regulates the
import and export of
animals for the pet trade.
Since its range is dependent
upon weavers for nesting,
the pygmy falcon has a very
limited distribution. Due to
its small size, it falls victim
to predators, including
larger birds of prey found
in the same habitat.
Reaching 7” long, the collared falconet (Microhierax
caerulescens) is slightly smaller than the African pygmy falcon
and is one of the smallest of the raptors.The collared
falconet has a glossy black back with white on its forehead,
collar and sides of face; it has a chestnut chin and belly,
compared to the pygmy falcon, which is mostly gray above
and white underneath. Unlike the African pygmy falcon, which
inhabits the semiarid and arid savannah, the collared falconet is
mainly found at the edge of temperate forests. Despite their
small size, both birds are bold predators, like their larger relatives.
The black vulture lives in a variety of Western Hemisphere habitats,
including coastal lowlands, forests, jungles and deserts. It flocks to
open grasslands, the edges of cities and even to downtown urban
areas, where the vulture rides
the thermal air currents rising
from the canyons of skyscrapers.
No matter what the habitat, the
birds are most likely to be found
near something dead or rotting.
The black vulture frequents city
dumps, sewers, slaughterhouses
and highways with roadkill. It also
searches mangrove stands and
other wooded areas where baby
birds are left unprotected. After
spending the day gliding and
circling, it will return to roost,
usually in tall trees. When not
feeding, the black vulture is
somewhat social, and is often
found roosting with other birds,
especially turkey vultures.
All members of the vulture family have been protected by
federal law since 1972, and populations have remained
stable. Black vultures previously faced threats from farmers,
who believed the birds carried a virus that caused hog
cholera, and the vultures were often shot. One type of
vulture, the California condor, was near extinction, but
preservation efforts have helped rebuild populations.
Breeding begins in January and continues until July. Male black vultures
compete with other males for a female’s attention, strutting
past her with their wings partially spread and rapidly bobbing their
heads. The female picks a suitable mate and a pair-bond forms.
After mating, the pair usually does not build a nest. Instead, eggs
are laid in hollow bases of trees or stumps, seldom more than
10–15′ off the ground, or even in crannies of tall city buildings. Eggs
number from 1 to 3, and have green, blue or olive tint and brown
splotches. Both parents share incubation duty for 32–39 days.
Nestlings are born helpless and naked but quickly acquire downy
feathers. The parents bring back digested food and regurgitate it
into the chicks’ mouths. Chicks can fly after 63–70 days, but usually
do not leave the nest until they are 2–3 months old.
Black vultures begin their day soaring
on air thermals in their continual
search for food. They glide in circles
and flap their wings periodically.
Groups can range in number from a
few vultures to over 100 birds. When
food is spotted, the black vultures pour
down from the sky. When it is not
flying, the vulture often perches with its
wings spread in the sun. The black
vulture will mix with turkey vultures at
roosting areas, usually in tall trees. In
North America, the black vulture
migrates to warmer climates, where it
spends the winter.
Most of the black vulture’s diet consists of carrion and garbage; PICK AND CHOOSE
it supplements this menu with bird nestlings, such as baby
herons, and young turtles that have just hatched. When pressed
for food, the black vulture will also attack larger live prey, such as
calves, lambs, skunks and opossums. The vulture uses its thick bill
with a hooked end to tear into flesh. Though it has strong claws
for gripping prey, its talons are not sharp enough for it
to strike from the air, as a hawk or eagle can. Black vultures
congregate around a kill and grab what they can.
The turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) has a slightly
larger wing span than the American black vulture
and weighs slightly less.The turkey
vulture is easily identified by the red
skin on its head that, at a distance,
resembles a turkey.The turkey
vulture uses it eyesight to spot a carrion meal
but, unlike the black vulture, it also uses a
highly developed sense of smell. Both vultures
often roost in the same trees.
The cliff swallow migrates to its North American breeding grounds,
arriving from March to May.True to its name, the bird has historically
nested on the sides of steep cliffs. Though the cliff swallow still
settles along the cliffs and canyons of western North America, it has
adapted to alternative nesting sites across the U.S.: many bridges,
dams or buildings offer protective overhangs and suitable vertical
surfaces on which to attach a nest. Swallows also need open areas
for foraging and a water source for the mud necessary to build
their nests. In the fall, the birds
and their young are among the
earliest migrants south; large
flocks fly to South America.
American cliff swallows are very social. Large flocks forage
together in flight throughout the day; birds have been timed at
up to almost 30 mph. In cool and cloudy weather, the swallow
gives a “squeak” call to announce the discovery of an insect
swarm.This call attracts other birds to the food source.
The birds preen their feathers and sunbathe together at their
daytime perches on wires, small twigs and rooftops, and they
roost together at night, clinging to reeds and tall grasses.
To protect their young against enemies, such as American
kestrels, black-billed magpies, bull snakes and rats, the cliff
swallows build sheltered nests in large colonies. Central nests
are sought after, because
the nests at the edges
of a colony are more
vulnerable to attack. But
there is not always safety
in numbers: very large,
attract predators. Cliff
swallows usually give
alarm calls and surround
the predator in a loose
group to drive it off.
The American cliff swallow feeds entirely on insects caught in
flight. The bird chases after flying ants, wasps, grasshoppers,
dragonflies, mosquitoes and beetles, including the destructive
cotton-boll weevils; the swallow’s menu includes 84 insect
families from 10 orders. The bird holds its tiny, gaping mouth as
wide as it can to scoop up hundreds of insects as it darts along.
Foraging in large groups of up to 2,000 birds, the cliff swallow
searches for swarms of insects.The birds tend to focus on areas
of relatively high altitudes; however, in cool and cloudy weather
the cliff swallows feed just above the ground or water surface
due to lack of visibility and decreased availability of swarming
insects. In this damp and dreary climate, the bird tends to forage
alone. Groups always tend to follow each other; if one is feeding
on a big swarm, another will follow to scout out the area. This
holds true for solitary feeding birds as well. American cliff
swallows never have a problem sharing their food sources.
Cliff swallows arrive at their breeding areas by May. The birds are
more comfortable in flight; on land, they shuffle along when
gathering mud to build their mud nests. They often reuse nests
left from the previous summer and need to add mud only to the
nest’s entrance, a narrow tunnel that usually points downward.
The cliff swallow generally nests in dense colonies on cliffs, banks,
dams and bridges; groups of
several thousand nests have
been observed. Swallows
often fight for safer, centrally
located nests in these
colonies. The female swallow
incubates the 4–5 eggs for up
to 16 days; after hatching, the
chicks are able to fly by 24
days, but still rely on their
parents for food.The juveniles
gather to form large crèches
and depart with their parents
for wintering grounds from
July to September.
Measuring up to 6″, the Angolan swallow (Hirundo angolensis) is similar in
size to the American cliff swallow. However, the bright-blue Angolan swallow
has a rufous-colored throat patch that extends
to the breast and a well-forked tail,
unlike the cliff swallow, which has a
smaller throat patch and squared
tail.The Angolan swallow forages in
small groups in Africa, far from the
large flocks of cliff swallows in North
and South America.
The American coot frequents
both fresh- and saltwater. It lives
in wetland areas such as rice
fields, backwaters, reed-fringed
ponds and lakes, open marshes,
sluggish rivers and streams, as
well as estuaries and bays. During
its migrations, the coot is often
seen far inland, often at ponds in
parks or golf courses. In winter,
the American coot is one of the
most abundant birds in both
North and South Carolina.
The American coot migrates north from
February through May and begins nesting within
two weeks of its arrival. However, some birds
remain year-round in parts of the U.S. Courtship
displays include increased calling and a bowing
and nibbling ritual, in which one coot remains still
while the other preens its feathers.
Coots are monogomous; they mate on land or
on their platform nests, which are built by both
sexes from reeds, grasses and cattails. The female
usually lays about 9–10 eggs with dark-brown
spots, and the pair takes turns incubating the eggs
for 21–25 days.The chicks are covered with down
and are able to swim and dive soon after hatching,
but they return to the nest for frequent brooding
and are fed by the parents for two weeks, becoming
independent over the next 5–8 weeks. Nesting
success is usually over 80%, mainly due to the parents’
steadfast defense of the nest throughout
courtship, incubation and fledging.
The American coot is extremely noisy and its wetland haunts are often filled with a bustling medley of
various calls. Pairs emit a kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk call or coo-coo-coo-coo day and night. Both the herring gull and
the black-backed gull prey upon the American coot, and the bird’s calls warn others in the flock of
impending danger from attack by such predators.
The coot is extremely aggressive during the breeding season — it staunchly defends its territory
against invasions, especially by other members of its species. It uses a combination of distinctive
postural displays and attacks, including the “splatter attack,” in which the coot charges at an intruder,
splashing water with its wings.When taking flight, the ungraceful coot taxies for some distance, flapping
its wings and noisily kicking and spraying water. When an entire flock rises from the water in this
fashion, it sounds like a heavy hail or rainstorm. Although the birds have difficulty taking off, they fly for
great distances; some birds migrate all the way from Canada to Panama each fall.
Though the American coot obtains most of its plant food by
dabbling on the water’s surface, the bird also dives and up-ends in
water and even grazes on land. Seeds, roots and leaves of
pondweeds, water milfoil, burweed, smartweed and banana water
lily are favorites, but the bird also eats wild celery as well as
sprouting and waste grain. The coot snatches up aquatic animals,
including insects, fish, snails and tadpoles. Waterfowl, such as
canvasbacks or mallards, often stir up these animals, as well as
aquatic plants, while swimming or
diving, and the coot follows in their
wake. This high–protein animal food
is especially important in the diet of
a growing coot chick.
The giant coot (Fulica gigantea) measures up to 23″ in length,
larger than the American coot, and it weighs up to 5.5 lbs.—
far heavier than its American cousin. Both species have
dark, slate-gray plumage, but the giant coot has a deep-red
bill with a white ridge and yellow shield, a marked contrast
to the American coot’s white bill with its white and red
shield. While juvenile giant coots can fly readily, adults cannot
because of their weight.Thus, the giant coot has a limited
range — south Peru to northwest Argentina.The American
coot is abundant throughout North and Central America.
The American harpy eagle is
found in the extensive tropical
rainforests of South and
Central America. The eagle
spends most of its time high in
the canopy and nests only in
the tallest trees, such as the
giant kapok or silk-cotton trees.
Like most other powerful
predators, the American harpy
eagle is naturally rare, as each pair hunts over a territory of up to 20
sq. miles. But new research suggests that the species occupies smaller
territories in Panama and Venezuela and can survive in patches of
forest bordering savannah, agricultural land and human settlements.
The harpy eagle leads a
solitary existence. Even when
breeding, the male and female
hunt and roost separately, with
the female staying on the nest
at night to brood the eggs or
chick while her mate rests in a
tree nearby. Encounters with
other eagles are rare, but the
female’s larger size enables her
to defend her nest from other
males should the need arise.
For such a large bird, the
harpy eagle usually goes
unnoticed as it perches statuestill
and silent, alert for signs of
either prey or intruders. While
it is perched, the eagle’s dark upperparts are hard to spot in the
dappled light of the forest.The harpy eagle usually only reveals itself
by spreading its wings to reveal the pale breast feathers.
The American harpy eagle is one of the most aerobatic of all eagles.
Spotting its prey from a lookout, it launches out and swoops in at
speeds of up to 48 mph. Broad, slotted wings allow it to twist and
turn through narrow gaps in the canopy. The eagle may even roll
upside down at the last moment before reaching up with its talons,
and ripping its victim away with barely a check in its flight speed.
The harpy eagle hunts monkeys, sloths and tree-living porcupines
and anteaters. It also preys on lizards, snakes, macaws and other
large birds, and sometimes hunts pigs and rodents on the ground
Little is known about the breeding habits of the harpy
eagle, as its nests are so inaccessible. It is thought they
form stable pairs that stay together for the breeding
season and possibly for life. Each pair builds a nest of
large sticks, lined with leaves and animal hairs, in the
crown of a tree 130–160′ above the ground.They appear
to use the same site regularly, refurbishing the old nest
and gradually building it up until it is over 6.5′ across.
The female harpy eagle lays two eggs, several days
apart. Like most eagles, the second egg serves as an
“insurance policy.”The elder, and therefore stronger, chick
grabs nearly all the food brought to the nest, so the
weaker chick soon starves. Only if the first chick dies
does the younger one survive.The juvenile depends
on its parents for a further 10 months, demanding
food from them even when it is able to fly.
The harpy eagle shares its name with another spectacular bird
of prey that lives in New Guinea. Like its American counterpart,
the New Guinea harpy eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguinae) scans the
canopy of tropical rainforests for medium-sized prey, such as tree
kangaroos, but it also hunts in clearings. However, the New
Guinean species has a slimmer build, smaller bill and shorter
wingspan, and never exceeds 36″ in length.
With its brown and gray plumage, the New Guinea harpy
eagle is less conspicuous than its American cousin. It is more
often heard than seen, having a distinctive, far-carrying cry.
The American redstart lives in a variety of habitats: it
frequents deciduous and tropical forests, mangroves, savannahs,
suburban areas and mixed forests. In winter, the redstart migrates
to light woodlands and scrub habitats from the southern U.S.
to South America and also in
Jamaica. In Venezuela, adult male
redstarts are found in forests,
while females and young males
American redstarts leave their winter home in Central and South
America and the West Indies in March, heading north to breeding
grounds ranging from Alaska to Georgia. Males arrive first and
stake out territories, usually less than 1 acre in size. A male
defends his area through warning chirps and aerial displays. During
courtship, he raises his wings and holds them perpendicular to the
ground, and spreads his tail feathers to show his bold orange-red
plumage, a symbol of his maturity. Males also court females by
bringing them food. The female builds a nest high in the trees,
usually 10–20′ above ground, most often nestled in the crotch of
the tree.The nest is a deep cup made mostly of grasses, lined with
feathers and material such as deer hair. The female lays 3–5
greenish-white eggs, with small, brown specks, and incubates
them alone for 12 days. Both parents feed the young chicks for
8–10 days until they are capable of finding their own food.
Fledglings join the adults in
August to begin the migratory
journey south. They look like
adult females; males will attain
adult plumage in two years.
The American redstart is constantly on the lookout for its insect
prey, frequently hopping between the branches of trees and shrubs
in search of beetles and caterpillars. As the day warms and insects
become more active, the redstart searches for prey in flight,
snatching insects, such as moths and wasps, in midair. It also hovers
around foliage to catch flies. Rictal bristles around the mouth
protect the bird’s eyes as it captures flying insects. In winter and
during migrations the redstart eats seeds and berries, including
barberry, juneberries and magnolia seeds. The bird’s long, thin bill
promotes the quick capture of either plant or animal food.
The American redstar t’s
song consists of high, thin
notes that produce a pleasant
buzzing sound. Although
the male is most often heard
as he establishes and defends
his territory in the spring,
females also sing. The redstar
t is extremely active
throughout the year and flits
through trees and scrubs as
it forages. Usually solitary, the
redstart occasionally will form
flocks with other species,
sparrows, during foraging
trips on wintering grounds
At 5.5″, the golden-fronted redstart (Myioborus
ornatus) resides year-round in South America and is
slightly larger than its American redstart cousin. It has
bright yellow underparts, hence its name, in
contrast with the American redstart’s white
underparts.The golden-fronted redstart
lives at altitudes up to 10,000′, mainly in cloud
forests in subtropical regions, while the American
redstart has adapted to a variety of habitats. Both the golden-fronted
redstart and the American redstart forage in trees for insects
The American robin prefers the deep forest, but it has spread across
North America, taking up residence in a variety of habitats. The
robin has flourished in areas as varied as sparsely wooded land in
the east to mountains 12,000′ above sea level in the western U.S. It
has adapted to open regions and modern, suburban areas as well,
and is often spotted in pastures, orchards, backyards and city parks.
While trees offer the ideal perching site, a suburban fence, gutter or
fire escape will work just as well for this adaptable bird. Most robins
migrate to the south to escape the harsh, cold winters of the north,
but those that stay frequent forests with an abundance of berries
The American robin changes its diet throughout the year to
reap the rewards of seasonally available foods. During the warm
spring and summer months, the robin surveys backyard lawns,
meadows and even golf courses to search for its favorite food —
earthworms. The robin peers carefully across the ground for the
worm’s tunnels, then pokes in its beak to search for food.The robin
also munches on a variety of insects, from ants and beetles to
termites and weevils. Even quick-hopping grasshoppers and
fluttering butterflies aren’t safe from the American robin. In the fall,
the robin feasts on carbohydrate-rich fruits, which help it fatten up
in preparation for a harsh winter or long migration.Those birds that
do overwinter in northern regions exist on the berries and seeds
that remain uncovered by snow. Pieces of oranges and apples,
raisins and bread provide tasty treats at bird feeders. Old apple
orchards provide retreats from the cold.
Though the robin arrives early at its nesting grounds, it wastes no
time with elaborate courtship displays. Attempting 2–3 broods
each season, the male establishes a territory and the female quickly
begins a nest after pairing off. For the first brood, the nest is in
an evergreen tree.The female forms the mud-lined nest of grasses
and rootlets by sitting and pressing her breast against the edges.
She lays 4–5 eggs, which are a medium sky-blue color, and incubates
them for 14 days. After hatching, the young stay in the nest
for about 13 days. The male feeds the fledglings while the female
builds a second nest in a maple, elm or other deciduous tree.
The robin starts its trek north in February when the days reach an
average temperature of 37˚F. Its migratory patterns are not clearcut;
even its scientific name, from the Latin “migrator,” means
wanderer. Large flocks of males arrive in northern states in March.
As they begin to form territories, they are much less tolerant of the
other males. In an “attack run,” an aggressive male often bends to a
horizontal position with its tail raised and then charges toward
another male. A less-aggressive robin may push another male, or
take short runs toward it, forcing it to retreat.
When flocks of females show up in April, each mature male has
established an individual territory about an acre in size, which
becomes smaller in preparation for nesting, about a third of an
acre. From high perches, the males serenade the females. The loud,
familiar cheerily-cheery-cheerily-cheery sounds serve as a morning
wake-up call and evening lullaby. But it also advertises the
boundaries of their territory. Often aggressive even outside its
territory when foraging, the
robin occasionally confronts
its own reflection, in either
a window or hubcap.
Though similar in size and color to the American robin,
the varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius) has more orange
coloring. An orange stripe over its eyes and bright wing
bars help distinguish it from its relative.The varied
thrush’s range is restricted to the Pacific coast
of North America, where it resides in high
mountain forests and misty evergreen woodlands.
It spends more time in the trees than the robin,
feeding mainly on insects and berries. Like the robin,
the varied thrush favors earthworms
The swallow-tailed kite prefers the high trees and leafy expanses of open
woods, swamps, bayous, marshes and hardwood forests. It
frequents these areas in Mexico, Central America and much of South
America. In North America, the kite is found in south Louisiana and south
Texas, as well as in southwestern Florida, where large kite
po-pulations inhabit the secluded mangrove swamps; there, they find
plentiful swarms of flying insects to feast on and tall trees in which to nest.
The swallow-tailed kite’s breeding season runs from January through
June, depending on the region. Many kite nests are over 100′ from
the ground, a height that makes studying the breeding behavior of
this elusive bird a challenge. As part of its courtship behavior, the
male kite has been observed feeding the female before copulation,
which is frequent and noisy. The nest is constructed of twigs and
lined with moss and situated on very small branches in the tops of
high trees.These hard-to-reach areas make it harder for terrestrial
animals to reach the nest — but they also make it vulnerable to
birds of prey, such as the bald eagle and great horned owl. The
female usually lays 1–2 eggs and incubation lasts from about 28–31
days; in two-egg clutches, the first egg is much larger than the second,
and has a greater chance of survival. Both parents share parental
duties; the male provides more food, but the
female remains longer at the nest. Fledging
occurs at about 40 days.
The swallow-tailed kite is not globally threatened. In fact, the
bird is relatively common over much of its extensive
distribution. However, in the U.S., where the bird formerly
occurred in such northern states as Oklahoma, Minnesota and
North Carolina, it now occurs only in southern states, such as
Texas, Louisiana and Florida.The probable reason for this
decline is habitat destruction for farming.
Gregarious swallow-tailed kites
often nest quite close together
in colonies, which offers an
advantage in detecting and
deterring potential predators. In
fact, these groups of kites often
launch cooperative assaults on
larger birds of prey, such as bald
eagles. The kite’s keen vision
allows it to see attackers from
far away and sound a highpitched
alarm call, eee or kee,
repeated several times. Kite
nestlings have been known to
dribble excrement directly
down onto the nest rim to
avoid leaving telltale signs on the
ground and attracting predators,
especially raccoons, which
abound in the kite’s Florida
The American swallow-tailed kite feeds mostly on insects
grabbed in midair and snatched from the tree canopy during
low, slow glides. It usually eats its catch on the wing, transferring
the food from its strong, agile talons to its sharp, hooked beak
A typical kite dinner consists of numerous victims gleaned
from a flying swarm of insects. The bird also preys on
hummingbirds, which are caught by surprise as they hover while
feeding on nectar.Tree frogs, anole lizards and snakes round out
the bird’s diet. In Florida, where anole lizards are plentiful in the
kite’s preferred mangrove forest habitat, they comprise 99% of
prey delivered to the nest.
The American swallow-tailed
kite also takes young birds
from their nests, often
carrying off entire nests
of smaller species and
eating them with one
leg free while clutching the
nest with the other.
At 15″ in length, the Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) is smaller than
the swallow-tailed kite. While both birds inhabit parts of North, Central and
South America, the Mississippi kite ranges farther north than the swallowtailed
kite. It frequents northern Texas, where it prefers open
country and streamside thickets.The swallow-tailed kite, meanwhile,
enjoys swamps and bayous in the southern U.S. Both birds spend
about six months of each year in South America. Slender with
pointed wings, the Mississippi kite is mainly gray, though darker on
the back and paler on the head. In contrast, the swallow-tailed kite
is mostly black with a white head and underparts.
The Andean condor is native
to the Andes mountain chain
that extends north to south
along the entire length of
western South America, but
also can be found over the
coasts of Peru and Chile and
the Patagonian steppe of Argentina.
Wheeling and soaring over high mountains, windswept upland
plains and lowland desert areas, the condor looks for signs of other
scavengers gathering over carrion. It avoids forests, where locating
carcasses and landing is difficult for such a broad-winged bird.
Although the Andean condor doesn’t migrate seasonally, it
covers huge areas while foraging. It relies on its superb soaring
abilities to carry it at high altitudes back to its roosting site each
evening. The condor tends to roost and nest on the faces of high
cliffs, where few predators can gain access to its eggs and from
where it can launch itself easily into the air.
The condor usually roosts on
cliff faces because it needs
thermals (warm air currents)
and cliffside updrafts to carry it
aloft. It waits for the morning
sun to heat the land and create
the thermals and basks until its
organs and flight muscles are
warmed. When conditions are
right for flight, it launches into
the buoyant updrafts.
When feeding on hot days
from a carcass, the condor
absorbs reflected heat from the
ground. To stay cool, it radiates
excess body heat through loose
skin folds on its naked head and
deficates on its legs. Back up on
high, thick body plumage keeps
it warm and it draws its head
into its snug, downy neck ruff.
The condor scans the ground for carcasses, but often follows other
scavengers, such as smaller vulture species. This benefits lesser vultures
— only the condor (with its huge, hooked beak) can rip open the
tough skin of some carcasses. Condors and other vultures feed in
order of age seniority; each thrusts its head into the carcass for pieces
of flesh to gobble down.
The condor feeds mainly on the carrion of mammals such as
sheep, cattle and llamas. In coastal areas, it pecks at beached whale
carcasses, patrols seal rookeries for casualties and afterbirths and
even raids seabird colonies for eggs.
The condor breeds every other year, and even then only when
enough carrion is available to feed the chick. Once paired,
however, condors remain together for life. The nest site is usually
situated high on a sheer cliff face, in a small cave or recessed ledge.
The female lays a single, white egg on bare rock and both
parents share the task of incubation.When the chick hatches, adults
feed it partly digested flesh, passing it from bill to bill. As the chick
grows, it learns to help itself from food offerings dropped by adults
in the nesting area.The juvenile
takes six months to fledge and
depends on its parents for
many more months before
The Andean condor lives long and breeds slowly; any human
interference rapidly upsets this pattern.The condor is hunted
for sport and is persecuted by some farmers who
believe it kills domestic livestock. It also suffers from
pesticides that are carried up through food chains. Numbers
have plummeted, but the condor isn’t officially listed as
endangered. Recent attempts to rescue the Andean condor
and the rare California condor, through captive breeding and
habitat research programs, have met with moderate success
DNA studies show that the Andean
condor isn’t related to Old World
(African and Eurasian) vultures, but
shows closer affinities to storks.The
African marabou stork, for example,
has striking similarities to the condor.
Like the condor, this stork is a baldheaded
carrion eater and locates its
prey by soaring at great altitude on
huge, deeply slotted wings.
Unlike its marine relatives, the
anhinga is usually found in
freshwater habitats, perching
on branches next to lakes,
marshes and rivers. Brackish
estuaries, mangrove swamps
and shallow bays also play host
to the anhinga. Wherever it
lives, waterside vegetation is a
standard feature and provides
safe nesting and roosting sites.
Fish feature heavily, but not exclusively, in the anhinga’s diet.
Across its range, it consumes various species, the majority being
under 4″ in length and slow moving. The anhinga also preys on
aquatic amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, leeches and crustaceans.
A typical hunting foray starts with a serene, splash-free dive
under the water. The anhinga hunts in the shallows among
aquatic vegetation. Although it often stalks its prey for a minute
or more, it seldom gives chase for long and prefers to wait in
ambush. It has a habit of spreading its wings when it hunts; the
precise reason is unknown, but it may act as a lure, tempting fish
to approach what appears to be a shady resting place.
As soon as a fish comes within range, the bird strikes. A
hinge mechanism between its neck vertebrae and powerful
neck muscles enables the
anhinga to straighten its neck
with lightning speed. Its victim
secured, the anhinga comes to
the surface to eat its meal.
The daily life of the anhinga is not a hectic one. In food-rich areas, the bird doesn’t
invest all its time hunting. Instead, it spends most of the day sunning and preening
itself in loose groups of fewer than 10 birds, but occasionally as many
as 100. Nevertheless, the anhinga is not overtolerant of its own
species and squabbles often occur at shared perches.
In the air, the anhinga has a graceful flight, alternating
between flapping and gliding. Its long tail helps it maneuver deftly
among the dense vegetation, and its broad wings enable it to soar to
great heights on thermals (warm columns of rising air).
The anhinga has poor insulation against the cold, confining it to
mostly tropical and subtropical latitudes. Those populations that
breed at the northern limits of its range, most notably those in
south-central U.S., desert their nesting grounds in October
and fly to warmer wintering grounds in Mexico.
Breeding for many anhinga populations is a seasonal affair; even in
those areas where the birds can nest all year-round, there is a
distinct peak.The anhinga is faithful to its partner, forming a pairbond
that may last several years.The pair often reuses a nest from
the previous season; when not possible, it builds a nest from sticks
and leaves among the reeds,
bushes or overhanging branches.
The female lays a clutch of
up to five pale-green eggs that
are incubated by both parents
for four weeks. The chicks
hatch naked, but soon grow a
coat of buff-colored down.The
chicks develop fast and leave
their parents after two months.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, the African
darter (Anhinga rufa) has similar haunts
and habits as the anhinga. Inhabiting inland waters
across most of sub-Saharan Africa, the darter’s
appearance differs from the anhinga only in detail.
The African bird is slightly larger and has a distinctive,
whitish stripe through each cheek. It lacks the crest
found on the back of the anhinga’s head and has less
silvery gray on its wings. Both birds perform aerial
displays during courtship and breed in groups of several hundred strong.
The Arctic tern breeds within latitudes from Massachusetts and
Brittany, France, north to within 420 miles of the North Pole, at
sites such as the northern tip of Greenland.
During the summer breeding season, long hours of sunlight
give the bird plenty of time to catch food.The tern nests mainly on
coasts or offshore islands, flying short distances out to sea to catch
fish for itself, its mate and chicks. In Scandinavia and Canada,
the Arctic tern sometimes follows rivers far inland, nesting up to
180 miles from the sea and feeding on fish in the lakes and rivers.
After breeding and rearing its chicks, the Arctic tern spends the
rest of the year at sea, flying a vast distance south to spend the
southern summer (the northern winter) mainly around Antarctica.
There, the tern rests on icebergs or floating pack ice.
Terns nest in noisy colonies (often several thousand pairs) and
feed in flocks of ten to several hundred birds. It’s best known for
epic journeys from
grounds to the
returning the next
year to breed. In its
lifetime, an Arctic tern
may travel at least
The tern migrates
alone or in small
groups. It usually flies
down the west coast
of North America,
then follows the east
coast of South
America or crosses
the Atlantic before
Eurasian birds follow
the Atlantic coasts of
Europe and Africa.
With wind directions,
these routes are the
quickest and easiest
Fish, crustaceans and insects are the main food of the tern, but
prey varies with location. Shrimp, crabs, migrating insects and small
squid are taken in flight from the surface waters; the tern also
snaps up flies and moths at its breeding grounds.
The tern catches fish by diving into the sea, although it rarely
dives deeper than 24″ and may be under the waves for no longer
than a second.The tern holds fish crosswise in its sharp-edged bill
and can catch one or two more fish while still carrying the first.
Herring, haddock, sprats, butterfish and even small salmon are
typical prey, but sand eels are especially important at breeding
time, providing a nutritious and convenient-sized meal for chicks.
Terns pair for life. When adults
return to their old nest site in
spring, they renew their bond
with courtship flights.The male
brings food to his mate to help her into peak breeding condition.
The female lays one to three eggs in a scrape in sand or gravel.
Both parents incubate the eggs and bring food to the young when
they hatch in three weeks.Young stay in the nest for two or three
days, then leave to hide in groundcover.They can fly in three to four
more weeks, but parents may feed them for another two months
The Atlantic puffin spends most
of its life at sea, coming to land
only to breed in clifftop or island
colonies. In the breeding season,
it occurs on inshore waters from the North Atlantic and North Sea
north as far as the High Arctic. But in late summer, puffins drift south
away from their colonies, which are deserted by September. From fall
until early spring, they stray far out to deeper, offshore waters as far
south as New Jersey, the western coast of Italy and the Canary Islands.
The puffin shares nesting cliffs with other birds of its family, Alcidae,
but doesn’t compete with them for nest sites as it’s the only one to
use burrows high on the cliff. But in the Arctic, frozen ground prevents
it from digging burrows, so it must resort to crevices in the cliff faces
After a display of head-shaking and bill-nibbling, a male and female
mate on the surface of the sea not far from their colony. Each pair
mates for life, returning to the same nesting burrow every year.
Puffins excavate their burrows, which can be 7′ deep, with their bills,
but where possible, simply use an old burrow of another animal.
The female lays her egg in the burrow and both sexes share in
incubation, which lasts six weeks. Parents also cooperate in feeding
the young, but after 5–7 weeks, they stop bringing food to the nest.
Within days, the juvenile leaves, traveling to sea by leaping with
fluttering wings as it can’t yet fly with the skill of an adult.
At home on or below the surface
of rough and calm seas, the puffin
is a master swimmer. Diving from
the surface, it can cover 150′
horizontally in a single dive for fish.
On other occasions, it dips its head
under the water while trying to
find a shoal of suitable prey.
A relatively limited variety of
small marine fish makes up the
puffin’s diet, including sand eels,
sprats, whitings and rocklings.
Most of the fish it catches are less
than 4″ long, but fish width is a
more important factor: the puffin
prefers to feed on prey 1″ thick so
that it can line up as many as
possible crosswise in its
bill. Adult birds, especially in the
Arctic, also feed on mollusks and
crustaceans, particularly shrimp or
In common with most sociable,
colony-nesting birds, the puffin
evolved a complex “language”
of calls, displays and other body
gestures for communication.
At sea, it indicates alarm by
bobbing its head up and down;
on land, it may growl menacingly.
When landing at the colony
after fishing, or walking through
it, the puffin has a submissive
pose to avoid fights with other
birds. This involves bending
its legs while tilting its head
upward and raising its wings over its back. Nonetheless, excited
squabbles between neighboring pairs are common and two puffins
may grapple and twist each other with their bills, while uttering
throaty calls, until they eventually pull apart.
The tufted puffin (Lunda cirrhata) is one of three puffin species.
In the breeding season, it has a pair of pale yellow tufts of
feathers, which sprout from behind its eyes and fall over its
neck.The rest of its breeding dress is sooty black, except for
the cheeks and throat, which are white. In late summer, the
puffin loses its colorful tassels and its cheeks become black.
A third larger than the Atlantic puffin, the tufted puffin has a
bigger red-and-yellow bill. It’s found in the North Pacific, breeding
in eastern Siberia and on North America’s western seaboard as far
south as California. Like its Atlantic relative, it winters out at sea.
The bald eagle is found in a
range of habitats from rugged,
Arctic coasts bordered by
extensive coniferous forests to
inland freshwater lakes and
rivers. In southern parts of the U.S., such as Florida, it is quite at
home in cypress swamps and mangroves; it even inhabits parts of
the dry, hot deserts of the Baja peninsula in northern Mexico.
The bald eagle can often be seen sitting near the top of a tall
tree at the water’s edge, which provides a good lookout while
waiting for fish, or any other prey in the vicinity, to come into view.
Inland-nesting eagles migrate southward in winter, and some of
these migrant birds spend the non-breeding season in arid, open
country far from water. It is in these surroundings that the bald
eagle turns its attention to a wider range of prey.
From a prominent perch that
overlooks water, the bald eagle
scans the surface for fish. Once
prey is located, the eagle flies
out toward it, dropping down
in a shallow glide. At the last
moment it throws its feet
down and forward to grab the
fish just beneath the water.
Hooking the fish into the air,
the eagle carries it to a perch.
In Alaska during the
autumn, when salmon
swim upstream to
spawn and die, bald
eagles gather in great
numbers to feed on
exhausted and dying
fish. As many as 2,000
eagles have been
counted; some wade
waters for weakened
for catching fish, the
bald eagle hunts a range
of prey (seabirds, waterfowl,
mammals and reptiles).
In winter, when many
birds move south
parts of the
Depending on the locality, the eagle chooses from a variety of
sites for its nest— a tree, on the ground or on a cliff.The same
nest is reused for many years and may eventually become huge.
One nest in Florida measured 30′ across and 20′ deep, and
weighed about 4,400 lbs. Several pairs may nest in a relatively
small area, occupying territories as small as 2,400 yds.
The eggs, normally two, are laid several days apart. Incubation
begins when the first egg is laid and the chicks hatch at different
times. The first chick will be fed by the parents for several days
before its sibling hatches and will, therefore, have a significant
size and weight advantage over it. Should the parents be unable
to bring sufficient food for both chicks, the older chick bullies the
younger and weaker one until it dies of starvation.This behavior
ensures that in years when food supplies run short, the older
chick, at least, can be raised successfully.
As common with most raptors (birds of prey), the female bald eagle
is larger than the male (known as reversed sexual dimorphism).The
female needs to be large and strong so that she is able to defend
herself against aggressive males, especially with young to look after.
The size difference between sexes also reduces competition for
food, as the female is able to target prey that is too large or strong
for the male to cope with.
Sometimes the bald eagle turns to piracy. It frequently
intimidates and harasses the
osprey, an exclusively fish-eating
raptor found in a similar range.
The ospreys are often forced to
surrender their catches.
Immature bald eagles are brown and look like
other species of large eagle.The similarly sized
golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos, also has brown
plummage. It can be found throughout the nontropical
the same range as
the bald eagle in
North America. Both species soar on long,
broad wings with characteristic splayed
“fingertips” (primary flight feathers).
areas, the golden
eagle feeds mainly
on rodents, rabbits
As its name suggests, the
bananaquit is found near
bananas. Its prime habitat
requirement is an abundance
of flowers, its primary food.
The bananaquit lives mainly in tropical regions, including Venezuela,
Brazil and the Bahamas, but is also found in subtropical areas and
occasionally in temperate regions, as far south as Rio Grande do Sul
in South America and as far north as Florida. The bananaquit
frequents forests, mangroves, plantations and gardens.
The bananaquit is always on the move from flower to flower, and
from tree to shrub, exploring plants to find nectar. Its favorites
include the whorl-like clusters of flowers, called inflorescences, on
the banana plant. More than two-thirds of its diet is nectar; the
rest is insects and insect larvae. The bananaquit can reach the
nectar of some flowers directly from the top, which aids
pollination, since pollen sticks to the bird’s facial feathers and bill
and is transported to other flowers. But other flowers have nectar
that is not as easy to reach. The bananaquit then uses its sharp,
awl-like bill to poke a hole in the base of the flower, and sticks out
its tongue to lick the carbohydrate-rich fluid. This does not help
pollination, but it does assist
other animals: when the
flower wilts, the hole gets
larger, and hummingbirds and
insects can reach the leftover
nectar. The bananaquit also
frequents man-made feeders
that contain a mixture of
sugar and water and flowerboxes
on verandas in towns
When spring arrives, the bananaquit looks for a mate. Once
paired, the birds abandon their own small roosting nest and join
together to painstakingly construct an elaborate structure big
enough for a family. This thick-walled breeding nest has a high
opening almost hidden by a protruding lip, which extends up
from the bottom of the nest. The female lays three white eggs
with brown spots and incubates them for almost two weeks.
Though the male doesn’t help incubate, he helps feed the
nestlings regurgitated food. Insects play a more important role
than nectar in a chick’s diet — they supply needed protein for
growth. The nest is always kept clean; the nestlings’ diaperlike
fecal sacs, containing wastes, are either swallowed by the female
or carried away. Within three weeks the chicks have fledged.
The bananaquit is a tireless
singer. Its hurried, high-pitched
call can be heard any time of
the day or year. The bananaquit
also bathes often. Sticky from
its flower foraging, it rinses in
rainwater that accumulates in
the thick leaves of bromeliad
plants, while grabbing an extra
meal of mosquito larvae. It
cleans its gooey bill by wiping it on the sides on a branch. The
bananaquit keeps intruders at bay with rapid wing vibrations. If that
doesn’t work, it pecks at its opponent; the fighting birds often
flutter down to the ground where they continue their struggle
The American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) measures up to 5.75″ and is similar in size to the
bananaquit. It joins the bananaquit in the mangroves and forests of Central and South America
in the winter, when it migrates south. But in the spring, it returns north to its
breeding grounds in Canada and the
United States, while the bananaquit
remains in its home year ’round.The
American redstart, often called the butterfly
warbler, is an active and agile flyer as it pursues flying
insects, which are a staple of its diet, while the
bananaquit prefers sweet nectar.
The bank swallow prefers
open country, often near
streams, rivers and lakes, where
it has space to fly in pursuit of
insects. It needs trees, bushes
or man-made perching places
to rest on, but tends to avoid
thick woodland, built-up areas,
highlands and dry regions.
In summer breeding seasons,
the bank swallow’s habitat
is determined by the presence
of soft, sandy banks in which it
builds nesting burrows. It’s now
found near riverbanks, earth
cliffs and old sand pits.
The swallow feeds on flying
insects, especially flies, catching
them by swooping down with
an open bill. It sometimes eats
grasshoppers, dragonflies and
beetles. The bank swallow
also drinks while in flight by
flying close to the water and
scooping it up in the lower
half of its bill.
When there are young to
be fed, the adults fly in frequent
food-gathering missions —
more than ten per hour — and
they catch most insects in the
late morning and afternoon.
On average, a brood of young bank swallows may be brought
as many as 7,000 insects by their parents in the course of a
Since male bank swallows
return to breeding grounds
before females, they take up
residence in old nesting
burrows or begin to dig
new ones. The male digs
about 12″ of a new tunnel,
then tries to attract a female
by singing and flying with fast
wingbeats at the entrance.
If he’s successful, the pair
mates and the birds finish
the tunnel together.
The 4–6 eggs hatch in 14 days; the young are featherless
and blind. For the first few days, one of the parents cares for
them almost continuously. Young develop quickly and by 14
days can scramble to the entrance of the tunnel to defecate.
At 4–5 weeks old, the young swallows are ready to leave the
nest and fend for themselves. Early-nesting adults may rear a
second clutch of eggs.
Like its swallow relatives, the bank swallow is highly social,
spending most of its time flying in flocks and keeping in touch
by constant twittering. If one bird senses danger, it alerts the
rest of the flock by making a short, sharp “brrit” sound.
Most bank swallows migrate south in the fall when
colder weather kills off many flying insects. Flocks follow
the same route every year, flying by day and roosting together
When the bank swallow returns north in spring, the older
and more experienced birds arrive 3 weeks ahead of young
birds making the journey for the first time, the males returning
before the females.
Two relatives often seen flying alongside the bank swallow are the barn swallow and
tree swallow.The barn swallow is the largest. It also has the longest tail feathers and
the most pointed wings.The tree swallow has less-curved
wings and a deep-green back, while the
bank swallow is distinguished by
a breast band.
All feed on flying insects.The
tree swallow tends to fly the highest,
while the barn swallow hunts
near the ground or over water.
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Open, grassy lowlands with a
few trees are typical habitat of
the barn owl; this adaptable
bird is also found in habitat
ranging from arid scrub to
farmland and roadsides.
The barn owl avoids dense
woodland, which obstructs its
flight, and is rarely found in
deserts. It avoids mountains
and northern regions where
snow lies deep for more than a
month or so, because prey can
hide beyond reach beneath the
snow.The barn owl is therefore
absent from most of northern
Europe and Asia — from
northern Scotland to eastern
Russia — and from Canada.
The barn owl relies heavily
on old buildings for roosting or
nest sites; hollow trees, cliffs
and caves are also used.The owl’s decline in recent decades can be
attributed in part to the alteration of its habitat, as old buildings are
pulled down or modernized and woodlands are cleared, although
concerned people are helping by erecting nest boxes.
Barn owls pair for life. Each spring, the partners perform courtship
flights, weaving and chasing over fields to renew their bond. They
choose a site in a hole in a building, old tree or cliff, although they
don’t build a nest. The female lays her eggs (usually four to seven,
but sometimes many more) in a hollow, any time from March to
August. She lays each egg at one- to two-day intervals, so up to
two weeks may pass between the time that the first and last eggs
hatch, about a month later.
Pink and naked at first, the
female feeds owlets by
morsels torn from food
brought by the male. Although
the young grow rapidly, elder
owlets remain the largest; they
alone will survive if food is
short. They leave in two
months and are independent
two to three weeks later.
During the day, the barn owl roosts in a barn, tree hollow or cave.
Although it usually hunts in dim light or total darkness, it may
occasionally hunt by day, when it relies on the sensitivity of its eyes.
Its bone-chilling screams help distinguish it from other owls.
Superb hearing is key to its night hunting. Ears are offset on its
skull to enhance stereo hearing, and two depressions flanking the
bill on its dish-shaped face funnel the faintest sounds (such as a
mouse chewing a seed) into the ear openings. By rotating its head,
it can obtain an even more accurate fix on the source of a sound.
The owl needs a regular supply of food throughout the year.
Winter is a particularly hard time — many small mammals are
hidden from view. Many owls starve; only a quarter of young birds
survive their first winter. Some
owls find extra food in winter
by catching small birds leaving
or returning to their roosts.
Through the night and for an
hour or two before dusk
and after dawn, the barn owl
hunts by “quartering” the
ground: flying slowly back
and forth over a hunting
patch, a few feet above the
ground. It listens for noises
that betray prey in the grass
below. If it hears a sound, it
drops slightly or hovers as
it tries to trace it. Then it
dives, or even somersaults
backward, to attack.
As it hits the ground, it
may spread its wings to
steady itself. The owl eats its
catch on the ground or
carries it to a perch, such as
a nearby fence post. Mice,
small voles and shrews are
staple prey, but the owl also
takes rats, small birds, frogs,
toads and even bats.
The supply of flying insects and
availability of nesting sites are
important factors determining
the northern location of the
swallow in summer. Insects are abundant over low, lush vegetation
and shallow water, so pastures, fields, meadows and river valleys are
preferred domain, especially where barns and sheds provide nesting
sites nearby. Bare branches, overhead wires and roof-ridges are
also useful places to rest and preen in the sun.
Human activities, such as building and settlement, have helped
release the species from its dependency on traditional nesting sites,
such as cliffs and caves. In its southern winter habitat, the swallow
finds rich insect-hunting grounds on stock-ranching land.
The swallow feeds on flying insects, especially flies, which it captures
in aerial pursuit. It favors large insects, such as bluebottles,
hoverflies and beetles; in subtropical wintering grounds it also
eats termites, grasshoppers and flying ants. In any habitat, the
bird often follows grazing animals — whether farm cattle or
zebras — to take insects stirred up by their hoofs. In poor
weather, the bird may also dip into flowers to pick off insects or
land on beaches to eat sandhoppers.
When there are young to be fed, feeding is even busier. Large,
stout-bodied flies are the main food for early summer broods,
but smaller prey, such as swarming greenfly, become more
important for later broods. The
swallow catches several insects
at a time and compresses them
into a ball in the throat to feed
to the nestlings.
Older birds are the first to return to the breeding grounds and
take the best sites. Unpaired males make a nest, then display to
attract a mate, circling near the nest and twittering loudly. If a
female is attracted, the male shows her the nest as proof of his
prowess and they then mate. The female lays four or five eggs at
daily intervals. She incubates after laying the last egg, so all the
eggs hatch together two weeks later. Young are fed by both
parents and grow rapidly. They first fly in three weeks and are
fed for another week, but may stay nearby for another month.
Early nesters can then rear a second clutch, even a third in
good summers. Pairs often stay together for life, but because the
swallow has an average lifespan of only 19 months, many adults
have to seek a new mate the following breeding season.
Through the year, the swallow
spends much time preening its
feathers with its bill to keep
them in peak flight condition.
The bird also bathes by dipping
into water while in flight.
The swallow is highly social.
In the summer, it can often be
seen feeding in large flocks,
uttering busy “witt-witt” calls to
keep in contact with others.
Colder weather in autumn
brings a sharp decline in
flying insects. Accordingly, the
swallow flies south, setting off
in small groups to spend the
winter in South America,
southern Africa or southern
Asia. The barn swallows
return north in the spring
in preparation for breeding.
All swallows have long wings and tails
for maneuverable flight, but the barn
swallow’s tail is among the longest of any
species. The North American tree
swallow has a squarer tail and is
less aerobatic in confined spaces,
such as woodland edges. Both
the bank swallow and the
related, similar-looking European
house martin have a shorter tail.
Let us not destroy what we have worked so hard to build in our communities.
it takes an incredibly long time to build anything of significance, if you are not sure weather what you are working on is gonna crumble any moment, then you better hold on for a little longer. endurance and persistence is the key to long term success, you cant produce anything if you kept hoping from one tree top to another, you just cant afford to do it at the moment. it is easier to tear down a castle than to build one. it is easier to loose a friend than to gain a new one, it is easier t die than to be born. we work hard all our lives only to loose the fruits of our labor in just a single day. the world isn’t that fair to anyone
The Magnificent Swiss Alps
.The swiss alps are among the most magnificent landmarks in the world, millions of tourists from all over the world usually flock here to make merry of this place at least once a year. once you reach the country you get a chance to bring into reality the poetic fables you have been listening to since childhood. the Swiss alps a re a combination of magnificence, danger, and beauty, if you happen to reach there during the summer season, the locals are very friendly folk ready to welcome anybody that is visiting their country as a tourist. its no surprise that its no the UNESCO world heritage list.